Friday, 3 October 2014

Review - Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Published by Bloomsbury on August 7 2012
Genres: fantasy, young adult
Pages: 404
Rating: 3/5 stars
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.
I’ve been hearing about the Throne of Glass series all over the blogosphere for as long as I can remember (basically since 2012, when it was published), but I never got into it. Why, I have no idea, considering it is full of things I love, namely badass assassins and political fantasy. Yes please. However, I have had to take this book out of the library on three separate occasions before I was finally able to get past the first fifty pages. I just wasn’t feeling it.

I think that this book suffers from a rather weak opening, but it definitely builds as the book progresses. I grew to really like Celaena – it’s a nice change to see a YA protagonist who isn’t self-deprecating and is fully aware of how amazing she is. Celaena has her flaws, but that’s what makes her so dynamic and interesting to read about. I was also a humungous fan of the fledgling friendship between Celaena and Nehemia. I think that friendship between girls in YA is incredibly important and it was so refreshing to see that come about on the pages of Throne of Glass. Honestly, I’m quite enamoured with Nehemia all on her own; she’s a seriously ballsy lady.

There is what might be considered a love triangle in this book, which I wasn’t particularly pleased with. There’s some killer romantic/sexual tension between Celaena and the captain of the guard, Chaol, but there is also a weird romance between Celaena and the crown prince, Dorian, which I was less fond of. I do like the way that Celaena and Dorian’s relationship grew and changed over the course of the book, and I’m quite happy with where they left off at the end.

The one thing I found rather lacking in Throne of Glass was the action. It simply wasn’t as action-packed as I was expecting. There was a lot of reading and walking and running, but only a few real high stakes scenes stick out to me. I found that Celaena, for all her confidence regarding her abilities as an assassin, didn’t really do anything to live up to her reputation. She wasn’t as impressive as I wanted her to be. I also thought that the mystery wasn't as breath-taking and suspenseful as it should have been. I never worried for the safety of any of the main characters, nor was I particularly panicked to find out the identity of the murderer.

On the whole, Throne of Glass wasn’t a bad book, and it definitely had its interesting moments, but it wasn’t up to the standard I hold for fantasy books (by which I mean it wasn’t Froi of the Exiles calibre excellence). It was a decent introduction to the series, but I definitely think that things will improve as the tale progresses. The way that the first chapter or two were the shaky beginnings to this novel, I believe Throne of Glass stands as the shaky beginning to what will amount to an overall solid series.

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