Not Your Typical Assassin

Throne of Glass: Review

Much of today’s Young Adult genre is filled with fanciful world-building and a strong lead character who possesses the ability to save whatever turmoil they have found themselves in. This dystopian, action-packed style is best defined by books like The Hunger Games, Divergent, Matched, or Six of Crows. 

Throne of Glass fits perfectly into this subgenre. The protagonist is Celaena, a world-renowned assassin who was betrayed by her own allies and was sent to Endovier, a torturous prison camp where she endured whippings and lengthy manual labor. Within the first couple of chapters, Celaena’s life is changed a year after capture, when a prince named Dorian arrives with the proposition of freedom–– if, and only if, she proves herself by participating in and winning a series of competitions against fellow “Champions”–– assassins, criminals, and soldiers. 

Celaena agrees and finds herself living luxuriously in Dorian’s castle, training with a young captain named Chaol, and finding unlikely friends amidst an environment of competition and rivalry. Tension builds when other Champions, like herself, are found week after week dead in their chambers, gruesomely murdered beyond healing. Even so, Celeana continues to train and even finds herself caught in a “love triangle”–– both Chaol and Dorian fighting for her attention, all while her freedom is on the line.

Throne of Glass is widely praised by Young Adult and fantasy lovers. Sarah J. Maas’s world-buildings and character-building skills are easy to admire. Her plot is original and appealing, advertised as fierce battle for freedom and young woman’s ability to put her strength to the test. For the most part, the plot was just as amazing as it was advertised to be, leaving the reader on cliffhangers at the end of chapters and retaining interest until the very last page. 

The issue that arises as the story progresses is the main character, Celaena. She came across overconfident and vain, complimenting herself on her beauty in nearly every chapter. She seemed extremely unbothered and unaffected by her year being tortured in a prison camp, and had an unusual lack of awareness of her surroundings for being such a successful assassin. There are many instances where people have snuck up on her and startled her, when the person was not making any effort to be quiet. Due to the third person perspective, there are many times where people are walking in and out of Celaena’s rooms while she does not even stir. For how much her assassin skills are emphasized, most readers expect a bit more awareness, especially when people are walking around and talking in her room while she sleeps, and she remains blissfully oblivious. Additionally, without spoiling anything, I won’t delve into the “candy incident.” (Although I’m sure those who have read this book know what I am talking about.)

Even so, Celaena was the only character I had an issue with. Chaol, her trainer and Captain of the Guard, is by far the most well-developed character in the novel. Handsome yet gruff, very guarded and focused on his character, the reader sees glimpses where his persona cracks and vulnerability slips through. It creates connection and affection for the character, and understanding of his motives and his actions without needing the words spelled out. Dorian, while stereotypical, is also well-developed: a prince who wants to deflect his traditional duties but is still under the scrutinizing gaze of both his parents and his country. 

The romantic aspect of the novel greatly overpowers the action-packed aspect of the novel, something I did not expect. Throne of Glass advertising mentions the romance, but is much more focused on the competition and Celaena’s skills as an assassin. Many of my dislikes of Celaena’s character could be solved had I known the book would be primarily a romance novel. 

Despite this, the book was still incredibly well-developed and interesting, the entire book even ending in a cliffhanger that convinces the reader to continue the next novel in the series. Overall, the praise is well deserved. Well done, Sarah J. Maas.

Rating: 4/5

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