I decided to read the Throne of Glass series after seeing bookstagram flip out when the newest one was released in September. I vaguely remembered hearing about it before and I'm a sucker for YA Fantasy, so I gave it a shot.
The review below contains spoilers.
(Even my books are in the Christmas spirit!)
Celaena Sardothien, an eighteen-year-old assassin in the kingdom of Adarlan, was serving time as a slave in a salt mine when she was suddenly pulled out by the Crown Prince, Dorian Havilliard. Dorian’s father, the King of Adarlan, was hosting a contest to find a royal assassin. Dorian gave Celaena a choice: fight in the contest as his champion or die in the mines. If she were to win the contest, she would have her freedom in four years. She agreed and took the name Lillian Gordaina to keep her identity a secret.
The competition took a dark turn and Celaena realized her involvement in the strange, magical events ran much deeper than she wanted it to. With time running out, Celaena had to figure out what was happening before it was too late for her...while deciding who among her new friends she could trust.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Maas wrote this with potential fangirls in mind. Being predisposed to obsess over fictional characters myself, I’m fine with someone trying to get an emotional reaction out of me as long as it doesn’t compromise the story or characters. Unfortunately that happened to some degree in all the Throne of Glass books, but it was pretty obvious in this one.
The world building was super slow. At the end of it, I was interested in the magic and Elena’s mission for Celaena but had minimal knowledge of how all these things were related. It’s fine with me when authors reveal things slowly and deliberately, but in Throne of Glass it seemed more like Maas didn’t know which way to take her story yet. For example, just a few pages into the novel Celaena was visited by little wood fairies. There was no explanation as to why until later books, and the fairies themselves don’t show up again in this book at all (that I remember). For the most part, Throne of Glass was more concerned about Celaena’s love life and the fantasy elements were ignored.
Speaking of, how could a YA novel exist without a love triangle? Chaol, the Captain of the Guard, and Dorian both had a thing for Celaena. I liked Chaol more than Dorian but I thought it was weird that Chaol undertook Celaena’s training personally. He was in and out of her room all the time and went on runs with her. It would’ve made more sense to me if Chaol was second or third-in-command or something. That would be a believable assignment for him - guarding a high-profile assassin - but as Captain of the Guard? Not in his job description to babysit. He was too young for the position anyway!
Maas went with “tell, not show” storytelling method for this book and it was frustrating after a while. Celaena was a girl who became the world’s greatest assassin at age 17 and spent a year as a slave in a salt mine...and yet we never saw her prove her toughness. Celaena constantly thought about how great she was, Dorian and Chaol talked about it, her name was feared, but where was the action?
If you look on Goodreads or the internet, you’ll notice that there was a cover change for this book. The original picture of Celaena could easily have been from the Adarlan version of Seventeen magazine, but they redid it with a much more badass female character (pictured above) and continued in that vein for the rest of the series. Honestly, for book one Celaena, the original cover was accurate. The girl wandered around the palace thinking about her new clothes, her candy, her puppy, and whether or not she should keep things going with a certain man - ALL. DAY. LONG. She was the most un-assassin like assassin I’ve ever read about, and if it wasn’t for reviews/opinions from people I trust insisting the next book gets better, I might’ve dropped the series here.
Thankfully, all those people were right and Celaena vastly improved in book two. Less Mary Sue, more killer assassin, and the fantasy elements Maas introduced finally started to make sense.
My rating for the first one is 2.5 of 5, but I truly enjoyed the series as a whole. It’s not the next great fantasy masterpiece and certain things could definitely be improved on, but if you like YA fantasy and can ignore the faults, stick it out for book one and you’ll probably end up a fan.
I recommend Throne of Glass with no reservations for anyone who likes fantasy and is looking for an entertaining, low-maintenance read.