*You can find all the posts in this series here!
Hello, my name is Molly and I’m addicted to Sarah J. Maas books. And if you’ve found yourself reading this article, then I’m going to assume that you are too (at least a little bit). So hi, friend! How are you? Hopefully you’re coping well with the glorious firestorm that was Kingdom of Ash. Or at least better than I am. Because my response to my favourite book series ending was not to, as Aelin would say, tuck it into my heart to take out when I need it, or to simply move on, but rather to reread all eight books in the Throne of Glass series (I’m counting The Assassin’s Blade), because it’s not like there are many unread books on my shelf begging to be picked up (Sorry, Queen of Air and Darkness). And well, I would say that this reread is one of the best choices I’ve ever made. Did any of my family or friends think it was logical when I told them my plans? No! Did I care? Also no! But I’m having such immense fun. Not only in rereading and rediscovering the story that has meant so much to me, but in noticing all the intricate plotting and references, and, as I am a writer myself, in taking note of Sarah’s awe-inspiring prose. Every word is precise and powerful and I dream of having even a sliver of her level of talent one day.
Okay, moving on from my love for Sarah’s actual words because I could talk about it forever (“I am empty and full all at once, and I can feel the earth roiling around me. When I play, for once I’m not destroying. I’m creating.” How amazing is that line? I’m crying just thinking about it). Along my reread adventure I noticed many details that, at the time, meant nothing, and now mean so much more. There are so many intricacies in these books, and so much hidden meaning, so I’m compiling a list of all the moments that become important later in the series, as well as other elements I think need to be discussed.
I’m splitting the list into separate posts by book, as I am still in the process of rereading, and because I have A LOT of thoughts, so multiple posts will make this much more manageable. This first post will cover both The Assassin’s Blade and Throne of Glass.
This post contains spoilers for the whole series, but each point spoils up to different points in the series, so I’ve put in an acronym for the book that each point spoils up to at the top. For example, my first point spoils up to Kingdom of Ash, so I’ve put (KOA) next to the bullet point. Also, I’m going to refer to the main character as Celaena here, because that’s how she’s known in these first books. I’m also interspersing some of my favourite fan art, because everyone in this fandom is so talented.
All right, let’s get to it!
The Assassin’s Blade
Yrene Towers! So I knew that Yrene was the character from “The Assassin and the Healer,” but I forgot what the actual plot of this was. Yrene has become one of my favourite Throne of Glass characters, and the fact that she appeared so early on just shows how much of this story SJM had planned from the start. Celaena was responsible for Yrene going to the Southern Continent and learning her healing skills, and it is with those skills that she will save the world. Also, Celaena notes that she feels a “tug” towards Yrene. She knew how important Yrene would be right from the start.
Chaol and Dorian show up at the party in “The Assassin and the Underworld!” Dorian tries to dance with Celaena, but Sam pulls her away. Don’t worry, Dorian, you’ll get your chance!
Let’s talk about Sam Cortland. He is amazing. I’d forgotten just how sweet he is, and how much he loves her. And I cannot stress how important Sam Cortland is to this series. If he had never died, I do think that they would still be together. Because he loved all of her. Her cruelty, her passion, her vulnerability. He loved it all. And maybe she would’ve embraced her true identity with him still alive, but maybe not. Because Sam’s death is what pushes Celaena into action. He teaches her to love and what it’s like to be loved and be full of possibility, and when she loses it, she does not forget it, but rather keeps it as something to work towards, to get back to. For him. Because he would want her to find happiness once more. He would want her to make something of her life.
And she loves him too. When she returns to her apartment in Queen of Shadows, Celaena sleeps in his t-shirts. She visits his grave and says she thinks he would’ve been a great king. She wants to bring Arobynn to justice for herself, but also largely for him. Throughout it all, he is a guiding light for her. She wants to make him proud, and oh, would he ever be proud. He never appears in the actual series, but I would count Sam as one of my favourite TOG characters.
