Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas, published in 2012 by Bloomsbury.
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? (Goodreads)
Eighteen-year-old Celaena Sardothien is bold, daring and beautiful – the perfect seductress and the greatest assassin her world has ever known. But though she won the King’s contest and became his champion, Celaena has been granted neither her liberty nor the freedom to follow her heart. The slavery of the suffocating salt mines of Endovier that scarred her past is nothing compared to a life bound to her darkest enemy, a king whose rule is so dark and evil it is near impossible to defy. Celaena faces a choice that is tearing her heart to pieces: kill in cold blood for a man she hates, or risk sentencing those she loves to death. Celaena must decide what she will fight for: survival, love or the future of a kingdom. Because an assassin cannot have it all . . . And trying to may just destroy her. (Goodreads)
My rating: 3.5/5 for Throne of Glass and 4/5 for Crown of Midnight
Err yes. So this is a double review and you might want to watch out for slight *spoilers* if you haven’t read the first book yet.
I have a confession to make: when I started reading Throne of Glass, I hated Celaena. I said to myself: “Well, this is just one of those overly-hyped-up, wannabe-heroic-fantasy books that you usually hate and serves you right for falling for the marketing.” Why? Because she’s a) perfect and b) vain. She’s beautiful (once the grime is washed off), stronger than anyone ever, and very, very concerned with her looks.
Even at the very beginning, when she’s pulled from the awful mines, the first thing Celaena notices about Dorian and Chaol (the Crown Prince and the Captain of the Guard) is their attractiveness – and is worried about her shabby appearance, even though she’s been enslaved for a year. She’s crazy about her new clothes and preens because she knows she’s beautiful, and thinks it’s unfair how tiny other women’s waists are and how prettily they’re dressed.
But I was pulled into the story despite myself. The accelerating sequence of tests, gruesome deaths, weird happenings and the first stirrings of attraction between the characters make for a very compelling, quick read. Also, Chaol Westfall has to be one of the most adorable characters out there – I love how his head is screwed on right and his shyness is too cute!
I had a bit of a problem with the setting and the worldbuilding in general – it was fine at first, the world made sense and everything ran smoothly, but by the end I was really confused by the massive amount of information that Celaena discovered. I know the readers are supposed to be clueless because Celaena knows very little about this magic herself, but it was still a rather shocking amount of new concepts to grasp at the very end! This was smoothed out in the sequel, but I think it could have been done in a more gentle manner. This is a recurring problem for me. I really admire fantasy authors who manage their worldbuilding without being overwhelming (Victoria Schwab comes to mind).
As for Crown of Midnight, I liked it better. The story flowed smoothly and the relationships between charcters evolved in a really nice way. Also, Celaena (man, this has to be the hardest name to type right … I’m still not sure how to pronounce it correctly …) wasn’t such a pain and I actually grew to like her. I loved the fast-paced happenings and I think Maas really nailed it with the plot twist in this one.
The setting was still complicated here, but much less so, and it didn’t turn the attention away from the plot like it did in Throne of Glass. I still think Chaol should get all the hugs in the world and be kept in a safe place where he wouldn’t suffer anymore. So I’m definitely looking forward to Heir of Fire, which comes out in September.
But I wouldn’t be completely honest if I didn’t mention one thing that’s still bothering me. It’s the roles of the women in this series. Celaena is a very, very, dangerous young woman, kicks ass like she was born to do it, and is really strong (both physically and mentally). But she’s one of the very few women who are like this. Nehemia, the foreign princess who’s staying at the court, is the one exception, but the truth is that all the women are desperately tangled up in the world ruled by men. Even Celaena, with her no-nonsense attitude, is really just a pawn, taken from the slave camp by a princeling who wants to defy his father, and has to participate in a vicious tournament organized for the enjoyment of men.
Also, all the other contestants in the tournament (and their patrons) are male – like she’s the only dangerous female out there? While this gesture of one girl kicking the asses of so many tough guys mas seem like a feminist move, the world is still decidedly patriarchal: the ruling elite is all male and the women are paraded about in pretty dresses and fancy jewels, vying for the attention of their newest love interest. Celaena’s fighting the men might look like rebellion against this ruling system, but she accepts the rules of the game as the men set them and falls into the place that has been prescribed by them.
However, not to be totally glum about this: Celaena does start to break from her shackles in Crown of Midnight and I see a glimmer of hope for her yet. :) So … now I have to wait for two months, at least, right?
Have you read Throne of Glass and/or Crown of Midnight? I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially since this series has such glittering reviews all over the book blogging community.
Do you have plot and character pet peeves and issues like mine?