Throne of Glass

Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas 3.5/5

Throne of glass is one of those curious books where I was looking forward to reading it, but again, was hesitant because of the generally high rating. The Da Vinci Code, Twilight and Hunger Games have all made me lose any faith in high-rating books, and I don't even bother with the reviews until after I've read them.

So yes. I thought I'd give Throne of Glass a go. I love reading new books from authors I haven't delved into yet, and this seemed pretty short, so no harm.

AKA the review that pretty much says nothing except 'Dorian is a jackass and I hope he dies horribly'.

Let me get the initials out of the way first. Celaena annoyed me, but not so much that I still couldn't enjoy her. Dorian made me want to punch him into the stomach until he was painting the walls with his damn lunch. Chaol was pretty neat. Nehemia was awesome.

Let me start going into a little more detail now...
This book didn't stand out enormously to me. I liked it, but didn't love it. I found it okay, but not fantastic. The characters were good, but not rich in my opinion. It was a good read, but nothing spectacular.

I found little to complain about with the writing. I don't recall seeing a single obvious error the editor should've caught (I have the ebook, rather than a physical copy), and the quality of the writing itself was, again, good but not great. It flowed very well and I didn't find myself getting stuck on it (though I was still getting snagged, more on that after) at all. On occasion the story seemed...odd. The tone of the writing felt like it changed from something clearly modern, to something that felt like it was going a little more prose-y. That wasn't working for me. It didn't seem to fit the story to me, but again, I didn't find myself getting too snagged on it, and that's really the most important technical aspect for me.

I did, however, found myself getting snagged on the chapters. They were just too short for my tastes, flew by too quickly for me to really sink into the book. There were entirely new chapters for something a mere scene break could've accomplished just fine, which was a little frustrating for me.

I was pretty happy with the frequency of PoV swaps though, they weren't too often, but just enough to help us get a little insight into each character involved. Though I still wanted to throw my poor Kobo across the room every time I had to read Dorian. Though, I will say I was a little surprised we didn't get one last Dorian PoV before the end of the book, after Celaena officially calls things off between them. He made such a song and dance about never letting anyone take her away from him (possessive asshole, jeez) and then she just easily says how she doesn't want things to continue between him. I would've liked to see a little of what he was thinking about that, but nope. Here's to hoping he doesn't show up in the next book at all. x_x

I should probably go into a little more detail on why I really disliked Dorian Havilliard so much (is that how you spell the surname...?). On how many occasions does Celaena refer to him as kind? And yet, on how many occasions does he show us that he's not – that he's a selfish, self-centred and slightly egotistical person without much compassion? Even Fleetfoot, the puppy whelped by one of his own dogs, doesn't bloody want to go near him. He couldn't care enough for a dog (“What's the death of a dog to me?”) to find the mutts his hound gave birth to new homes, even though after some pressure from Celaena he does reveal that it really wouldn't be that much trouble rehoming them. He pushes Celaena into talking about things that she really doesn't want to talk about, all to satisfy his own greed for knowledge about her even at the cost of forcing her to dredge up things she either isn't ready to deal with, or has put behind her. He's possessive of her, as I stated before; I'm not all that sure that what he claims to feel for her is love, when everything just points to obsession instead. He's used to getting his way with women, and for a little while he believes that Celaena is no exception, even though his feelings for her are definitely different from the 'feelings' he has towards the other women he'd been with. Overall, Dorian is a gigantic ass. I am pretty happy that Celaena never seemed to love him, despite enjoying his attentions. She had her fun with him, realised that what was between them could never work, and called it off before it became anything more. It was the right decision, and it showed that Celaena definitely has some self-control and self-respect.

Chaol, though. He was just an all-around decent guy, I thought. He never forgot that Celaena could kill him or any of the guards around them with little trouble, if she felt so inclined, but couldn't prevent himself from developing feelings for her. He knew her far better than Dorian ever did, training with her for the Tests and actually seeing the sort of nasty attitudes that she had to put up with from most of the other champions. He saw her always restraining herself when she didn't entirely need to, listening to him because she respected him (even when she still didn't like him), and always trying to better herself by the standard he was setting. He pushed at her, and made fun of her, and scolded her and didn't joke around as much as Dorian might have, but he actually paid attention to her. Chaol Westfall was a solid character, a good man and a person devoted to Celaena whether she knows it or not. He doesn't push his presence onto Celaena like Dorian had a fucking awful habit of doing, and respected both her and her space. I liked him, and really look forward to reading him in the next book.

Celaena...annoyed me. Not all the time, though. I neither loved nor hated her. To me, she was just a character for the story to ride along with, which isn't good. I enjoyed how snarky and outgoing she was, but did not enjoy how shallow she seemed to be at times, when it felt like the story was trying to make her into a deep and rich character. I wasn't getting that impression at all. On the other side of that coin, it made sense for her to be like that – she was an assassin, she had been trained from childhood to kill people for a living, and she was essentially a glorified criminal. It wasn't out of my expectations that she usually put herself first – like with her indecision about remaining in the castle to finish the challenge after she'd found the secret passage in her rooms. She could be free in the sense that she would no longer be competing to be the King's lapdog, that she would no longer be in the castle, but she would not be truly free, able to live where she pleased and say her name without fear of consequence or being recognised and put to death/going back to Endovier. She was different from a lot of characters in that sense for me, and she didn't have a lot of baseless nobility or heroic intent, if that makes sense. She felt like a person making decisions, not all of them being brave or self-sacrificing. That helped make her feel more real to me. I did have a problem with the fact that I couldn't see her showing a lot of faults. Celaena has a bit of a temper, patience issues sometimes, self-confidence to the point of arrogance, but I can't recall seeing much more than that. I don't count her enjoying 'vain' things like clothing and the attentions of men as faults at all – they're simply a part of who she is. She takes pride and joy in being attractive, and is outgoing enough to feel comfortable flaunting it when she feels like it.

I won't lie, I still don't quite understand the entire reasoning behind the challenge and why the King needed a Champion, even though throughout the book it became more clear that it was something that was being introduced in Throne of Glass, but not entirely settled until a later book. At first it just felt like a Hunger Games clone, except Victorian age, or something. The overall plot involving the Wyrdmarks and the deaths of the champions made it a lot more interesting to me, made me want to learn more about the world and the characters involved. It also made the book seem more layered, like there was more going on that we weren't seeing, and that was very pleasant. Some of the outcomes weren't entirely unpredictable, but I don't even try to predict things that happen anyway so it didn't bug me too much. At the end of the book, I'm still a little bit shaky on the entire Challenge plot, and why it needed to be there. I'm assuming the next book will clear up a lot of questions for me, though.

I will be getting the sequel when I can, and I'm going to enjoy reading it. I want to see where the plot ends up going, and where the characters end up going. Especially Nehemia.

...and, come on, but this needs to be said – if you're the world's greatest assassin and everyone knows who you are, how bloody good are you, really?