I have been on a big reading buzz lately and out of all the books I have read this month, Throne of Glass is the standout. It is a fantasy novel, the first in a series, and our heroine is Celaena Sardothien, the infamous Adarlan’s Assassin, the killer who was caught. This is by far my favourite book of this year!
We meet Celaena in her prison, the mines of Endovier. The day we meet her is special. It is the day she gets out. The crown prince himself has come to invite her compete to become the King’s personal assassin and, if successful, earn her freedom. A chance of survival is not to be sniffed at and Celaena Sardothien is whisked into a world of obscene luxury and castle intrigues as she competes in the competition while posing as a noble lady in the giant glass castle from which the royals rule this kingdom.
Celaena tries to hold on to her hatred for the royal family but at the same time manages to enjoy some of the perks of her situation – a beautiful wardrobe of clothes, books, her own rooms and so forth. At the same time, she develops a feeling of ‘not hate’ for the crown prince, the person to whom she owes her chance at survival. Dorian chose her half to provoke his father, and half out of his admiration and belief in her ability to win.
Whether she is training for the competition, competing, socializing, out walking – Celaena always is under guard. Her main supervisor is Chaol, the captain of the Royal Guard. He is also her personal trainer for the competition. Between Dorian, Chaol and Celaena there is some potential for a bit of a love triangle situation, but thankfully it doesn’t detract from the overall plot. Of course with a palace setting there are interesting political tensions and schemes, as well as some spooky magical stuff.
The main driver for the plot is the mysterious and gruesome deaths of Celaena’s fellow competitors. Celaena thinks that they have to do with something supernatural and tries to research the strange wyrdmarks that she keeps seeing around the palace. This is a bit of a challenge as in this kingdom, while magic is a well known reality, it has been banned and most of the information about anything magical has been destroyed.
Things I found interesting:
This series really appeals to me. The writing is good, the plot is good, the story world is magical.
The narrative is first person but alternates between Celaena, Chaol and Dorian very successfully. I think this is always a good thing for writers to do as it helps keep the momentum of the novel without any characters getting too annoying. I think 100% Caelena stream of consciousness would have been appalling.
The main issue I can see with the book is with Celaena’s characterization. It is hard to reconcile some of the different aspects of her personality. For example, she isn’t totally violent or totally girly but a weird blend of both. She can come across quite shallow at times, but in other moments is deep and troubled by her past. She’s supposed to be the most dangerous assassin in the kingdom but she’s also just a shallow and superficial girl. Sometimes it’s hard to reconcile these contrasting elements in the same character. I do kind of like that she’s not all tortured and insecure about her appearance though, that’s a plus for me. And I like her obsession with books. It’s funny how authors can’t help writing book loving characters isn’t it?
I loved this book. I ordered the second one as soon as I finished it and I love the world that Maas has painted here. I can imagine it so vividly. I liked the way that the romance is present but not pervasive in the books so that the action takes precedence. I was drawn in by the intrigues that the characters have to face and the relationships that develop between them.
My rating is a 4/5 and I definitely recommend it.
I think the only reason it isn’t a 5/5 for me is the characterization and just that something indefinable that makes a 5/5.
Have you read Throne of Glass? What do you think?