"My name is Celaena Sardothien,"she whispered. "But it makes no difference if my name's Celaena or Lillian or Bitch, because I'd still beat you, no matter what you call me."
If only she had actually been the bamf she has claimed to be for the entire book.
The Throne of Glass is marketed as High fantasy but I'm struggling to understand why. Celaena Sardothien is an assassin, she's ruthless and cold-blooded. Or at least she says so. She's kept prisoner in Endovier, a terrible prison-like salt mine in which the inmates get whipped and beaten and raped. One day she's offered a deal, she'll be competing in a tournament representing the Crown Prince of Adarlan, in which she'll be fighting the most dangerous criminals of the land, in order to win and become the King's personal assassin. At the end of her contract she'll be free and her name cleaned up. She accepts the deal although she harbours a deep hatred toward Adarlan's King.
"We all bear scars... Mine just happen to be more visible than most."
Once taken to the Castle she's given a room, personal guards and a servant. She's asked not to use her real name because of the attention it could draw (because Celaena Sardothien's ruthlessness is very famous and everybody fear her!) so, when she's not fighting for her own survival, she dresses in silk and acts like a court lady. During the first days her most pressing concerns refer to her beauty long gone, she wonders whether or not men could still find her attractive despite the depravations her body has suffered in Endovier. Don't get me wrong, she's still flesh and blood and I get why she would be worried about that but there has been a moment in which I felt like there were far more descriptions of dresses and balls than fightings and plottings. (I say this also because the tournament is divided into trials and many times Celaena tells us she's just passed one that we never even saw happening!) As I already said Celaena never fails to tell us how she'd slit the throat of anyone with unbelievable ease and, you know, you kinda expect for someone who's had her past and upbringing to be dark and kinda pained, right? No. Her depth was only shown to us through sporadic nightmares. Mostly she acts like a happy puppy. She sleeps and snores and doesn't realize people are getting in and out of her room, she spends most of her time reading which is not shameful but damnit Celaena, how can you chill so much when there's so much shit going down everywhere you turn? She even eats unguarded food left on her bed when there's a mad serial killer roaming the castle! She puts herself in the middle of a love triangle and doesn't even care. She nourishes both men's fantasies without any kind of second thought (me is not slut shaming Celaena Sardothien, me is just saying that she's a very selfish human being). We see her actually fighting someone, how many times? One? Two?
The world building was not the best one I've ever read about. Printing a map at the beginning of your book doesn't mean you have automatically written a Fantasy. The Magical element was confusing, the King's deeds half-explained. Even the side characters were just there, witnessing Celaena's stunningness because she's special and unlike any other girl evah!
"You could be great. You could rattle the stars. You could do anything if only you dared."
I'll probably keep reading the series though. I'm still waiting for Celaena to go and finally kick some ass. I only hope that she'll stop playing with both men in her life as soon as she can. And, oh lord, let the female friendship be still a thing in the next books! Let's just say that I want to trust the hype for this one. I've seen this series everywhere and I want to give it another chance.
Finally, kudos to Maas for writing a female character that has her period. Despite it having been described like there was a dreadful creature ripping out of Celaena's belly tearing her in half, it was refreshing to get to see your heroine going through the same crap as you do.
For me, Throne of Glass wasn’t a book I was particularly looking forward to reading. As a rule, fantasy isn’t my favorite genre, and I was very afraid that Celaena would turn out to be some macho super-human knife-throwing chick (AKA, taking female empowerment too far). However, I was pleasantly surprised.
Celaena is an amazing protagonist. Yes, she’s tough and edgy, but she’s also feminine. She isn’t some glorified warrior princess who flamboyantly beats her male competitors and shoves her superiority in their faces. She likes dresses, she enjoys reading, she has nightmares, and she likes dogs. She was a very real character for me—Maas found the perfect balance between insipid tea-sipper and leather-eating man-woman.
I also enjoyed the cast of characters as a whole. Together they made for a dynamic story, interesting interactions and conversations, and on the whole made my reading experiences a hundred percent more enjoyable. Characters and characterization are the two things I value most in a book, and Throne of Glass delivered.
The plot itself was okay. There were no surprising twists, and I was certainly never on the edge of my seat. Truthfully, Maas employed some very predictible plot elements that I rolled my eyes at, and her attempts at suspense didn’t entirely work. However, the plot was good. It wasn’t horrendously ridiculous or irritating by any means, just predictible.
