I wanted a trashy* read and I got one. Except the surprising thing was that it was pretty good trash – engaging, exciting and interesting. So, here’s a book I didn’t expect to enjoy as much as I did: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. If you like YA books, are looking for an easy read and is moderately enjoyable, this book is pretty ideal.
Throne of Glass tells the story of Celaena Sardothien, an eighteen year old assassin, who, after being betrayed and sentenced to a life of hard labour in the mines, is offered a chance of freedom by the Crown Prince. In exchange for her freedom, the prince offers her one condition: become his champion and serve years in his father’s name. However, a series of mysterious deaths leads Celaena to suspect that there is an evil greater than the king himself, and that there is a destiny, greater than becoming a champion, awaiting her.
As I said earlier, Throne of Glass was surprisingly enjoyable. However, at its very heart, Throne of Glass is a fantasy, which is where I take my first issue: the lack of emphasis and development of the lore, magic and imagination makes the fantasy aspect more supplementary, rather than something purely fantasy. It feels like Maas herself isn’t too sure of what sort of book/series Throne of Glass is. Is it a fantasy? A mystery? A romance? (Who knows.) But because Maas eventually does find her footing in the latter chapters (in terms of development of fantasy elements and a more consistent writing style), I’m fairly confident that Maas’s writing will improve once she figures out what the Throne of Glass series, as a whole, is supposed to be.
Throne of Glass bears some merit and I’m interested in how Maas will develop Throne of Glass‘s strengths in future books. Without giving much away, specific characters were written with complex ideologies, motives and goals (i.e. Nehemia), and through the characters the book offers a refreshing and uncommon perspective on war and rebellion. (Also, female friendships!) Though the worldbuilding leaves much to be desired, I hope Maas develops it further in the future so the plot and characters blend seamlessly with the lore and setting – which is something, I feel, is lacking.
With regards to our main protagonist, all I’ll say is 1) I think Maas is trying to tell me that assassins are quite violent and by speech and nature will have violent thoughts, and 2) assassins may kill people but they can still like pretty dresses and reading and I just think, well, why the hell not. In saying that though, I hope that Celaena is developed further in the future books, as she feels like a facade of something complex, rather than someone that has essence. Furthermore, Maas does a lot of telling instead of showing with regards to Celaena’s skill as an assassin. I hope we can see more of what Celaena can do in the second book.
Flaws, aside from the writing style as I mentioned briefly, lie mostly in the stereotypical and predictable characterization of the two male characters. Though towards the end they are (sort of) fleshed out and (almost) break out of their cookie-cutter characterization, it’s a halfhearted attempt. Character motivations seem to make no sense at times, and the reduction of one specific female character to crazy-thirsty-bitch was somewhat disappointing; this character’s lack of insight and foresight made her a pathetic villain and, overall, pointless in the grand scheme of the book.
Despite my criticisms, and I have many – too many to outline in this review which I’m writing so late at night with minimal editing (very bad practice; don’t do this) – I took Throne of Glass as it was and though it isn’t fantastic writing, it is an enjoyable book, which I really need in my life nowadays. Overall, Throne of Glass is a series I’ll read further in the future and, with all honesty, am looking forward to reading its sequel.
* Trashy = my awful term which means easy to read, has typically simplistic themes that don’t require too much contemplation or analysis, something that is readable when I’m too sleepy to think but want something entertaining; trashy, like, for consumeristic purposes only. Like trash TV, I guess.
Book Name: Throne of Glass
Book Series: Throne of Glass #1
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s