Where did you get the book: Netgalley E-arc
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK/US
Publishing Date: Out now
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 Westfall 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?
*Blurb taken from Goodreads*
What would you do if you had a choice to become the champion of a King who placed you in a prison slaving in a salt-mine? Celaena Sardothein, the infamous and most successful assassin in the entire Kingdom, is faced with this dilemma to compete in a competition to become the Royal Assassin under the disguise of being the King’s Champion. If she refuses she will remain in the slave salt mines where she will face a premature death. However, while the King has his own chosen candidate, the brutish and ruthless Caine. Crown Prince Dorian chooses and views Celaena as a way to rebel against his father’s dictatorial and tyrannical rule and authority. So, despite the past issues she has with the King, Celaena reluctantly agrees to enter the competition which will be a chance to regain her freedom after a period serving the Kingdom. But there is no guarantee that she may succeed in winning, because there are dark forces at work that hinder her chances.
This is a book that has a fun and intriguing premise for me. The assassin type heroine in political intrigue set in the backdrop of an epic fantasy. However, it never really reached its promise for me, although I did enjoy the story. I found it was quite difficult to warm to Celaena’s character from the beginning of the book because there was a lot of telling instead of showing on how good she was as an assassin and was the BEST in the Kingdom. I also found the dialogue a bit stilted and cliched at times, especially in the beginning, but that later improved.
But my main issue is that a lot of her backstory was missing on how she became an assassin, and what kind of skills she learned (there are 4 prequel novellas that precede Throne of Glass that help to set up this book). I wished there was more time spent expanding on her past and showed how skillful she was, which I think would have helped to enhance her characterisation. I gradually warmed up to her character later in the book. I did feel that there was something missing. I really felt that Throne of Glass was the middle book of a larger story arc – although the main plot in the book isn’t affected largely due to the missing history and stands well alone. But I did feel it would have helped out enhance her characterisation as well as the world-building which suffered slightly because there was a lot of rich history that seem to be glossed over.
There was also a couple of issues I had with Celaena and the tests that she undergoes. In one test, Cealaena has to discover the strength of poisons in a series of drinks. For a master assassin she had trouble discerning which was the cup that held the no poison, and I found that hard to believe. Another example was that she didn’t want to hold back her skills and knowledge to the other competitors — even though the terms of her agreement to be a part of this competition was that she was to hide her real identity from the others. Being an assassin is to be discreet and un-noticeable and this would have given her an advantage which was pointed out to her by her guard Captain Chaol Westfall. I really felt that, despite her bravado and vanity, she was at times naive and over-confident. This reflected her character but the lack of the back-story would have helped this element.
When the competition is in full swing (weekly tests that help to whittle down the candidates to the final four would-be champions) the plot starts to get going. It picks up speed with the added political intrigue and machinations, such as Duke Perrington, who is the right hand man and advisor to the King who loathes the fact that Celaena may have a winning chance over the favoured choice, Cain. And Lady Kaltain, who views Celaena as a threat to her ambitions to become Queen because of the growing closeness she has with Prince Dorian.
The mystery surrounding the plot was the strongest element in the book for me. Sarah J Maas created a really tense and creepy atmosphere when Celaena starts to investigate the violent murders of the competing candidates that occurs soon after the competition starts..
Another factor featured in the book which is part of a staple trope in YA right now is the dreaded love triangle. This aspect of the story for me was the weakest. I am not a huge fan of love triangles because they are very hard to do, and you always get a sense who will end up being the winning love interest. In this case both the Prince and Chaol, who are best friends, develop feelings for Celaena. Whilst Dorian is more open with his affection and is a bit of a ladies’ man, evolve more romantically between him and Celaena. I found his character a two dimensional, cliched and not that interesting to me. Chaol was more subdued and cantankerous with his interactions with Celaena because of his doubts and suspicions on her motives due to her past. Despite this they develop a strong friendship towards the end, and I found their dynamics in their relationship much more interesting and held more depth. But, I really found Celaena’s desires towards them lukewarm at times and hard to figure out. She had feelings for them but she wasn’t fully emotionally engaged with them — and I found that a bit disappointing, because so much time in the story was spent on the love triangle, whilst I found the mystery and plot much more interesting.
Despite the issues I had with the story and the romantic sub-plots, the intrigue, action and fast pace kept me engaged into the book. There wasn’t much on the assassination front, but I did enjoy the main plot with the games, and the mystery that surrounds Celaena as she discovers the secrets that enclose the glass palace. I especially loved the ending which gives hints of up-coming plot threads, and it was an action-packed climax which really challenges Celaena’s resolve and determination. I will definitely pick up the prequels and the sequel, although I wished I did read those prior because I think I wouldn’t be as nit-picky on the issues I had with the story. But despite the niggles I had, Throne of Glass, was an enjoyable and entertaining read.
I give Glass of Thrones a B-