Sunday, August 24, 2014

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Publisher:  Bloomsbury USA Children's
Release Date: August 2nd, 2012
Source: Library 

Synopsis: 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 three years and then be granted her freedom. 

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. 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. 

Short story time: I don't think this book needs any further introduction because when it was first released it EXPLODED onto the blogosphere and now the fanbase for it is insanely huge.  

I first came across this book when it was being promoted at BEA and I was lucky enough to get a copy. I started reading it and at the time, I didn't enjoy it. I didn't even finish it before I decided to pass it on to a friend (who loved it and with whom that copy found a happy home). So this same friend has insisted that I give Celaena Sardothien another try and I relented. 

Review: While Throne of Glass wasn't everything that I had expected it to be, I still enjoyed it. 

Celaena Sardothien is a badass assassin, or at least, we're told over and over that she is. Don't get me wrong, I DID like her character but there was more than one time when I went, "Really? You're supposed to be an ASSASSIN WHAT WHAT WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"

I couldn't resist. 
It's fine to be into pretty dresses, books and flirt with guys while also being an assassin. Heck, go for it especially if you've got the looks and the brains to manipulate people with. (It's totally an asset if you're in the business of murder.) I was more than okay with Celaena showing that underneath her killer instinct she's still a young woman with dreams and fun interests. But sometimes these facets of her behavior clashed with her persona of being this cold-blooded killer.  Also, Celaena's  pride of being the infamous assassin of Adarlan got in the way of being rational. No really, there are many times where Celaena is genuinely annoyed at hiding her identity when it is in her best interest to not reveal who she is. Girl, I'm glad you're a confident lady but you're an assassin--isn't stealth like 101??? She also doesn't kill anyone in this installment! She has murderous thoughts, yes, BUT NO KILLING. Where is my bloodshed?*

As for the competition she is placed in, I was expecting to see more violence. Like Hunger Games level violence. Instead I read a series of simple challenges like archery, climbing and poison testing. Which would have been fine since you can't be the royal assassin for a king and not have a series of skills but... the challenges could have been more life-threatening or could have tested the competition on how clever they were. That would have given Celaena's character more chances to shine and prove to me as a reader that her skills are as good as she claims them to be.

I know it sounds as if I think this book so far wasn't fabulous and there were a few things that could've been done better but I also found a lot to enjoy. The cast of characters---the king, prince Dorian, Chaol Westfall, the duke, Lady Kaltain and the awesome princess Nehemia--they were all very fleshed out and provided a lot of entertaining/tense/amazing moments. I especially loved Nehemia for being a caring princess who suffers when her people are in danger and for being so cunning too. As for Dorian and Chaol...Yes, there is a love triangle so if those aren't your thing step away from this series right now. But I have to admit, I'm curious about this one. Either guy would be worthy of Celaena but right now I'm team Chaol ♥ 

As for the plot of this book, it DOES get better. It just takes a while but once Celaena tries to figure out who is killing the competition--and how an ancient magic may have a role in this--Throne of Glass became the thrilling novel that I was promised. 

Final Verdict: The first portion of this book frustrated me a bit with how the narration could be indulgent (I  like pretty dresses but I don't need to know every single detail about Celaena's wardrobe) but then it became great once the mystery aspect kicked in. Celaena thankfully gets a reality check and undergoes a character development where she's still cocky but she's more level-headed. So. Although I had some issues with this book, I have to admit that I enjoyed Throne of Glass. I liked it enough that despite its rocky beginning I'm going to read the sequel. I'd recommend checking it from the library or borrowing from a friend though.

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*I sound like some crazy person that likes punching and blood. I swear, I'm not a violent person O_O

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