Kingdom of Ash shattered every expectation I set


Freshman year, I unwittingly began to read a series that would ensnare my attention and encapture my affection. Now, almost two years later, I am sitting on the floor of my room crying over my destroyed soul left in the wake of the final book. Needless to say, Kingdom of Ash and the rest of the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas met and broke every high-set expectation I had.

It is quite difficult to explain the books without spoiling anything because of the large changes and twists the plot undergoes. However, the series, in the most basic sense, is about an assassin with her fair share of demons from her past to haunt her, both physically and mentally. Celaena isn’t your typical assassin, though; she is unpredictable, morbid, and kind all at once. Throughout the books, she meets and befriends a wide assortment of friends such as the magically-gifted fae, shape-shifters, and Ironteeth witches. Together, they face the impending evils in their mess of a world.

Maas expertly foreshadows throughout the whole series. You don’t even realize she is doing it until you either reread the series or look at fan posts on Pinterest. It could be as little as a descriptive word here and there or it could be something as big as a dream a character has. Maas never writes anything for the sake of writing it. She carefully and constantly crafts sentences that will drive you crazy because you didn’t pick up on their hidden meaning the first time. I find myself drinking every word while searching for hints of events to come.

The only problem is that I never know what events are going to occur next. I can be so confident in the way that the plot is going to go and end up so unbelievably incorrect. Maas continually wows and astounds her readers with each page turn. Once I pick up one of the Throne of Glass books, I can’t put them down because I am so entranced by the plot.

One of my favorite parts of this series is just how clever it is. By that, I mean not just with the events happening in the book that are full of cunning intellect. Maas is a genius in constructing her plot. She effortlessly weaves in her subplots into her larger plot as well as has subplots the reader didn’t even know about until it came together.

Each character in this series is like none that you’ve ever read about before. There are no stereotypes or cliches. On top of that, even the most inconsequential characters are well rounded and dynamic. I’m not sure I can even call them “inconsequential” because every character has a role in the story.

Many of the characters have also been through life-shattering events in their past. Backstories aren’t thrown at the reader as a bunch of meaningless minutiae. They are slowly pried from the characters to explain previously baffling behavior. It causes the reader to sympathize and feel for the characters.

We each survive in our own way.”

— Sarah J Maas

The reader can’t help but get attached to the characters throughout the seven-book series. You laugh with them. You cry with them. You rage with them. You come to know them as well as your siblings. The reader has been through everything with the characters. Every traumatizing event. Every wrecked relationship. Every moment of peace.

If you looked in the dictionary for character development, the Throne of Glass series’s picture would be right next to the definition. Nobody is as shallow as they may appear to be at first glance. They have all been to the devil’s fiery realm and back, and they have somehow survived it. The reader watches as events wreck their very being as well how they crawl up from the dust to piece their life back together. It’s truly gut-wrenching, but also kind of rewarding seeing the recovery.

You would think that having so many distinct characters would make it difficult to keep them all straight. Wrong. Maas writes each of her characters in one-by-one to prevent confusion. The reader gets to know each character separately before more are thrown into the mix. This also ensures that the reader gets too attached for their own good to every single character.  

I claim you. To whatever end.”

— Sarah J Maas

I love the relationships Maas meticulously builds. She writes such beautiful connections, both platonic and romantic. It shows how love has no bounds, and despite all odds, love will survive. Maas writes those “meant-to-be moments” while never allowing her writing to slip into that of mushy romantic books. Everything she writes is heartfelt and meaningful.

Another one of my favorite parts about the Throne of Glass series is that women are showcased as strong world-savers. Maas doesn’t play into the whole damsel-in-distress theme of many books. Instead, she writes her women as powerful chicks who save themselves and couldn’t care less about what a man thinks of them. She writes to empower women to be whoever they want to be.

And then I am going to rattle the stars.”

— Sarah J Maas

As I read over this review, I realize how sad and depressing I made the series out to be. Yes, it can be that way at times. However, it is so much more than that. The series is comical and filled with good-natured irony. The characters are loveable and goofy. There is always a redemption, always a revenge, to satisfy the reader in a non-cliche way. Despite the dark undertones, it is light and fun.

Furthermore, most of the book is about finding happiness in the pit of despair. It’s about finding the good in someone or something, even when dark emotions close in. When the whole world is against you (at times, this is quite literal), it’s about changing the game. It’s moving and motivational.

Kingdom of Ash stayed true to everything that makes The Throne of Glass series so amazing. While it was close to 1000 pages, it felt too short. I wouldn’t take back the tears or laughter escaping from me in the hours spent by the fire completing reading the series for anything. If you read this series, you’re going to suffer, and you’re going to like it.