After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin 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 are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.
Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’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 Westfall who seems to understand her best.
Then one of the other contestants turns 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 don’t think I’ve ever had so many issues with a book yet still loved it. But that’s what happened with Throne of Glass. I absolutely loved the settings and the descriptions in the book, the salt mines sounded horrific and the glass castle sounded beautiful and exciting so I enjoyed the world that Maas created in that way but in other ways it fell flat.
I instantly fell in love with Celaena though. She survived the impossible and came out of it relatively unscathed albeit with a bit of an attitude. She’s a kick-ass, smoking-hot assassin and she knows it, and feels the need tell everyone she is such. I usually find narcissistic characters unbearable but for some reason with Celaena it was OK. It kind of suited her and I felt like she deserved to love herself a bit.
The main issue I had with her was that as the story develops she never quite lives up to her infamy, and no one treats her the way I thought they should. She’s taken out of the deadly salt mines and given a chance at freedom if she competes in the competition but she is so infamous as the deadliest assassin in the kingdom that her identity has to be covered up, yet she’s still free to roam around the castle and make friends with Princesses? It doesn’t make a huge amount of sense, but I went with it anyway.
I enjoyed the relationship dynamics between Celaena and Prince Dorian (what is it with all these princes with stupid names?? Po, Maxon, now Dorian…really!?) Dorian doesn’t seem too bothered that Celaena could kill him with her bare hands, and considering that the contestants are now dropping like flies, he never seems to even doubt her. Which is nice I guess, if not stupid.
Celaena on the other hand comes across as being pretty compassionate for an assassin but she’s still quite icy when it comes to love. We’re never entirely sure if she likes Dorian as much as he likes her, or if her close friendship with Chaol, Captain of the Guard, will turn into something more. To be honest, she doesn’t really seem to care either way. She wants Dorian, but we don’t know if it’s just lust or something more. She’s certainly a character of contradictions – she might be an assassin but she’s a book-loving, dress and shoe-obsessed assassin who doesn’t even seem to enjoy fighting all that much, or really be that good at it.
I liked how fast-paced Throne of Glass was and I was never bored, but I did wish that some of the ‘tests’ that the competitors faced were a bit more imaginative and dangerous. I expected each round of the competition to be a fight to the death so we could see Celaena’s skillz in action, but most of them were harmless tasks like archery which I found a bit lame. However, the gruesome deaths of the other competitors and the mystery and magic surrounding them was enough to keep me interested and entertained.
I haven’t read the prequel novellas yet, and I hope that between those and the following books in the series we’ll discover more about Celaena and how/why she became an assassin in the first place to help us understand her and believe in her more. I also hope that this is just the beginning and that the world Maas has created has something more to offer – I’m sure it does.
Somehow, despite all of its flaws and beyond all reason I absolutely loved Throne of Glass. It didn’t hurt that Maas is a Buffy fan either. Or that her initial idea came from one simple thought – what if Cinderella was an assassin sent to kill Prince Charming (I kind of wish her idea hadn’t evolved so much!)?
Details:Paperback, 420 pgs. Published Aug 02 2012 by Bloomsbury.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Unicorns
Is it a keeper? Definitely!
If you liked this try: Graceling.