I picked up Throne of Glass hoping I would love it and become part of its fan base–after all, it’s a New York Times bestseller and I’ve heard it’s in my favorite genre: Action. Throne of Glass is a fantasy/romance novel by Sarah J. Maas that came out in 2012. It follows an imprisoned assassin named Celaena Sardothien who, after a year of hard slave labour, is asked by the crown prince of Adarlan to become his champion in a deadly competition taking place back in the king’s castle. The winner gets freedom from the prison they came from and gets to be the king’s personal assassin.
Now with that description, you would think that this book would follow mostly action and fantasy. It does not. When I was reading this book I began to notice that it was heavily focusing on romance. Was that a bad thing? Well that depends on if you like romance or not. I am not a fan of romance so take this review with that in mind.
I don’t completely like this book but I do not hate it either. It is a action/romance novel that also has some politics and fantasy mixed in with it. The theme of this book is about making connections of those you would never expect to make connections. I have never actually read a book with this sort of theme before so it was a breath of fresh air. This theme is shown with Celaena–she hates the crown but she becomes close with many of the people related to the crown in some way.
The book is written from multiple points of view in the third person, meaning throughout the story you sort of swap between like 6 different characters. It is mostly from the protagonist Celaena’s point of view but then it sometimes changed point of view without warning such as when there was a party taking place and there was a long conversation between Prince Dorian Havillard and his mother but our main character, Celaena was not even close to them whatsoever. I feel like this method of writing fit well with the book but the author could have used it more to gain some backstory on characters.
The plot of the book is basically The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones mixed together. It has, at times, the gritty, intense, heart-pounding action of The Hunger Games but it also maintains the feel of Game of Thrones with its political conflict and moments of fantasy and magic.
Most of the characters in Throne of Glass are actually okay and interesting but they do have some huge flaws which definitely dragged this book down tons. Celaena Sardothien, the deadly assassin participating in these trials is probably the worst character because of her sudden change in character. She goes from being this deadly awesome assassin to a coward who would be shocked if someone died in front of her despite the fact that she herself has murdered someone with a pickaxe. My favourite male character, Chaol Westfall, the captain of the kingsguard, is the person watching over Celaena making sure she doesn’t step out of line and try to escape the king’s castle. He starts off as flat character at first but when he begins to warm up to the assassin he looks after he becomes rather rounded out and very enjoyable; however, I wish they expanded on his backstory more–or at all. The last main character would be Dorian Havillard, the crown prince who sponsors the assassin. I didn’t really like his character all to much because it just seems like he was there to be nice and pretty. Looking back on the book I cannot think of one moment where I thought, “Huh, I like Dorian.” Still, even my least favourite character, Celaena had moments where I actually enjoyed her. A lot of the characters in Throne of Glass are a bit lackluster but luckily there was characters such as Chaol Westfall and Princess Nehemia Ytger who were in my opinion, interesting and fairly well written who did step up to the plate and keep me interested
The plot and setting are some of the best things in this book. It takes place in a land where magic has been long extinct due to the evil king’s complete destruction of it. The first few pages of the book shows a map of this huge world which really did get me excited because I love looking into lore of fantasy worlds. This why, at first, I was disappointed because most of the book takes place inside the king’s castle but this really lets you explore the castle and get a feel of how the people truly act, how wealthy and powerful the evil king is and how big and mysterious it truly is. The plot has Celaena going against 23 other criminals in competitions that go from archery to swordfighting to poison detection. The winner of the competition gets to serve as the king’s personal assassin.
To sum up my thoughts about this book… it is alright. I do enjoy the story but I most of the characters and certain slow points in the book hold it back a lot. If you like action and/or romance and you have extra money I would say get the book and give it a try and see if you enjoy it. Throne of Glass is definitely not my cup of tea. A lot of it’s characters aren’t well written and its action focussed plot seems to just turn into a love story. However, even though it’s not my cup of tea I can see why it is one of New York Times best sellers. If you enjoy romance stories and fantasy you may love this book. Celaena and Dorian may be more bearable if you like romance so if you love romance I would say try this book and if you cannot stand it, stay away.