Monday, September 16, 2013

Book Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas


Old Cover (left): "Does this knife make me look fat?"
New Cover (right): "I will find you. And I will cut you." 

Published 2012
Genre: YA / Fantasy

The issue I have with high fantasy is that after you've read a lot of it, you start to notice a lot of the similar patterns being thrown at you over and over: character archetypes, plots, and settings, for example. 

Now, don't get me wrong. I enjoy reading high fantasy. I shiver with delight whenever I turn past the cover page and come upon a beautiful map with forests, mountains, jungles, and cities etched out throughout the map. I go in knowing that I'm probably going to read something with a quest or mission, magic, and swords.

Throne of Glass sits right in the middle of high fantasy
, which means that a lot of its elements will be quite predictable. On top of that, it's not a political intrigue like Game of Thrones with a ton of main characters, so it's a more simplistic story centered around Celaena. 

A Map of Erilea: the setting of Throne of Glass

The Plot:

Celaena Sardothien is an ex-assassin who is now a slave working in the brutal salt mines of Endovier. Prince Dorian hires her to fight in a competition against twenty-three other competitors. If she wins, she'll work as the King's Champion for four years before becoming freed. If she loses, she'll return to the salt mines. 

With the The Hunger Games in my recent memory, I had assumed that the competition meant that they tossed all the competitors into a pit and made them fight to the last one standing. Well, no. It's more like a reality TV show. There are several tests over the span of a few weeks, and after every test, the worst contestant loses and is sent to whichever "hellhole" they came from. 

She reads and hangs out with her friends Prince Dorian, Head Captain Chaol, and Princess Nehemia in her downtime from fighting and training. Their friendships are sweet, and they have some interesting back-and-forth conversations.

Then a mystery arises! Competitors start to go missing, and turn up half-eaten, with their brains and guts missing. Celaena also hears some creepy sounds of growls in the castle. What could be living in there? And can she find out what's lurking within the castle before it finds her? 

Is it just me or does the author look like the model in the book cover?

What I liked: 
  • Celaena is an independent and resilient character, not prone to self pity about the horrible conditions she suffered in the salt mines. She's not self-righteous, but she draws the line on the types of people she would kill. 
  • Killer action scenes. They give me the right amount of details without turning it into an action flick. I held my breath at some parts because I was so engrossed in the scene.
  • It's fast-paced and well-organized. The story moves along fluidly while revealing juicy tidbits about characters. 
  • The dialogue is witty and fun. I enjoy reading the back-and-forth verbal sparring between Celaena, Dorian, and Chaol. The dialogue breathed life into the characters. They didn't just do their jobs; they had personality!
  • There is a larger-scaled plot happening beyond the main storyline. When coming into rule, King Adarlan ordered a purge of all magical artifacts from the land. Libraries were burned; scholars and magicians were killed or buried alive. People throughout the kingdom live in fear. Some formerly independent kingdoms are on the brink of rebellion. Woot! World building!

What I didn't like: 
  • We've seen these characters before. The skilled assassin who needs friends, the prickish prince with a heart of gold, the cranky trainer who's a mushball on the inside, and the ambitious, shallow lady who acts fake and petty. 
  • Predictable and a little too obvious. I don't think I need to get too much into this, but I feel as if Maas dropped a couple of way-too-obvious hints about what was really going on. 
  • Love triangle? Yawn. It feels like every other YA book has one. It wasn't completely developed but its presence irked me because it felt so forced.
Overall, the story was well-written and fun to read. I can see why Throne of Glass and its prequels (published online) became so popular. The world of Erilea has its own tensions and I want to see more of it in the sequel, Crown of Midnight (which was released earlier this year). 

My rating: 

What I would eat while reading this book: 
  • meat on a stick
  • wine 

Thanks for reading! Which book cover do you prefer, the new one or the old one? What do you think of Throne of GlassLet me know in the comments! 

3 comments:

  1. The second cover is better by far, but there's still something about it that doesn't make me love it. Can't put my finger on it....

    I read the original Queen of Glass when it was still on fictionpress because my friend raved about it. I thought it was okay, definitely readable, but I couldn't get into this published edition. My friend tells me that the plot got seriously edited and reworked and that the author inserted a love triangle (I hate love triangles...)

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    1. The color scheme on the second cover was bit depressing for me, but I found it more eye-catching overall than the first one.

      Ah, you are so lucky to have read the version on Fictionpress! Maybe the material that got cut out of the published edition ended up in the four prequels: http://sarahjmaas.com/books/throne-of-glass-novellas/

      No wonder the love triangle felt so forced. After reading a bunch of YA love triangles, I'm starting to hate them too...

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    2. I have no clue if they ended up in the prequel novellas or not. I think I'll ask my friend that, because unlike her, I'm not as deeply invested in the story.

      The original story was written as adult, not YA, which probably contributes a bit on why that love triangle feels forced.

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