Saturday, October 06, 2012

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Title: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Release Date: August 7, 2012
ISBN13: 9781599906959
Format: hardcover
Genre: YA, romance, historical fantasy
Source: borrowed from library
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old 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 in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years, then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Choal, challenging and exhilaration. But Celaena'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 Choal Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turn 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.

I've heard a lot of mixed reviews about Throne of Glass. Some readers loved it, while some downright detested the story, so I went into it cautiously, but hoping for the better.

The story starts off with Celaena dragged out from the salt mines where she worked as a slave, and brought before Prince Dorian who asks her to be his champion in the competition for a royal assassin. If she wins, she can serve as the royal assassin for a number of years and be set free, her previous charges for assassination pardoned and she can go free. She then works towards her training to become the one to come out on top in the competition. And her competitions start dying off, one by one, of mysterious causes. Since she could be next, she sets off to find the killer.

The setting wasn't bad. It was in a world of fantasy, not unlike that of The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Poison Study, and Graceling. It was described in immense detailed, and while that gave me a very good idea of Celaena's surroundings, it got to a point where it was all too much. I mean, I don't really think that a page-long description of the throne room is necessary.

The plot line especially focused around her love triangle with the Chaol and Dorian, with some interjections of her gossip-sessions with Nehemia, the foreign princess. This played down the part of the suspicious deaths of her competitions, and in the end when it was resolved, I didn't feel a lot of emotions because of the lack of focus on the conflict. It also played down the fantasy bit and made it into a big-time romance. Not my favourite of all genres, but it could work for some people. Popping around the place was bits of magic, including the late queen Elena's ghost. If the story gave a bit more information about the magical background of Celaena's world, I think it'd be a bit easier for myself to digest and not as random. While I thought that the plot was downright unbearable at first, it did get a bit better, but I didn't feel a lot of emotion throughout the book.

Celaena's supposed to be a very strong, and hardened assassin. Personally, I like my heroines strong, and just a bit hardened so that I can see how she opens up to her friends and progresses into a kind person. Unfortunately, she's strong, or rather, obstinate to the point where I saw her as very rude. She's supposed to be wary of the world around her because of her experience in the salt mines, but she immediately starts hitting on Prince Dorian and Captain Westfall as soon as she's out of her slavery. Her actions and attitude doesn't really fit that historical time period. Besides, I can only read "He's so handsome" so many times before I want to rip my hair out. Honestly, is that all she sees in her two love interests?

Usually, there's a best friend thrown in the story to be a character's conscience, or even to see the contrast between the protagonist and her sidekick. In this case, Nehemia's personality was so much like Celaena's that I didn't really see anything special in her. I genuinely find her also very rude, putting down ladies of the Endovier court because she found them to be a very chatty. Yes, chattiness can be an irritant, but gossip doesn't really solve much in that field.

As a conclusion, I think that Throne of Glass had a very inviting synopsis, with a very interesting idea of a competition for the spot as a royal assassin, but was over-shadowed by romance and characters that I really didn't like. If you're looking for a very fantastical book, this isn't it. If you'd like to read a romance, you can go take this for a spin.

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