Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass, #1)

throne-of-glass-cover

4stars

Rating: 4 Stars

In a world without magic, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the vicious king who rules from his throne of glass but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she will be released from prison to serve as the King’s Champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. And a princess from a faraway land will befriend her. But something evil dwells in the castle—and it’s there to kill. When the competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival—and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.


[This Book in One Sentence: An infamous young assassin leaves certain death in a prison camp for a fight to become the King’s Champion, but dark forces inside the kingdom might smother Celaena’s life before she has her chance to win.]

Hey guys! I feel like it’s been forever since I posted a new review. Well, not really…  I did discuss Silver in the Blood less than a week ago. I try to maintain a regular posting balance that isn’t annoyingly frequent. In actuality, I read a new book every two days; in fact, I’ve read three books (about 1300 pages) this week. But I must take time to collect my thoughts, and to ensure that I can deliver a post containing a healthy mixture of book-fueled emotions and objectivity.

Unfortunately, the practice of blogging can be quite angering/depressing/UGHHH. Book blogging involves yours truly pounding angrily on the keyboard to get her point across about HOW MUCH SHE HATED THIS and WHICH CHARACTER SHE WANTS TO MARRY.

Throne of Glass… how can I describe Throne of Glass?

I hear Celaena does car commercials–in Terrassen.

I hear her hair’s ensured for 1 million gold coins.

One time, she met Prince Dorian on a plane, and he told her she was pretty.

One time, she punched me in the face… it was awesome.

(Mean Girls reference, come on!)

Not only is Caleana Sardothien the most infamous (and gossiped about) assassin in her own kingdom, she’s also the It Girl of 2015’s blogiverse. I swear, I couldn’t blog without seeing the cover of Throne of Glass, a.k.a Celaena’s stupidly perfect face and platinum blonde hair. This is especially true since Queen of Shadows was just released as, erm, the fourth… or fifth… or sixth… lord, I don’t know, umpteenth book in the series chronicling Celaena’s rise, fall and rise from obscurity to stardom to shame to stardom. Everyone is fangirling hard.

So, why did I decide to finally start reading this series? I wanted to understand what all of this shit was about! Exhibit A, B, and C: Is Celaena really that badass? Who is this Chaol guy? Wtf are you guys even talking about? I was tired of asking those questions, sooo I snagged a signed copy at my local independent bookstore.

And… oh, Lord have mercy. Throne of Glass is addictive. Throne of Glass is empowering. Throne of Glass is a good start to a series that I am going to continue. YES I LIKED IT. I didn’t think that I would due to its immense popularity. I’m no hipster, but most of the immensely popular books that I’ve read (excepting such classics as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings) were pretty shitty.

I am proud to say that I didn’t have to whine about Throne of Glass not meeting its potential; instead, it exceeded my expectations. Anyway, let’s get to the discussion.

When we first meet Celaena, she’s residing in a dangerous prison camp called Endovier. It’s where men and women, regardless of age (Celaena was just 17 years old when she was brought there), are tortured, killed, and sometimes raped. Celaena is locked up because she’s the kingdom’s most notorious assassin; she is a household name, whispered about by thousands of people with fear & excitement in their eyes.

One year after being thrown in captivity, she is brought to Prince Dorian by the royal Captain of the Guard. The prince informs Celaena that she has been chosen as his champion in a multi-man competition. The prize? Four years of service as the King’s Champion, followed by a royal pardon and a massive gift of material wealth.

If Celaena doesn’t take it, she’ll be stuck in Endovier where the life expectancy for most is just a few months. So she accepts the deal. This culminates in her arrival to court as the distinguished Lady Lillian, a beautiful 18-year-old blonde who reads poetry and wears frilly pink gowns. On the battlefield, she’s vicious; among courtiers, she must hide her true identity. But make no mistake: Celaena’s destiny is much bigger than the Prince, the royal family, and the glass castle itself.

Woah.

Alright, I’m going to break this discussion into pieces. (This makes it more simple to follow for my readers and makes certain passages easy to find for myself.)

  1. Writing Quality
  2. Worldbuilding
  3. Character Development
  4. Plot

Writing Quality

The creative and tactical skills of a writer can make or break a plot like this one. In the hands of a less attentive and/or talented writer, Throne of Glass could have been a disaster.

Luckily, Sarah J. Maas has the style. 😉

Throne of Glass possesses a particular knack for pacing, which means the writing almost never feels drawn out or rushed. I couldn’t put it down; I danced at the thought of reading it. The best writing forces you to care about the characters, even some of the stupid ones. This, combined with perfect pacing, has made Throne of Glass a literary dream come true for some readers.

However, I could have done with less repetition of certain words. I swear, at least three of the primary characters purred more than twice and batted their eyelashes enough to make them fall off. Why is everyone purring and batting their eyelashes in the castle? Have they miraculously been transformed into cats or sexy George Clooney clones? No? Then keep those descriptions to a minimum; or, at the very least, don’t make them so obviously frequent.

Another problem I had was with the contrived romance. This is a common issue in novels with plots that are far bigger than the characters. (“Save the world/kingdom/city/village/house/bathroom/toilet brush!!!”) I feel like authors are just sticking romance where it wouldn’t normally blossom so that the poor characters can have happiness before the inevitable political implosion or very real explosion. I kind of felt that way here. I had no interest in either of the “love interests.” The relationship development was fine in terms of a friendship, but I couldn’t see sparks that would ignite any sort of passion.

Overall, the writing style itself was easy to follow, exciting, and certainly fit the assassin-based battle narrative while still appealing to a diverse group of readers.

Worldbuilding

Given that this is a series, I haven’t seen enough of Celaena’s world to make a fair judgment. For the first book of a multi-installment series, I think that the worldbuilding is decent in Throne of Glass. Current (and very important) politics are discussed. Nearby and faraway cities relevant to the story are also described by the main protagonist. From the frightening men of the White Fang Mountains to the lost magic and rebels of Ellywe, I can already tell that this world is going to be deliciously thorough.

I would like to learn more about Celaena’s homeland and background. If this were a standalone novel, I would be angry about the worldbuilding. But because it’s the first of many books, I think that Throne of Glass sets the stage and gives the reader a fair amount of information. I just wish I knew more! *cries hysterically while waiting for library to have the sequel*

Character Development

I honestly don’t know where to begin.

Main Characters:

Celaena Sardothien is lovable but so, so arrogant and snobby, which I actually adore about her. She is a model for girls everywhere (excepting her proclivity for chopping people’s heads off). Look, many authors have attempted to create strong female characters, but they’re really just making tokens. Celaena is no token; she exemplifies a real girl. She might be a little too beautiful and skilled, but not everyone is average or below that point. Some people excel. And I think that Celaena is heartbreaking, real, and destined for greatness.

Celaena is a powerful warrior who was trained by a Master Assassin. But, she’s still an 18-year-old girl. Maas paints a wonderful character with this information. What I appreciate most about Celaena is her love of weapons and looking hot. These two traits are not mutually exclusive. Why shouldn’t girls have a zeal for colorful dresses and jewelry? You can use readily equipped high heels to stab someone. Maybe put poison inside a locket necklace. Women don’t have to look like brutes to kick ass and take names.

Prince Dorian… erm… from what I can see, he’s just a pretty boy with an affinity for books and being a spoiled brat. I think he still needs to grow out of whatever his deal is, if he really wants to help his country and his friends. He makes ample progress in Throne of Glass, and I can’t wait to see what kind of person he gradually becomes. I think that he’d make a great king, but I don’t want to see Celaena on the throne next to him. I mean, I’d love to see Celaena on the throne by herself, but not with Prince Dorian beside her. I do not ship them one bit.

Chaol Westfall, Captain of the Guard, is probably my favorite male character besides one of the other competitors who will not be named. He opens up to Celaena very gradually and has understandable thoughts about her. He’s realistic, and I have sympathy for him. In my opinion, his was one of the better-crafted character arcs in Throne of Glass.

Notable Female Characters:

Also, Princess Nehemia rules. She is a person of color and a foreign princess with a great mind. I love that she exists. Plus one to Sarah J. Maas for creating her.

Lady Kaltain made me sad. A lot more could have been done with her character, but maybe that’s because I sympathize with her. I’m mad at the author for characterizing Lady Kaltain in a wholly unfavorable way. Trust me, I love a good snob, but this girl was treated poorly by Maas (my opinion, don’t kill me).

I could talk about the other competitors and the courtiers and the royal family, but I don’t wanna be here all day.

The Villainy Treatment:

In addition, The “bad people” are a little too one-sided for me. I mean, you guys were probably wondering why I’d give this book 4 stars instead of 4.5 or 5 if I loved it so much. Well, a sizable portion of the issues stem from slightly flawed character development and a lazy treatment of the villains.

I’m not going to say who they are, but c’mon, really?

The characterization is so one-sided; this person makes me want to tear my hair out. For real. Newsflash, most villains don’t actually think that they’re doing evil for the sake of evil. They believe that they are the good guys or at least that the end justifies the means. Real bad guys don’t just cackle and mutter to themselves, “evil…. EEEVVILLLLLLLL…”

Overall:

The character development could use some work, but Celaena is a protagonist that readers like to stick by. She’s the tough best friend, beloved by me and every other fan. A+ to Celaena, B+ for Chaol, and scores ranging from C- to B- for the other characters.

Plot:

Although a few of the plot points were noticeably overused cliches in the genre (Young Adult/Fantasy Fiction), Throne of Glass was interesting and held up by badass characters, amazing scenes, and skillful dialogue.

But: it includes a love triangle. *SHRIVELS UP AND DIES OF SADNESS*

Why. Why? Why must we have another love triangle? I know that creating relationship-ships is an effective way to market your book to hormonal teenagers, but please think about the depressed twenty-somethings who have had awful experiences in love and couldn’t imagine anything worse than having to fend off not one, but TWO guys.

Rant over.

Conclusion:

Throne of Glass has several flaws that kept it from receiving a perfect or near-perfect score: shaky character development, repetitive descriptions, overused tropes, and undeveloped romances.

However, beneath all of that is an insightful story with a powerful female protagonist who can walk the walk and talk the talk. I love Celaena, and I’d stay up all night reading about her no matter what she’s doing.

A solid 4 stars to Throne of Glass and a commendation to Sarah J. Maas for creating one of my favorite female characters ever.

I’d recommend this book to Everyone. Literally, I think it will appeal to you if you are a person who can read. You should especially read Throne of Glass if you love fantasy, strong women, action, assassins or intelligently created court intrigue.

Throne of Glass was originally published on January 1st, 2012.

2 thoughts on “Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass, #1)

  1. Thuong Le says:

    Glad you enjoyed it! The fandom for this series has just escalated! A lot of people seem to not like the first book but so many people say the series get better. I guess what put me off the book was that Celaena is conceited, but I hoping I can look past that. It’s quite cool that the author had posted this on FictionPress before getting a publishing deal. I am sort of reading this atm but will give me my full attention once I finish my current book 🙂 Anyway, great review!

    Like

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