Synopsis: 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 Westfell 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?
Author: Sarah J. Maas
I am late to the Sarah J. Maas party. Okay, so late is a huge understatement. You all know by now (or at least I hope) that I took a huge reading hiatus that lasted several years to focus on other things, like becoming a functioning human being for starters. The good news is that I’ve now read the first book in the series, hence this post, so that’s got to count for something, right? I have another three months to catch up on this series before Kingdom of Ash comes out. I don’t know about you but that gives me more than enough time to … procrastinate and maybe read Crown of Midnight before then. Let’s not even get started on the fact that I haven’t read A Court of Thorns and Roses yet.
I have to admit that the one thing that put me off reading Throne of Glass was the hype. If people tell me I have to read, watch, listen to something etc. then that is the last thing I’m going to do. I hate jumping on bandwagons. I always find that the hype gives me such high expectations and I usually end up disappointed. It also doesn’t help that I’ve read so much many terrible YA fantasy novels where the characterisation or the plot has left me embarrassed for the author that I’m hesitant to pick more up. Funnily enough, it’s my favourite genre. That’s also what makes it more difficult because I tend to be harsher in my critique of those books than any other genre. Anyway, you’re probably wondering whether I liked Throne of Glass or not…
Actually, I thoroughly enjoyed it, although it wasn’t always like that.
Female protagonists are my marmite. I either love them or hate them, there is no in between. I can thank Stephenie Meyer and Twilight for my dislike of female protagonists. I haven’t read a worse character than Bella Swan. Although, I have read many similar, but that’s a review for another time. As a result of this, I think I do go into reading YA fantasy books with female protagonists with low expectations so I’m not disappointed when they turn out to be exactly how I imagined. Celaena Sardothien started off as one of those characters, mostly because she came across, in the beginning, as a witty smartass who, despite the severity of her situation in Endovier (like y’know life imprisonment), just had to antagonise everyone. The more pages I read, the more I realised I was right. And wrong. Celaena is a smartass and does like antagonising people, but she is also so much more than that. She has heart. She has depth. At the beginning, Celaena is this famed assassin, someone people feared at the sound of her name, but Sarah J. Maas did an absolutely fantastic job of bringing her to life, in turning her into more than just some smartass assassin. She made her human. And that is something I absolutely loved about this book.
It wasn’t just Celaena either, although she was definitely my favourite character out of the whole lot. Dare I say it, possibly even my favourite female protagonist. All these characters: Chaol Westfell, Prince Dorian Havilliard, the Crown Prince of Adarlan, and Nehemia Ytger… they are all characters that appear one way but the reality is that there’s so much substance to them. I was pleasantly surprised.
I was warned before I started reading that Sarah J. Maas’ writing style is one that is an acquired taste so I was really nervous about buying this and hating it all because of the writing style. I had plans to do a giveaway if that was the case because at least then someone else would have the opportunity to experience it and possibly love it, but it turns out that her writing style is very similar to my own. I can see why it would be an acquired taste but, for me, that certainly wasn’t the case. Not only did I gel with the writing style, but the book was also very well written. The words flowed seamlessly on the pages as the book transitioned from one scene to another. There was enough description so that you could easily envision the characters and the setting but not too much that I wanted to bash my head against the wall. All of these were huge bonuses for me!
‘You could be great. You could rattle the stars. You could do anything if you only dared.’
The story itself… I did find that a tad bit predictable and full of tropes. That is what brought the book down in rating to a four instead of a the five I almost gave it. Celaena is brought from the mines of Endovier, where she has been imprisoned and is serving a life sentence, in order to compete as Prince Dorian’s representative in a tournament with other competing assassins and thieves in order to see who will be crowned the King’s Champion. This gave me a kind of Hunger Games vibe, except where Hunger Games was televised for the whole Capitol to see that the President had complete control over his country, this tournament was only for the eyes of the King and his court. The representatives would battle it out, to the death if need be, in order to secure their victory. Celaena is offered her freedom in return for four years of servitude to the King should she be successful. There is absolutely nothing she won’t do to secure her freedom. I did like the concept but, as mentioned before, I did find it predictable. I knew from the beginning how it would play out, to some degree at least. Although, as someone who becomes attached to fictional characters (we’ve all been there, amiright?) and knows there’s more than one book in the series (and having seen the cover art) therefore there has to be a satisfactory ending, this didn’t take away from the enjoyment of reading the book. At least not for me.
The villain of the story (because, let’s face it, every story needs a villain in one form or another) was predictable as well. Or maybe I’ve just read a lot of YA fantasy before. Possibly both. I will admit that despite its predictable nature, there was one moment in the book where I did falter in my suspicion of who was the evil force behind the mysterious goings on in the castle, which left me frustrated. If a book doesn’t fill me with a plethora of emotions while reading then the chances are I’m hating the book, so despite being frustrated when I had once felt confident that I had it all figured out, is a good thing. MAKE ME FEEL ALL OF THE EMOTIONS!
I do have to tell you the one thing I did really dislike and that would be the romance. I’m not going to spoil anything for you if you haven’t read it yet, but there is a love triangle (kind of) and love triangles are really not my thing. I’m actually getting bored of reading them. I don’t want to be doing the whole ‘will she?’ or ‘won’t she?’ throughout the book, which is what I did get from this. The romance with one of the characters was a bit far-fetched, in my opinion. I admit I was rooting for the other guy, and who I enjoyed a lot more as a character, but their romance, had it developed, would have made much more sense to me. IT’S NOW TIME TO GET CONTROVERSIAL… sorry not sorry… It’s like Harry Potter all over again. Harry has no interest in Ginny for five books, then suddenly she’s there and he’s all ‘when did Ginny get so hot?’ and that’s kind of how I feel about the romance here. It came suddenly. It came out of the blue. It didn’t make much sense. Harry should have ended up with Hermione. Celaena should have ended up with the other guy.
Overall, it’s a damn good book, and I’m pretty excited to start reading Crown of Midnight. But, until then, it’s time to start on the next book in my never ending TBR pile before it crushes me any further!
Have you read Throne of Glass? How did you find it? Did you agree with anything I said in this review?