Sam was the person who have Celaena the I will not be afraid trick. I will not be afraid is Celaena/Aelin’s motto. It is a running theme and shows her vulnerability and her resolve. She will not back down. I forgot that Sam told her that trick, so I full on sobbed when I read it. This is such an important moment, and of course these words that she would carry with her forever first came from the man who opened her heart to the possibility of a fuller life.
Throne of Glass
Okay, so let’s talk about every interaction that Celaena has with Elena. Because every one is so loaded with clues! Her first order to Celaena is to become the King’s Champion. And we never really find out why, until we learn in EOS that Elena had been leading her to her destiny to forge the lock the whole time. She needed Celaena to be the King’s Champion so that she could continue to learn about the Wyrdkeys and eventually forge the lock. Also, at the end of Throne of Glass Elena says she was awoken by a voice that belonged to many people crying out for something, and that when Celaena hears them she’ll know why Elena stood by her. I always thought this was just in general, the cries of the people of Erilea, but it’s probably referring to the cries of the gods, who are making Elena lead Celaena to her death in the form of the lock, so when Celaena finally hears them, she’ll understand why Elena stuck by her. Because she had to make sure she forged the lock.
The eye of Elena is just some cute necklace that Elena gave Celaena that protects her from evil… until it’s revealed that it’s the most important object in the series: the lock. Elena gives her the Eye at the very beginning, the very object that she will have to sacrifice herself for. It would protect her, until it would be the source of her downfall.
So this is not an important moment but rather just a note that I’m in love with Chaol Westfall. I think you should know that going forward, because I’m going to bring him up at every chance I get, starting here. Of course, everyone’s favourite Throne of Glass character is Aelin (you’re lying to yourself if you say it isn’t), but Chaol is a very close second.
In Throne of Glass, Chaol is the romantic hero. Even when Celorian is a thing, it is clear that her relationship with Chaol is stronger and has more momentum. This is important because a) SJM was playing with us and making it look like they would end up together; she really does play the long game, and b) the level of connection they have makes him a huge influence on Celaena through the entire series, which was why he was able to hurt her so much in the beginning of Queen of Shadows. Right before she goes to the final duel in Throne of Glass, Celaena says “thank you for making my freedom worth something.” He made her believe that she could have a good life, made her want to be free because there was possibility and friendship and love waiting for her in the world. And even when she breaks after Nehemia’s death, I still think this exists somewhere, what Chaol taught her, and helps her climb back to the surface.
Early on in the book, there is this quote: “She would never again have anything to do with the rise and fall of kingdoms.” I burst out laughing when I saw this. Ah, Celaena. You have no idea what’s coming, do you? Some great foreshadowing.
Nox Owen! In TOG he’s just a super nice guy who befriends Celaena, but he’ll become really important later as a messenger during the war in Kingdom of Ash.
Duke Perrington was just casually hanging out the whole time and we didn’t suspect anything! Rereading, it’s so clear he’s in control. He’s controlling Kaltain, he’s the one who chose Cain and therefore made him valg/taught him wyrdmarks, and the king is gone for almost all of the book, so he’s definitely calling all the shots then! Honestly, smart of Erawan to pick him over the king. Because everyone sees him as a pain in the ass, but not as a threat.
So I have a question that has confounded me for many years, which is, is Erilea the name of the continent or the entire world? Because in the later books, and on the Throne of Glass Wiki, it is clear that it’s the continent that Adarlan, Terrasen, etc are apart of. But in Throne of Glass, it’s referred to as if it’s the entire world? The king says at one point: “I’m the conquerer of this continent and soon to be ruler of all of Erilea,” which implies that they’re different. This has confused me forever, so if anyone knows the answer, please comment below!
THE KING HAS NO NAME!!!!! I don’t know about you, but that reveal in Kingdom of Ash that his name was stolen and therefore he could forge the lock had me shocked for, like, at least three days. (Honestly I’m still in shock over it). I always found it weird that he wasn’t named, but the evil king in ACOTAR was never named either, so I just thought Sarah had a thing about not naming villains. Her plotting is so pristine; the fact that she planted this right from the beginning is amazing.
