Keertana's Reviews > Throne of Glass

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
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Apr 05, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: debut-author-2012, arc-galley-and-first-reads, why-the-hype
Read from August 08 to 11, 2012

Throne of Glass is not a novel I would put on a throne, or any kind of pedestal for that matter, whether it be made of glass or brick or wood. If anything, it is a novel I am throwing – or have already thrown actually – into my Cavern of Disappointments where I can hopefully forget it ever exists and satisfy myself by re-reading assassin novels where the assassins actually assassinate! You see, like so many novels before it, Throne of Glass had an immense amount of – wait for it - potential. Yet, like so many unfortunate novels before it, it failed to take its potential and hone it into something truly remarkable, mind-blowing, and fantastic.

Celaena Sardothien is rumored to be the most dangerous assassin in all of Erilea, but she is imprisoned in the deadly mines of Endovier. Thus, when Crown Prince Dorian and his Captain of the Guard, Chaol, make her an offer – stay in Endovier where she will certainly die within months, if not years, or participate in a competition and win to become the King’s Champion, or his personal assassin – she cannot refuse. Yet, the competition isn’t the only thing on Celaena’s mind; many of the competitors are being mysteriously killed, or mauled, by what seems to be a nameless beast. Thus, while Celaena is competing for her freedom, she is also fighting – for her life.

I’ll come straight out and say it – I didn’t buy this story one bit. Throne of Glass is filled with superfluous descriptions of how the kingdom of Erilea is terrified of Celaena Sardothien, of how they dread her power, and of what an incredible assassin she is. Yeah, guess what? Celaena doesn’t assassinate anyone in this novel, not even a measly little fly. Thus, you can only imagine my disappointment at discovering that no, this is not a novel about dangerous assassins doing what they supposedly do best – assassinate – it is actually a novel about a series of trials which are different stages of a looong competition. If that wasn’t enough to turn you off about this book, perhaps the thought that these trials include mundane tasks such as archery, scaling walls, and poison identification certainly will. *queue snores* Yet, to make matters worse, Maas glosses over and doesn’t even describe to the reader the majority of the trials which take place, casting them in a realm of total insignificance. Okay, so assassinating isn’t important, an assassin competition with trials isn’t important, so what is? One word: romance.

Celaena Sardothien, assassin extraordinaire whose goal in life is to eliminate nobles and those of high rank, winds up falling for not one, but two guys. Yes, you have my permission to smack your head against the wall – I know I did. I despise love triangles, but if it is well-done, I can certainly appreciate and enjoy one. Unfortunately, the love triangle in Throne of Glass is not one I liked at all. Maas attempts to make these relationships far more complex than they seem through intense conversation and a prodding of deep secrets, but for all the discussions she throws in, she fails to succeed. Why? You see, it isn’t simply enough for two character to have a conversation – that conversation needs to play an integral role in their romance. Crown Prince Dorian and Celaena, for all their meaningful discussions, are attracted to each other purely because of their killer-good-looks, making their romance no different from your usual, run-of-the-mill, insta-love story. On the other hand, I really liked Chaol – from his quiet demeanor, to his initial distrust of Celaena, to his gradual admiration and deep caring for her, Chaol totally won my heart. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be sticking around to see if he wins Celaena’s heart too. (Translation: You’ll have to pay me to continue this series.)

Nevertheless, all those qualms aside, what really grated on me were the little things that could have made this story better but failed to do so. Throne of Glass is marketed as being a fantasy novel, but the world-building is rather lacking. While we know the main idea and overarching premises of this land, we are kept in the dark about the specifics that readers so desperately crave to glean a better understanding of this story. Furthermore, the mystery in this novel was incredibly predictable. It was the type of story that had me rolling my eyes and yelling, “do you really think I’m that dense?” at the novel multiple times – yeah, not good signs. I think if you are the type of reader who liked stories such as Cinder or other books with predictable plots this won’t grate on you so much, but I hated the fact that even this oh-so-mysterious-and-dangerous element of the story was ruined for me far before I even neared the end of this tale.

