Book Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
3.5 out of 5
My dearest Carlyn sent this novel with high recommendations, so I was definitely interested in picking it up.
The premise of the novel is fairly straightforward. (It doesn’t begin there, but as a background) A trained assassin, Celaena, is sent to a labor camp after a serious betrayal in the wake of the pushing dominance and destruction from the power-craving King Havilliard. With her time in the camp she is presumed just as dead as the magic that the King has outlawed.
Near her year mark, the Crown Prince offers Celaena a proposition she cannot refuse: compete in a tournament to become the King’s Champion and earn her freedom in a few years time. Despite being leery about the prospect of being the King’s killing hand, Celaena accepts and is transported to the castle of glass to compete for her one chance to be free.
During her stay, it becomes quickly obvious that there is an unnatural, strong force of evil lurking in the castle, eager to torture and disembowel the competing champions. Facing the stress of the competition, the affections of the Crown Prince, the jealousy in the court, and the mystery that lies in the castle’s walls, Calanea faces her hardest challenge of survival.
This is another novel that just, well, doesn’t hit the remarkable point. It was structured well enough, and there wasn’t any major issues of dialogue or misinterpretation. Just, unfortunately, doesn’t have much to it.
I do have to give credit where it is due: the plot is extremely well paced. The story doesn’t precede or extend farther than it needs to. It doesn’t have multiple sub-plot developments to confuse or overwhelm the reader. It takes the time it needs to to establish Celaena and her presence on court; it does not throw her in the castle and move on to the concerns of the kingdom. The story stays within the realm of Celaena and her survival, which is where it needed to be for the beginning of the saga.
However, I do wish that there was more drama and emphasize on the actual competition itself. Regardless of the progressions of the Royal Court, her main focus should have been in the constant fear of being eliminated. It did not exist until the end of the novel, which is a negative for Maas. It just wasn’t realistic in terms of the situation at hand.
I do have to throw in that there is an evident love triangle. It hasn’t fully formed, so to make commentary when there isn’t much development is kind of pointless, but it’s there.
This aspect, dear readers, is what knocked my interest down the most about the novel. Celaena is damn near perfect. She has a beautiful body and face; the men at court all admire her beauty. She’s strong and cunning, the best combination to boost in the competition. She loves reading. She plays the pianoforte like a professional. She can speak fluently in a few different languages. I’m surprised that I didn’t find out that she can simultaneously juggle, sing, and perform open-heart surgery.
She’s vain to boot.
Not to say that I entirely dislike her; I don’t. She has a smart mouth, a cunning mind, and a ruthless determination to be admired. But I have a major issue with how she is presented. I do not feel like there was a moment of growth for her. It’s disappointing for the issues she is facing. It’s frustrating.
The other characters are okay.
The Crown Prince has the same issues as they all do: extremely handsome and notorious womanizer, all the while being conflicted with the duties expected of him. Sure, he is a sweetie who genuinely cares for Celaena, but come on. He could have been presented in many other different ways than what he was: a typical YA prince.
I really love Chaol, and I will fight anyone who dislikes him. He is the one character who has the most growth in the novel. It’s heartwarming to see.
Otherwise, the characters are set up how you would expect: nasty king, snide girls in court, brutes to compete against with the one alley.
I wish there was much to put in the concept section, such as magic and tyranny, but the overall plot for the saga has not reached that level yet. I did want to note this, since my reviews usually address the reoccurring themes that appear. I do anticipate the mentioned topics, along with love and trust, to be included after I review the second novel.
I did really enjoy the novel, despite what my review may come off as. I just will not profess my love for a novel while ignoring the flaws that do exist. This novel definitely has many overused YA cliches, but it moves so well that in the end I did not care. I am eagerly awaiting to buy the sequel and see how the story develops from here on out.