Title: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens
Genre: Fantasy, Teen/YA
Rating: 3 out of 5
Celaena Sardothien is eighteen years old, and she’s already been serving in the salt mines of Endovier for a year. Celaena was an assassin, the best in the kingdom, but she was caught and sentenced for her crimes. But now, the crown prince has offered her a tantalizing proposal – if Celaena competes in (and wins) a competition held by the king to find the new royal assassin, she will go free after three years. Celaena is determined to win, but she can’t help but catch the eye of the prince and his handsome captain of the guard, Westfall.
Throne of Glass is a fantasy novel set in a magical world, with a palace of glass and a beautiful assassin who is just eighteen years old. It’s clear that Maas loves the world she has set her novel in, and she takes her time to build it up. There are a few mysteries about the world, and while there isn’t overwhelming detail about it, readers won’t be left wanting. Maas makes it obvious that she will continue exploring this world in future books, as it is vast, and most of this first book takes place within the palace walls.
This is a book that was hyped long before its publication date, billed as A Game of Thrones for teenage readers. As a result, my expectations were high going in and, unsurprisingly, I found myself a bit disappointed by Throne of Glass. Let’s start with the characters. Celaena’s story is a fascinating one, to be sure; how does an eighteen year old become the best assassin in the kingdom? Her background is worth exploring. However, Celaena herself was a bit more difficult. She came across as incredibly arrogant and it was difficult to like or care about her. I found that I wasn’t really emotionally invested in her journey, as she turned me off time and again with her brash personality. She just struck me as immature (but keep in mind I’m not the target audience for this book). Additionally, though readers are told again and again that Celaena was the best assassin, they never really get to see that in the novel. It’s a classic example of telling, rather than showing.
The storyline is certainly interesting. In order to determine who is the best assassin, the king devises a series of tests. But this plot drops off about two thirds of the way through the book. All of a sudden, things shift gears and Maas isn’t even telling the reader about the tasks anymore. It’s not a dropped plotline, but because this was one of the main hooks of the story, the fact that it becomes so unimportant is disappointing, especially considering what takes its place isn’t that difficult of a puzzle.
This being a YA novel, there is, of course, a love triangle, and it’s one I didn’t understand. I honestly didn’t see why Celaena would be interested in either of the men in the book, nor why they liked her. Of course, this is related to my distaste with Celaeana as a person, but needless to say, the love triangle portion of the novel did not entice me.
I found Throne of Glass disappointing overall. While there were elements I enjoyed, I didn’t love the way the book was executed. It didn’t have the beauty, complexity of plot, or character development of A Game of Thrones, which is what I was expected, given the comparison. It’s not a bad book, and I’m curious to see what Maas does with the world going forward, but if you’re looking for some solid fantasy, I’d choose a different read.