Friday, August 29, 2014

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

The main character of “Throne of Glass”, Celaena has become the world’s greatest assassin at the ripe old age of seventeen.
Wait, what?
That’s ridiculous. Seventeen is way too young to be the world’s best anything unless it’s something that specifically requires to be very young to be skilled. And since Celaena thinks this of one of her competitors, we can rest assured that that is not the case with assassins.
Assassin indeed. His voice hasn’t even deepened yet. How did he wind up here?
But way more importantly than that, how can anyone be the world’s greatest assassin? And that’s not a personal opinion of a couple of people, that’s common knowledge. First off, who measures these things? You would be hard-pressed today to have people give the same answer to the question “who is the world’s best fashion model?”, and the performances of fashion models is something anyone can access. A good assassin shouldn’t be someone everybody has information on. But in this world, apparently, being a good criminal means being really famous and having people know your name. I don’t think there are words to describe how idiotic this concept is.
Then, there’s the little matter of this fact: we wouldn’t be able to decide today who the best in the world at something is (world’s best lawyer? Does anybody know who that is?). Today, when we have the Internet, and you can circle around the world in a matter of days. Try establishing that in the world the story is set in, where they have medieval technology and magic has been outlawed (so they can’t use magic to communicate or travel any faster), where crossing a country takes weeks. There’s not enough communication possible to decide with any sort of accuracy who the best assassin in the world is.
For these reasons, Celaena’s character could only be more over-blown if her name actually were Badass McAwesome. She’s a Mary Sue at her finest: she’s beautiful, she’s physically strong, she’s intelligent, she’s musically gifted. Her abilities never, ever fail her.
Her arrogance might actually have been an interesting character trait, if it had been exploited more. If she’d made a huge mistake because she didn’t think anybody capable of beating her. But, nope. Infallible Celaena.
Also, she’s judgmental as hell. She thinks of the king of Adarlan as a murderer and a monster. Which I am sure he is, but so is Celaena. She kills people for money. She thinks of all the pretty dresses she could buy with her salary as the king’s personal assassin. And this is never portrayed as problematic. When I read a book about assassins, I expect them to be anti-heroes. Or, if they aren’t, if they do this to keep themselves or somebody they care about alive, to hate having been coerced into this line of work, to feel remorse for their killing. Celaena never feels remorse for what she’s done. No, she’s a good assassin. How do we know this? Well, she doesn’t kill children. That doesn’t make her good. It just makes her a little less of a monster. But she’s still a monster.
The romance was actually quite light, for the most part, and the love triangle didn’t bother me at first, until the she started flipping back and forth with her feelings for the two guys. Then it definitely started getting on my nerves.
 Also, while Celaena does not fall into insta-love, one of her two suitors does.
Still, the image haunted his dreams throughout the night: a lovely girl gazing at the stars, and the stars who gazed back.
He thinks this two weeks after their meeting. He knows she’s dangerous. He knows she resents him and his family for what happened to her and to her kingdom. He knows that her attempted suicide involved killing several people with a pickax. He doesn’t know her. He’s enamored of her anyways. What an idiot. 
He loved her, and no empire, no king, no earthly fear would keep him from her. No, if they tried to take her from him, he’d rip the world apart with his bare hands. And for some reason, that didn’t terrify him.
This is after knowing her for three months, and they really only start spending time with each other after two months have already passed.
The bad guys are utterly ridiculous. They practically prance about wearing sparkly signs with the words “I’m EVIL” around their necks. And Celaena, who is supposed to be smart, somehow manages to be surprised when the villain’s identity is relieved.
Also, there’s a castle made of glass. Of actual glass. What the hell? I suppose that it’s really thick glass, but it’s still not going to be as efficient as stone when it comes to defending it.  A couple of hits from a catapult and it’ll be smashed into little sparkly bits. And it’s the capital of a kingdom focused on warfare, too. Why would you build this really inefficient, expensive castle that’ll guarantee boiling summers and freezing winters? How do you manage a fireplace in a castle made of glass, a material that melts really easily when put in contact to flames?
The writing’s fine most of the time, but sometimes there are some rather weird phrases, like:
Her blood grew warm and glittering.
But maybe Kaltain is a Twilight vampire, that’s why her blood is glittering.
There are some sudden POV shifts, which is an amateur mistake (I tried to edit the spoilers out as much as I could, but if you want to avoid all spoilers, then skip this bit):
Carefully putting his arms around Celaena, Dorian glanced toward [Characters A and B] In doing so, he missed the look exchanged between [character C] and [character D]. [Character D] pulled out his dagger.
But Chaol saw.
However, despite all its flaws, this book managed to keep me entertained and intrigued. It’s not a good book, by any means, but it’s a fun book, and not of the so-bad-it’s-good variety. So it's still getting two stars. 


  1. This is a really interesting review, Sofia! Everyone loves Throne of Glass so much that I've never seen an opposite opinion before. I haven't read the series myself, but I look forward to it nonetheless. There are dumb plot points in a lot of fad books, but they're so much fun anyway- I guess that's the reason they are fad books.

    Great review!

  2. I actually really liked Throne of Glass, but I still enjoyed your review. You mentioned some things I never gave much thought. The point about Celaena being the world's greatest assassin at 17 doesn't make sense. And I couldn't help but to laugh about the castle of glass because it is very flawed. You should read Crown of Midnight though, it's way better.