A collection of Sarah J. Maas books

What Makes Sarah J. Maas a No. 1 NYT Bestselling Fantasy Author?

From young adult to adult fantasy, this author has become a worldwide phenomenon, but what is it that makes her stories so popular?
November 6, 2021
7 mins read

Avid readers of fantasy or general fiction must check out a Sarah J. Maas book at some point in their literature journeys. Sarah J. Maas — nicknamed SJM by her enormous fan base — is a No. 1 New York Times’ bestselling giant in fantasy. Starting her career in 2012 with the debut of her wildly popular “Throne of Glass” series, Maas first dabbled exclusively in young adult fantasy. In recent years, however, she has begun writing some adult fantasy as well. As a result, her writing has never been more diverse; Maas’ books offer a wide spectrum of fantasy stories that can appeal to any age group or demographic.

A Timeline of Maas’ Works

Over the past nine years, Maas has become an international bestselling author. Her new releases regularly become No. 1 NYT bestsellers, and her works are published in an astonishing 37 languages. So, what makes Maas’ fantasy stories so popular?

Before diving into Maas’ newer works — such as her “Crescent City” series — it’s ideal if readers go back to the start of her career and chronologically work their way forward. Tackling Maas’ empire of novels in this way makes for the most satisfying experience, as readers will be able to follow her evolution as a writer and the maturation of her plots. Most importantly, though, each of SJM’s books are an absolute gem that shouldn’t be missed.

In her debut “Throne of Glass” series, Maas takes readers on an astounding eight-book journey, where we are introduced to a world full of assassins, witches, giant spiders, Fae (an elf-like species), ancient prophecies and more. Although eight books may be a daunting commitment for some readers, it is well worth the time and energy. Maas’ series only grows more captivating as her beautifully complex plotline unfolds and readers become attached to her characters.

In fact, Maas’ phenomenal character development is one of the best qualities of her storytelling. As readers track the triumphs and tribulations of characters like Celaena Sardothien, Dorian and Chaol Westfall, they will cry and laugh with these lifelike personas, and that is because of Maas’ original, one-of-a-kind writing. She artfully paints characters who are never perfect: They make mistakes and are morally incorrect sometimes, and that’s what makes them so relatable. Her characters are also alluring in their beauty, powers, honor and inspiring sincerity. In addition, Maas has mastered the tricky craft of dialogue. She’s managed to create a unique voice for each character that helps their personalities shine through in a tangible way. The dialogue is also conversational, amusing and believable, which helps to foster relationships in a way that the reader can vividly imagine and feel included in.

Another of Maas’ greatest strengths is her world-building. As seen in “Throne of Glass” — and Maas’ other two series as well — she creates settings that simultaneously draw on classic aspects of fantasy while also containing wholly original characteristics. In the world of “Throne of Glass,” Maas includes familiar fantastical elements like kingdoms at war, epic journeys and mystical creatures, such as witches. But in a distinctive fashion, Maas takes her own spin on these classics, like imagining Adarlan’s castle as entirely made of glass or creating different witch races that each have unique physical characteristics, such as lethal iron nails.

Moving from Maas’ “Throne of Glass” world is her second and arguably most popular series, “A Court of Thorns and Roses,” which is lovingly nicknamed ACOTAR by her fanbase. This ongoing, five-book series just had its latest release, “A Court of Silver Flames,” in February 2021. In this series, Maas creates a fascinating world where humans and Fae are locked in an endless power struggle. She really shows off her one-of-a-kind world-building skills with her invention of Fae territory that is split into seven factions, each of which mimics a certain season, such as the Autumn Court or Summer Court. The first book in this series can be compared to “Beauty and the Beast,” albeit an alternative story that is suited for readers who prefer a darker twist to classic fairytales.

As she becomes a more confident storyteller in her later books, Maas’ unabashed ability to write steamy, sexually explicit romance is one of her fans’ favorite aspects of her writing. While other authors may shy away from writing such scenes, Maas fully embraces this, making for a refreshing change for some readers. This is especially true of her recent books like “A Court of Silver Flames” or “Crescent City.”

Maas’ Imminent Release of “A House of Sky and Breath”

With an overview of Maas’ works, what can readers look forward to for the future? While “Throne of Glass” is officially completed after eight hefty books, “A Court of Thorns and Roses” still has plenty of unfinished business. As such, readers can expect at least one more book in this series, if not more.

SJM’s most recent and alluring work, however, is her new adult fantasy series, “Crescent City.” Only one book has been released so far, titled “Crescent City: A House of Earth and Blood.” This may be Maas’ most innovative and exciting work yet, as she manages to invent a world that is both Earth-like and alien at the same time. While there are modern cities with cellphones, corporations and nightclubs, there are also vampires, angels, Fae and the Asteri — a god-like group who rules over Midgard, which is the world this series takes place in. Readers will swoon for main characters like Hunt Athalar, Bryce Quinlan and Ruhn Danaan, all of whom are unique in their imperfections, powers and personal struggles.

Readers should focus their immediate attention on “Crescent City,” as “A House of Sky and Breath” — the long-awaited second book in the series — will be released in February 2022. Readers can certainly expect Maas to keep shocking us with her insane plot twists, steamy romances and epic, moving scenes. So, make sure you’re up to date and prepared for Maas’ newest release, as it’s not something fantasy and fiction fans are going to want to miss. Readers are also urged to take time to try out Maas’ other two incredibly successful series. After all, you may find yourself hypnotized and eager to join the SJM fandom.

Sonia Noorbakhsh, UC Berkeley

Writer Profile

Sonia Noorbakhsh

UC Berkeley

Hello! My name is Sonia. I have always loved anything pertaining to English. In my free time I enjoy traveling, reading and drinking plenty of coffee.

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