The final installment of the Sarah J. Maas “Throne of Glass” series, “Kingdom of Ash”, came out Oct. 23. The conclusion will be especially gut-wrenching for those who have been here since the beginning, six years ago. It’s always hard to say goodbye, and this series is no exception.
Maas’s well-rounded characters flourish in her fantasy setting, but they are only part of what makes “Throne of Glass” beautifully rendered.
Here are some of what the fans of the series will miss most about the series, some spoilers included. Excuse me while I grab my tissues.
1. Celaena Sardothien (aka Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, Elentiya, Lillian Gordaina, Fireheart)
Maas’s first novel, “Throne of Glass,” focuses on Celaena Sardothien, an assassin brought before the Crown Prince of Adarlan to act as his champion in a competition to find a royal assassin. If Sardothien wins, she gains her freedom after four years of serving the king, and after a year of harsh imprisonment and labor in the Endovier salt mines for her various crimes, it’s music to her ears.
But not all is what it seems, and as the other competitors are mysteriously killed off one by one, Sardothien not only has to win, but figure out what secrets the castle is keeping while avoiding being killed herself. And thus begins Sardothien’s incredible journey where she uncovers long-buried memories about her birthright and secrets that could bring the kingdom of Adarlan crumbling down.
Sardothien’s remarkable resilience and take-no-prisoners attitude make her a most excellent assassin, but the character growth that she experiences throughout the novels presents a story about growing up. She struggles to reconcile the death of her family, her brutal upbringing beneath the leader of the Assassin’s Guild, Arobynn Hamel, and her enslavement in the salt mines, not to mention the pain and loss she endures during the duration of the books themselves. Once she comes to terms with her history, however, she becomes master over her own destiny.
It is her spirit that I will miss most, the self-confidence that borders on arrogance, giving her power over herself: “I am Celaena Sardothien. But it makes no difference if my name’s Celaena or Lillian or Bitch, because I’d still beat you, no matter what you call me.”
2. The Relationships
There’s all sorts of love in Maas’ “Throne of Glass” series, and there’s plenty of hatred too. The striking dynamics between the characters make the story fly off the pages, whether it be Sardothien’s unlikely friendship with Nox, another competitor for the title of royal assassin in the first novel, or the childhood bond between Crown Prince Dorian Havilliard and his Captain of the Guard, Chaol Westfall.
One of the most memorable enemies-to-allies interactions occurs between the leaders of opposing sides of the upcoming wars: Sardothien, now known as Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, and Manon Blackbeak, heir to the Blackbeak Witch-Coven. Their strong personalities and wicked fighting abilities led to a highly anticipated interaction in the fourth book, “Queen of Shadows,” and it does not disappoint.
While it was a rocky start to their alliance (they try to kill each other), the two eventually settle on the same side because they have similar goals in mind. I can’t call their friendship heartwarming by any stretch of the imagination, but they hold each other in respect as they are united in their mutual understandings of duty and fate.
Maas also gives Galathynius the humorous task of trying to make amends with the enemies she made when she was under the name Sardothien, causing her other allies and friends to learn about her often bloody past. Her interaction with Pirate Lord Captain Rolfe is one of my favorites, as she previously freed the slaves on his ships when she was still merely an assassin and now needs his help but is too proud to ask for forgiveness. Understandably, he is less than enthused to see her again, especially now that she has a different title.
3. A World of Magic
Maas’ magic system in Erilea smartly blends Fae lore, mythology and her own unique twist on magical distribution. She built the world of Erilea to contain thousands of years of history that harken back to a time before kings, a world where god-like creatures and dragons dominated the continents.
The historical references aren’t just for decoration, however. Galathynius and Havilliard interact with their ancestors who warn them of the Valg, immortal parasitic demons that feed on the life forces of humans and want to lay waste to Erilea. Much like other ancestors who bring prophecies, the kings and queens of the past are less helpful than the heroes would like, but they are nonetheless interesting.
Galathynius and Havilliard explore the depths of their powers once the suppression of magic is uplifted across the continent, and it’s exciting to see what they can do. The powers derive from various goddesses and gods from another world who interacted with their lineages at various points in time. The magic varies wildly as well, manifesting as healing powers in Yrene or, in Havilliard’s case, a whole host of untapped magical potential.
And then there are the Fae, an immortal race of humanoid creatures who for many years have lived relatively isolated from the mortals on the rest of the continents. Imbued with magic, superior strength and senses, the Fae have some clear advantages over humans, yet their downfalls are just as intriguing. Maas does an excellent job fleshing out their histories and culture, often intertwining their complicated relations with humans over the millennia.
Hulu also looks to be optioning a television series named after the fourth book, “Queen of Shadows,” so maybe the fans won’t have to say goodbye just yet. However, it doesn’t appear as of yet that there will be more books in the series past “Kingdom of Ash,” making it the final hurrah for these characters and potentially to the world that the fans have fallen in love with.
Even if there are no more novels surrounding the “Throne of Glass” world, the books will always be there to read over again and remember why they made an impact in the first place.