Be warned, this is a complete Throne of Glass summary. Major Spoilers are guaranteed.
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.
Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her … but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead … quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.
Throne of Glass Summary
It Begins With An Offer
Throne of Glass opens up to our badass assassin Celaena being marched through the salt mines of Endovier and brought to and audience with the Crown Prince of Adarlan, Dorian Havilliard.
He is accompanied with the Captain of the Guard, Chaol Westfall, who keeps a close eye on her and Duke Perrington, an annoying brute of a man who makes it clear that he despises Cealena from step one. Don’t be mistaken, Chaol hates her too, but he’s not the enemy here. Nor is Dorian.
Crown Prince Dorian offers Caleana freedom in the following way: The King is hosting a competition to find a Champion for him. A selection of noblemen are sponsoring criminals of different kinds (thieves, ex-soldiers and assassins) who are fighting for the chance to become the King’s Champion.
For six years after the competition they are to serve the King and do his bidding (when it comes to killing his opponents that is) and then they are granted with freedom. If you’re disqualified you go back to where your sponsor found you, unless you’re killed along the way.
The competition is a series of tests that cover different skills with a duel between the four remaining competitors at the end.
Dorian offers to sponsor Celaena and promises that she will be freed after five years in the King’s service. Now, Celaena has been locked up in Endovier for a year (the average survival time is one month) and even nearly escaped at one point. Desperate for her freedom she agrees, on the condition that she will serve the King for three years if (when) she wins.
They settle on four.
Why has Dorian sought her out as his Champion? Celaena is known as Adarlan’s Assassin, the most notorious assassin in Erilea who was schooled under assassin Arobynn Hamel. Naturally, he also wants to anger his father (who he doesn’t really get on well with), by picking a girl as his Champion.
Yup, Celaena is eighteen, and much younger than any of them had guessed.
Arriving at Adarlan
Although Dorian is intrigued by Celaena, Chaol is not convinced. He’s rather hostile towards her and does not trust her one bit. They journey back to Adarlan and despite all of Celaena’s attempts at conversation, Chaol refuses to engage very much. When they finally reach Rifthold, Celaena is given an apartment in the old stone castle (the newer section is made of glass, which our assassin is not a fan of) and Chaol, as Captain of the Guard, places several soldiers around her to watch her at all times. Did I mention he doesn’t trust her?
In her new apartments Celaena tries to make some makeshift weapons of hair pins and what not. Naturally no sharp objects are left around her, cause well, Chaol doesn’t trust her. She is gifted with gowns and jewellery and tailors and maids that make sure she looks fantastic (Celaena is a bit vein by the way) and when she doesn’t look like she’s spent a year as a slave anymore Chaol shows her around the castle. The whole time Celaena plans possible escape routes and whatnot until they reach the library. Chaol is surprised to find that she loves to read, but doesn’t let her enter without permission. Back in her apartments Celaena writes a note to Dorian asking for permission to enter the library and shortly after a servant returns with a pile of books that Dorian wants her to read. Turns out he’s quite a bit of a reader himself.
Through her window Celaena is introduced to Kaltain, a young woman who’s after the place next to Dorian as his future Queen. Celaena ‘accidentally’ throws a pot of plants down her balcony but it ‘misses’ Kaltain and her lady friends.
The Competition Begins
Later Chaol takes her to see the King along with the rest of the competitors. Not surprisingly, all the other candidates are men. One candidate, Cain, Duke Perrington’s champion looks especially brutal and unfriendly. Celaena has to, from now on, pretend that her name is Lillian Gordaina, a jewellery thief from Bellhaven. The King doesn’t want people know that she is Celaena Sardothien, the notorious assassin, as she is quite a bit younger than what anyone expected.
On the way out of the meeting Celaena, Chaol and Dorian dump into Kaltain. Celaena is unpressed by the other girl who’s clearly after Dorian and it is clear from both Dorian and Chaol that they’re fed up with Kaltain. She’s just annoying and uninteresting. Dorian makes a show of favouring Celaena and she enjoys irritating Kaltain.
