Review: Throne of Glass

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What I remember about Throne of Glass from the first time I read it a few years ago:

The main character is a girl (whose name I don’t recall) who is the coolest assassin ever at the age of 18, and she knows it. She totally wins the assassin competition and both the prince and his head of the guard (who is surprisingly young?) are totally in love with her.

What I think about it now:

I didn’t like the book the first time around because I found the main character to be rather arrogant and annoying. I myself was eighteen when I read it, but now that I’m older and wiser, I finally feel like I understand Celaena more. She’s arrogant because she is good at what she does, having spent basically all of her life training for a singular purpose. The other aspects of her personality make more sense once I started seeing her as the teenager that she is. She’s lived a hard life, but she’s still a teenager and still has moments when she behaves in the tempestuous way of teenagers.

I have to say that I’m still not a fan of the love triangle. I don’t quite know when I stopped enjoying love triangles, but the older I’ve gotten the more I’ve grown to appreciate a romantic plot that results in a loving and steady relationship. In case anyone was wondering, I’m Team Chaol (and I totally used to pronounce it chay-ohl, with “ch” as in “check”; I now pronounce it kay-ohl, which sounds so much better in my head), because Dorian is a whiny prince (yes, I know, a gross overgeneralization) and I happen to prefer my men with a side of broody.

I’m surprised that I had forgotten all about the magical shenanigans that go on in the background of the assassin competition. That’s arguably the more important part of the novel, especially since Celeana and almost everyone she meets thinks she is going to win the competition, so there’s little tension there (although I appreciated the extra level of difficulty at the final duel). It certainly made it more interesting on the second read-through, even though I had somewhat of an inkling of how it was going to turn out since bells started ringing in my head eventually.

I generally dislike it when books follow more than one character’s view point. This is especially the case if I don’t like some of the point of view characters, and for now, that character is Dorian. I managed to power through those sections though. I understand the utility of having different perspectives on the events of a novel, but the more characters there are, the less emotionally invested and the more irritated I become as the point of view switches. I see it as mostly needless in order to build tension and furthermore should really be limited to two characters, if it must happen at all.

I was also not a fan of Queen Elena and the secret tunnels beneath the castle. I think if it had been established that there were secret passages everywhere I wouldn’t have as much reason to complain that Celaena’s room just happens to lead to the tomb of the first king and queen of Adarlan. The queen’s ghost seems a bit too convenient, with answers that are vague but ultimately explain everything once Celaena figures out what it was that she meant. Basically her character was a little too deus ex machina-y for my taste.

Another monarch I have an issue with is the king of Adarlan. At this point he seems to be a bit too much of a caricature of evil and it stretches credibility that people that seem to be inherently good, such as Dorian, the man’s own son, and Chaol, who is captain of the guard, would not see just how bad this guy is. They see his cruelty to an extent, but their continued loyalty to the man is difficult to believe. I’m hoping that in later books his character is more fleshed out. It’s not that I necessarily need him to be less evil, that part is fine, he just feels too one-dimensional right now.

The descriptions and the writing style are enjoyable and make for quick reading. I have a few issues with the content, but it seems to me that as the writer progresses, issues like this will be fewer in number. I hope to see that in the future novels as I continue my marathon reading of the series.

Overall, I’m really happy that I picked up the book again (and bought the thing in hardcover after having read it on my Kindle). Perhaps I just really wanted to like it and so I did, but I find that that sort of internal logic rarely works on me where books are concerned. I enjoyed the book despite its flaws and am definitely emotionally invested enough to continue. If you like fantasy and love stories and badass fight scenes, I definitely recommend Throne of Glass.

 

Vera

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