22 August, 2012

Throne of Glass - Review


Publication date: 7 Aug 2012 by Bloomsbury USA Children's
ISBN 10/13: 1599906953 | 9781599906959
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Category: Young Adult Fantasy
Keywords: Fantasy, romance, competition, assassins, spirits
Format: Hardcover, eBook
Source: e-ARC received from Netgalley


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.

Alethea's review: 

I did not expect reading Throne of Glass to be so laborious; I expected I'd fly through it like I did Robin LaFevers's Grave Mercy, or Leigh Bardugo's Shadow & Bone. Not so. It's not difficult reading in terms of language or complexity; it's more that I had trouble suspending my disbelief. This all stems from the most basic premise of the book: The King needs a champion; therefore the sponsors select as their candidates the meanest, baddest, scariest killers and sneakiest thieves in the land. Wait, what?

The entire time I kept asking, wouldn't it have been more believable to have the sponsors select the most shining paragons of valor and heroism from their military personnel and private bodyguards? So you could, you know, have them be in the same room as the King or Crown Prince or important people you don't want dead without having to slap the heavy duty chains or hiding all the silver? Why choose people least likely to honor a contract?

If you really had such a great military already that the infamous Adarlan's Assassin won't bother running away because you could easily hunt her down, why do you need her to try to win this contest? Just hire the guy she's afraid of and send her back to the salt mines already!

Not talking specifically about any one candidate, I get that a true champion might not be willing to overlook morality in favor of a nice fat paycheck for doing the King's dirty business. But I also don't understand how the King might think it's a good idea to let loose upon the land an unscrupulous rogue who might have reason to disagree with the King's own politics, since some of the people vying for the position hail from countries he very recently conquered? In my mind, the King was the villain of the piece from the get-go, and he could have been craftier about selecting a champion. Why not rope some honorable and respected warrior into the job by letting him think he's really defending his king and country, then corrupt him with wealth and power or threats against the people he loves? For most of the book, I could not shake how backwards it all was in my mind. I couldn't justify people's motives and that made for a very slow, torturous read (with lots of breaks to go play with my new kitten, who has claws like freshly sharpened knives).

This book is not entirely without merit. Some of the secondary characters are well drawn and even likeable. I really enjoyed Celeana's friendship with another female who is, like herself, an outsider. The love triangle develops gradually enough not to be jarring, though Celeana mooning over Crown Prince Dorian still had me rolling my eyes often. I think fans who are new to fantasy and have not already read lots of it will really enjoy this book. Inexperienced noobs, you win this round.

Overall, I found the story derivative and not terribly well-plotted. I don't think the elements that I deemed derivative were intentionally copied; I just think the author is very much a fan of fantasy and that her debut ended up reading like a big fanfic mashup of some of my favorite fantasy worlds. I felt that Maas was pandering to her audience too much with Celeana and Dorian's book addiction. Also, if someone can please tell me the significance of the title, I'd dearly love to know what it was. It took me a week to read this book and that little bit of trivia still managed to elude me. While I wasn't completely disappointed, Throne of Glass was still quite a let-down, and I hesitate to read the sequel.

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.



Visit the author online at www.sarahjmaas.com and follow her on Twitter @SJMaas

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17 comments:

  1. I agree with everything you said, and then some. The only thing I can think of is that glass castle they keep talking about..


    I'm glad I'm not the only one who rolled their eyes a lot and took a lot of breaks. Definitely wasn't what I was expecting out of this one.

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    1. That's exactly it, Kristen! I was kind of expecting the title to mean something or be tied into the plot... If there is meaning, it's not communicated well. Sad trombone.

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  2. Oh no! Thanks for the review Alethea! It is on my To Read list. Maybe I'll read a few other things first before rolling around to this one. Sorry you didn't like it!

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    1. You know, if anything read it sooner so we can discuss, haha!

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  3. i really want to read this one, too. i love assassins! but i've been on a streak of so-so reads lately so i might save this one for later just in case.

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    1. I'd say wait until you have a block of time to devote and see if you get hooked in more than me. If you're not hooked by p. 50, it's time to read another book.

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    2. yeah i'll give it a go for sure. um someone needs to read dark companion so we can discuss. i haven't managed to convince anyone to finish it yet.

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    3. LOL! I think I have it; I'll give it a go.

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  4. This makes me very sad because I've heard really great things about it! I think I still might read it but this review is making me think that maybe I'll wait a little while longer. Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Some readers really enjoyed it! I'm a bit jealous, actually. I wanted to like it.
      If anything, read it sooner so we can talk about it, haha!

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  5. The title comes from the last chapter, I think. When she goes off to sign her contract, and she "approached the glass throne" or something like that.
    I agree with you in some aspects, especially your reasoning. But still I found it good. Great review!

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    1. Hi Vicky! I know, but usually the title is referring to something symbolic of what the book is about, but it's not a symbol if it doesn't mean anything, haha. It's just an actual throne of glass. Boring!

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  6. AWWW. I have heard mixed reviews for this one--I guess it's a love it or hate it book. I have an ARC of this and I was trying to decide if I wanted to read it or not.

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    1. Hey, if you can get to page 50 without rolling your eyes more than twice, you should be ok ;)

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  7. Most of the reviews I've read for this book have been very good. It's always good to read one that goes in a different direction. Great review, I'm still intrigued with this book and can't wait to see how I will feel about it

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    1. Hi Jolene! I'd love to hear what you think. Feel free to reply here!

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  8. so i am really close to finishing this now. i like it a lot more than you. and i get what you're saying about hiring the noble warriors to be your champions though i have to disagree. i think to win, you sometimes need those who are ruthless and who will play dirty. but i do have issues with the how the tournament was set up in general. i should finish it tonight. we shall discuss.

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