Chaol wakes Celaena up for the first day of training with the other competitors. She trains with Chaol and he is surprisingly good, while she is still struggling after a year in Endovier. The Weapons Master Theodus Brullo enters and the competition has officially started. They all have to introduce themselves and most of the men are entertained by Celaena’s new identity. Chaol instructs Celaena to not show off, nor get eliminated, but stay in the middle. Celaena, the show off that she is, despise this, but agrees. Brullo makes them do a long run and afterwards Celaena is so worn out that she throws up.
The following morning Celaena is up before Chaol has even reached her apartments and is already training. In the afternoon they take a walk around the castle and stumble upon Kaltain again who is showing a new girl around. This is Nehemia Ytger, an Eyllwe princess who claims to have come to Rifthold to learnt their language.
Celaena speaks to her in Eyllwe (she learnt it from the other slaves in Endovier) and she makes her first lady friend. They leave Kaltain behind and walk Nehemia to her quarters. Nehemia is loved by her people who are currently causing small rebellions due to the King of Adarlan trying to seize Eyllwe for his own.
There’s Been a Murder
Celeana continues to train with Chaol every morning and she runs farther and faster, although she always throws up (she does that a lot). With other words, her body is struggling to keep up. The day before the first test though, he doesn’t show up and it turns out one of the competitors, Bill the Eye-Eater, has been killed in the night, ripped open. People think it’s the result of a drunk brawl but Celaena is suspicious. At the training, where Chaol doesn’t show up, Celaena makes friends with Nox Owen, a young thief and shows him how to get better at knife throwing. Cain and Verin, the worst competitors, continue to make fun of her.
In the afternoon Chaol visits Celaena and they get to know each other a bit more. Turns out Chaol gave up his title as Lord of Anielle to come to court and become the Captain of the Guard; a title that Dorian managed to get him as they are childhood friends.
The First Test
The first test come around and it turns out to be archery. Celaena has to pretend she is worse than she is, only to not stand out and is not surprised that Cain is obviously the best. The youngest competitor, a boy called Pelor, does not impress Brullo with his lack of skill in archery, but somehow stays in the competition. He says he is better at potions.
During another morning run with Chaol, he asks about her scars and she tell him about the brutal time in the salt mines.
The following afternoon, during practice, one of the competitors, Sven, attempts to run away and the guards shoot him dead on the spot. They have been ordered to shoot to kill if any of them try to escape.
Talks Of Marriage
Dorian sits in the throne room with his Mother at court. He finds it awfully boring and she keeps nagging on about him getting married. She even suggests Kaltain (although it is generally understood that she has an agreement with Lord Perrington) and gives him a list of potential brides. He goes off to find Celaena training with Nehemia who turns out to be pretty good with a spear. Dorian doesn’t like that the princess is fighting and might be in risk of the incredibly dangerous assassin Celaena (even though she has loads of guards) but Celaena offers for him to fight the princess instead and teach her the art of swordplay. He gives in and when Chaol walks in and sees this, he’s fuming. He takes Celaena aside and they exchange a few insults.
Kaltain is getting more and more obsessed with Celaena’s (or Lillian as she knows her) hold on Dorian and speaks to Perrington. He despises Celaena too and Kaltain decides to get Celaena out of the picture.
Chaol warns Dorian to not get too near Celaena. He still (surprise surprise) doesn’t trust her.
Bored in her chambers Celaena decides to play the pianoforte. She’s rather good and she get’s so into it that she doesn’t notice Dorian walking in on her. She is angry when she notices him and he feels bad when he realises that she was rather somber when she played. She tells him that she was mourning the loss of a former lover: Sam.
Another test has come along and this time they have to climb up a castle wall to collect a flag at the top. Cain took the easy route, with the help of a rope, and everyone is as good as following him. Celaena, with the help of some tar is choosing a more difficult path. On the way however Nox is about to fall. He is dangling from a rope that one of the other competitors is trying to cut off. Celaena risks her victory by saving Nox’s life and almost comes last in the competition (only Nox is after her). He is not eliminated as someone else fell off the wall and died.
