Monday, August 20, 2012

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas


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 kingdom of Erilea 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.

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. 

33 comments:

  1. Oi! Tell us what you really thing, why don't you? Hah, kidding, I just love how fabulously detailed and honest your reviews are.
    Something was keeping me away from this book from the very beginning. I knew she's girly and that she doesn't actually kill anyone, and it made me oddly reluctant to pick it up. However, what I find unforgivable is the lack of worldbuilding in a novel marketed as fantasy. That's not something I can live with.
    Another great review, Keertana. Our tastes tend to align so I'll just skip this one and be done with it.

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    1. LOL! I have to agree with you though Maja - this is probably my snarkiest review ever! I really would recommend skipping this one though. It wasn't even that entertaining to read, so I was quite disappointed by it. Plus, as you said, lack of worldbuilding always turns me off. I'm glad you found this helpful though, Maja! :D

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  2. This is yet another wonderful review, hun! It seems ridiculous that a book about an assassin wouldn't feature her killing anyone!! Also, she sounds like a character that would drive me nuts (perhaps she's related to Lila :p )

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    1. Thanks Mandee!(: It does, doesn't it? Gosh, yes, she totally drove me nuts, but I think Lila had a few redeeming qualities and the action in that novel made me enjoy it more than I liked this one, which is saying something since Lila annoyed me quiteee a bit at first. *sigh*

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  3. This book has been in so many giveaways lately that i assumed it must be awesome, apparently people are just wanting to get rid of their copy because it wasn't that good? Thanks for the review.

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    1. You're EXACTLY right! I actually won this book in a giveaway twice and contemplated giving away my copy too, which I would have done quite gladly if it were not for the fact that I didn't have any more money to send this one out. Still, this is the exact reason people are giving it away - at least, some people. I know quite a few people who really enjoyed this one, so I guess it's all a matter of opinion. *shrug*

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  4. Oh dear.

    I have this from NetGalley, but have yet to read it. I know, I'm terrible in getting around to reading book! Glad I didn't buy it.

    Unfortunately I've heard this side and the good side. A lot of people have focused on that she doesn't assasinate. To be truthful, I don't actually mind love triangles that much as long as the book is well written and everything isn't predictable. However this sounds exactly like the kind of book I don't like.

    Deary me! I'll give it a shot at some point. haha. Great review, Keertana! :)

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    1. Thanks Olivia!(: I hope you wind up liking this one more than I did! I think you might since you don't mind love triangles too much and this one wasn't as bad as some others I've read this year, so I wish you the best of luck! I can't wait to see what you think of it though! :D

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  5. Wow, I thought I was going to be the only person not wild about this book. The best thing I can say about it is that it's readable- meaning it's good enough to finish. But, I do wish it had been a tiny bit worse so I could have stopped and dropped it into the DNF pile. I often wait a little while after finishing a book before I write a review- and what I've found with this book is that it's forgettable. It's too much like every other book of its type and doesn't stand out at all.

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    1. I agree - it's very readable! Either than that though, its forgettable and as you said, fails to stand out. I actually got so fed up of the love triangle that I was quite seriously contemplating not finishing it, but I pushed on through. I didn't enjoy it at all, so don't worry, you're not alone! :)

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  6. I had a similar reaction Keertana! I honestly thought I was the only person that wasn't blown away by this book and it was beginning to give me a complex. I agree with everything you said about her being an assassin, that was my biggest issue as well. We're told repeatedly how awesome and terrifying and capable she is, but I didn't see her display those epic skills once until the very end. I also thought the tests were somewhat unnecessary as they were completely glossed over after the first couple - not that it wouldn't have gotten tedious to have 23 tests detailed for us, but I would have liked for them to have been something where Celaena could show off her skills. Still, by the end I was able to settle in a bit more, so I'm probably going to pick up the next book to see if the assassin is a bit more prominent in that one!

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    1. Exactly! I hate authors who tell-not-show and it annoys me like nothing else does. Celaena wasn't even a quarter as cool as she supposedly was which was very disappointing. Plus, while I didn't want all 23 tests, at least some of them should have been unique or interesting, right? =.= I'm glad you were able to settle in with this more than I was, Jenny, so hopefully you'll snag an ARC of the sequel and let me know how it is! If it's better than this, I miiiight decide to pick it up...maybe... ;)

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  7. Yeah, that was definitely in the back of my mind while reading--the author should show us, not tell us, right? I think Sarah Maas wants us to read the novellas in order to actually see Celaena kick butt. Sigh.
    And you're not alone in loving Nehemia! That girl was SO great. :) Thanks for the honest review!

    - Lauren

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    1. I agree, but I didn't enjoy the writing in the novellas at all, so I avoided them after the first few pages. *sigh* Nehemia was SO awesome though, right? If she has a larger role in the sequel, I might actually pick it up! :D

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  8. I'm glad we feel the same way about Throne of Glass, Keertana. :) And I love your opening paragraph- it describes my feelings towards this book perfectly, haha. :) Love triangle+ no assassinating+ whiny, arrogant and vain heroine+ lack of action and world building= fantasy-lite read. (Isn't Tatiana brilliant for thinking that term up?) :)

    Stunning review, Keertana!

