Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publishing Info: Kindle edition 2012 by Bloomsbury Children’s
Star Rating: 4/5
Back Cover Summary:
Meet Celaena Sardothien.
Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.
In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake: she got caught.
Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?
This novel is the first in a series, one which I look forward to continuing reading. Throne of Glass really held my attention. I felt engaged and invested in the fates of the characters.
Mass does a really great job at character development. There was a lot more focus on the characters than I was expecting. This isn’t a fast-paced fantasy. Although I really liked that Mass spent time properly developing her characters (something many YA books fall short on), I would have liked to have seen more of the competition. There are many Tests but we only see a couple of them. Including one or two of the others would have heightened the tension for me and made the tournament feel less sidelined. I did begin to lose interest part way through, with the emphasis on character relationships meaning the central plot was secondary at times, but the book always managed to pull me back in before I got too detached. There is a mystery element running through the story which helped keep the pages turning.
I also took issue with the premise of the tournament itself. The idea is brilliant and a great premise for a book. However, I never really understood why the king would want to choose between assassins, murderers and thieves to be his ‘Champion’. The whole idea of the competition seemed a bit contrived. A little more reasoning to this would have made it seem less forced.
Celaena was a great character, though I would have liked to see more of her flaws and more character development for her. She is the kingdom’s best assassin, she plays the piano, is well read and speaks more than one language. While the piano playing scene was a great opportunity to see a different side of her character, I’m pretty sure she only plays the piano that once. That made it seem a bit pushed in there for that purpose. Too much emphasis is placed on how good she is at everything. More exploration of her flaws and weaknesses would make her a much more rounded character. I have read a lot of reviews where people find Calaena annoying, but I liked reading about a main character who is self-assured and vain, rather than meek as seems to be a YA trend. There are a lot of allusions to Calaene’s past and what has made her the person she is now, but I wanted to see more development of her current character. I hope this will happen more across the series.
Dorian and Chaol were great characters and, unlike Celaena, I felt they had strong character arcs. Nehemia was a good character as well and I’m interested to see how her friendship with Celaena develops in the next books.
Unfortunately, the antagonists were not given the same care and attention as the protagonists. While the central protagonists were fleshed out, interesting characters, the antagonists were underdeveloped and clichéd – the tyrannical king, the muscled, bullying competitor, the power-hungry lady and a creepy duke. They were cut out characters given no distinguishing traits or aspects that made them stand out from any other cardboard villain out there.
There is, essentially, a love triangle in this book. Usually that would set my alarm bells ringing. However, it is brilliantly done. This is because the characters aren’t aware they are in a love triangle (or don’t admit it). The focus of the characters’ thoughts isn’t who the girl will choose. So often with love triangles the female character spends a ridiculous amount of time lamenting over who she is going to choose. In this book, it is nothing like that. This is how a love triangle can be effectively done without making the reader cringe. It was actually enjoyable to read! Something I feared I would never be able to say.
Although it wasn’t a five stars for me, I absolutely loved Throne of Glass, and look forward to seeing what direction the series will take.