I decided to read Throne of Glass after having to suffer through repetitive reminders to, and having it sit on my shelf for over a year now I decided to just bite the bullet. For those of you who don’t know, Throne of Glass is a young adult, high fantasy novel by Sarah J Maas, and for a debut, it isn’t all that bad, but it certainly comes with quite a few flaws.
The first thing I noted about the book was the protagonist, Celaena Sardothien, and how she is a near-perfect representation of a “Mary Sue”, meaning that she’s portrayed and seen as an ideal to all the other characters, despite having many flaws. She is clearly a self-projection of Maas but with this being her first novel, I can probably forgive her for it, considering the improvement in her second series, A Court Of Thorns And Roses.
The initial few pages also made her out to be painstakingly arrogant, with her referring to herself as ‘Adarlan’s most notorious assassin’ on the very first paragraph. Her obnoxious nature does seem to quell a little in the later half of the book however it was hard to forget my initial impression.
***minor spoilers warning***
Another cliche that made me want to tear my hair out is the classic ‘Tale of Two Cities’-esque female character that the strong male characters can’t help but fall for, once again delivered in the form of the protagonist, Celaena. What perhaps annoyed me the most about that is that Dorian, the Crown Prince, mentions in one of his thought tracks is that he would potentially put this girl before everything, including his kingdom and people. This “do anything for love” mentality drives me up the bend due to its (hopefully) unrealistic nature and its recklessness, despite how supposedly romantic it’s intended to be, making the character seem childish and naive (at least in my opinion). However, this is slightly redeemed by Celaena’s actions towards the end of the book, as she decides to break off their relationship, displaying her sensibility and maturity. Although I’m annoyed that Maas decided to include these cliches, she partially mended it by having the male as the idealistic, head-over-heels character rather than going with the trend of making it the female.
There were a few parts of the story line which seemed to feel a little disconnected as well. A prime example of this being when Pelor, the youngest assassin, helped Celaena in the poison challenge by cheating and revealing to her the correct order. The only thanks we see is a silent nod of gratitude whilst the exam is finishing, and then the rest we hear of the boy is that he gets knocked out the tournament a few weeks later. Personally I find this disjointed; disrupting the flow of the story a bit, especially since I assumed that after Pelor helping her there would be a stronger connection between the two, rather than cutting him out of the story shortly after.
An aspect of the book which I quite like is the various perspectives the narrative is written from. This allowed me to see situations from different point of views as well as understanding the motives of the other main characters. I also enjoyed how this wasn’t done evenly, with the narrative predominantly in Celaena’s point of view and only occasionally changing to Chaol’s or Dorian’s, allowing a sense of mystery to still take place as well as some of her conflicting thoughts to be shared with the reader, instead of having dramatic irony. This also allows Maas to purposefully misguide the reader into assuming certain things and guides your thought process in order to make the “big reveal” later on more dramatic.
My last fault with the book is again with Celaena’s character, this time with her “assassin’s nature”. With most novels containing an assassin, you’d be able to remove any mention to their current/former profession and it should hopefully be still painstakingly obvious to the reader (unless the character is intentionally written to be otherwise). However, with Celaena, the only reason I remembered was because I seemed to be reminded every other chapter it seems. The main point in the book where her traits shone through was at the very end during her fights, and potentially during the first chapter where she’s blindfolded, but even then, these moments should have been dispersed throughout the novel and shouldn’t have been blatantly reasoned every other line with “because of my assassin’s training”.
Overall, even if my opinions seem otherwise, I did enjoy this book as I thought it was a fairly interesting premise. I plan to continue reading the series, in which hopefully the negative points I’ve made have been resolved, and the character’s themselves have a fair amount of depth to them. (And much to my annoyance I’m also keen on discovering which direction the romance takes, if at all.)
I would recommend this book, but to potentially younger readers within the young adult range as I think a more seasoned reader would find the storyline and writing tedious and ever so slightly dull at times. But I think it would also be good as a lighthearted read if you’re not wanting to delve into anything too serious or emotionally engaging.
Rating system: 1 = bad, 2 = okay/decent, 3 = good, 4 = very good, 5 = wow
All opinions are my own. I’ve tried to purposefully steer clear of other reviews so as to not influence this review in any way of opinions that are not my own original points.