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 kings 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.
I cannot tell you how excited I was to read this book, I even did a little dance around my living room when I found out I had been approved for a review copy. My expectations for Throne of Glass were admittedly high. I had heard so many positive things about it, the synopsis made it sound like my kind of book. Who doesn’t want to read about a kick ass assassin who runs around on front covers with daggers in her hands?!? I expected action, adventure and a female character that I would utterly adore…what I got was something else and I found that all of my excitement and expectations were dashed pretty quickly.
The first problem I had was Calaena who is not very easy to like, I found her to be a little too perfect. She is the best assassin ever and is also extremely beautiful. She is smart, humorous and witty. She can put anyone in their place and most men appear to swoon in her presence. For me it was all a little too much. It was not the perfectness that made me dislike her sure it was annoying but what made her irritating was the one bad characteristic she appeared to be in possession of, her arrogance. Calaena knows she is an amazing assassin, she knows she is beautiful and she knows that she has amazing taste in fashion. She talks about these things a lot and I couldn’t help but hope someone would come along and knock her down a peg or to so she wouldn’t think so highly of herself.
Another problem for me was the action…or the lack of it. I found the cover (UK) and blurb to be a bit misleading. There is an overwhelming lack of action to be found here, this book is about an assassin but she doesn’t actually kill anyone, if fact she barely even hurts anyone. Instead she spends most of her time talking about or admiring pretty dresses, hanging out with royalty or thinking about boys.
Instead of there being written accounts of the trials and training Calaena has to go through there is romance, which was a lot more central than I thought it would be. The love triangle left me feeling a little confused. At first she has no feelings for either Price Dorian or the head of the kings guard, Chaol, then she has feelings for both of them, then she is making out with one of them…a lot and having a secret relationship with him. But at the end I am pretty sure she changes her mind and chooses the other one. At least I think she did. There were clues all a long about who she was going to end up with but it wasn’t explained very well at the end so I cannot be sure. She really struggles to make up her mind, which in a way I could understand but what it did for the book was create a really strong element of teen angst which I wasn’t expecting. In the end this book felt a lot more like a teen romance than anything else.
Despite appearances I didn’t hate this book. Calaena was arrogant and annoying but she did have moments of greatness and I really enjoyed the action scenes when they were there.
The best thing about this book was the male characters. Both Dorian and Chaol had great personalities. I think most readers will struggle not to like both of them. Dorian is a flirt and a charmer. He is sarcastic and humorous, I like him a lot but he was no match Chaol who I utterly adored. This guy just got under my skin and was by far my favourite character. He is the silent and deadly type but despite the cold exterior there is a wicked personality underneath and a sense of loyalty that Dorian just cannot match. I often wondered if he was too good for Calaena which is a first for me, normally I back the guy I like in the romance.
Is Throne of Glass a bad book? No, not really. Had I gone into this with no expectations then this review might be very different, but the fact of the matter is that there is a lot of expectations and unfortunately I felt this book groaned and struggled under its weight. This book could end up being a victim of its own hype.
Published August 2nd 2012 by Bloomsbury. A free copy was provided for review. Image courtesy of Goodreads
Review by Kate Phillips