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    1. Thanks Leanne!(: Yes, Tatiana is a true genius for thinking up that term! I feel as if we all use it so often that I can't imagine what we said before she thought it up! ;) I really do run away from books with love triangles these days though...darn all those beautiful covers! I always get bedazzled by them! >.<

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  9. I have to laugh at your "Cavern of Disappointments" Keertana! I'm sorry this didn't work out for you. I have this one sitting on my shelf and I just never seem to pick it up. Now I don't feel so guilty. Someday. Wonderful review. :)

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    1. Thanks Rachel! Yes, you don't need to get to this one anytime soon, really. I'll be interested to see what you think of it though!(: Gosh, my Cavern of Disappointments is like a black hole in my room! Ratio of Awesome YA to Disappointing YA? 1:5 :/

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  10. Awh. After reading thousands of gushing reviews, I thought that this book would be great. I'm so sorry to hear you didn't enjoy it, Keertana. I personally haven't read it myself, but it does seem silly that a supposed incredible assassin doesn't assassinate anyone... Huh. Nevertheless, thanks for the honest review, Keertana! :)

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    1. I know a lot of people who really loved this one, Sophia, so hopefully you will too! I'll be interested to see what you think of it! :)

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  11. Oh no I've heard great things about Throne of Glass but your review had so many of my pet peeves. The Love Triangle, I dread these things and despise them. I had a difficult time getting through Cinder precisely because of it's predictability so I can already imagine I might have a tough time getting into Throne of Glass.

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    1. I thought I might have been the only one who had difficulty getting into Cinder! ;) In that case, I don't think you'll enjoy this book too much, Isa, but I hope you do anyway! I'll be interested to see what you think! :)

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  12. Really great, honest review. I have seen a few negative reviews for this book and I can understand where they're coming from. I did enjoy the book, but I didn't love it as much as many others did. I respect your opinions! Thanks for sharing.

    Steph @ SteppingOutOfThePage.co.uk

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    1. Thanks Steph!(: I'm so glad you were able to enjoy this book - I really wish I could have! I feel as if I'm too picky about a lot of aspects of novels, so I wind up being disappointed more than pleased, but I am very happy you liked this one! :D

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  13. Wow, one of the few negative reviews of this book I"ve seen! I guess I'd better get off my butt and read it for myself. Nicely reviewed, Keertana.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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    1. Thanks Wendy!(: I wasn't a big fan of this book, but I do know a lot of readers who were, so I'd love to see what you think of this one! :D

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  14. Unfortunately, I have to say I agree with everything in your review. I started out REALLY liking it and the fact that Caleana was not your typical idea of an assassin, but could embrace her feminine side too. Yet as the novel wore on, her personality grated on my nerves, and I just wanted her to KILL something! BE all she claims to be! Exactly as you explained, I wanted my assassin to actually be an assassin.

    I was a fan of Chaol too! But just not enough to save me from disappointment. I can understand the reasons why other's were huge fans, but I guess some books just aren't for everyone. Fantastic review!

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    1. Thanks Brodie! I'm glad I'm not the only person who was disappointed by this book. I seriously wanted Calaena to be that kick-ass assassin too and the fact that she wasn't was such a HUGE downer!

      Yay, Team Chaol! :) It didn't save me from disappointment either unfortunately, but it's good to know I'm not alone!

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  15. I love your honest review! The trials do sound rather... disappointing. No assassinations?!

    I kept on eye on this book for a short time and watched the positive reviews come in, but I haven't read any negative ones until now. Can't pin down any particular reason, but I find something off-putting about Throne of Glass even though the summary seems interesting. I think it sounds good -- has potential -- but I'm still uncertain. After reading a recommendation this week I decided to request it from the library -- if I don't like it, at least I didn't buy it!

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    1. I'd love to see what you think of this one, Raya! It has potential, I agree, but I felt as if its execution failed. I hope you enjoy it more than I did though and yes, at any rate you didn't waste money on it! :)

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  16. Haha, this seems like such a hit or miss with people! I'm in the former but I can definitely see why people wouldn't enjoy it. I was disappointed that there wasn't much actual assassination but I hope we get to see it more later on the books. I was surprised there was a mystery aspect to the book because I wasn't expecting it. IDK, I think this is probably like the case with The Selection (which I didn't like) where it depends on people's expectations of it? I've been hearing this called fantasy lite a lot which sounds about right so far.

    The story was originally published before Poison Study on FP though. I'm always wary when people disregard it for its lack of originality (it's not the most wholly original story but it's not a knock off either, I think), even though it is inevitable considering the myriad stories that cropped up/got pubbed before this.

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    1. It does, doesn't it? I'm glad you liked this one though, Elena! I definitely do think it falls into the fantasy-lite category, which I fear is a downfall for avid fantasy readers like me. :/

      Yup, I did hear it was written before Poison Study but originality or not, I felt as if the plot and characters of Poison Study were better fleshed out. It's a matter of personal opinion though I think and really depends on the person. I am sincerely very happy that you were able to enjoy this - I wish I had too!

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  17. I understand your points, however if you want to create a character who is redeemable at some point - you cannot have someone who assassinates for fun - how could you like that character?

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