Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass
By Sarah J. Maas
416 pages
Published by Bloomsbury USA
Publication Date: August 7, 2012 (expected)
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads:

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 kings 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.

Ah, high fantasy. So many love you as a genre but your appeal nearly always escapes me. In fact, the majority of high fantasy books I pick up end up in the forlorn DNF pile. Fortunately that wasn’t the case with Throne of Glass, which I really did enjoy overall. That said, judging by the off-the-charts reviews it’s getting on GoodReads (seriously, almost everyone on my friends list who has read it has given it a five) I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as some others. And you know, I’m starting to think that that’s on me and not on the books. I’m a high fantasy failure.

Anyway, to me the best thing about Throne of Glass is the heroine herself. Celaena is a totally kickass, take no prisoners kind of woman. She’s the most feared assassin in the world, and she has earned her reputation. On the other hand, she has always been enslaved in either the literal or the figurative sense. She has led the very definition of a hard life. It would have been easy to make her totally one-dimensional, a mean girl with no love for anyone and wanting only vengeance. Ms. Maas manages to avoid falling into that trap and instead has created a layered heroine who is acutely aware of the damage that has been done to her and by her, but who still has hope that one day she will be free to live her own life.

I was less enamored of the love triangle, pardon the pun. While this one is better than most because it’s never extremely obvious who she should choose (at least, it wasn’t to me) I am just kind of tired of the YA love triangle overall. And I didn’t feel like it added a whole lot to the story, although to be fair it might play more of a role in the coming books. Still, I did find myself rooting for Chaol.

Also, I hope that in the next book we find out how Celaena ended up in the mines in Endovier. It’s hinted at a few times but there is never any real info given, and it sounds like it would be an interesting part of the story.

Overall, the book started off slow for me and was a slow read. It didn’t feel like I was slogging through or anything, I just didn’t burn through it like I do with so many other books. That’s neither a positive or a negative, just an observation. And as I said, I did like it. I really think I liked it as much as I’m capable of liking high fantasy, so despite my star rating this is actually quite a positive review of the book. I’d also recommend checking on GoodReads because the reviews there are almost unfailingly positive and have higher star ratings than the one I’m giving. And I definitely liked it enough to want to read the next book, which almost never happens with the HF genre.

3.5/5 Stars

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9 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed this book and I’m glad that even though you aren’t really a fan of high fantasy, you enjoyed this book! Celaena was a high point for me too. I liked how she liked dresses and could still kill you. I am pretty sure I know how the love triangle ends up but I liked how it wasn’t so obvious. I think maybe the story of how she got into the minds might be in the prequel novellas? I’ve heard mixed things about them though.

    Reply
    • I’m pretty sure I know how the love triangle is going to end up too, and I’m not looking forward to it. I’ll have to think about reading the prequel novellas. I have so many other things to read it seems like I’ll never get to them.

      Reply
  2. Very nice review! I’m not usually a high fantasy person either. Have you read Graceling? I just finished the other day and it sounds like this has a few of the same aspects as far as the strong female character goes. I was surprised at how much I liked Graceling so I’m interested to see how you’d compare the two if you’ve read it!

    Reply
    • You know, I bought Graceling and Fire and haven’t read either one of them yet? I’ve been kind of putting them off because they’re fantasy even though I see so many positive things about them. I will get around to them one of these days!

      Reply
  3. A lot of people have been reading this and recommending it to me. I’m not huge on fantasy, but I may give this one a shot at some point. Nice review!

    Reply
  4. It’s interesting to hear others’ perspectives on things I adore, like high fantasy. It’s by far my favorite genre so lots of time it’s hard for me to understand why others don’t like it. On the other hand, I really don’t get why people like contemporaries that much. I don’t find them very interesting myself. We all have our favorite genres. That being said, I enjoyed reading your review. I am very excited to read Throne of Glass, and if someone who doesn’t really like high fantasy can appreciate aspects of the book, then that actually makes me more excited to see how much I’ll like it.

    Reply
  5. Giselle

     /  July 16, 2012

    OH yay I’m so happy bc I’m the same way with fantasy. So very few is in the hit pile. The rest are very had misses. I have this one to read soon and, regardless of the love triangle and slow pace, I’m now actually looking forward to it!! Awesome review, love!

    Reply
  6. I’m a Chaol fan, too! Dorian is alright, I suppose, but there’s a totally different vibe between her and Westfall, which I’m really digging. I like this one – I struggled a little because I felt that there was some info-dumping going on, but I really did like the world and the characters. Celaena is a really refreshing heroine!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

    Reply

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