Adam Bolander's Reviews > Throne of Glass

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review

it was ok

Review of Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass is a great example of an author having a great idea, but no idea how to properly execute it. Advertised as being “Game of Thrones mixed with The Hunger Games,” there’s no shortage of potential here. And to a lot of people, that seems to have paid off because the hype for this book is off the freaking charts! It was the premise that drew me to it, because there just aren’t enough high fantasy young adult novels, and I ended up getting it for Christmas. I was looking forward to reading it, getting more and more excited as I checked other books off my reading list. But then, when I finally opened it up… I was disappointed. So disappointed, in fact, that I couldn’t even finish it.

The story is about Celaena Sardothian, an 18 year old girl feared throughout all the Adarlan empire as being the world’s greatest assassin. She was captured and sent to a prison camp for a year before Dorian, the crown prince, came and offered her freedom. All she has to do is act as his champion in a competition his father, king of Adarlan, is holding to decide the new Royal Assassin. If Celaena wins, she will work for the crown for a number of years and then be sent free. But the competition is fierce, and someone (or something) is going around the castle, murdering contestants.

Let’s my first, and biggest, complaint out of the way: I. Freaking. HATE. Celaena. Here’s a list of things she is: egotistical, clueless, whiny, snobby, ditzy, vain, judgmental, and incompetent. The first thing I noticed about her was how she, apparently, didn’t understand how the justice system works. She was an assassin, she got caught, and was sentenced to life in a prison camp doing hard labor. Only, no, she doesn’t deserve that! How dare they whip her and not feed her enough? It’s not like she was, I dunno, the kingdom’s most feared assassin or anything! I get that the king is a coldhearted tyrant, but that doesn’t matter. When you break the law, you become a criminal, and when a criminal gets caught they are punished. End of story.

But it doesn’t end there. When you hear “Adarlan’s Greatest Assassin,” you’d expect there to be some violence, right? Nope, not here. Instead, we get to listen to Celaena tell us how easy to it would be to kill everyone without ever doing anything. “I could disarm him in three moves, and then spin around and slice his partner’s neck open.” That’s one of Maas’ biggest errors. She expects us to accept that Celaena is awesome and amazing just because she keeps telling us so. She’s the best assassin because she says so. She can kill anyone because she says so. She could break out of custody if she wanted to because she says so. But then when she gets into a training fight, she promptly loses. I don’t care if tripping her was an underhanded move, she’s a freaking assassin! They’re supposed to stab people in the back, not challenge them to formal duels. Fighting fair isn’t something she should even be concerned about— which just goes to show how confused a character she is.
But that’s okay. Nobody picked up a book about an assassin to read about fights, did they? For every interesting detail that Maas left out, it’s filled in with Celaena being a stereotypical girl. You’ll get entire chapters of Adarlan’s Assassin preening in the mirror, pigging out on sweets, wondering if this dress looks better than that dress, and falling in love with the first two handsome men she meets coming out of the prison camp. There are ways to give a character girlish tendencies that balance out well with her more hardcore traits. Katniss Everdeen is a great example of this. All Maas did, however, was shovel in every “girl” cliché she could think of, and then dump a load of “I’m cool and dangerous!” on top of it.

Celaena also sucks at being an assassin. Besides the aforementioned lack of assassinations, she also lacks the basic skills that could keep an assassin alive. People sneak up on her all the time, they can enter her room without her knows even after she messes up the door hinges to squeak, and she is lousy at managing her time. On the night before her first challenge, she stays up until 4 am reading. I mean, seriously? Isn’t the contest that will keep her out of a death camp important enough to get a good night’s rest for? I just can’t take her seriously as an assassin when she’s doing crap like this. If she wasn’t spending so much time telling us how awesome she is, I wouldn’t even know she was supposed to be a freaking assassin!

She also judges everyone for not being like her. Basically, if you’re not her or her friend, you’re a terrible person. There are bad people, and there’s Celaena Sardothian. Except for Prince Dorian, who’s a creep, but he gets a pass on that because he’s bee-yoo-tee-full! And so is Calaena, which is all anyone really needs for the first side of our love triangle. The only character I really liked in the entire book was Chaol, the twenty-something year old captain of the guard and Dorian’s best friend. He actually seemed intelligent, had some personality, and was competent at what he did. That was one guy I could stand Calaena falling in love with since she, supposedly, is the world’s greatest assassin. But Maas can’t let such an easy cliché slip through her fingers, which means Dorian gets bit by the love bug as well, creating relationship drama, which is what we really want in a book about an assassin.

Like I said, I only got a little more than halfway through the book. I’ve heard that it gets significantly better in the second half, but I just can’t bring myself to care. Calaena is a terrible main character, and I have no more interest in finishing a book told from her point of view. Maybe if the book had been written about Chaol, the ONLY likeable character in the story, I might be a little more interested. This book suffers from too much playing dress up, and not enough action. Sarah J. Maas had an awesome idea, but ultimately lacked the skills to do it justice. This is all the more disappointing, since all the hype had led me to believe this series could be the next big thing.

I give Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas one and a half stars out of five!

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Throne of Glass.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

April 29, 2015 – Started Reading
April 29, 2015 – Shelved
May 2, 2015 – Finished Reading

No comments have been added yet.