Title: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. MaasAs much as I am a lover of high fantasy, I had pushed this to my 2013 to-read list. However, the more buzz I heard about this book, the more I knew I had to read it now to see what all the fuss is about. See, it seems people outright loved or hated this book, and I had to know where I stood.
Page count: 404
Published on: August 7th, 2012
Goodreads rating: 4.18
Buy it via: Amazon|B&N|Book Dep
Rating: 3.5/5 Crystal Balls
Note: Light-Medium spoilers
Summary: 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 freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are male thieves, assassins and warriors from across the empire, each man 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 three years, and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Choal, challenging and exhilarating. But Celanea'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 Choal 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.
I'm somewhere in the middle, but with a lean toward the ‘thumbs up' side.
I really wish I could have given this book a higher rating, but I just couldn't. Especially with knowing how much history there is with getting this book published, but… it wouldn't have been honest. However, I actually liked Throne of Glass way more than I thought I would and I'm glad I decided to fit it in this year. My disappointment with this story though is that it’s so bursting with promise, it could have easily been a five star book, but there were many things standing in the way of its true potential. Things, in fact, that left me scratching my head, and raising my eyebrows, numerous times.
What didn't work for me
- I'm all for stories taking a little bit of time to be built up. In fact, I prefer it, because when you get to all the ‘juicy’ stuff, there’s more of a payoff, because you've had a real chance at becoming invested in the characters, and their world. But there’s a huge difference between that, and nothing really happening for the first 100+ pages of the book. For the first half of Throne of Glass, I just felt like nothing actually happened. It took an eternity for the plot to go anywhere. It was an endless loop of Celaena travelling to the castle, walking around the castle, talking about books, talking about books to the Prince, training for tests, and thinking over and over again how she could kill everyone around her with her bare hands, and moaning constantly how her beauty has faded. I think that if a lot of the stuff that filled the first half had been condensed and didn't take up so much of the story, it would have made the overall book flow much better.
- I found the writing style to be quite strange at times. On many occasions, I couldn't tell who was actually speaking or whose point of view it was from, which means I had to re-read the same sentences/sections over again.
- I think the most frustrating thing about this book to me, was how it was all talk, no action. You would think a book about the most deadliest assassin would actually involved her killing someone, but nope! I'm not saying Celaena had to go around killing everything and everyone. That’s not that point. However, when you have a character that’s supposed to be the best assassin ever, you can’t have just the character think it and be true. Or everyone around her, saying 'Celaena Sardothien is the most ruthless assassin in existence', without actually proving it. There was some action toward the end, but that didn't make up for the complete lack of it throughout the book. On top of that, there are certain things – that I won’t be spoiling- that happen in Throne of Glass that make Celaena seem like she lacks basic common sense, which is a hard pill to swallow for someone who is supposed to be so masterly.
- I thought the world-building was on the weak side. The setting felt kind of generic and something you could see in any high fantasy story. Nothing in particular made it stand out or made it feel uniquely to this book alone. I just would have liked things to be a bit more fleshed out.
- I didn't mind The Prince. In fact, I liked him, but I found he took up a lot of unnecessary time in the book, as well as his relationship with Celaena. I get why there was a triangle, but as someone who has a 98% zero tolerance policy for triangles, I think the book would have been much stronger without one. Also, I'm confused as to how Celeana even developed feelings for the Prince in the first place. It just sort of seemed to…happen. Suddenly out of nowhere, she wanted to kiss him. All I can think was, I guess she likes him because he brought her books?! Let’s just say I was more than pleased the direction their relationship took at the end of the book. I’m glad she realized her freedom what was most important. It would have been ridiculous if she had been ‘in love’ with him, when they barely know each other.
- The entire mystery of Throne of Glass was amazing in theory which is why it pains me to say that imo, it felt flat. It just took so long for things to be set in motion, and by the time things started happening, it was painfully obvious who was responsible for the murders. To be honest, I don’t even necessarily have a problem with 'obvious' things, but it depends on the execution, and in this case, it was just too slow, too predictable, and didn't do enough to demand the reader’s attention. (Though, I thought the way things played out at the very end was an interesting set-up for book two.)
- I also thought the tests the competitors had to take part in before the duals were so basic. I don't understand why they weren't more challenging.
- Like I mentioned above, I had problems with how Celaena was developed and there were certain things I could not buy about her character, but despite that, I grew to care about her a whole lot and found myself wishing for her success and happiness. Initially, I wasn't sure what I was supposed to make of her character in general. There is no wrong way to be a woman, but I was concerned by her egoistical nature and that by making her so perfect with everything she touches (music, books, animals, the Prince, etc) that the story was trying way too hard to make her appealing. However, little by little, I started to see her as a flesh and blood character. All those aspects became a part of who she was, and what makes her tick. Yes, she could be aggravating at times, yet at times her quirks were also endearing. I think all of this made her a more real, well-rounded character.
- Chaol absolutely stole my heart, and he was the one thing that kept me pulling back into the story, even during the parts I was struggling to get through. I thought his characterization was extremely well–done. From the start, he came across a three dimensional character, and I couldn't help but become invested in him. He’s absolutely the kind of flawed yet rootable YA male character I love to see and without a doubt his character has earned a spot in my top 5 males of YA fic.
- The most pleasant surprise of Throne of Glass for me was the very honest yet touching relationship between Chaol and Celaena. I loved how we see them gradually earn each other’s trust throughout the story. By the end, there is an unshakeable bond of friendship between them and deeper feelings that aren't yet prepared to face. Their relationship was not only compelling, and beautiful, but it was believable, and gave me all those appropriate butterfly feelings in my tummy. The very last scene between them put a smile on my face and filled me with glee. I thought it was the perfect ending and an awesome look at what’s to come for their relationship in book number two.
- Another one of my favorite things about Throne of Glass was Nehemia’s character and her friendship with Celaena. Nehemia was a very strong and complex character on her own, and she added a lovely depth to the story.
- I couldn't be happier with Celaena officially named the King’s assassin at the end of the book. I feel like with that, it opens up so many possibilities, and the story will finally be able to move forward in a big, exciting way.
Despite so many nitpicks, I ended up really adoring Throne of Glass and I think Sarah J. Maas has delivered a solid debut. I definitely think this one is worth a read, especially for all you high-fantasy lovers out there, this might be one you want to add to your collection. It may have it's flaws but with Throne of Glass, there is still a lot to enjoy, and there is plenty of room for the series to grow as it continues on.