I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on August 7th 2012
Genres: High Fantasy, Young Adult
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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 three years and then be granted her freedom.
Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. 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.
Thorne of Glass has a lot going for it. It’s packed full of action, mystery, likable characters and fun dialogue. On the flip side, it also has a few tropes that I usually make me want to rip my hair out strand by strand: the love triangle, semi-insta love and predictable plot twists. That by no means makes this a bad book, because despite those annoyances, I was fully engrossed in Throne of Glass.
The Plot and Writing:
While the synopsis may come off feeling a little Hunger Game-esque, let me calm your fears now. It’s not. Celaena is a young assassin who begins the book being dragged from her prison in Endovier, a salt mine prison for criminals. She’s given a choice to become the king’s champion (or lackey) for four years in exchange for her freedom at the end of her service. The catch is she must compete for the “honor” against other criminals. Sounds easy, right? Of course. Then people start dying, ahem, mysteriously!
With that small description the plot sounds like a winner, but I found it to be very predictable. I knew who the villain was and the foreshadowing was not subtle at all. At one point, Maas does try to steer the reader in another direction, but I knew it was just that, a distraction. But regardless, I couldn’t deny that it was an exciting read. It’s kinda like this: I knew how things probably would end, but I still ended up having fun along the way.
Even with it being a little over 400 pages long, it certainly doesn’t read like that. The narration is set at a good pace and flows very nicely. The only thing I have to say about the writing style was that at times it felt a wee bit cheesy. There were a few lines like “Oh and she simply adored…” or “Oh how she loved candy!” that made me cock an eyebrow, but thankfully they were few and far between.
There’s nothing I love more than a strong female character who speaks her mind and gives an entire male cast of characters a run for their hard-earned, cash money. Throne of Glass is being marketed as the teen girl version of Game of Thrones. Now, I’ve never read the books or seen the TV show, but I’ve heard enough about the depiction and treatment of woman in that series to say it’s probably not for me. However, this is where Throne of Glass excels. Not only does it present a strong female MC, but a another secondary character, Nehemia, who also happens to be a person of color. Oh, yes, you read that right. No, ridiculous, over stereotyped, token character here! Because you know, if there is one thing that irritates me the most, it’s misrepresentation in YA novels. But that didn’t happen here. Nehemia is strong, incredibly smart and underestimated (of course) by everyone at court because of her nationality. Their mistake! I pity the fool who finds their self on the other end of her staff. It won’t be pretty. Beautiful chaos. I’m hoping we get to see a lot more of her in the series. ;D
As for Celaena, well, she and I had this love/hate relationship going on. I find it really interesting and smart for Maas to create a character who is almost the opposite from what her society expects of her. They expect a proper lady, who never swears, has proper manners, reads poetry, quiet, ect. But Celaena is none of those things. Early on it’s established that she dislikes the social expectations and makes it a point to use profanity and to embarrass the man folk with her readings of “Sunset’s Passions”. Seriously, she was owning these guys left and right.
“By the Wyrd! Do you actually read this rubbish? What happened to Symbols and Power and Eyllwe Customs and Culture?”
She finished her drink, the ginger tea easing her stomach.
“You may borrow it when I’m done. If you read it, your literary experience will be complete. And,” she added with a coy smile, “it will give you some creative ideas of things to do with your lady friends.”
I mean, can we all say, “In YO face.”
“Here’s a lesson for you, Weapons Master,” she said, stalking past him. “Give me real men to fight. Then maybe I’ll bother trying.”
And her witty lines only get better and better from there. But of course, with all the pwning going on, she had her faults with being arrogant. Very, very arrogant. And that is where the hate comes into play. She was just too good and from the very beginning I knew Celaena would triumph because she is depicted as slightly Mary-Sueish. She’s a well known assassin that can seemingly not be defeated and all man-folk fawn over her left and right. And that bothered me because it felt like there was so much more to her.
The Triangle of Love:
I was warned that this book contained a love triangle and this alone is enough to make me cringe. There are very few love triangles that I love and unfortunately this isn’t one of them. When Celaena arrives at Rifthold she is drawn to both the Captain of the Guard, Chaol Westfall, and the Crowned Prince, Dorian Havillard. Oddly, it’s not because the characters aren’t likable enough together and it’s not even the fact of one of the love interests treating her wrongly. The problem I had was Dorian and Celaena’s attraction. Most of the time it felt forced, awkward and contrived. I couldn’t understand where they had the time to get to know each other long enough for her to stop hating him BEFORE she started liking him. There was even a scene where Dorian promises Celaena that he won’t kill one of his new pups that he deemed untrainable. And she goes, “You’d do that for me?” I swear I could FEEL her eyelashes batting at him at that very moment. I think that was supposed to make me like Dorian, but all I could do was roll my eyes.
Contrastingly, Chaol’s seemed like a much more developed and realistic relationship, if you even want to call it that. But their feelings felt more organic. Side note: I don’t know if this is even considered a love triangle yet. It reminds me of the whole Jacob vs. Edward. We all knew Bella would pick Edward in the end. Was Jake ever a real contender? I think not. But from what I hear from readers of the original story on Fiction Press, Celaena had quite a few suiters. It’ll be interesting to see how Throne of Glass deviates from its roots. So, I suppose we will just have to wait for future installments to find out.
All in all, though it was not what I was expecting, I still enjoyed Throne of Glass. I really believe it will appeal to many young girls and I’m happy to see great examples of strong female characters in a YA novel. It feels like the sequel can only get better from here based on that ending (no cliffhanger, thank goodness!) and I, like many others, eagerly await book two.
ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you!