Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Book Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

First published in Great Britain: 2nd August 2012
By: Bloomsbury Children's Books

Meet Celaena Sardothien. Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.

In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake: she got caught.

Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?

My review:

I enjoyed this very much. Like Grave Mercy, Throne of Glass has all the fictional elements that make a book awesome to me - arse-kicking heroines, castles, fighting, magic - it'd be difficult for me to say which is my favourite of the two books.

Is Celaena the next great YA heroine? She is smart, capable and brave. She's got a way with snarky quips and can beat up men twice her size. She can hit a bullseye from across the room and look drop-dead gorgeous in a ballgown. Yes, she's unrealistically incredible but she's certainly fun to read about. And Throne of Glass makes the effort to show her working hard and needing help from others every once in a while. The only problem I had with Celaena is that I felt that the more frivolous side of her personality didn't jive with her backstory. Her love of pretty frocks and pretty boys made me like her more (because she's a girl after my own heart there) but I think an orphan, who's been an assassin since childhood, and has just spent a year doing back-breaking slave labour, would be a little less starry-eyed. On the other hand, it's cool that Celaena is both stereotypically feminine and strong.

The other characters are strong, too. Sometimes novels like this allow only one powerful female character, but Throne of Glass lets Nehemia be a warrior, too. I was in awe of Nehemia at the end, because she is just so fierce. I liked both the men in the love triangle with Celaena but being in a love triangle did hamper their characters somewhat. I didn't hate the triangle because all the characters are likeable and I wouldn't mind Celaena choosing either guy, but it still means that neither man has much to do in the story other than fall for her.

The tournament Celaena is involved in to become the King's Champion is set out by regular competitions in strength and skill. After each competition, a champion is eliminated until the final duel. This makes the plot quite predictable (can there even be any doubt that Celaena will make it to the final?) but there's a reason authors use these familiar story points - they're great for creating action and keeping the story moving. And hats off to Sarah J. Maas, because the final duel really is incredible, edge-of-your-seat stuff.

This is the first in a series I definitely want to keep reading. Maas has created an intriguing-sounding world in Erilea and so far, we've only been shown a little bit of it. The hints of what's to come sound promising indeed. Throne of Glass itself is like a day at a theme park: The action set pieces are fast, fun rides, with the romantic scenes and the castle balls providing plenty of candy floss to appeal to a sweet tooth. 

Rating: 4.5 stars

This book was provided to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for a fair and honest review.