Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. Throne of Glass, #1.
My copy: Bloomsbury, 2013. Paperback, 404 pages.
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.
Celaena Sardothien is the world’s most notorious assassin. But, after getting caught, she is sent to the Endovier Salt Mines, a death camp where she is tortured and forced to work as a slave. Where Throne of Glass starts, however, is when the Crown Prince of Adarlan, Dorian Havilliard, comes to give Celaena an opportunity to earn her freedom: she can participate to be the King’s Champion in a contest against other criminals, all of whom want to start over and have their names cleared. She agrees to fight for her freedom, even if, should she win, it requires working as the King’s assassin for four years before she truly is free.
Throne of Glass‘s beginning is a bit uneventful, due to the lengthy but beautiful descriptions. However, this is not a bad thing, as even the setup chapters are written in a relatively speedy manner. Celaena is a very interesting character, though, for an assassin, she is a bit girly, being very caught up in her beauty and appearance. I did love the scene where she played the pianoforte. She opened up and revealed a bit about her past. For much of the book Celaena is a mouthy, kick-ass girl you don’t want to mess with, so it was very nice to see her actually in a vulnerable position.
Much of the story revolved around the political agendas of various characters and the mysterious Wyrdmarks (similar to ancient runes) that seemed to be connected to the murders at the palace. This was when the story started getting creepy, when contestants were gruesomely getting picked off one after the other. I originally thought that the main plot of the book was the contest, but it really didn’t feel like it. Every week there was a test to eliminate the weakest player, but we only actually saw a few of them, and they weren’t as epic or inventive as I thought they were going to be. After a while, it seemed like the competition became a bit lax in urgency and danger. After all, much of the time we were told how amazingly skilled Celaena is and how she can totally trample the boys she’s competing against. The final test/showdown was very disturbing, a little confusing, and maybe a bit too dragged-out.
There is a love triangle, but, luckily, the romance doesn’t play a big role. Prince Dorian grew on me, but I wasn’t drawn to his personality. I much preferred the Captain of the Guard, Chaol Westfall. I loved Chaol. He was quiet and protective, but not afraid to speak his mind; there were glimpses of his deeper personality. He had more layers than Dorian. I found myself enjoying the parts told from his perspective more than the parts from Dorian’s. Oh, yeah, another book with multiple perspective, folks! The perspectives also briefly included that of the Lady Kaltain Rompier, a horrible, scheming girl who wanted the Prince for herself and saw Celaena as an obstacle in her way. I guessed correctly what Kaltain was going to do; it wasn’t too hard, seeing how she had limited options. Kaltain can go rot. Let me add, as I’m talking now about the supporting characters, that Princess Nehemia Ytger of Eyllwe was a fun, mysterious girl who I found hard to figure out–in a good good way. Oh, and I need to mention this guy: Otho was the most random character ever, as he only popped up to make a one-line observation before disappearing again. I literally laughed out loud at how utterly random he was. It was hilarious.
There is one thing I hope we see immediately in the next book: assassinations. For the greatest assassin in the land, Celaena does nothing to live up to her title in Throne of Glass. She kills people in her profession–yet she did not kill a single person in this book, as far as I remember! Very disappointing, now that I finished the book and I’m really thinking about it. We only ever hear a few brief stories of her training to become an assassin, which weren’t very meaty. The world building in general could have been touched on more, but I really wanted to know more about Celaena’s previous life and I hardly got that.
A few last things… I love the fact that magic is banned, because that opens the door to so many possibilities in sequels. I was grateful there was a pronunciation guide at the back of the book–otherwise I would have been lost when it came to names such as Chaol (“Kay-all”) and Eyllwe (“El-way”). I adored the map of the world of Erilea by Kelly de Groot because, if you didn’t already know, I am a sucker for fantasy maps. Throne of Glass has an amazing premise (even if the title doesn’t suit the story, in my opinion) and there are so many different things going on that the series has great potential. Excited to read Book #2, Crown of Midnight. ♦
Have you read Throne of Glass?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
Comment below letting me know!