Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas is a stellar fantasy novel and an exciting series starter.
Celaena was the country's top assassin. But she made a mistake, and now she's wishing for death in the brutal salt mines at Endovier. Until she's dragged out to meet the Crown Prince. Turns out the King is hosting a competition to find his next champion. Out of spite, the Prince wants to submit Celaena as his own contestant. If Celaena agrees, Prince Dorian agrees to release her after four years of being the King's Champion. Celaena can't refuse the temptation of freedom. But now she has to endure fighting thirteen other champions and the presence of Prince Dorian and the Captain of the Guard Chaol. Then something starts killing champions.
I really enjoyed this book! I started reading it at the same time as Graceling, and I was struck by the similarities between the two (although they're really quite different). Throne of Glass (unlike Graceling) captured my attention right away. I was reading it on my Kindle during my commute, otherwise I probably would have finished it in one sitting.
Maas does an excellent job at building character relationships. Even though the competition should have been the driving force behind the book, I was way less worried about finding out what each new task was and more interested in the characters. Maas also seems to realize her strength in that sense as she doesn't spend more time than necessary talking about the tasks but focuses on the relationships building between different characters. She's also fantastic at building up mystery in the background. I was never entirely sure who was at fault and who was simply a pawn.
I can't wait to continue reading the series. I would recommend it to all fantasy lovers (but especially those who love strong female characters).