Books, YA Fiction

Throne Of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas

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Rating: 3.75 stars

“You could rattle the stars,” she whispered. “You could do anything, if only you dared. And deep down, you know it, too. That’s what scares you most.”

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.

I guess this is another case of “it’s not you, it’s me”. 3.75 stars isn’t entirely bad, but I’ve had high-ish expectations of Throne Of Glass for a while, since I’ve been hearing a lot about it in the YA world as well as Aliza.

Let me begin with saying that Maas is a very talented writer. Her writing was sophisticated, lyrical, and very enrapturing. I wasn’t bored even for a slight moment. I also really liked the fantasy elements and the world-building in this book. I’m a sucker for a medieval-fantasy, and though I haven’t read many of them, I’ve always been interested. The Throne Of Glass world is like any medieval-fantasy, expect that magic is outlawed, and has pretty much vanished. I found this concept really intriguing, since most fantasy worlds nowadays contain a lot of magic or anything supernatural. The disappearance-of-magic paved the way for mystery in the book nicely. Unfortunately, I thought that the fantasy elements and the rest of the story weren’t balanced as well. I can’t say which parts outweighed each other, but they weren’t balanced for sure. I wanted more history of the fae and the disappearance of magic, but all I got was Celaena, Celaena, and more Celaena!

I remember having a certain conversation with Liz one day; we were just talking and I brought up Throne Of Glass, telling her that I had begun it. She rated it 5 stars and was enthusiastic about it, and so was I. I told her about my minor issue with Celaena, but before I could say too much, I told her that it was small and I’ll probably end up liking her in the end. Well… mission not accomplished. The problem with being a character-driven reader is that one measly character can ruin the whole freaking book for you. In this case, that one measly chracter is Celaena Sardothien, “the world’s most famous assassin”.

I know Rob, I know. 

I tried. I really did. But it didn’t work. Let me start out with the things I liked:

1) She’s arrogant. I especially liked this because you don’t see a lot of this in modern YA heroines, and it didn’t make Celaena a complete Mary-Sue. Yes, it was infuriating, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

2) She’s funny and witty. You also don’t see this a lot either, and Maas should have given us more. Celaena was hilarious.

Yep, that’s about it. My problem with Celaena starts out with the fact that she fails as an assassin, or just a dark person in general. Since she’s used to killing people, one would expect her to be a little malicious or dark towards other people, but all that is expressed is her arrogance. This is sad, because making someone a bad person, one who chooses to kill and makes a living out of it, is the perfect opportunity to explore the darker tones of a human being. This would have paved the way for an inner conflict which would have led to some serious character development throughout the book. Instead, Celaena freaks out over just about everything. Oh, how I love candies! Oh, how I love dresses! Oh, how I love books! I’m glad that Maas decided to take the butt-kicking girl character beyond the typical tomboy cliche, and I especially love how she likes dresses and girly things, unlike some other tough female characters (cough Katsa cough). But, at the same time I felt like all these attributes were added to bring up admiration between Dorian, Chaol, and Celaena. Her character felt so vibrant but fake at the same time.

I wouldn’t call Celaena a Mary-Sue, but she comes pretty damn close to one. She can be good at dancing or fighting, but literally every man has to crap their pants the minute they lay eyes on her. Nobody can be that freaking perfect! She’s beautiful, funny, sympathetic, arrogant, hot-headed, cute, and loves food, reading, and clothes. It felt like Maas tried too hard to make every single person relate to her, which is impossible. People have layers but they are still heavily opinionated and have significant personality traits that won’t change. Celaena felt all over the place and a bit too colorful, which doesn’t make sense considering her so-called background.

The rest of the characters seemed only to be there because they have some kind of hatred or admiration toward Celaena. Dorian didn’t seem to serve any purpose but to be Celaena’s boy toy, he had no inner conflict or struggle throughout the book except at the beginning where he had a little skirmish with his father (hopefully this will be expanded in the next book). Dorian seemed to be a nice guy, but his personality wasn’t as elaborated on as much as his infatuation with Celaena. I loved Chaol from the minute I layed eyes on his name. I usually don’t go for the quiet, mysterious guys, but there was something about Chaol that just intrigued me and he was the only character that wasn’t constantly kissing Celaena’s butt. He was so alive, even when he didn’t say much, and this guy actually had some kind of mystery and personality to him. I felt like Chaol was the one who saved this book, because his character was written so well. Nehemia annoyed me at first, but towards the end I began to cherish her presence… and her friendship with Celaena.

Overall, I would recommend Throne Of Glass to fans of Game Of Thrones or any other medieval-fantasy book or show with romance. I did like this book, despite my rant on Celaena (sorry about that), and I think I will read the next book for the super-cool fantasy elements. Oh, and we need a Chaol novella. Now.

-Haven

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