The clocktower. At first it’s just a weird, ominous tower that makes Celaena see other worlds in the duel, but really it’s controlling magic! Who knew! Even on the map there are little towers drawn next to Amaroth and Noll. It was right there the whole time.
Aelin wanted to be a healer, but became someone who took lives instead… excuse me while I cry.
At the Yulemas Ball a courtier comes up to Chaol and ask if Celaena is with Dorian and he responds with “the Lady Lillian belongs to herself” which I adore because YES SHE DOES!
Another point about Chaol! Told you I could talk about him forever! Rereading TOG, I noticed how much Chaol fights against his and Celaena’s friendship, how much he leans on his loyalty, because that’s all he has. And you can see his loyalty shift throughout the book, as his friendship with Celaena grows, and this struggle comes to a head in Heir of Fire, with Chaol not wanting to fight against Adarlan, but also not for it, unsure of how to truly break the loyalty that has sustained him for so long. And past that, when he fully joins the rebellion, his loyalty still drives him, and it’s so nice to see how far he has come.
Okay, let’s talk about the third member of the OT3, Dorian Havilliard. I forgot how seriously he was in love with Celaena! Just like Chaol, she opens his eyes to the world outside the palace, and he falls for her hard. She never loved him as much, though she did still care, but Dorian was all in. He was ready to fight his father to let him be with her. Until, of course, he met Sorscha, and he realized that what he felt for Celaena wasn’t as deep as he thought, because he had found real love with her.
Related to the above point, Dorian and Celaena are seriously cute. I mean, I never loved them together, but they are actually really adorable. They talk about books and cuddle and Dorian asks her about her music and gives her a dog and candy on Yulemas. And they dance together for hours at the ball… oh, such simpler times.
When Celaena is down in the duel and Chaol comes and says, “Get up.” Wow did I ever bawl my eyes out right there.
Celaena, Dorian and Chaol are such an OT3. Even with all the ups and downs, they’re such good friends. And that friendship is really a cornerstone of the series, connecting all the plots. Also, reading about them in the beginnings of their friendship reminded me of when they say goodbye in Kingdom of Ash and Aelin says “Thank you for all that you’ve done for me” and I’m crying writing this now because I love them so much.
The king knows what the wyrdmark is on Celaena’s forehead! And it means nameless, which we all know leads to a lot of trouble with the lock and the amulet. Everything is laid out so perfectly, little hints for us to pick up along the way. And, of course, the king is nameless as well, so there’s even more foreshadowing there.
“You could rattle the stars. You could do anything if only you dared.” I’m just going to leave that here so we can all marvel at it. And “rattle the stars” becomes a motif for Aelin, keeping her going throughout the hardship. Elena knew what she was capable of from the start.
The last lines of Throne of Glass mirror the last lines of (the last chapter of) Kingdom of Ash. Chaol asks Celaena if she wants to know what her first mission will be and she says “tell me tomorrow.” And in KOA, Rowan asks if she wants to know what they should build first. And she says “tell me tomorrow.” It all comes full circle.
So that’s it from me for now! If there’s anything I’ve missed that you’d like to discuss, please comment below! I’ll leave you with my three favourite quotations from these books (that I didn’t mention earlier), and I will see you later for (my favourite TOG book) Crown of Midnight!
- “She would tuck Sam into her heart, a bright light for her to take out whenever things were darkest. And then she would remember how it had felt to be loved, when the world had held nothing but possibility. No matter what they did to her, they could never take that away. She would not break.”
- “Still the image haunted his dreams throughout the night: a lovely girl gazing at the stars, and the stars who gazed back.”
- “She forgot about time as she drifted through pieces, voicing the unspeakable, opening old wounds, playing and playing as the sound forgave and saved her.”