Sunday, January 13, 2019

Review: THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas

Review: 4/5 stars

I’m so glad to finally be reading this series. And I’m so glad I read The Assassin’s Blade before starting Throne of Glass; I really feel like the prequel information learned there is necessary to enjoy this book to its highest potential. In this book, Celaena makes references to events that we learned about in the different stories in The Assassin’s Blade, and I liked actually knowing what she was talking about.

This is one of those rare series where I actually have no idea what happens. I have not been spoiled one bit, so I’m very looking forward to seeing where the story leads from here. I enjoyed Throne of Glass quite a bit, and I’m glad that I did because I was worried that it had been hyped up too much for me and I wouldn’t love it.

I can see why some people comment that this book is about an assassin who does everything except assassinate people. It is kind of true in a way, although I can also see why the story’s like that. Because of the competition that Celaena’s a part of to become the king’s new Champion, she’s kept under guard and isn’t really given the chance to kill anyone; the competition isn’t to the death. Who would she kill anyway? She’s not a murderer but an assassin who’s sent on missions to eliminate people who actually deserve to be punished. Plus she’s trying her best to follow orders so she actually has a chance at winning and gaining her freedom, so it makes sense that she would cooperate. So even though we don’t see direct killing occurring, she still has that fierceness and that desire, and we really see that in her thoughts throughout this book. This is another reason why reading The Assassin’s Blade beforehand was so crucial, in my opinion, because we actually see Celaena live up to her title as Adarlan’s Assassin in that book, so I went into Throne of Glass already knowing her character.

I was surprised that I did like most of the characters in this book. Dorian and Chaol seemed very similar to me and I struggled to keep them straight for the first half, but I do like them both. I did feel like the attraction between them and Celaena was a little awkward though, like one scene she hates them both, then the next scene she notices their handsome faces and toned muscles, and then the next scene they’re irritating and rude again—like I couldn’t quite understand Celaena’s line of thinking there. Nor could I understand Dorian’s or Chaol’s: she is a ruthless assassin yet they view her as beautiful and a possible suitor. That just seems out of place. And if anyone says there’s a “love triangle” in this book, they are wrong. The romance is so mild. She is friends with both Dorian and Chaol but she never expresses interest in Chaol until after she ends things with Dorian. And she’s never debating between the two. I personally like Chaol a bit better, but I don’t really care who she is with in the end because Dorian is fine too.

Nehemia was my favorite character and I hope she’s present in later books. She was mysterious and secretive at times, but for good reason. I thought she was a true friend to Celaena, and I hope to see their friendship keep growing throughout the series.

I thought the whole mysterious thing with Elena was kind of weird and out of place, but I guess that’s just because there’s no magic in this world anymore and all those scenes had an air of magic about them.

Kaltain frustrated me so much, but a good book set in a castle needs a character like her to add to the court drama. Her singular goal became more clear the further I got into the story, as did her source of crazed thoughts. I am very pleased with her ultimate fate, although there was one final revelation that makes me not so sure I really know her yet. . . .

I did like the political intrigue and court scenes that added to the story, making it more than just a book about a competition. I mean half of the competition was only described in passing as “two more tests happened over the past week” or something like that because so much more of the story involved characters who weren’t vying for Champion. I did feel, however, like a lot of what happened with Celaena as far as court politics go was a little unrealistic. She’s a prisoner and an assassin and she’s given dresses and jewelry to wear and is invited to feasts and events and is allowed to roam around on her own? Like that would never happen. I’m surprised she even has her own quarters with an attached dining room and game room because that alone seems too extravagant for her position. This book was more about court life and drama between characters than it was about her being an assassin and having adventures (which is what The Assassin’s Blade was about). I’m hoping the following books get a little better in this regard because I was wanting to read an epic fantasy about an awesome female assassin, not a court drama. Still, I did enjoy this book a lot, but I went in knowing very little about it and it just didn’t go in quite the direction I was expecting.

I hope in future books the magic comes back to the land and we get to see some of that and how it works. It was a little unclear if the king of Adarlan banished magic, so no one had the ability to use it, or if he banned it, so anyone using it would be punished but the ability still remained. It is clear that there is more magic present in the court than most of the characters are aware, so maybe the king is using this to his benefit.

Another thing I hope to receive more clarification on in future books is the nature of Wyrd and Wyrdmarks. Is this related to the lost magic? It was so vaguely described anytime Celaena mentioned it that I still don’t know what Wyrd is. But the idea of Wyrdmarks really interests me. I’ve always been keen to learn about signs and symbols and secret codes, so I hope we get more information about them soon.

I want to talk about the final battle scene because I had some issues with it. SPOILERS: [I did not like the way the fight with Cain happened. It was too out there for me—too otherworldly. I get that there’s a magical fae/demon dimension and Queen Elena was there to help Celaena, but it just felt too contrived to feel like a natural fight. Because magic was involved in helping Celaena win but the magic has not at all been explained thus far, her winning almost felt like a case of deus ex machina to me, which is really frustrating. I obviously knew that she would win, but I wish it was done a little differently; what I wanted was a classical epic fantasy battle scene with swords and quick maneuvers, not a drugged, demon-invading, “magical” event where Celaena wins even though there’s no way she realistically would with the injuries she sustained. Even if Elena removed the poison from her, Celaena still has cracked ribs, broken bones, likely a concussion (I’m surprised she didn’t already pass out), and tons of cuts that were bleeding profusely. Yet she still stood up and defeated Cain? Even if she is the greatest assassin, that still seemed unlikely given her condition at the time. I was disappointed with this whole scene, but it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the book overall, and I see how what happened opened up questions to be answered in further books.]

Overall, I thought Throne of Glass was an entertaining read with a lot of great characters. It’s not as epic in scope as I had wished it would be, but it was still a fun story. I do intend to finish the series, so I look forward to seeing what Celaena does now that the competition is over.

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