Happy Sunday to the YA blogosphere!
As you may know, Kingdom of Ash hits shelves on the 23rd of October, exactly one month from today. While I’m not actually a big fan of the Throne of Glass series (and I know this may be where I lose some of you), it’s hard not to get caught up in the massive hype for the finale. Guys, it’s going to be 992 fricking pages. Nine hundred and ninety-two. Pages. Not even George R.R. Martin writes books this size, and to be honest I’m a little scared for all those paperback spines.
Anyhow, I figured that now’s the perfect time to play the Dignified Book Critic–just kidding, there’s nothing dignified about this list–and rank every SJM book from worst to best in preparation for Kingdom of Ash. This is, of course, my personal opinion and not meant as a knock on anyone who thinks otherwise. Voilà:
12. A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.1)
I hated everything about this pathetic cash grab of a novella. I want to purge it from my mind and forget that such a pointless bundle of words ever got the go ahead from a major publishing house. Nonexistent plot, overdramatic character development and clichés on every other line, A Court of Frost and Starlight is the absolute bottom of the barrel.
11. Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3)
The book that basically made me lose interest in the Throne of Glass series. Nothing agonisingly bad about it, unlike A Court of Frost and Starlight, but I just couldn’t get into the story as it took a huge turn from the first two books.
10. Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6)
Tower of Dawn could have been half its length and still served the same purpose. Were it properly edited, it would have been a decent read. As it is, Chaol’s novella-turned-full-length-doorstopper is a bloated mishmash of cardboard characterisation, shoehorned representation and the usual SJM clichés. At least Nesryn and Sartaq aren’t cringeworthy, unlike most other TOG couples.
9. Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)
Considering how young and inexperienced Maas was when she wrote what would eventually become Throne of Glass, it’s no surprise that her debut is one of her shakier works. Plenty of reviewers have pointed out how she seems to be uncharacteristically addicted! To! Exclamation! Marks! in this book, as well as the plethora of silly names (yes, Chaol is actually a riff on ‘chaos’) that have lasted an entire series.
8. The Assassin’s Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1-0.5)
These novellas were crammed chock-full of predictable tropes, and none of them were particularly memorable, but they made for fast and enjoyable reads nonetheless. A tenfold improvement on Maas’s most recent novella, seeing as each one actually had a plot.
7. A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)
A somewhat disappointing trilogy finale that tried to incorporate too many elements and failed to develop any to full effectiveness. It was ambitious for sure, but could have used much, much more editing than I presume was done. There’s been a noticeable drop in the quality of Maas’s writing ever since she shifted to publishing two 600+ page novels a year, and it’s nowhere so evident as in A Court of Wings and Ruin.
6. Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4)
Better than its predecessor, not as good as the best of the series. While many of the action sequences and plot twists are well-executed, character development is where Queen of Shadows falls short. By this point in the storyline Aelin and Rowan were both too far gone for me to care about either of them anymore, and it felt like the whole cast were unhealthily absorbed in petty rivalries. There was one very satisfying antagonist death halfway through, I’ll grant that.
5. Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5)
Possibly an unpopular opinion placing it this high, but I thought that minus the widely and rightfully mocked sex scenes, Empire of Storms was quite a fun ride. That said, it suffers from the same needless length and painful dialogue plaguing most recent SJM instalments.
4. Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)
I’ll admit, it might just be the nostalgia speaking when I say that Crown of Midnight had everything I was looking for from a Throne of Glass novel. Badassery, intrigue and an explosive twist that shocked me as a newly minted YA reader–essentially, it was Throne of Glass with polished writing skill.
3. A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1)
It’s no secret that I greatly prefer ACOTAR to TOG. Even the first book, which is arguably one of Maas’s weaker publications, felt far more compelling to me than the vast majority of the TOG series. It helps that A Court of Thorns and Roses may just be the best edited of her books–compare the prose in its first chapter with the prose in the first chapter of A Court of Wings and Ruin, and tell me you don’t see a big difference in quality.
2. Catwoman: Soulstealer (DC Icons #3)
If A Court of Frost and Starlight killed my faith in SJM, Catwoman: Soulstealer has restored part of it for now. Boasting strong characterisation, smart twists and genuine humour when I was expecting the opposite, this entire novel was a pleasant surprise. I can only hope that Soulstealer isn’t a one-time occasion.
1. A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2)
At last, in my #1 spot: Sarah J. Maas’s most hyped epic, arguably the book that catapulted her into YA superstardom. I loved, loved, loved ACOMAF when it was first published, and own both the Kindle and paperback editions to show for it. I thought it was the greatest story I’d ever read. Since then, time and wider reading have somewhat put things into focus. Although I no longer consider this book one of my favourites, it’s still a testament to what SJM can do at her best.
So that was a pretty long list, and there were a lot of instances where I could easily have swapped books a couple of places. I’d love to hear what all of you SJM readers out there think of my rankings. Accurate? Completely crazy? If you have thoughts on where I’ve put her books or, even better, where you’d rank them yourself, I’d be thrilled if you left a comment!
To everyone counting down for Kingdom of Ash, you’re in the home stretch now. To everyone not, there are a whole bunch of other great books coming out this October to be excited for.
As usual, thanks for reading!