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July 22, 2013

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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.
Going into Throne of Glass, I predicted that I'd either love it or hate it based on the mixed reviews I had previously come across. Having actually read the entire book now, it's safe to say that I was wrong. While I can't say I thoroughly enjoyed it like some or completely disliked it like others, I ended up with a very bittersweet reaction that I'll do my best to explain.

Celaena Sardothien is unlike any protagonist I've ever read about--her status as a notorious assassin easily sets her apart. Anyone who knows me fairly well will understand how much I appreciate a strong heroine, so in that respect, I adored Celaena. At the same time, however, I found a couple of flaws in her character as well. I was a bit bothered by her overwhelming interest in fancy clothes and decor, mostly because I expected that someone with her level of rigorous training would be less of a typical girly girl. She also seemed a little clueless at points even despite the fact that she can take on a man twice her size. Nonetheless, I was entertained by her wit and attitude throughout the book.

There isn't too much world building in Throne of Glass, but I was able to forgive that since I know that novellas depicting the events before the start of the novel do exist. I loved the incorporation of magic and otherworldly elements, but I did have a little trouble understanding just how everything came together. I also found that the novel was a little lengthy. It took a while for any action to take place and I thought that several scenes could have been cut without issue.

As for the romance, somewhat of a love triangle is introduced and I assume will be further explored in the sequel. Dorian, the crown prince, is initially Celaena's main interest, but I must say I didn't see the appeal. For me, Dorian was a bit too much of a player and also more submissive than necessary at the hands of his father, the king. It seemed to me that he was only interested in Celaena as another conquest since he knew that there was no true way for them to be together. On the other hand is Chaol, the king's chief guard. Chaol was everything I expected in Dorian and then some. While Chaol and Celaena's relationship would essentially still be forbidden, I appreciated that Chaol knew his boundaries. He also had a very sharp sense of humor and his selflessness blew me away.

Overall, Chaol and Celaena's friend Nehemia were the highlights of Throne of Glass. I'm likely to read the sequel to see what happens with Celaena and Chaol, so let's hope it's not quite so long. Fantasy and action/adventure fans, if you think you might be interested, give this one a shot.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

1 comment:

  1. When Throne of Glass was first floating around the blogosphere I was so crazy excited to read it...then the mixed reviews started piling up and I pushed it WAY down on my wishlist because, well, too many books too little time. I really like the way that you describe Chaol though so I think I'll be grabbing this one from my library soon. [: