Monday, 21 January 2013

YA Book Review: 'Throne of Glass' by Sarah J Maas

Throne of Glass
by Sarah J Maas

Published: August 7th, 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Source: Bought From Amazon
Format: E-Book
Pages: 404

Cover Art

Pictured above are the US and UK versions of the cover; I'm not sure which one I prefer. I do quite like the one with the photo of the blonde girl because she is a good representation of the main character. However, the other one looks more fantasy-esque and would definitely perk my interest more if I saw it in a shop.

Plot Synopsis

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 king's 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 Rating:

First Line:

'After a year of slavery in the Salt Mines of Endovier, Celaena Sardothien was accustomed to being escorted everywhere in shackles and at sword point.'

Pocket-Size Review

Ugh this is the kind of YA book that makes me want to give up reading YA books. Too much lusting after boys and making 'witty' remarks that are plain cringey...not to mention an idiotic plot. Also Hunger Games rip-off alert.

Highs: I did read it really fast so I guess it was pretty addictive. Definitely a quick read. Very fast paced.
Lows: Things didn't add up lot wise, the male characters were annoying and the main character was just plain irritating.


I had pretty high expectations for this book before I read it. I am really into fantasy at the moment, and this is currently one of the most highly rated YA fantasy books on Goodreads. Even though I didn't really read the plot synopsis or know much about it at all, I think I assumed I would love it. Unfortunately, this book fell completely flat for me and many times whilst reading it I did one of those inward groans of annoyance. It's silly but it doesn't know that it's silly which is never good.

Celaena Sardothien is the protagonist of this story. She is a character I thoroughly disliked. She has that over-confident vibe going on that feels misplaced considering the mortal danger she is apparently in. Celaena has been imprisoned, and tortured, in the salt mines for one whole year (because she was caught assassinating people) before she is hauled out by Prince Dorian to compete in a competition to become the King's champion where, basically, she will go round slaughtering people for the man who trapped and tortured her alone, in the dark, for one year. What if this competition has never been devised? How long would she have been left to rot for? This doesn't seem to concern her, nor the fact that she could be thrown back in at any time. 

She is incredibly rude and churlish towards the Prince and the Captain of the Guard, Chaol, from the outset. This is something that also happened in Crewel by Gennifer Albin and it really pisses me off; however angry or humiliated a character is, they really need to bide their time. Why risk your freedom just to get in a few cheap digs? This doesn't happen in proper novels, because if a character was rude to a violent superior in decent books that person would be instantly reprimanded and put in their place. However, in bad books these girls get away with speaking to cruel, powerful characters who have supposedly committed horribly violent acts in a completely disrespectful way and, even worse, it often turns into flirting. Call it a pet peeve, but I want to fear these characters and really believe that the main character is in danger and not just, like, so adorable and sexy that despite her rudeness she is irresistible to those of any rank. Ugh.

There is also way too much lusting after boys and caring about her appearance for someone who could be sent back to slave in the mines for the rest of her days. She has just surfaced for the first time in a year and she is most concerned about her appearance and how cute Chaol and Dorian may or may not be. Where's the fear, the confusion, the pain? I WANT REAL EMOTIONS. Only about 20 pages into the book, on the ride from the mines where, may I remind you again, she has been brutally whipped and left alone in the dark for a whole year with no idea when she might see the light again, to the glass castle (which, may I also say, was completely superfluous to the plot and I can see no good reason that it was made of glass), Celaena thinks of the Prince;

'He was achingly handsome, and couldn't have been older than twenty. Princes are not supposed to be handsome! They're sniveling, stupid, repulsive creatures! This one...this...How unfair of him to be royal and beautiful.'

OK, so this is the man who was the reason you ended up in those mines. He is also the reason there are hundreds, maybe thousands of other people are trapped down the mines being whipped and starved. But don't worry about them, because Celaena certainly doesn't. She says she hates the Prince a couple of pages later, so why is she lusting after him like this? IT MAKES NO SENSE. It's almost like saying girls will lust after any attractive man, in any situation. It's all we can ever think about in the presence of an attractive man, despite his questionable morals. That and, of course, our own appearance which Celaena frets over in the next paragraph;

'She looked at her rags and stained skin, and she couldn't suppress the twinge of shame. What a miserable state for a girl of former beauty!'

Why would you be ashamed of looking dirty when you have been down some mines for an effing YEAR!? If I was in the presence of the person I blamed for putting me there, I would want to look as disgusting and bruised and battered as I possibly could, so they could see what their actions had done. However, Celaena is soon romping around in ballgowns so I'm sure she cleans up a treat. 

Sorry to continue with my Celaena rant, but it annoys me that people have been saying she is tough and kick-ass. She isn't. At one point when they are travelling it is raining and she does not take it well; 'I could not withstand the agony of wet feet'. I like to think that even I am a bit more kick ass than Celaena because I have actually survived having wet feet on occasion. Just.

This book also felt like a Hunger Games rip off. Each lord and noble is sponsoring a competitor, who all seem to be thieves, killers, weapons masters, assassins...that sort of thing. They then train with the weapons and have tasks to undertake (which are completely skimmed over and barely even part of the story despite the fact it is the reason Celaena is there) which they must win in order to become the King's ultimate Champion aka contract killer. The King is a ridiculously cliche character; he actually tells people to 'be gone' and sits on his throne and glares at people. He is not sinister at all; we are told he is but it is definitely a case of telling not showing. His son is incredibly rude to him but he does nothing about it at all, which, again, annoyed me. It meant there was no tension and no real danger or villain. Celaena is the same; she makes hundreds of violent threats throughout the book but never actually does anything about it. She gets sad and weird when people die never mind how vile they are. I WANTED ACTION.

Overall, this book was a terrible disappointment. The characters are unbelievable and inconsistent. The plot is embarassingly thin and silly; nothing is developed properly. Don't even get me started on the odd fae elements that are thrown in and never explained. The Fae are immortal yet they have fled from this inneffective King we see in the book? WHY!? Ah well, I won't be reading the sequel so I guess I'll never know.

Other Thoughts

This Book has Inspired me to Read: Nothing really. I finished it and moved on with my life, forgetting it almost instantly.

Three Words to Describe this Book: 
Silly, Addictive, Lazy.

But Don't Take My Word For It...

  • Blog Reviews of  'Throne of Glass': 

'Throne of Glass is one of those books that to me fits into Tatiana‘s “Fantasy-Lite” category. It dips its toes into too many puddles–action, political intrigue, magic, mythology, romance, war, revolution–failing to fully flush out any of them. I can forgive bad world building, bad characters, or lack of action when one of these others excels, but Throne of Glass failed on all fronts.'

Novel Sounds says:

'Celaena Sardothien is exactly the type of heroine I’ve been looking for. I’ve been lamenting the lack of “girly” protagonists in YA because hey, you can kick ass and look good while doing it. In a world of YA where most female protoganists scoff at dressing up, it was refreshing to see Celaena revel it. I like that Celaena is beautiful and confident. '


  1. Doesn't seem like my kind of book. I really liked this review and reading your honest thoughts. I would say more, but my feet are wet and my hair is tangled so obviously I'm in sheer agony.

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  2. For some reason I got all of your posts form like the last month in my reader NOW, so sorry for the even more belated than normal comments.

    Before reading this one I loved the UK cover so much more, she looks like a total BAMF...then I read it and was like 'nope, the US cover pretty much sums it up'.

    "It's silly but it doesn't know that it's silly which is never good."<--YES. This! I was so bad. I hated Celeana, she's so epically shallow and cocky and just horrid. And the fact that there is, as you said, NO ACTION in a premise that could have been flooded with awesome scenes? Just sad.


    This one really put me off hyped books period.

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  4. I don't agree with this review at all. To me everything said that makes Celeana petty and shallow are simply thoughts that goes through everyones head. It's what makes her real and not just a bloodlusting assassian(example the wet shoes. Of course she'll survive but no matter what you had to endure prevoiusly why wouldn't you hate your shoes being wet?) Recognizing beauty, example Dorian, and lusting after somebody are two different things. She puts up a front to trick people and gather information and decieve, thus the flirting. Celeana meets many handsome men yet she doesn't lust them all, and sees them for who they are inside. Celeana shows her unbreakable will by still being able to appreciate every day and the small beauties that make up her rather harsh bleak world. She knows what it's like to go without and treasures beautiful clothing to a bed to sleep on. She is loyal to her closest friends and throughout the series you see her balance between the darkness inside her while trying to keep the identity of the YOUNG girl she is. Lastly, how can you say how nothing in this book makes sense if you never finnished it? Of course there are questions because if it answered all your questions why read the next books?

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