Throne of Glass, a treat for those who love fantasy mixed with strong heroines, introduces us to Celaena Sardothien, a woman with a sordid past who stomps into an intimidating castle with the intention of winning her freedom. Celeana is a likeable, capable protagonist who will charm even the most skeptical of readers.
Okay, I took quite a while to actually start reading this book, despite already owning most of the series. I’m not sure why, but I think it’s because it was/is so hyped up. I’m annoyed by hype, so I tend to avoid whatever is being hyped up for as long as I can stand it. Eventually, I just have to see what all the fuss is about.
So, let’s dig our claws in and take a deeper look, shall we?
Our opening line starts us off with this:
“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.”
I think this is a pretty strong opening because:
- It raises many questions, which is always good to make the reader want to keep reading.
- It already tells us a good bit about Celaena’s character.
While the situation of shackling and slavery and the like sounds positively horrid, notice that the narrative voice does not paint Celaena as afraid or pained by this. Rather, she almost seems more…annoyed? Darkly amused by how used to it she is?
It’s actually quite (brilliantly!) chilling if you think about it. Your brain is just dying to know: Who is she? What kind of woman would feel that way? Why is she not on the floor, cowering in pain and begging for release?
It’s so delicious.
As this scene progresses, and Celaena is taken to see the king and, well, nearly beg for her life, you will see that she does not get any better. She still remains rude, annoyed, petty, and overly confident that she could kill everyone in the room if given the chance.
This is, I think, why so many people grew turned off by her character and therefore did not like the novel very much. Because if you’re going to be reading this novel, then you’re going to get a large dose of Celaena.
Personally, though, I was not turned off by it like others were.
There have been many other strong female characters in fiction, so it’s not like Maas reinvented the wheel here. However, there seems to be a theme of being turned off by strong female characters that don’t tick all the supposed boxes that should be ticked to make them likeable. More on that later…
After the teeth-grinding introduction of Celaena, the book continues in pretty much this same faction. Her personality and smug demeanor remains stoic, unchanged, and predictable.
There are, however, many other characters who become prominent in short order. There are a few other competitors that Celaena comes to know by name, but very few of them are important enough to discuss.
The two most important besides Celaena are Dorian, the Crown Prince, and Chaol, the Captain of the Guard who originally escorted Celaena in the opening line.
I have to say, guys, that Dorian was a big turnoff for me. I know a lot of people like him, but I don’t very much. His attitude pisses me off. He is not cruel and heartless and all that, like this father, but he is something. His infinite riches and Lothario-like ways come natural to him, and his only real defense is to shrug and say, “I don’t know any better.”
Chaol, on the other head, I found much fresher and more likeable. For a Captain of the Guard, under a tyrannical king, no less, he is rather…meek. While I liked him very much as a person, I didn’t exactly buy him as a Captain of the Guard, even when he was being “tough.” Chaol is definitely the piece of the puzzle that doesn’t fit into this castle. That being said, though, I believe that Chaol grows the most during this first novel, mostly because of Celaena. It’s great fun to imagine the different facial expressions he makes as he learns or realizes something new.
I think the pacing is just right, honestly. The action-heavy bits are fast and biting, and the talking or castle-life bits are slower and more relaxing. I think it’s a good blend.
The primary plot in this novel involves a competition, with Celaena as one of the competitors, between many renowned criminals and killers. They are to compete in many smaller tests, with the losers of each being cut, and then are to battle in one final, to-the-death competition. The winner gets freedom, riches, and the job of being the King’s Champion (i.e. King’s Assassin.)
The whole novel is a large build-up to one large, exciting finale. I won’t drop any major spoilers here but, let me just say that the ending is quite predictable. Everything that you think would happen is pretty much correct.
However, this novel is a little tricky, because I don’t believe the huge finale matters all that much. Instead, it’s more about the little details along the way, little revelations and musings that reveal and shape and guide the novel. Maas is a master of detail, especially when it comes to little things that you almost miss until they pop up again. It makes for delicious reading.
As I have already covered the predictability and ending, I’m going to end it here, folks. I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this novel and give yourself a treat. It was loads of fun and completely engrossing, despite some very minor shortcomings. Let me know what you guys think!
Final Ruling: Four Stars. Woot!