It seems to be the year of the female assassin! A few months ago, we were treated to the badassery of Ismae Rienne in the absolutely fantastic Grave Mercy, and now, the equally badass—though considerably less subtle—Celaena Sardothien has hit the scene in Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass.
While Robin LaFevers’ book is a perfect pick for readers who love the intrigue of Megan Whalen Turner and Elizabeth C. Bunce, the swashbuckling excitement in Throne of Glass will make it immensely popular with Tamora Pierce fans.
Read Bookshelves of Doom on the Snow White reboot 'Wicked Jealous.'
Celaena began training to be an assassin when she was 8 years old. Ten years later, she is the most notorious, feared name in the kingdom...or she would be, if she wasn’t a prisoner in the brutal Endovier Salt Mines. When the Crown Prince of Adarlan offers her temporary freedom—to compete as his champion in a contest of warriors and criminals for the entertainment of the nobility—she takes it. If she wins, she’ll become the King’s Assassin. If she loses, she’ll be sent back to the mines.
Celaena is a swaggering, smart-mouthed heroine—with a secret past, naturally—who hides her pain and fear behind a smirking exterior. She’s comfortable in her own skin and with her own sexuality, and her vanity is strangely charming. She holds grudges and is quick to lash out, but those who are lucky enough to call her “friend” know her loyalty and warmth.
While at court—between training for the Trials and trying to not get murdered by the mysterious ravenous beast that’s apparently stalking the halls of the castle—she slowly gains the admiration, respect and lurrrve of the Crown Prince and the Captain of the King’s Guard, as well as befriends a princess who is the not-so-secret symbol of the peoples’ rebellion. Important note, as it’s such a rarity: even though Throne of Glass features a love triangle, it also passes the Bechdel Test.*
So the storyline and characters are fun. But, you ask, how’s the writing? Well...it’s serviceable. Maas is fond of the gemstone-as-eye-color description: Dorian’s “sapphire eyes” do a lot of “flashing” and “gleaming,” Chaol’s “golden-brown eyes” get at least as many mentions, while one of the antagonists has “obsidian eyes” and an obsidian ring.
The first half, especially, reads like the novelization of a B-movie, and occasionally feels like reading a round of Thesaurus Mad Libs, as there is some form of “a smile/chuckle/smirk/laugh played about/tugged at/burst from her lips” every few pages. It feels a bit bloated, and for someone supposedly so brilliant and clever, Celaena spends a frustrating amount of time investigating what is clearly a red herring.
And yet, possibly because of its B-movie nature, I found Throne of Glass entirely entertaining. It’ll make for super beach reading, and I look forward to Celaena’s next adventure.
*Think back to the last few love triangle stories you’ve read. How many of them pass the test? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Let's be honest. If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or doing her librarian thing, Leila Roy is most likely being tragically unproductive due to the shiny lure of Pinterest.