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.
Throne of Glass was one of my most anticipated reads of 2012. It got enormous press, and I was intrigued by the book’s history: starting out on FictionPress, then being pulled by the author in order to edit and publish it. I had heard good things about the version on FictionPress, including a kick-ass heroine, great mystery, and a swoon-worthy romance. Unfortunately, only some of that turned out to be true for me personally. Overall, Throne of Glass, while containing aspects that I did really enjoy, left me mostly underwhelmed.
When the “Dear Reader” section mentioned a love triangle, I figured I was probably in for a rather painful journey. I am truly fed up with this trope, and the fact that seemingly every single YA book ever feels the need to include one. It didn’t help that one of the parts of said love triangle only seemed to be interested in Celaena because of her good looks (and likewise, SHE was interested in him because of HIS good looks). I couldn’t get past the womanizing, arrogant persona of Dorian, and as such, all the scenes between him and Celaena, for the most part, were tedious to read through, and some actually made me roll my eyes so hard I was worried I’d injure myself. It also probably didn’t help that I was rooting for Chaol from the get-go, either. I am definitely firmly in the “Team Chaol” camp.
Then there is our “kick-ass” heroine. Celaena is really good at talking herself up. She’s beautiful. She’s the best assassin ever. Etc. However, while her good looks are confirmed by several others, we never actually get to see her doing any assassinating; she only has flashes of brilliance that the reader gets to see, and the rest of her assassination background is hearsay or something that Celaena herself tells us, and that’s only in the beginning when she’s first pulled out of Endovier to try her hand at the king’s competition. For the most part, all Celaena really does is read, admire beautiful clothing, and banter back and forth with Chaol and Dorian. And while I did in fact enjoy said banter – she has a quick wit and a very sharp tongue that I enjoyed reading – her arrogance made her just as unlikeable in some ways as Dorian was.
And all of that probably makes you think that I really must have disliked this book a great deal. That’s not really the case, as there were some redeeming factors in this book. I liked the Tests that Celaena and the other competitors had to face, particularly the one where they’re required to scale the wall. I did NOT like that we didn’t actually get to see all of the tests, though; I felt like they were sacrificed for more romance, and honestly, enough was enough in that regard. I also liked the mystery, and how Celaena set out to solve it. While I could see the villain from a mile away – far sooner than Celaena herself – I did like the darkness of the plot. I also liked what little we actually got to see of Erilea and its world-building; the ancient gods and goddesses, the Wyrdmarks, etc. And most of all, I really enjoyed Chaol and Nehemia, who, for me personally, were the highlights of the book. I also appreciated that Celaena was both feminine and “kick-ass”, as it’s not usually a popular combination. As someone who is pretty girly herself, I liked that Celaena was a bit like me in terms of her love of pretty clothes.
Overall, Throne of Glass was an enjoyable read, but not one that I loved to pieces. It has some interesting concepts and a darkness to the overall plot that I appreciated. Celaena redeemed herself at the end a bit, and I am intrigued enough by the fairly open ending to see what comes next for her and the other characters. Even though I didn’t love this, plenty of people did, so go ahead and give it a read yourself to see which camp you fall into!
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.