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 three years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. 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.
I just could not get into this book, which is a bummer since I thoroughly enjoyed Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series! I am even hesitant to write this review because I know that this book is near and dear to several people. So, let me be clear: I am in the minority of folks who did not enjoy this book. I also want to point out that this was Sarah J. Maas’ first book and that she started writing it when she was in high school – that fact alone explains away the majority of the complaints that I have about this book. This review is much more negative than what I usually offer, but my hope is that my review will help bring down some expectations so that the next person who reads the book will have more realistic expectations and might enjoy Throne of Glass more than I did.
The premise of the book is great! The most notorious assassin in this fantasy kingdom is pulled out of a slave camp to fight in a tournament for her freedom and the right to be called the King’s Assassin – sounds bad ass, right? Well, most of the badassery ended there.
I was expecting a Hunger Games style tournament, or at least something reminiscent of the gross worm challenge that we saw in A Court of Thorns and Roses. What I got was summer camp activities: an archery challenge, a rock climbing challenge, etc. It is also no surprise that Celaena won the tournament – Maas was not going to kill off her main character in the first book of this massive series. This knowledge took away any real sense of risk or danger going into the tournament.
I was expecting political intrigue. What I got was a love triangle and I was just not in the mood. I am so sick of love triangles being the central focus of fantasy books. You can have a complex love story without throwing in an unnecessary third party; love triangles are an overused tool in young adult plot lines. Life is not full of love triangles – if it is, you probably don’t really love either person in that triangle.
As a character, Celaena was pretty obnoxious; I did not enjoy her company and I was stuck with her for the entire book! Celaena is young, only seventeen, and it shows in every way: she’s immature, judgmental, selfish, obsessed with her looks, and boy crazy. I just could not enjoy Celaena as a character. Maybe if I read this book when I was a teenager or in my early twenties, I might have better connected with Celaena. But as it stands, I just could not totally get behind Celaena as a character.
*Side note: This is a complaint about all of Maas’ books. Maas drives me crazy with the over use of vowels in character names. Just because it is a fantasy book does not mean you have to make the names so complicated that your readers cannot read them without a pronunciation guide. The names in this series just look to me like Maas said them out loud and then tried to work in as many vowels as she possibly could, particularly the letter “e”! End of side note rant!*
Maas’ world building was weak. 99.9% of this novel takes place within a castle with a very small number of characters, which stunted my understanding of the world, the culture, the history, etc. Friends of mine who love this series have reassured me that the world building is much better in the second book as Celaena travels beyond the castle.
The secondary characters were flat and underdeveloped, particularly Chaol Westerfell. There just could have been so much more! And I’m sorry, but how on earth does someone become the head of the guard without ever having killed a person??
I’m going to go ahead and end my review there. I hate writing such negative reviews – nobody wants to read a review where all you do is complain about the things you did not enjoy. But I just couldn’t help myself – Throne of Glass was not my cup of tea.
I doubt that I am going to go ahead and read the rest of the series. My friend Jenny O’ (with whom I do my buddy reads) is trying to push me to give the series a second chance and to read the sequel. I’m currently less than convinced. What do you all think? Should I give this series a second chance and keep reading?
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Title: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (August 7, 2012)
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Fiction, Fairy Tale, Romance, Action & Adventure
Read… on the couch over the weekend while… snow fell outside.
Purchase your copy here.
Author: Sarah J. Maas