Title: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Rating: 2/5 Stars
Throne of Glass is not a novel I would put on a throne, or any kind of pedestal for that matter, whether it be made of glass or brick or wood. If anything, it is a novel I am throwing – or have already thrown actually – into my Cavern of Disappointments where I can hopefully forget it ever exists and satisfy myself by re-reading assassin novels where the assassins actually assassinate! You see, like so many novels before it, Throne of Glass had an immense amount of – wait for it - potential. Yet, like so many unfortunate novels before it, it failed to take its potential and hone it into something truly remarkable, mind-blowing, and fantastic.
Celaena Sardothien is rumored to be the most dangerous assassin in all of Erilea, but she is imprisoned in the deadly mines of Endovier. Thus, when Crown Prince Dorian and his Captain of the Guard, Chaol, make her an offer – stay in Endovier where she will certainly die within months, if not years, or participate in a competition and win to become the King’s Champion, or his personal assassin – she cannot refuse. Yet, the competition isn’t the only thing on Celaena’s mind; many of the competitors are being mysteriously killed, or mauled, by what seems to be a nameless beast. Thus, while Celaena is competing for her freedom, she is also fighting – for her life.
I’ll come straight out and say it – I didn’t buy this story one bit. Throne of Glass is filled with superfluous descriptions of how the
is terrified of Celaena Sardothien, of how they dread her power, and of what an incredible assassin she is. Yeah, guess what? Celaena doesn’t assassinate anyone in this novel, not even a measly little fly. Thus, you can only imagine my disappointment at discovering that no, this is not a novel about dangerous assassins doing what they supposedly do best – assassinate – it is actually a novel about a series of trials which are different stages of a looong competition. If that wasn’t enough to turn you off about this book, perhaps the thought that these trials include mundane tasks such as archery, scaling walls, and poison identification certainly will. *queue snores* Yet, to make matters worse, Maas glosses over and doesn’t even describe to the reader the majority of the trials which take place, casting them in a realm of total insignificance. Okay, so assassinating isn’t important, an assassin competition with trials isn’t important, so what is? One word: romance. kingdom of Erilea
Celaena Sardothien, assassin extraordinaire whose goal in life is to eliminate nobles and those of high rank, winds up falling for not one, but two guys. Yes, you have my permission to smack your head against the wall – I know I did. I despise love triangles, but if it is well-done, I can certainly appreciate and enjoy one. Unfortunately, the love triangle in Throne of Glass is not one I liked at all. Maas attempts to make these relationships far more complex than they seem through intense conversation and a prodding of deep secrets, but for all the discussions she throws in, she fails to succeed. Why? You see, it isn’t simply enough for two character to have a conversation – that conversation needs to play an integral role in their romance. Crown Prince Dorian and Celaena, for all their meaningful discussions, are attracted to each other purely because of their killer-good-looks, making their romance no different from your usual, run-of-the-mill, insta-love story. On the other hand, I really liked Chaol – from his quiet demeanor, to his initial distrust of Celaena, to his gradual admiration and deep caring for her, Chaol totally won my heart. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be sticking around to see if he wins Celaena’s heart too. (Translation: You’ll have to pay me to continue this series.)
Nevertheless, all those qualms aside, what really grated on me were the little things that could have made this story better but failed to do so. Throne of Glass is marketed as being a fantasy novel, but the world-building is rather lacking. While we know the main idea and overarching premises of this land, we are kept in the dark about the specifics that readers so desperately crave to glean a better understanding of this story. Furthermore, the mystery in this novel was incredibly predictable. It was the type of story that had me rolling my eyes and yelling, “do you really think I’m that dense?” at the novel multiple times – yeah, not good signs. I think if you are the type of reader who liked stories such as Cinder or other books with predictable plots this won’t grate on you so much, but I hated the fact that even this oh-so-mysterious-and-dangerous element of the story was ruined for me far before I even neared the end of this tale.
For all my complaints about this novel though, there were a few things I liked. Celaena was a character I never loved, but I did appreciate her for she was simultaneously flirtatious and feminine while maintaining her aura of kick-ass and deadly. (Key Word: Aura. She didn’t actually prove she was kick-ass and deadly at all.) Furthermore, I liked the fact that she was flawed and suffered from vanity, arrogance, and stubbornness, just to name a few shortcomings. It made her far more realistic and while it did render her in the role of an irritating protagonist, it didn’t bother me too much. Yet, where Celaena fell out of my good graces was when she began to lead on the two men who held affections for her. Enough about Celaena though, let’s talk about the one character I actually loved in this story who wasn’t Chaol – Nehemia. Nehemia is the princess of a land which is looking to rebel against the iron fist of the king, Dorian’s father. She quickly becomes one of Celaena’s closest friends and their friendship, as well as Nehemia’s own individual strength, was some of the best aspects of this story.
Ultimately though, this isn’t a novel I would recommend. If anything, I’d tell you to pick it up from a library to read or just skip it all together. It isn’t a story about assassins, it isn’t a novel chock-full of mystery, it doesn’t contain a well-written romance, and it most certainly does not have any of the killing, danger, or badassery promised in its synopsis. In fact, while many readers were worried about this story becoming another Hunger Games, I almost wish Maas had simply locked up her assassins in a glass castle and told them to fight each other to death – it would have made for a far more interesting tale. Plus, as far as originality goes,
Maas loses the award on that front as well as her story is astonishingly similar to Maria V. Snyder’s Poison Study except without, you know, the complex romance, incredible world-building, and actual assassin who assassinates. If you’re looking for a book about assassins, this just isn’t it; instead, go check out Graceling by Kristin Cashore. I promise you, real assassinating really does happen in it.