Shortly after the test another competitor is found dead, ripped apart with his insides missing.
The Plot Takes Us Underground
Celaena takes a walk in the park with Nehemia and finds a mark etched in the ground by the clocktower. She has seen one of these before. She asks Nehemia about it, but the princess claims she doesn’t know why they’re there, but tells her to stay away from them. They’re called Wyrdmarks.
When Samhuinn comes around (a festive time when they honour the dead) Celaena finds out that she is not invited to the party. She is offended, but spends the night in her quarters alone. During this time she finds a hidden door behind a tapestry next to her bed. She sneaks through and down underground. The passage (on of many) leads out to the sewers and Celaena plays with the idea of escaping, but resists. She know’s she’ll be caught and doesn’t want to run for the rest of her life. Through this view she can see into the ballroom though and notices that other competitors were invited to the ball, but not her. She sees Chaol leave the ballroom and rushes back to her room incase he’s gone to find her.
Later in the night Dorian visits her quarters. He finds her asleep on the bed and Chaol walks in on him, furious to find the Prince without guards in the presence of the assassin. He throws Dorian out, but stays himself. He gifts Celaena with an amethyst ring that were given out at the festivities.
Celaena dreams that she walks down the passage again and this time she ends up in another room, not the sewers. In the room she notices more of these Wyrdmarks and the sarcophagi of the first Queen of Adarlan, Elena Havilliard, first Princess of Terrasen (where Celaena is from) and daughter of Brannon. She was also the wife of King Gavin of Adarlan and half fae, as can be seen with her slightly pointed ears. Celaena also finds the legendary sword Damaris in Gavin’s grip. In the room she meets Elana, or a sort of ghost form of her.
Elena cannot stay long as she says the eight guardians (gargoyles on the clocktower) are distracted for now, but will be back. Elana says that Celaena has come to the competition for a reason. Celaena must destroy the evil in the castle, and win the title of the King’s Champion, that she understands the people and that Erilea needs her. She gives Celaena a piece of metal and gives her a kiss on the forehead and disappears. Celaena runs up to her room and wakes up. In her hand she finds a golden necklace that she chooses to wear all the time from now on.
The Serial Killer Continues
Chaol storms in to her quarters the morning after and wonder where she’s been during the night. Another murder (the competitor Xavier) has taken place. Celaena goes down to the tomb again to find out more about Elena, but finds nothing. She asks her guards to escort her to the library and on the way she sees Xavier’s dead body. His insides have been pulled out as well as his brain. The murders are clearly a pattern now.
Calaena takes a walk in the garden with Nehemia and the princess reminds her to stay clear of the Wyrdmarks when she asks of them again. She describes the recent murder to the princess. The stumble upon Cain and Verin and Cain makes it clear that he knows very well that Celaena isn’t called Lillian, but that he knows who she really is.
A few days later Celaena goes to the library again, with Chaol in the search for answers about the Wyrdmarks but can find nothing. She just finds strange theories and something called Wyrdgates.
Did Someone Mention Flirting?
In her apartments Celaena tries to teach herself how to play billiard, which is probably one of the few things she’s just not very good at. Dorian, the raving flirt that he is, walks in and offers to teach her. Cheesy banter and flirting takes place.
There Yet Another Murder
At the next test they have to pair up and spar with each other. Naturally, being teased by Verin, she beats him in the ring and shuts him up. It doesn’t stop Cain from still taunting her.
At a lesson later on with Chaol, they are told of another murder. Chaol invites her along to investigate the body and she tells him how she thinks Verin was murdered: slowly and painfully by something with very sharp claws. She also finds Wyrdmarks drawn in blood at the murder scene.
At a visit from Dorian in her chambers they speak of marriage and Dorian makes it clear that he is very much a man who’d rather marry for love than politics. The banter between these two is gold. He wants to know who gave her the ring that she got from Chaol.
In the dining hall Chaol has noticed something odd about Perrington. Perrington is not concerned about the murders at all and he seems a little distant.
Bring Out The Poisons
In the middle of the night Celaena gets another visits from Elena. She says she’ll find answers to her right and reminds her that she needs to win the competition.
