Book Reviews

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass series #1) by Sarah J Maas

Publication Date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Pages: 404
Rating: 2.5/5

Book Synopsis:

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 four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. 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.

My Thoughts:

I still don’t 200% know how I feel about this series, probably a little disappointed.  I just finished the A Court of Thorns and Roses series and couldn’t wait to get my hands on another SJM novel!  While Throne of Glass didn’t live up to my expectations created by ACOTAR, it was still a fun read.  So fun that I stayed up through the night to finish it!  My recommendation?  Give it a read, but be aware going into it that this was SJM’s debut novel.  She has done a lot of writing and a lot of growing between this novel and ACOTAR; so, don’t go into it expecting that level of brilliance.  (I have heard though that her later Throne of Glass novels get really good – so that’s something to look forward to!)

Praise for Throne of Glass:

  1. Celaena’s personality/interests: Reading reviews of Throne of Glass, it seems like a lot of people discarded the book because they disliked Celaena.  She’s smart, sassy, athletic, strong, well-read, enjoys dressing up in beautiful ball gowns, flirts shamelessly, and can speak multiple languages, etc., etc.  In short: she’s great, and she knows it.  I’ll admit that at the beginning I had a few issues with her myself.  My initial reaction upon reading about the spending spree she went on after her first paycheck was to cringe and pass judgement.  I was annoyed at SJM for carrying on the materialistic stereotype that women get straddled with so often.  The more I thought about it though, the more I appreciated having a female character that is physically strong, emotionally tough, wildly intelligent AND who enjoys dressing up.  Diversity can come in a variety of forms: race, gender, sexual preferences.  In this book, it comes in the form of a strong, badass female assassin who spends her free time reading every book she can get her hands on, has an affinity for clothes and jewelry, and entertains herself by batting her eyelashes at attractive men.  So often, strong female leads are portrayed as being above materialism and flirting; however, women can be strong and enjoy shopping at the same time.  It’s important for people to recognize that.  As far as her self-confidence goes, Damian was gorgeous, made eyes at every attractive girl that he crossed paths with AND was arrogant, and I haven’t seen anyone post anything remotely negative about him.  In short, people are annoyed with Celaena, because she’s a girl and she’s confident.  Shouldn’t we be encouraging women to be confident?  Shouldn’t we be glad for a female character that teaches us by example to be confident? Shouldn’t we be grateful that SJM didn’t spend half the novel dredging through Celaena’s insecurities and convincing her that she’s worthy of breathing in spite of being a woman?  To be clear, I think there are valuable lessons to be found in talking through and dispelling insecurities as well, but I see far too much of this in books already.  I found it refreshing to start out with a confident girl who recognizes her own strength.
  2. Fun read: This was just a really fun read.  As I mentioned earlier, I actually ended up staying up all night to finish it!

Opportunities for Improvement:

  1. THE LOVE TRIANGLE: Really, SJM?!? And yes, this one does deserve to be in all caps.  In Throne of Glass, Celaenea finds herself simultaneously falling for her two closest friends: the Crown Prince Dorian and the Captain of the Guard Kahol Westfall.  In SJM’s defense, she resolves the love triangle in this book, and I’ve heard that it doesn’t come back up in the rest of the series (thank goodness!), but I was disappointed and annoyed by it all the same.  I didn’t feel like it added anything to the plot to have her torn between these two men.  They’re both incredibly likable, so you don’t even have a clear favorite.  Near the end, she splits with one of them, but her reason for doing so felt uncreative and lackluster.  The scene in which she ends things was, in my opinion, too short to do the wrap-up justice and came on very quickly.
  2. The writing: So, I admittedly need to cut SJM some slack on this one.  The writing is actually not all that bad, it’s just not A Court of Mist and Fury good, which is what I was kind of expecting when I read this book. That being said, it was SJM’s debut novel, and it’s to be expected that she improved with time.
  3. Their roles: This irked me to no end all the way through the novel.  Dorian is the Crown Prince.  I guarantee you he does not have time to be playing in the dog kennels all day.  Kahol is the Captain of the Guard, THE CAPTAIN, THE LEADER, THE HEAD, and yet he spent most of his time following Celaena around or hoping the King would fill him in rather than actually directing the guard.  In real life, the Captain of the Guard would NOT have the time to follow Celaena around all day no matter how talented of an assassin she is.  Reading this book, it felt like SJM would randomly (when convenient) remember that the characters had real roles and responsibilities and would throw something in there about them attending a meeting.  It was like watching a TV show where they never go to work and being super annoyed, because how do they actually support themselves?!?  It’s just not realistic!
  4. The plot: When it came right down to it, the plot just wasn’t all that complex.  I will admit there was a certain amount of suspense that kept me reading and wanting to know how things would turn out, but I just wanted more from our world-renowned assassin.  I wanted crazy Six of Crows plot twists that required Celaena to be three steps ahead of the game (because that’s what I expect of Adarlan’s Assassin.)
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