Series: Throne of Glass #1
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing
Published on August 2nd 2012
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Royalty, Young Adult
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Meet Celaena Sardothien.
Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.
In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake. She got caught.
Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament - fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin's heart be melted?
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Celaena Sardothian is rescued from a death camp by a handsome prince – but she’s an assassin, and must compete in a series of tests alongside other equally criminal hardened men for the chance to become the King’s Champion, a hero for hire for four years before earning her freedom once more.
Sarah J Maas’ book Throne of Glass was first published on FictionPress, where it amassed an enormous following. I was not a particular fan of this novel. I should have been, as it had everything I love: royalty, a beautiful and deadly character, magic and mystery. However Maas’ writing lacked terribly for me. I found an awful lot of telling, not showing in the novel. The biggest example is that Caelena’s an assassin yet kills absolutely zero people in the novel. Zero. Despite the fact that she’s always talking about how easily she could kill someone. I found this to be hugely inconsistent. Let me quote something I wrote at a mere 14% of the novel (it’s not spoilery):
Celaena is watching from her balcony as a woman of rank gossips with her ladies in waiting. She has five guards below her and she has just told us she can easily knock them all out with some heavy books from her library stash. A flowerpot crashes from a height and misses the gossiping women. Celaena ‘retreats’, looking at the sky. There is no confirmation given in the narrative that she threw it, but it does hint at such.
1) If Celaena threw it, how did she miss when she is such an awesome assassin who could easily take out guards with a few library books?
2) Why would someone keep a flowerpot on Celaena’s balcony when they removed absolutely every other weapon within reach?
3a) If Celaena didn’t throw it, why make it seem like she did?
3b) Who else would throw a flowerpot at a woman who has just referred to Celaena (unknowingly) as a harlot?
That’s not the only inconsistency in the novel. When it comes time for Celaena to actually fight, she is horrifically bad at it and is reduced to a damsel in distress. Celaena is the most entitled character I have ever read: she whines and complains that she’s not getting all sorts of special treatment, even though she has spent a year in a death camp and should have taken a cup of harden the fuck up along with that. Although she has to work hard to get back in shape (but she was doing manual labour in the death camp) her hair is still beautiful and shiny.
That being said, Celaena actually does have interests and is interesting herself because of her backstory, but her personality is rather bland. She flirts outrageously with everyone in sight. She constantly talks down to people and is inexcusably rude to the prince who rescued her and is her sponsor until it is convenient for her to apologise to him. I felt a lot of the way through that Maas really wanted to make Celaena a damsel in distress, which not only conflicts with her assassin upbringing and abilities, but struggles to find the balancing point between her awesome skills and her helplessness.
The books has an enormously obvious deus ex machina so if that’s your sort of thing, then awesome. Me? I kind of like my characters to actually work for their rewards. I felt too long like Celaena had danced around singing her own praises without showing us much substance, then when she was given the opportunity the author was too scared to let her real colours shine, so had to make convenient excuses for why she wasn’t kicking all the butt we were constantly told she was capable of doing. Also, Celaena was 100% certain from the start that she was going to win the challenge, so where’s the conflict in that? Comparing to The Hunger Games, Katniss was never sure she’d win it, even though she was the only accomplished hunter in the Reaping.
I liked the secondary characters. The love triangle in this book appealed to me and actually made me sad, as I could see her developing feelings for one man while the other pined for her. The female friendship was really cool until Celaena had to go and be a twat about it. The villains were pretty two-dimensional but that’s OK because if you like Celaena you won’t care.
Also, I had a problem with the climax:View Spoiler »During one of the challenges, Celaena has to rate poisons from harmless to lethal, and almost gets it wrong. Only the ghost/goddess/queen of an ancient past who has marked her as a ‘chosen one’ told her how to cheat, so Celaena gets the challenge right. No one knows Celaena didn’t know what she was doing, but later on during the climax, she is poisoned by the same poison she didn’t know about. Anyone watching her test would have thought she knew her poisons and wouldn’t have conceivably risked poisoning her with that particular poison. « Hide Spoiler
Overall I would recommend this book to fantasy fans – maybe not fantasy snobs or literature graduates because the fantasy is pretty trope-y and I found the inconsistencies between characterisation and execution to be the most annoying aspect. I probably will read the next books, but I am in no hurry for them