Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

review
Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. MaasThrone of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
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Rating:
Pages: 404
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on May 7th 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.
The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

This book and series had a lot of hype. It’s why I added it to my “to-read” list and why I bought the first book in paperback (and subsequent books on my iPad). I’m glad I read the A Court of Thorns and Roses series before Throne of Glass. This book was not good is an extremely simple way to express how I felt once I finished. There were so many things that just rubbed be the wrong way. If you have not read Throne of Glass I suggest you read no further in this review – as it’s been out for a few years I don’t plan on hiding any of the spoilery tidbits behind filters.

Sarah J. Maas is a capable writer – A Court of Thorns and Roses series is proof that she can handle complexity on several different levels (plot, character development, relationships, pacing, etc). This level of sophistication was not present in Throne of Glass and is what really let me down. I’ve tried to group together what really

Celaena. A lot of my problems come from the main character. Celaena is painted as this hardcore assassin, she talks about easily killing her guards and those around her and yet does nothing. Instead she’d rather preen on about her looks, clothes and jewelry. So much for hardened assassin serving in the mines for the last two years. What little credibility she had in the first few pages was quickly destroyed. She’s also too great, too skilled to be believable. I need some visible flaws and some insight into her character, not this immature young woman. It’s ridiculous how absurd her personality is. I’m all for having a cocky lady-assassin, but Maas lost me with her personality.

The ending of this book is another area where Celaena felt too unreal. A fight like that against Cain – it just wasn’t believable that she would manage to hold on that long. Even with the supernatural elements, taking a beating like that is just too over the top. Maas needed to scale back Cain in order to make me not scoff at that fight scene.

Chaol. A young Captain of the Guard who hasn’t killed anyone? How exactly did he rise through the ranks and get this coveted position. The characters need to have backgrounds that are believable and realistic, even in fantasy novels. Chaol also felt more like Dorian’s guard than the King’s throughout this entire series. There just could have been more.

Dorian. Dorian felt a little more fleshed out than Chaol – at least his background/personality felt more realistic. However, both Dorian and Chaol need to be more than just romance fodder. Like Chaol, there just could have been more time spent developing Dorian on his own and not just as Celaena’s love interest.

World Building & Relationships. It’s a sad day when an author sacrifices world and character development in favor of romance. Maas spent so much time convincing us that Celaena belongs with Dorian or Chaol that the whole point of the book – for Celaena to win her freedom and become the King’s Champion – was an afterthought. Erilea is too generic, and really on described when it served the story. I’m not asking for lengthy descriptions of the kingdoms but I want more than a map in the beginning of the book. Give some historical background – the kingdom is at war, TELL ME WHY! The love triangle should not have taken up a majority of the book.

Villains. Cain, the King and Perrington felt a little unfocused. The last two really could have been set up and fleshed out a little more. They are both “long-game” characters and their stories aren’t just limited to this book, so yes I understand not tipping her hand so early but I could have done more with the relationship between these characters.

Things I Did Like. Maas knows how to build suspense – I’ll give her that. Yet there still could have been more to layer the story for the subsequent books. This is an area where the focus on the romance really hindered any world building Maas could have done and in large part where the story starts to suffer.

If this is how you feel, why do you continue to read this series? This is a question you are all probably wondering. And the answer is quite simple – I know where Maas ends up as a writer and I hope that she can redeem this world, these characters and this story in some fashion as the series progresses. A Court of Thorns and Roses is why I will keep reading this book, because I know what she is capable of as her career progresses. I just hope I’ll be able to say the same for the characters.

Throne of Glass is entertaining and probably worth a read if you are a fan of “fantasy-lite” young adult books, with a strong focus on romance and little on the actual fantasy world. I was not immediately blown away by the story, the characters, or the plot. The writing was okay, not the worst I’ve ever read but no the greatest.

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