Jessie (Ageless Pages Reviews)'s Reviews > Throne of Glass

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
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Hype is a strange beast, and one that is certainly no stranger to this long-anticipated fantasy novel geared towards young-adults. It can prime the pump for a well-deserved novel, or it can drag down an otherwise entertaining but not very well executed novel with unfulfilled expectations, as is the case here for my read of Maas's Throne of Glass. Advertised as a "Game of Thrones" for teens meets an assassin version of The Hunger Games, the similarities and comparisons to other young-adult fantasy novels (particularly Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder -be sure to check out Amanda's great comparison review!) are unavoidable and lamentable. In addition to the misplaced hype and the whole "been-there-done-that feel", Throne of Glass suffers from a wide array of issues that kept me from wholly loving this. I've had several days to digest and work out my-not-so-happy feelings towards this (and vacillate on my rating!), and while I will inevitably pick up the sequel, I do think Maas has a lot to learn about the fantasy genre, writing a credible romance, and crafting a better method of authorial sleight-of-hand.

Celaena Sardothien is a complex character, that is without a doubt, but one that is a little too enamored of her own looks, instead of worrying about, oh I don't know, LIVING. Even Katniss, for all her faults and flaws, doesn't worry about her good-looks when confronted by the people who ruined her life, and oppressed her people. I think Celaena will be divisive among readers: some will respond to her hard-edged confidence and others will be much less enthused with her inability to look at the bigger picture. There are many sides to her personality, and I will admit that she is admirably flawed and realistic for a YA protagonist. She's a strong, smart, capable, and decisive young woman, while only slightly suffering from Special Snowflake Syndrome. She's also arrogant beyond belief (though I didn't start to dislike that aspect until her arrogance about her skills was never backed up by her actions! One sparring match does not a Master Assassin make! And, after all, how many times, exactly, can Dorian sneak up on Celaena before she loses all credibility as The Greatest Assassin Ever?), cunning, deadly, and way, way, too invested in the superficial facets of Court life. The sheer amount of time clothing, especially Celaena's and Dorian's wardrobes, are described, lusted after, and compared is simply exhausting and dry.

Another main issue I had while reading this was the clear and present focus on romance, a love triangle and angst instead of THE ASSASSIN-TASTIC DEATH MATCH. It's supremely frustrating to be told that Celaena is an amazing assassin and then see no proof of it, outside very few isolated events. What is the point of a Hunger Games death match between assassins if it's all offsides and offscreen? For almost the entirety of reading about the tournament, I was thinking "KILL SOMEONE, DAMNIT. Prove you're what you've been so enthusiastically saying about yourself." It's too much telling about Celaena's prowess, and far too little actual "showing" on Maas's part. The Tests and trials are glossed over, or focus on the least-actiontastic events (a poison ranking? Really? Harry Potterish much?) to the overall detriment of what was actually the most compelling aspect of the whole novel. Instead, the author ignores the good stuff in favor of awkward flirting, and endless descriptions of what every character is reading. It's a shame and a glaring misstep for any novel that seeks to be compared for the bloody and dark Game of Thrones.

Maas is a capable author, but sadly not one readers will be able to call subtle after reading first-in-a-series Throne of Glass. Celaena's mysterious past and real identity are both easy to suss out, and it's remarkable that none of the other characters manage to do so in the 400+ pages of the final edition. The super-obvious plotting and writing, the easy-to-spot red herrings, and not to mention the heavy-handed approach to the love-triangle that takes up 75% of the novel, make for a very predictable novel. The "mystery" of who is behind the competitors death...isn't. It's both obvious from the start and then subsequently, hilariously frustrating how long it takes Celaena to cotton on to the real culprit. (view spoiler)

Third-person omniscient makes it easy for the POV to rotate around Celaena, Dorian, the Crown Prince of Ardalan, and Chaol Westfall, the earnest and awesome Captain of the Guard, and show a wider view of the world. It also caused me to feel a bit distant from the characters and kept me from fully investing. (Exception: Chaol. MOAR PLEASE.) Were the other two perspectives really needed? No, but nor do they detract from the narration. The love triangle manage to do that allll on its own. You can see it forming from the first chapter, and Maas never makes it worth reading about. It's all overwrought glances and touching, with little real emotion to back up the overused trope. It's not used to illustrate that Celaena is torn between two men who genuinely appeal to vastly different sides of her character, but rather to show how beautiful and alluring she is. No, thank you. The writing itself can be bloated with over-description (the clothes! the glass castle! WE GET IT!), but Maas does reign it in occasionally to let a plot emerge.

Fun, but very flawed is my final verdict. Great ideas need great execution and that is not at all what happened here with Throne of Glass. Though Throne of Glass has been grossly overhyped and is quite often amateurish in its presentation, I can't deny that there are moments of great entertainment... but, sadly, they are not enough to earn this novel more than 3/5 stars.
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Reading Progress

07/23/2012 page 55
13.0% "Okay, where is the hard-edged assassin I was promised? There have been far too many references to Celaena's appearance. Even Katniss, for all her faults and flaws, doesn't worry about her good-looks when confronted by the people who ruined her life and oppressed her people."
07/24/2012 page 120
29.0% "The writing and plotting are so obvious. I've had a theory since page 95 about Celaena's origins/birth and I'd bet my dog I'll be proven right. And my dog is really cute. " 14 comments
07/24/2012 page 320
77.0% "How many times, exactly, can Dorian sneak up on Celaena before she loses all credibility as The Greatest Assassin Ever? -__-"
07/24/2012 page 375
90.0% "It's supremely frustrating to be told that Celaena is an amazing assassin and then see no proof of it, outside one sparring match. What is the point of a Hunger Games death match between assassins if it's all offsides and offscreen? KILL SOMEONE, DAMNIT." 3 comments
09/07/2015 page 115
28.0% "This is obviously a debut and I can easily see how much Maas has grown as a writer from when this was published to now."

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

This is an outstanding review! I was just discussing this novel with another reviewer this morning. I have seen the reviews on this one kindly labeled as "tepid". I could have brushed off the love flaws and character shallowness if the Death Match had been worth the effort. I think I will pass on this one. I might read it in the future, but my feelings at this point is "pass".

Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews) Thanks very much, Lyn! This review took on a life of its own as I got more and more focused on what just didn't work for me here. "Tepid" is a great descriptor for ToG - great ideas but poor execution.

I was severely disappointed with the presentation of the Death Match aka the thing that most drew me to this. If the author had been more concerned with it and less with dresses/boys, this would've been a much stronger read.

Wait to get it from the library is my advice. It can be entertaining, but is not worth buying.

message 3: by April (new)

April You are not uneeq snoflaek. Lulz.
Seriously though, this sounds like something I'd like to pick up and look at myself, and maybe give a second look for the blog. Whatcha think? Is it an e-book, or can you send it to me?

Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews) It was a digital galley from NetGalley, sadly not a physical ARC. If I had one, I'd swap with you, but no dice this time. :(

Paige I totally agree with your review! When I wrote my review, I felt bad for not loving it since I'd seen only great reviews so far. My problem had also been the hype surrounding the release- it totally ruined the book for me. My expectations were so high and it fell so short :(

Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews) It's such a bummer, isn't it Paige? A great concept wasted on very poor, very amateurish execution. I'm curious to see where it goes, but you can bet I won't be laying down any of my hard-earned cash for a novel by Maas.

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