At the test the next day the competitors have to line up poisons from most dangerous to least dangerous. And then drink the one they think is the least dangerous (with antidotes of course). Celaena struggles between the ‘wine’ and the ‘water’. To her right Peron is hinting that the wine is the safest and the ‘water’ the most poisonous one. She is correct, as is he. Celaena remembers that he was on her right and gave her the correct answer. Elena helped her after all.
Some Bad News
Celaena and Nehemia take a walk around the gardens and end up at the kennels where they meat Dorian. Celaena finds a pup that he is planning on putting down but she makes him promise to find her a home.
On her way back to her room she runs into Cain. He seems to approach her in a weird way and seems to not be able to breathe. Celaena notices that he seems to have become bigger and stronger as the competition has gone on. His black ring is gleaming on his finger and then he takes off down the hall without saying anything.
Kaltain meets with Duke Perrington again. She’s been smoking opium due to her growing headaches. She lies and tells the Duke that she has heard rumours of Lillian’s impure birth. She is set on getting rid of her opponent.
Celaena is studying Wyrdmarks when Nehemia comes in to her room, crying. She has received a letter that a group of Eyllwe rebels have been killed. Five hundred of them murdered by Adarlan soldiers.
Later Celaena discovers that her monthly bleedings have kicked in since she’s returned to a normal diet and she is in excruciating pain. Chaol comes in and believes her to simply feel sick due to the disturbing news of the rebels. He’s about to ask her something important when she, guess what? throws up. Again. He feels embarrassed and leaves. Dorian comes in instead and plays cards with her. He tells her to call him by his first name. He also tells her about the Yulemas masquerade ball and that she can’t go. She wonders if Chaol was about to ask her to join him before he got awkward and left.
Some More Wyrdmarks
Celaena takes a walk in the garden with Dorian. Chaol is watching (quite possibly jealous) worried for Dorian’s safety. He is intrigued by her necklace and says there was one that looked exactly like that, called the Eye of Elena that protected the old Queen against the Dark Lord. Celaena says she found it in her jewellery box and Dorian thinks it may be a replica.
When Celaena reads in the middle of the night she drops her book and when she goes to grab it finds several Wyrdmarks under the bed, drawn in chalk. She grabs water and washes it away. In desperation to find out more of the marks she sets off to the library. There she finds Nehemia reading an advanced book in the common tongue, even though she’s not meant to be fluent yet. She refuses to tell Celaena what it’s about and when she responds she does so perfectly in the common tongue without the thick accent she’s had before. Celaena is confused and starts to wonder if perhaps Nehemia is the person behind the Wyrdmarks and the murders.
Celaena Decides To Dress Up
On Yulemas Celaena wakes up to find a bag of candy from Dorian. When he visits her later he also brings her a gift. The pup from the kennel that she wanted saved. Worried about the Yulemas ball and the possibility that Nehemia might be plotting something Celaena decides that she will dress up and go to the ball anyways.
She joins Chaol to the temple for Yulemas (the both fall asleep) and a little girl dressed at Deanna, Goddess of the Hunt and Maidens, gifts Celaena with a golden arrow token that Chaol lets her keep.
Philippa, Celaena’s maid, helps her to get ready for the ball and makes such a fuss about her being late that the guards don’t question her and escort her to the ball. She makes a grand entrance and though Chaol takes her aside, she ends up dancing with Dorian. Kaltain, of course, bloody hates this situation. Celaena realises that Nehemia is not guilty and eventually slips away from the ball, but Dorian beats her to her rooms and goes with her in. He kisses her goodnight.
Celaena walks in on Cain
Kaltain and Duke Perrington walk and start to scheme a plan of how to get rid of Celaena.
Celaena goes back down the secret passage and finds Cain drawing Wyrdmarks and bringing forth a monster called a ridderak. She fights the monster and ends up in Elena’s room where she takes the sword from Gavin’s grasp and kills the monster. Unfortunately she’s been bitten and just manages to get up to her room before she passes out from the poison. Nehemia finds her and cures her with the help of Wyrdmarks. When she wakes up she tells Nehemia who she really is and Nehemia gives her the name Elentiya: Spirit that cloud not be broken.
