Hello humans! Firstly, I know there’s a lot of controversy and feelings surrounding Sarah J. Maas and I’m wary of mentioning her books on the blog because she can be a little polarising. But I also wanted to read the Throne of Glass series because I had heard so many different things about it. I debated not reviewing this book, but my mission is to review everything I read this year and so it had to be included. How did it go…
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 four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. 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.
I’ll kick off with the lack of diversity since I think that’s often the biggest criticism people have of this author. This book isn’t diverse enough, particularly when you consider that Maas is one of the biggest names in YA/NA now and has a duty to be championing diverse fiction. Compare this book to something like Six of Crows and it’s no contest which one is better and part of that is the diversity. I will allow that this book was first published in 2012, which was before these conversations were being had quite so widely, but ignorance is not an excuse and it needs to be addressed.
With that in mind, what did I think of the book? I thought this was a weird way to start a series as there wasn’t a huge amount of action. This amazing assassin with all kinds of skills is presented to us and she spends most of the book either recovering from being in prison or mooning over princes. I was shocked that not all the trials to become champion were included in the narrative, and those that were included were often glossed over to make way for more mooning.
I appreciate that this is a seven (seven) book series and as such there is a lot of set up and origin to get through, I fully believe that there will be more action in later books. However, I wanted Celaena to come out kicking and screaming, I wanted this book to be seething with action from start to finish, I wanted all my female assassin dreams to come true and I was left feeling a little flat.
So, if this isn’t a badass assassin novel, and it isn’t an action piece either (for the most part) then what is this book? I’d say it has more of the elements of a fantasy mystery and a romance than anything else. There’s a love triangle, mysterious deaths and a need to research magical markings in old library books. It’s fine for the book to be that, I have nothing against YA fantasy romance and mystery is always fun, but with the main character billed as an ’18-year-old assassin’ I expected just a little bit more.
Is this a fun read? Yes. Is this as fun as I wanted it to be given the cult following that these books have? Not really. If you love these books I appreciate that there are a lot of elements that could get much better as this story progresses, but this book didn’t inspire me to pick up the next book.
While I’m on this subject, could subscription boxes stop having one Sarah J. Maas item in every box? I haven’t read them, I don’t understand the quotes!
My rating: 2/5 stars
All opinions are my own.
What say you? Are you a die-hard SJM fan or do you have someone you like more? Let me know in the comments below!