For all my complaints about this novel though, there were a few things I liked. Celaena was a character I never loved, but I did appreciate her for she was simultaneously flirtatious and feminine while maintaining her aura of kick-ass and deadly. (Key Word: Aura. She didn’t actually prove she was kick-ass and deadly at all.) Furthermore, I liked the fact that she was flawed and suffered from vanity, arrogance, and stubbornness, just to name a few shortcomings. It made her far more realistic and while it did render her in the role of an irritating protagonist, it didn’t bother me too much. Yet, where Celaena fell out of my good graces was when she began to lead on the two men who held affections for her. Enough about Celaena though, let’s talk about the one character I actually loved in this story who wasn’t Chaol – Nehemia. Nehemia is the princess of a land which is looking to rebel against the iron fist of the king, Dorian’s father. She quickly becomes one of Celaena’s closest friends and their friendship, as well as Nehemia’s own individual strength, was some of the best aspects of this story.

Ultimately though, this isn’t a novel I would recommend. If anything, I’d tell you to pick it up from a library to read or just skip it all together. It isn’t a story about assassins, it isn’t a novel chock-full of mystery, it doesn’t contain a well-written romance, and it most certainly does not have any of the killing, danger, or badassery promised in its synopsis. In fact, while many readers were worried about this story becoming another Hunger Games, I almost wish Maas had simply locked up her assassins in a glass castle and told them to fight each other to death – it would have made for a far more interesting tale. Plus, as far as originality goes, Maas loses the award on that front as well as her story is astonishingly similar to Maria V. Snyder’s Poison Study except without, you know, the complex romance, incredible world-building, and actual assassin who assassinates. If you’re looking for a book about assassins, this just isn’t it; instead, go check out Graceling by Kristin Cashore. I promise you, real assassinating really does happen in it.

You can read this review and more on my blog, Ivy Book Bindings.
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Reading Progress

08/08/2012 page 0
0.0% "Guess what just arrived in the mail? For FREE? I'll probably start this soon. Gosh, the cover is SO pretty and it's all...shiny! I swear, this is a publishing gimmick to make me naturally inclined towards giving this one a positive rating! ;)" 2 comments
08/08/2012 page 158
38.0% "Team Chaol! :)" 7 comments
08/10/2012 page 280
67.0% "I don't what's funnier - the fact that I won a copy of this book twice or the fact that I'm hating it. I mean, do I haaave to finish this? I don't even feel like it! *sigh* I guess I'll skim through the last couple of pages tonight... =.=" 24 comments
01/30/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-24 of 24) (24 new)

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Isabelle I agree with you on the Assassin thing. One thing that bothered me about Celaena was the fact that people kept sneaking up behind her although she was supposed to be the land's best assassin.


Keertana Exactly! I mean, Dorian or Chaol would probably make better assassins than her! >.<


Jasprit Oh it's a shame that you didn't end up liking this one Keertana, it was one of my favourites! But I completely understand why you didn't! I hope you find a decent book soon, you seem to be having a bad run of books lately :(


Keertana I know! It's very disappointing, but I suppose I only have myself to blame for being so nit-picky about everything. I'm reading Scorpio Races right now and I'm really enjoying that and I just picked up Why We Broke Up after reading your amazing review of it and I'm enjoying that as well, so it looks like I'm slowly getting out of my reading slump! :)


Jasprit Yay! Can't wait to hear your thoughts on them! :)


Cassi aka Snow White Haggard You have the biggest problem pegged perfectly, Celeana's talk of being the most dangerous assassin does not live up to what you see in the book.

Great review.


Keertana Thanks Cassi!(: Celaena wasn't a bad character, but I wish she had actually acted like an assassin. It seemed as if random people could sneak up on her without her knowing it and the only moment I remember her being even remotely assassin-y was when she counted the windows and guards at each exit. Either than that, she could have just been a really great fighter or someone like Katniss who just underwent a lot of training. It was pathetic! =.=


Devyani Great review ! I totally agree with what you've written about Celaena , although maybe later I'd just give the sequel a try , you know , just to see if she changed or not ;)


Keertana Thanks Devyani!(: Yup, my full review of this should be up...sometime this week! If Celaena does change in the sequel, do let me know! I'll definitely read it in that case! Otherwise, I might just wind up skipping it! ;)


Christina (Ensconced in Lit) Oh my gosh, I think I may pass on this after all. It's gotten so much hype but everything you mentioned would totally irritate me!


Keertana I know, it has so much hype, doesn't it? I read quite a few bad reviews of this one and totally intended to skip it, which didn't happen since I won it in a giveaway and I figured I might as well read it, but I'd recommend skipping it. You might wind up liking it, because I know a lot of people who did and this was one of the few books which we differed on even though we generally had similar opinions, but I didn't enjoy it and I don't plan on continuing the series either! :/


Josephine  (reading in twilight) I agree with Christina. Too bad!


