Title: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J Maas
Published by: Bloomsbury
Publication date: 2nd August 2012
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
Source: Private Collection
Meet Celaena Sardothien.
Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.
In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an 18-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 brought this book when it came into the shop, as I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. Figured I would give it a try and see what all the fuss was about. What was all the fuss about!?
Celaena Sardothien is an assassin of extreme reknown, currently enslaved in the Endovier mines after being captured during one of her missions. She’s busted out of the labour camp by Crowned-Prince Dorian and his friend, Captain Choal Westfall and offered her freedom. In return she has to compete as a Champion in a tournament of skill.
It sounds like a wonderful premise and just the sort of book that I would adore. However, I couldn’t really get to grips with the novel. Rather than it being about a gifted young woman being a highly trained assassin, it was a love-affair of epic proportions that just felt stale with a few short scenes of ‘bad-assery’ thrown in. I think this one of the main issues I had with the book – we’re told several times that Celaena is a skilled killer and yet she does very little to show this aspect of herself – rather she spends her time whiling away her hours in bed, reading books, gathering love interests, attending parties (or complaining that she can’t attend parties) or taking walks and making friends. It’s lovely to see characters doing all these wholesome things, but it made me feel like the book was mis-sold. I was promised fights with other assassins and thieves, and got… love triangles and sappy romances.
The biggest hook for the novel is the promised fight-to-the-death tournaments between skilled combatants, yet there is precious little of this in the story itself; there are a couple of challenges that the reader is able to engage with; an archery contest, knife throwing, poison knowledge, but these scenes are few and far between – shoe-horned in between Celaena wearing pretty gowns and the whole cast of characters blushing incontrollably. I don’t feel like Celaena really did anything to prove that she was ‘Queen of the Underworld,’ and throughout the novel she is often sneaked up on while she is asleep. And when, she finally get’s the chance to show her assassins skill-set, she is drugged and need divine intervention in order to beat the ‘big-bad.’ The whoel premise of her charcter was an anti-climax.
The plot in itself was finely represented, but I just kept waiting for the whole tournament to get going and for something exciting to happen. I don’t feel like the book ever got going properly and that a lot of the key-event was glossed over – to the point that some of the entrants (including a semi-finalist) weren’t even named. It was as though the key-selling-point of the novel wasn’t really all that important and the emphasis was on seperate elements of the plot; the romance, some murders and developing friendships. It’s my own fault really, I didn’t realise that this was a Young Adult novel and after my last YA read, I swore off the genre. This one snuck up on me and I gave it a pass because Throne of Glass has been highly recommended to me by several book reviewers. I think I was largely put off by how entitled Celaena acted throughout the novel – I suppose it’s in keeping with the emotional maturity of teenagers – but her constant whining, mockery and sense of entitlement was draining to read about. Especially considering this young-woman has been locked for the past (year? 4 months?) in a slave-labour mine.
And I’m not done with Celaena yet! She is the ultimate in ‘special snowflake’ everyone falls for her, even though at every turn she pushes them away. She is beautiful, clever, flawless. The reader is told all the amazing things about her, but it feels like we’re being pressured into liking her ‘just because,’ there’s very little to admire in her. She puts other women down when she meets them because they aren’t as ‘good’ as her. I found it all very trite and tiresome. The fact that most of the male characters around her end up falling for her was the icing on the cake – and the sprinkles were her being dumb enough to keep vital information from her close now friends and love interests because ‘it might get her in trouble.’ I think the issue is that Celaena doesn’t even do enough to make her a decent-unlikeable character, there’s just no developed depth to her. We’re told a lot of things, but it has no substance.
As a fan of unique-world and world-building, this was another letdown. The World is being taken over by Adarlan and its rulers, they’re brutal and merciless in their attempts at world domination. But they live in a glass castle – it feels like common sense has gone out the window here. People in Glass houses and all that… But there’s very little we’re seen or told about the world other than Adarlan is bad but better for Main Character than being in a Labour Mine and there’s another country, Eyllwe, that is rebelling against them. That’s about as deep as the setting gets.
Throne of Glass is the first book in a series of nine, I don’t think I’ll bother with the rest of them.
Comparing this to Game of Thrones is a pretty far stretch of the imagination!