The King Returns
After a practise with Chaol where he admits that he trusts her more and more they walk into the King who has return from Wyrd knows where. The King won’t tell Chaol where he’s been or how all of his party has mysteriously died on the journey.
At training Celaena tells Nox that he should leave. He realises who she is and she tells him to leave before he is killed either in the competition or by the monster. The following morning he has disappeared. This means there are only four Champions left.
After dinner Dorian plays chess in Celaena’s quarters. She tells him that she saw his Father but it ends up in a make out session.
The finals come around and Kaltain prepares to poison Celaena. Cain duels first against Renault and beats him in like three minutes. Then Celaena goes to duel Grave. She is offered Chaol’s sword but Nehemia offers her spear so that Eyllwe wood can beat Adarlan steel and Celaena accepts. She beats Grave in less than two minutes and very dramatically throws a handkerchief to him for his bloody nose.
Without any rest she straight away has to go on and fight Cain but before they’re given a drink of wine. Obviously, her’s is poisoned with bloodbane. Just as the fight starts the disorientation begins and soon the hallucinations. Cain beats her up slowly but surely, and taunts her with mentions of her parents’ deaths. He kicks her down and as she’s struggling on the ground Chaol (the best moment of the entire book) bends down, put’s his hand just next to the chalk line of the ring and whispers “Get up”.
Dorian is struggling with this situation as acknowledging that Celaena might be poisoned might also lead to her disqualification. Nehemia on the other hand, the badass princess that she is, goes to the ring and starts tracing Wyrdmarks in the air, very discretely though so only out favourite characters notice. She opens up this space between this world and the dead world and the bloodbane in Celaena’s blood allows her to see it.
Elena enter the space in-between and ward off any of the monsters that Cain has called upon. She traps Cain in his space as she rids Celaena’s body of the poison and puts a hand on Celaena’s forehead. A mark appears there, glowing. As she says ‘stand’ Celaena gets up (despite her insane amount of injuries) and pierces Cain in the side with the steel tipped head of Nehemia’s spear.
Celaena is declared victor, but as Dorian carries her away Cain turns on her to stab her in the back. Chaol gets there first and drives his sword through Cain, killing him. Kaltain furiously accuse Duke Perrington of not giving her a strong enough dose of bloodbane. Perrington plays innocent and accuses Kaltain of poisoning Celaena.
What Happens After
Dorian sees his father and makes sure that Chaol is not punished for killing Cain. He also makes sure that Duke Perrington will not use Nehemia to ward of the rebels.
When Celaena wakes up Nehemia tells her what happened a the fight. She explains that her whole family knows about the Wyrdmarks, but only use it for good and keep it a secret. Turns out Cain has brought all these monsters over from the other side and she’s been spending all this time sending all them back to where they came from. She admits that she came to Adarlan to keep an eye on the King and his movements. Dorian visits her and apologises for not doing anything to stop Cain at the duel.
The King of Adarlan speaks to Duke Perrington about his manipulation on both Cain and Kaltain. Somehow Perrington has been able to control Cain physically, and Kaltain emotionally. But he tells the Duke to stay away from Nehemia.
Chaol comes to visit Celaena and he apologises for not coming sooner. She thanks him for killing Cain, it was his first kill. She hugs him, but Dorian walks in on them. Chaol leaves, but as Dorian walks to kiss Celaena she ends their romantic affair. She refuses to be attached to him that way when she becomes the King’s Champion and Assassin (but secretly she likes Chaol, she just won’t admit it to herself.)
Chaol comes back and she tells him she ended it with Dorian. They toast for her freedom. Celaena visits Elena in her tomb once more. Elena says history has forgotten a lot about her and that bloodlines can’t be broken.
Celaena visits the King to sign her contract. He warns her that if she for whatever reason does not return from a mission he sends her on, he will kill first Chaol, then Nehemia and then her family. Celaena agrees and signs.
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