Keertana Yup, definitely skip this one, Josephine. I wasn't impressed at all and don't plan on reading the sequel or even going near it, actually. :/


message 14: by Mike (new)

Mike Interesting that you mention you despise love triangles. I've been thinking lately, and it's not love triangles themselves that I despise. It's the author's inability (or, rather, their unwillingness) to acknowledge what a love triangle actually means for real people. Ends are almost always tied up neatly, and there's usually very little pain for either corner. That's why Clockwork Prince was so engaging; it felt like a real love triangle, not one intended to bring over fans of Twilight.


Keertana I agree. I do feel as if author's always solve love triangles by killing off one of the love interests or throwing in another character last minute so said love interest can be with them and somehow, the heroine is perfectly FINE with this and she can all of a sudden just be happy with Guy #1 because Guy #2, who she SUPPOSEDLY harbored feelings for, is out of the picture.

It's unrealistic. Even the IDEA of a love triangle is one I find unrealistic too. It just doesn't happen except in rare situations and never as often as YA Novels make them appear.

Clockwork Prince is definitely the only book with a love triangle that I've even enjoyed, so I'm hoping the sequel doesn't ruin it. (view spoiler)


message 16: by Mike (new)

Mike Keertana wrote: "I agree. I do feel as if author's always solve love triangles by killing off one of the love interests or throwing in another character last minute so said love interest can be with them and someho..."

The situation of a love triangle like that is pretty rare in real life, and when it does exist, it's not normally as dramatic of an event as authors make it out to be. It generally has one side that never reveals his/her feelings and eventually gets over the love. And almost never is the center genuinely conflicted between the two corners. But YA books never reflect this. You can almost hear the implied diss - "Twilight fans didn't notice, so no teenagers will. They're stupid enough for us to get away with it." That's how I've come to see love triangles - insulting to the genre they occupy.

(view spoiler)


message 17: by Sandra (new) - added it

Sandra Totally agreed! Love triangles are pretty unrealistic and always far-fetched. So far I think they only are a crappy way to try to have angsty scenes in your book without having to recur so often to Guy1. They must think that's better to invent a Guy2 in order to not get Guy1 worn out, even if some of us just don't buy it. So in love with Guy 1 she was? Come on!


message 18: by Elle (new) - rated it 4 stars

Elle Just because people are saying it's a bad book doesn't mean you shouldn't even try it. You might actually like it. Reviewers only post their opinions on the book not facts. O the facts they say are "stretched" and aren't that true. You should still read the book...


message 19: by Mike (new)

Mike Elle wrote: "Just because people are saying it's a bad book doesn't mean you shouldn't even try it. You might actually like it. Reviewers only post their opinions on the book not facts. O the facts they say are..."

I sort of think a person can chose whether or not they want to read a book, and it's absolutely fine for a review to factor into that choice. That's part of what reviews are for - telling others whether or not it's a good idea to pick up a book. If a review convinces them it's a bad idea, then why should they read it anyway?


message 20: by Cleo (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cleo Great review. I think you really should try the sequel, Crown of Midnight, which just came out. It's much more intense and actually lives up to the plot description. There's lots of assassinating. Promise. I just finished it, and it was really good, with much more action than Throne of Glass.


Keertana Huh, really? Maybe I will, in that case. I'm still not overly big on the characters and I hate the love triangle, but I'll add it on my radar for sure, at any rate. Thanks for letting me know!(:


message 22: by Sho (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sho fantastic review which sums up my feelings perfectly. The one thing I really liked about it was Celaena being vain and typical teenage girl about clothes.
She did exhibit one or two skills though, when she saved... ah was it Vox? that was semi ok.
And when she had the fight with... ah that other one (the big fellow's sidekick) who later got eviscerated.


message 23: by Ju (last edited Apr 26, 2015 01:30PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ju Nehemia and Chaol were the only saving graces if you ask me and unfortunately, Celaena's vanity and her eating-mysterious-candy skills really irritated me. Plus, the world-building is hyped to be glorious but it's just the usual warring kingdoms and rebellion. Those things weren't even developed either :/


message 24: by Sianna (new) - added it

Sianna I just want to say I disagree with u apart from the parts u enjoy. But I absolutely love your writing. U should read the other series. Up to heir of fire I promise is the best. Everything u hated changes in the rest of the books.


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