Cover Beauty Score: 4 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 3 out of 5
Plot Blurb: In a fantasy realm where magic has been outlawed and a powerful king has begun taking over all of the lands (killing all magical things in his wake), Celaena Sardothian is an orphan who was raised by the king of assassins - and she has become the most feared and dangerous assassin in the land by the age of 18. Having been betrayed, she landed in a death camp and is only brought out when the Crowned Prince chooses her as his fighter for his father's tournament. If she wins, Celaena will gain her freedom after working for the King for a few years. But things at the castle are a bit darker than she planned, and magic is closer to the capitol than anyone thinks.
My Reaction: This book started out so fabulous! I was crazy excited about it - I swear it was the first time I felt that an author really was able to do a love triangle well. I could feel chemistry with both of Celaena's love interests and it wasn't sappy or overdone. I liked Celaena because she had bigger things on her mind than screwing with two hot dudes. The story moved along nicely, and it seemed like Celaena was a pretty badass chick.
The writing is done very well - props to Maas for being able to write some decent prose. Not once did I find myself shaking my head over crappy imagery or the overuse of phrases. It was great writing for a high concept fantasy, with lovely bits of description like this:
A glass chandelier shaped like a grapevine occupied most of the ceiling, spitting seeds of diamond fire onto the windows along the far side of the room.
Throne of Glass was full of little trinkets like this - the world building was very elegantly done and we have a glimpse of this land pretty easily from the get go.
So where did it go wrong for me? I'm not quite sure I can put my finger on it. Perhaps it's when I found out Celaena wasn't really as badass as she appeared in the opening scene. She falls a little flat towards the middle of the book and the entire plot just kind of fizzles out. There's not enough intrigue and it feels like Maas attempts to make up for this by forcing the love triangle down our throats. The action grinds to a halt as Celaena gets into court drama - she seems more concerned about the ornate design of her dresses than she does with training for her freedom. Sure, she gets up in the morning and does some burpees and fancy pull ups, but it seems to me that a real warrior would be a little more concerned about being the best. She wouldn't have the free time to make out with the prince all night.
And where in the hell did the whole "I play the piano like a trained master" thing come from? It was in the book for like two seconds and felt like an immature writer's attempt to add in characterization. It didn't feel sincere at all and reduced the impact of the character tremendously. Expert assassins do not have time to learn piano (in the same way they don't have time for playing with dogs) - unless they want to fail and get their skulls crushed in a duel by crazy mofos three times their size.
I just think that this book was obviously written with the series arc in mind and in that respect Maas didn't give this story the attention it deserved. The duel in the end wasn't enough of a climax - it was more of an afterthought. And Celaena didn't even get to pull of the kill shot! Wtf... that was a super let down and something that she should probably be pissed about.
And can I talk for a second about how Chaol is a 20-something Captain of the army that has supposedly taken over the world and he has yet to make a kill? His emo reaction at the end of the book really just left a bad taste in my mouth. It didn't seem true to his character at all, and he came off sounding like a whiny 16 year old rather than a rough and tough Captain that has seen his share of battles. I mean, I get the Prince being a whiny teen, but Chaol? I thought he was better than that.
Just because you write a strong female heroine does NOT mean that you need to write her love interests weak. In fact, it should be the opposite! Strength calls to strength, and that's what I thought I was reading when I opened this book. Maas just couldn't live up to my expectations... maybe the other books will be better if they complete her ultimate story arc, but at this point I have to ask myself; is it worth my time?
I know I'll get some haters from this review... it has a crazy online following. The fanart is was made me hop on this bandwagon from the beginning. I've been abstaining only because of my cover art prejudice (yes, I know I have a problem).
Ultimately, this book fell short of my expectations. It was a little sloppily conceived and I wish the sappy crap hadn't overpowered our heroine. She had such potential!