Sarah J. Maas’ bestselling Throne of Glass series is a thrilling epic fantasy. Celaena Sardothien—a teenage assassin with a grudge against the empire—is one of those unforgettable heroines whose quest for freedom and vengeance captivates readers from page one. If you’re looking for more Young Adult novels with multilayered fantasy worlds and characters with great destinies, here are 10 books you might enjoy.
1. Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard
Victoria Aveyard crafts a unique dystopian fantasy world. Mare Barrow is a “Red,” a commoner because she doesn’t have silver blood like the magical elite. She shouldn’t have power yet she does, and when her powers manifest, the king decides to pass her off as a lost princess and forces her into an engagement with one of his sons. She may be a prisoner at court, but in the true form of a YA heroine, Mare has an agenda of her own.
Like Celaena Sardothien in Throne of Glass, Mare finds that her world is not as black and white as she had believed; she never expected to feel sympathy for the Silvers who oppressed her people for so long. Cue the roller coaster of emotions as Mare juggles politics, rebellion, romance, and her own growing powers.
2. Graceling, by Kristin Cashore
In a land of seven kingdoms, Katsa is a “Graceling,” born with an extreme skill and marked by her different colored eyes. She is “graced” with killing and serves her uncle—one of the seven kings—as his assassin. Even so, she runs a secret rebel organization to aid the people of her kingdom. When Prince Po of the Lienids waltzes into her life, he challenges Katsa to think for herself and break free from her uncle’s tyranny. Together, they unravel a mystery to save their kingdoms from a threat only they know exists.
Katsa is a cross between Celaena Sardothien and Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. A skilled assassin who can kill a man with her bare hands, she’s a tomboy who’s much too practical for ball gowns or romance; well, at least one of those two things.
3. Grave Mercy, by Robin LaFevers
Grave Mercy gives us another fierce female assassin. Ismae is a survivor. She escaped an arranged marriage and found sanctuary at the convent of St. Mortain, where she and other girls are trained by the nuns to kill a man in countless ways. Not to mention, Ismae has been blessed with dark gifts from the god of Death. Her first assignment takes her to court where she must protect a young duchess and navigate deceitful allegiances.
Robin LaFevers’ fantasy world in medieval France has just the right balance of fiction and historical detail. Like Throne of Glass, Ismae must hold her own at court and hide her identity as “handmaiden to Death.” If you’re a fan of political intrigue and unlikely romance, this book is for you.
4. A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas
Fans of Throne of Glass will love this more mature fantasy series by Sarah J. Maas. When Feyre kills a faerie disguised as a wolf, she is kidnapped by a Fae lord and taken to his court. Feyre struggles to adjust to her new life in the magical and dangerous world of the High Fae, but finds herself drawn to Tamlin, the High Lord of the Spring Court. She learns that Tamlin and the Fae are under a curse, and they are running out of time to break it.
A Court of Thorns and Roses is a loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Maas gives readers more of what we loved in Throne of Glass—a tyrannical ruler, a dangerous court, a high-stakes series of life-and-death challenges and, of course, a sensual romance.
5. Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi
In Tomi Adeyemi’s kingdom of Orisha, the magic-wielding “maji” have been slaughtered and magic is dead. Zelie’s mother was a “maji,” and now Zelie has a chip on her shoulder and a debt to pay. When her path crosses with runaway princess Amari, she’s thrust into an epic journey to bring magic back to life. She may also be falling for her enemy—Amari’s brother, crown prince Inan. The book is narrated in their three alternating perspectives.
Like Throne of Glass, the king fears magic and fuels the mistrust and discrimination of Zelie’s people. Adeyemi introduces us to a vivid fantasy world and a unique system of magic based on West African folklore.
6. City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare
When her mother goes missing, Clary is taken in by the Shadowhunters—demon-hunting warriors with the blood of angels. For the first time, her eyes are opened to the paranormal underworld of New York City, and she finds herself in the company of vampires, werewolves, warlocks, and faeries.
Like Throne of Glass, City of Bones features a strong cast of characters and budding friendships. Jace, the teenage “golden boy” of the Shadowhunters, is like a male Celaena Sardothien: extraordinarily skilled, good-looking (and knows it!), and snarky. Together, they must uncover the secrets of Clary’s past and rescue her mother.
7. Truthwitch, by Susan Dennard
Susan Dennard paints a rich fantasy world similar to Sarah J. Maas’ kingdom of Erilia. Safi is hunted for her rare magic as a Truthwitch (she can tell truth from lies). She and her best friend Iseult, a Threadwitch, are on the run. As they are pursued by a dangerous Bloodwitch, the girls must fight for their freedom.
Truthwitch is an exciting novel about friendship, magic, and a kingdom confronted by a broken treaty and the threat of war. Safi and Iseult’s story is told in alternating perspectives similar to Throne of Glass.
8. Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo
Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone takes place in a Russian-inspired fantasy world where magic and technology coexist. Alina Starkov is an orphan, serving in her country’s “Second Army.” When she realizes she’s a Grisha with rare magical power, she is taken by the Darkling to train and hone her gift at the palace. Alina’s power may be the key to battling the Shadow Fold, a swath of darkness home to hungry monsters dividing the land.
Similar to the disappearance of magic in Throne of Glass, the Ravkan people don’t know how the Shadow Fold came into being, or how to destroy it. If you enjoyed the competition in Throne of Glass, you’ll appreciate the scenes at the Little Palace as Alina sharpens her gift as the “Sun Summoner.”
9. The Winner’s Curse, by Marie Rutkoski
In Marie Rutkoski’s Roman-inspired story world, the Valorians have enslaved the Herrani people. Kestrel is the daughter of a powerful Valorian general, and the time has come for her to choose between marriage or a future in the military (neither of which she wants). Then Kestrel’s familiar world is thrown off-balance when she is inexplicably drawn to a Herrani singer named Arin at a slave auction. Little does she know, Arin is a key player in a brewing Herrani rebellion.
While Kestrel may not share Celaena Sardothien’s fighting prowess, she is as sharp and cunning as the female assassin. Kestrel’s mind is her weapon. This is a story about political power, oppression, loyalty, and rebellion. Readers who loved the banter between Celaena and Chaol will appreciate the romantic tension between the witty Kestrel and strong-willed Arin who must overcome the divisive prejudices of their different backgrounds.
10. Sabriel, by Garth Nix
The daughter of powerful necromancer Abhorsen, 18-year-old Sabriel is finishing boarding school when she receives a message that her father is in trouble. She must embark on a quest into the dark, magic-filled Old Kingdom to find and rescue him. Journeying deeper into a world she knows very little about, Sabriel battles spirits and the undead as she searches for her father and uncovers her destiny.
Sabriel is a fiercely independent and capable heroine. She navigates Garth Nix’s imaginative fantasy world with bravery, determination, and an admirable self-assurance. Nix introduces us to his unique systems of magic in the Old Kingdom, Free Magic and Charter Magic. It’s worth noting that Sabriel was a favorite and a source of inspiration for Sarah J. Maas herself.