7 October 2013

Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas

Celaena Sardothien is Ardalan's most infamous and feared assassin. She has spent the last year in the salt mines of Endovier after being betrayed and captured; a death sentence to most, but she has miraculously survived. Now the crown prince has dragged her out of one hell and into another; a competition to become the hated King's champion (a kinder word for his personal assassin) and eventually win her freedom. However, the palace, the prince and her captor (the moody captain of the guard) are not as they first appear. Instead, she has something new to worry about; something evil is lurking n the palace, ripping competitors apart in the night. Celaena has to act before she becomes the next corpse.

Told in third person, from the viewpoints of Celaena, Dorian (the Prince) and Chaol (the Guard), Throne of Glass throws you straight into the story, at the moment where Celaena is being freed from her prison. We are intrigued from the start as there are already questions that need answering; How did she get there in the first place? Who betrayed her? How did she end up as an assassin? The plot carries you along at a steady speed throughout; nothing happens too fast or too slowly and everything is there for a reason. Unfortunately, the twists are very easy to see coming and it would have benefited the author not to sow quite as many seeds as to the plot of the second book.

Our protagonist is a strange character; she seems at odds with herself most of the time.. her assassin training giving way to a much more materialistic and silly girl. Despite that, she is quite likeable, funny and easy to empathise with even though she is a killer. The main worry here is that she actually doesn't seem like an assassin - there is one killing in the entire book and although her fighting is well described, her thoughts and actions are much too normal. The emphasis of the book actually divides its-self a bit too evenly between her relationships with other people and her adventures, fighting and planning.

This doesn't make the book any less entertaining, though. In fact, it only makes you like her more as you discover she isn't as heartless and cold as you think. It seems that most appearances are deceiving in this book, as many prejudices about characters turn out to be wrong, including your own.

The most interesting part for me was the competition; the sizing up of competitors, their alliances and the tests they undergo. I would have liked to see a lot more of this as some of the tests were just skipped over in favour of developing the love triangle. As brilliant and human the depictions of each relationship was, I could have done with a bit more action.

The story carries on in Crown of Midnight, and it has four prequels attached to give background information, which unfortunately I have not read; The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, The Assassin and the Desert, The Assassin and the Underworld, The Assassin and the Empire. The story has a lot of plot points that are unexplained, and I am sure these novellas go a long way towards covering what is references in the book. Looking to the future, there are very clear plot-lines to develop, and I hope to read about political warfare, actual warfare, lots of assassinations and a few difficult decisions for our antihero.

I read this very quickly as was always yearning to read more. Gripping and interesting, but the main character was lacking ferocity.

8 out of 10

Beautiful cover image taken from infinity-of-time.blogspot