Sarah J. Maas and I have a very strange relationship. I love her stories and I love her characters, yet sometimes those stories have so many flaws I can’t deny. While I would cast aside most other books, I kept reading the ACOTAR series. I’m also beyond excited for the next book that will be published in May. However, in the meantime I decided to pick up Throne of Glass by Maas. The novel was released in 2012. Yet I still want to write about it, considering many people don’t just want to read about new releases for a variety of reasons. So, is Throne of Glass worth reading?
Once again, GoodReads is much better at explaining it than I am:
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 four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. 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.
Throne of Glass initially was written as a retelling of Cinderella. Maas watched the Disney classic and found the soundtrack way too dark and depressing. She thought the music better suited a thief or an assassin and she took the idea from there. Originally the title of the story was Queen of Glass. Maas published that version on the site Fictionpress.com and quickly gathered a loyal fanbase. In 2010 the novel was acquired by Bloomsbury Press, and is the first in a series of quite a few books. Currently, a tv-series is in the works based on the series as well.
As with ACOTAR, there are many flaws to be found in the story. First of all, the whole love-triangle is ever-so present in this novel. Sometimes it feels as though the romance is leading the plot more than the actual assassin-who-has-to-fight-for-her-freedom storyline. Celaena, despite her many flaws, is beautiful and gorgeous and bad-ass and basically everybody underlines that fact. Yes, she is very self-indulgent and thinks she is amazing which she mentions repeatedly, but that did not even bother me. I don’t think being too confident is a bad thing, considering so many YA heroines are insecure little ducks. I just found it slightly annoying that Celaena spent the majority of the book thinking about which guy was hotter.
Also on that note, Celaena, being a bad-ass assassin, spends most of her time just being a girly girl. Nothing wrong with that. The fact that she’s an assassin should not define her. However, when I pick up a YA fantasy novel, I expect a bit more action and a little less fretting around. I mean, I struggled my way through the endless description in Game of Thrones and it is not my thing. And I know slow scenes are necessary to build up the action, but in Throne of Glass they don’t always move the story forward.
The thing about Maas is that while there are plenty of things I can fault in her stories, she has a knack for writing characters I fall in love with. In the ACOTAR series, I fell in love with Rhys. In this novel, I found myself falling in love with Chaol. Oh and Nehemia, the rebel princess. I love it when characters have strong principles and are not afraid to take risks. I found myself looking forward to every scene Chaol or Nehemia were in. As for Celaena, there were times I loved her and times I disliked her, but overall, I am positive about her. While the girly stuff took over too much at times, I still enjoyed the balance between ruthless assassin and teenage girl. If only she showed us more of that assassin side. Some of her responses (such as eating random candy left on her bed, while there is a murderer out there killing all champions) do not make her come off as the world’s greatest assassin.
When the action does pick up, it is entertaining enough to keep your attention. There is a constant suspense in the air. However, I was never surprised by the plot twists and saw most coming from miles away. I wish that the story had been a little more surprising. At times it felt like I had read this story a million times before. That said, the plus side of reading this book while the sequels are out, is that apparently this is the weakest book in the series. Maas was very young when she wrote the first draft of this novel. It is good to know that she has improved over the years.
Throne of Glass might not be the best YA fantasy book ever written, but it is entertaining enough. The story is promising and as I am currently reading the sequel Crown of Midnight, I can confirm that the series improves as you keep reading. However, keep in mind that this is a long series which you are committing to when you pick it up.