Throne of Glass
by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Publication date: 07 August 2012
by Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Hardcover, 404 pages
When magic has gone from the world, and a vicious king rules from his throne of glass, an assassin comes to the castle. She does not come to kill, but to win her freedom. If she can defeat twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition to find the greatest assassin in the land, she will become the King’s Champion and be released from prison.
Her name is Celaena Sardothien.
The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her.
And a princess from a foreign land will become the one thing Celaena never thought she’d have again: a friend.
But something evil dwells in the castle–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying, horribly, one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival–and a desperate quest to root out the source of evil before it destroys her world.
I wouldn’t say that the Throne of Glass was the most original or exciting story in the fantasy-action genre – I spotted numerous flaws in plot and character development. I wasn’t too satisfied with the ending – things got tied up too neatly, and too deliberately. I understand, however, that the Throne of Glass is the first novel in the series, and that there should be a few questions left unanswered to be weaved into the plot of the subsequent books to come. But I find that the Throne Of Glass ends a little bit too happily, which would make it less likely to believe that the main character, Celaena, would be manipulated back into another problem in the next book. I’d rather read a story with a long problem or mystery being solved piece-by-piece in every book, instead of a new problem arising every time a new book is released. Oh well.
The one thing I genuinely liked about this book was the gradual introduction of complications, which were both subtle but helped to increase the pace of the story. However, some errors were spotted as well – many a time I found the red herrings too easily identified, and who was the main culprit of murders (sorry I shall not divulge any more classified information, hahaha). Generally, the pace was consistent and it eased readers into the book. On a side note, I liked the dark and gothic ambience of the castle, but – that’s just peripheral.
Also there was a heap of characters waiting to be utilized by the plot, but just stood by, not contributing in propelling the story forward.
I guess, for me, the story was borderline cheesy. I could pronounce half the names – probably an attempt of fabricated sophistication on the author’s part. Throughout the book, there was a pretentious display of finesse and grandeur which wanted to make me rip my hair out. I found myself often thrust into the abyss of simulated perfection. The book had too well-rounded, chiseled a description of things. For example, certain characters lacked physical blemishes, and also lacked depth of character, which gave rise to the lack of character driven moments in the story.
The problem I had with this book was that everything was too perfect. The main three characters (upon which the love triangle couldn’t do without) were gorgeous – especially so for that of Celaena and Prince Dorian.
Beauty, body, brawn and brains. Celaena was too perfect.
Celaena appeared to be more of a princesss-like character rather than an assassin. (I was disappointed when I found out the flaws in writing – her “assassin” side failed to prove itself till nearing the end of the story.) I wished Celaena, dubbed the ambiguous title of “Adarlan’s Assassin” for her notoriety for being so young yet so powerful an assassin, was more of a two dimensional character. She appeared unlikeable at first, and her persistent, conceited bragging got under my skin, but I gradually became to understand that it was what she had been put through that made her want to prove herself to others – “or left to die”. That was her mentality and I appreciate Sarah J. Maas for being able to bring that across. Subtle character development. Not much, but at least there was some, for Celaena. However, it often seemed as though she was basing her self-worth on her title and achievements of killing so-and-so, not who she really was.
And it later become evident that Sarah J. Maas was trying to mould Celaena as the story progressed, hence Celaena had no depth of personality, but rather a flimsy one, whereby her label of “Adarlan’s Assassin” and her abilities, together with her oh-so-beautiful features came into play to a mask to conceal the shallowness of personality she had. And obviously, as implied by the descriptions given to her throughout the book, Celaena was smart, beautiful, strong, a fighter, brave, willful, able to play the piano flawlessly, being able to wield every single weapon known to man, egoistical, independent, having two guys competing for her feelings, Sarah J. Maas was trying to mould the assassin, Celaena, into a heroine.
But what kind of heroine – she didn’t – she couldn’t – specify.
It was weird also, that Celaena had very un-assassin-like behaviour. Caring too much about her appearance, vomiting after over-exertion despite having undergone assassin training since the age of eight and having worked in mines, complaining about her heels and how much they hurt her feet, not being able to conceal emotions well enough, allowing people to sneak up on her even when she was awake and all. And she claimed to be the most notorious assassin who could take down twenty three men herself.
Seriously, what kind of assassin is she? This part is minor, but it got me thinking.
The love triangle (or love angle, as Adel calls it, because the guys obviously don’t have anything going on between them) was a little saddening. I hated to see Chaol (Celaena’s guard) trying to get over Celaena while she was reciprocating Prince Dorian’s feelings. Well it seemed more like infatuation – the basis of Celaena and Dorian’s relationship was just based on mutual instant attraction. I didn’t like Dorian, I found him too shallow. And I couldn’t help but feel bad for Chaol, who had a deeper, more understanding relationship with Celaena, who liked him a little too. Their relationship was established at a much deeper level, plus, Chaol even put his career (Captain of the Royal Guards) on the line by saving her.
Anyway, my favourite character – Princess Nehemia. I was pleased that she was of more use to the plot than Dorian and Chaol (who were just love interests at most, the “necessary” ingredient for young adult fiction) – her presence in the palace introduced not only the aspect of politics between Eyllwe and Adarlan, but more character. She was a catalyst for futher complications, and also proved to be more than a two-dimensional character- even more so of Celaena herself, I daresay. She also allowed further development in Celaena’s personality as well – forming a close bond with the latter. Nehemia’s personality wasn’t as flat as Dorian’s or Chaol’s, whose personality was parallel to their role as Prince and Captain respectively. She was witty, intelligent and headstrong – and her personality remained quite consistent throughout the novel, to my delight.
However, the ending was a little too well summed up for my liking. It was an almost unnatural, even calculated sequence of events driven by the plan the author had for Celaena, rather than Celaena herself. Arguably, we can say that such events are pre-planned by the gods of Erilea (the kingdom) or Fae, whichever, but I’d like to think of this excuse as a cover up to keep our minds open and not to have an entire “happy ending”.
I guess you can see that the Throne of Glass has been given much criticism, but it isn’t all bad. It would be a good read, if you are not the kind of person who minds frills and romance on top of action (because I would prefer mystery action to be the overarching theme of the book) and doesn’t analyse every sentence. So, readers, why not give it a shot? Prove me wrong then!