Part Three: Magic, Destiny, and Acceptance by Anjeanette LeBoeuf


AnjeanetteThe last young adult fantasy book series I will be looking at is Sarah Maas’s Throne of Glass. Sarah Maas’s Throne of Glass is a combination of all the elements which we have looked at in the previous two series, Girl of Fire and Thrones and Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Throne of Glass was originally conceived of as a remake of Cinderella but mingled with action. It is so much more than, weaving fantasy with gripping action, hard emotions, and love stories to revel any romance novel. And like the previous two series, it has been picked up to be turned into a TV series.

Her success from Throne of Glass has led her to create another highly successful YA series A Court of Thorns and Roses, a reworking of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast (this series has ultimately turned into a weird mixture of fantasy and romance). The later books within the Throne of Glass series carries large elements romance too but should not be defined by it.

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Maas’s series takes place in a fiction world, Erilea, where magic and magic-bearing beings live. We enter the world, after magic has seemingly disappeared and the King of Aderlan has started to take over all the known world.

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The main protagonist is Celaena Sardothien. She is a trained assassin who has been locked up in a horrific slave camp. We meet her in the first book, Throne of Glass (2012) when she is utterly broken and trying to retain her sanity. She is offered an ultimatum by the Prince of Aderlan, to compete in a competition to become the King’s Champion. By winning the competition she will not only gain the title of being the assassin for the Crown but also her freedom. While she is competing against other highly skilled male assassins, she discovers a battle brewing between the forces of good and evil. She is selected by the spirit of a former Queen of Adarlan to become the champion of good. The series will play out with Celaena coming to grips with her tragic past, accepting her lineage, role, and power. She not only is the best assassin but also might be one of the most powerful magic bearing creatures.

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Throne of Glass deals with violence, rape, trauma, survivor’s guilt, forgiveness, retribution, revenge to just name a few. Celaena is a tortured soul, who has constantly had to endure sadness and pain, both physical and emotional. She is an active agent within her own story and life. She is also in control of her sexuality. The series really tries to establish a healthy discussion of sexuality and of empowerment. It doesn’t try to sugar coat the world by having Celaena and the captain of the guard riding off into the sunset. Instead she shows how Celaena makes hard choices, choices for her well-being and find ways to heal herself, ultimately saying goodbye to the captain and sailing off to find her destiny elsewhere.

Despite the amount of beatings Celaena has had to endure, she keeps on fighting. In the third book Heir of Fire (2014), Celaena finally comes to grips with her past and guilt. She also comes to realize that the shame she has held on to, is not something which has permanently tainted her, that she can rise again from the embers. She comes to realize, along with the readers, that she is more than her wounds, her scars; that her light is so much stronger than the dark. At the end of Heir of Fire, she accepts her fate, her role as a queen and as a savior:

She would not let the light go out. She would fill the world with it, with her light – her gift. She would light up the darkness, so brightly that all who were lost or wounded or broken would find their way to it, a beacon for those who still dwelled in that abyss. It would not take a monster to destroy a monster – but light, light to drive out the darkness. She was not afraid. She would remake the world – remake it for them, those she had loved with this glorious, burning heart; a world so brilliant and prosperous that when she saw them again in the Afterworld, she would not be ashamed. She would build it for her people, who had survived this long, and whom she would not abandon. She would make for them a kingdom such as there has never been, even if it took until her last breath. She was their queen, and she could offer them nothing less.[1]

The next two books, Queen of Shadows (2015) and Empire of Storms (2016) explore Calaena and her friends, accomplices, and soulmate start to fight against the rising forces of evil. The series also does an interesting job in having a diverse supporting cast; a burly warrior who is not defined by his sexuality, a blood thirsty witch who discovers her heart and leadership are not dependent on how many people she kills, a prince who was used for evil against his will and is trying to find his way back, and many more. The writing is rich, the storytelling is fierce, and the female characters are deep. The series illustrates that despite overwhelming odds, being pushed into a corner, and seemingly fighting an impossible outcome that we must always stand for what we dream for, what we hope for – what is right and true. Something in the coming months we need more of. It is another reason that reading provides a haven and a place for inspiration. May we all be like Calaena, accepting of our wounds and standing against an unmovable force, shouting to the heavens, “NO you move.”

 

[1] Maas, Sarah J. Heir of Fire: A Throne of Glass Novel. New York, NY: Bloomsbury, 2014. Print. 469.

 

Anjeanette LeBoeuf is officially a Ph.D Candidate in Women Studies in Religion at Claremont Graduate University! Her focuses are divided between South Asian religions and religion and popular culture. She has become focused on exploring the representations of women in all forms of popular culture and how religion plays into them. She is an avid supporter of both soccer and hockey. She is also a television and movie buff which probably takes way too much of her time, but she enjoys every minute of it. Anjeanette has had a love affair with books from a very young age and always finds time in her demanding academic career to crack open a new book.

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Categories: Literature, Popular Culture

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1 reply

  1. It is incredible the space that fantasy has to defy the traditional boundaries and reveal true healing for us. Perhaps one day you will also try your hand at writing one. How cool would that be?

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