Going off of that, the pacing and style of this book were a bit unimpressive for me. Towards the middle, things started to drag, as I felt Maas was spending too much time working on the romance aspect instead of the more important stuff. And when the big end-of-competition duel came around, I was bored—the action didn’t hook me.
Oh, and on the topic of romance—love triangles. I hate ‘em, hate ‘em with a hate that goes beyond hate. In my opinion, a love triangle is THE WORST plot device to use. Ever. Period. End of story. And because the romance was such a big part of this book, I spent most of my time annoyed with Celaena’s love life. Only in a book, where you’re an absolutely stunning blonde beauty with gorgeous eyes, will you have not one, but two equally gorgeous and enthralling men vying for your attention. Only in a book. Ergh.
Okay, off of that topic. I do understand that the majority of YA readers adore love triangles, so I’ll keep my mouth shut.
One element that did surprise me about this book was the paranormal/supernatural slant that things took. Magic is a better word, I suppose. I definitely didn’t think this was going to be one of those fantasy books. Overall, I’m not sure if I liked it—Celaena’s “chosen one” aspect was a bit aggravating. I think I’ll withold judgment until I’ve read the whole series.
I feel conflicted with this book. In the beginning it was absolutely unputdownable, but as things moved on the appeal started to wane. I will say, though, that Throne of Glass is a very good book, an excellent contribution to the genre, and is recommended by me to anyone who likes fantasy. Not the most spectacular book I’ve read, but very good all the same.
Over-emphasis on romance; downplayed the fantasy the synopsis offered
I've heard a lot of mixed reviews about Throne of Glass. Some readers loved it, while some downright detested the story, so I went into it cautiously, but hoping for the better.
The story starts off with Celaena dragged out from the salt mines where she worked as a slave, and brought before Prince Dorian who asks her to be his champion in the competition for a royal assassin. If she wins, she can serve as the royal assassin for a number of years and be set free, her previous charges for assassination pardoned and she can go free. She then works towards her training to become the one to come out on top in the competition. And her competitions start dying off, one by one, of mysterious causes. Since she could be next, she sets off to find the killer.
The setting wasn't bad. It was in a world of fantasy, not unlike that of The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Poison Study, and Graceling. It was described in immense detailed, and while that gave me a very good idea of Celaena's surroundings, it got to a point where it was all too much. I mean, I don't really think that a page-long description of the throne room is necessary.
The plot line especially focused around her love triangle with the Chaol and Dorian, with some interjections of her gossip-sessions with Nehemia, the foreign princess. This played down the part of the suspicious deaths of her competitions, and in the end when it was resolved, I didn't feel a lot of emotions because of the lack of focus on the conflict. It also played down the fantasy bit and made it into a big-time romance. Not my favourite of all genres, but it could work for some people. Popping around the place was bits of magic, including the late queen Elena's ghost. If the story gave a bit more information about the magical background of Celaena's world, I think it'd be a bit easier for myself to digest and not as random. While I thought that the plot was downright unbearable at first, it did get a bit better, but I didn't feel a lot of emotion throughout the book.
Celaena's supposed to be a very strong, and hardened assassin. Personally, I like my heroines strong, and just a bit hardened so that I can see how she opens up to her friends and progresses into a kind person. Unfortunately, she's strong, or rather, obstinate to the point where I saw her as very rude. She's supposed to be wary of the world around her because of her experience in the salt mines, but she immediately starts hitting on Prince Dorian and Captain Westfall as soon as she's out of her slavery. Her actions and attitude doesn't really fit that historical time period. Besides, I can only read "He's so handsome" so many times before I want to rip my hair out. Honestly, is that all she sees in her two love interests?
Usually, there's a best friend thrown in the story to be a character's conscience, or even to see the contrast between the protagonist and her sidekick. In this case, Nehemia's personality was so much like Celaena's that I didn't really see anything special in her. I genuinely find her also very rude, putting down ladies of the Endovier court because she found them to be a very chatty. Yes, chattiness can be an irritant, but gossip doesn't really solve much in that field.
As a conclusion, I think that Throne of Glass had a very inviting synopsis, with a very interesting idea of a competition for the spot as a royal assassin, but was over-shadowed by romance and characters that I really didn't like. If you're looking for a very fantastical book, this isn't it. If you'd like to read a romance, you can go take this for a spin.