(Throne of Glass #1)Sarah J. Maas
Available August 7th
Received at BEA for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.
Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.
Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.
MY THOUGHTSThrone of Glass is a story that seems to quietly smolder, intense moments of action igniting a spark that grabs our attention before things settle down again for our heroine, keeping us constantly on edge as we wait for a full flame to roar to life and warm our hearts with its mesmerizing dance. Unfortunately, in this first installment, that stunning flame is never quite given the air to breathe, our connection to the three main protagonists flickering in and out of existence as we struggle to get a handle on who each of them is beyond their classification or title. Ms. Maas is unquestionably a gifted storyteller, and by the end, the pages cannot be flipped fast enough in order to learn Celaena’s fate, but both world and characters feel a touch incomplete, existing as bright but flat stripes of color without the shadows, depth, and background to bring their canvas to life.
Celaena has the potential to be a spectacular heroine, her dark past barely hinted at in this first book and her skills as an assassin something we can’t wait to see put into action as she defends herself against the twenty-three other competitors vying for the position of the king’s champion, however, she spends almost the entire book merely boasting of her strength and her skill with weaponry without ever backing it up. From our initial meeting she’s referred to as “the world’s greatest assassin”, but those four words make up the entirety of what we know about her for majority of the story. She’s constantly aware of her surroundings, weighing and measuring those around her and plotting how easily she could take them down if she wanted, and while we clearly understand that she can’t go around slaughtering people given her precarious situation, we aren’t even really treated to a display of her skills when it comes to the Tests against the other competitors.
A couple of the Tests are described for us, and we can’t help but revel in those moments when we begin to see some of the much-exalted assassin come to the surface, but after those few brief moments, the Tests are glossed over for the remainder of the story until we get to the final duel. We barely scratch the surface of Celaena’s character, and because we know so little about her, her relationships with both Captain of the Guard Chaol and Crown Prince Dorian don’t elicit from us the reaction we long for when reading. There are several sweet moments between Celaena and both young men, but their connections to one another don’t leave impressions in our skin from where their fingers have grabbed us and held us tight, nor do our bodies feel wound tight in their presence, just waiting for the tension to snap and give us something emotionally charged. Instead, we spend our time longing for the moment when they’ll transform from black and white ink to flesh and blood people, dazzling us with facets of themselves we’re not seeing currently.
Throne of Glass does conclude in impressive fashion, the final battle between Celaena and the most dangerous of her competitors both gritty and violent, drawing us into Celaena’s world in the way we’d hoped to be from the beginning. Hopefully, as the series continues, we’ll learn more of Celaena other than she’s an assassin, and the richness of possibility surrounding all the characters as well as their world will be given room to stretch and come to fruition.
*I think I'm in the extreme minority with my feelings on this book, so below are some reviews of those who absolutely loved it:
The Readers Den
Realm of Fiction