21 September 2012

Throne of Glass

Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass # 1
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Young Adult
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Released: 7 August 2012
Summary: courtesy of goodreads.com 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 king's 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.
My Review: This book was one that I had greatly anticipated.  It sounded like a cross between Graceling and The Hunger Games set against a Poison Study backdrop.  Here’s the thing: plot-wise this was that, but you know what I missed? Yelena, Katniss, and Katsa.  The heroine in Throne of Glass didn’t seem to have many “flaws” at least as she saw them.  She had no humility what so ever.  I mean even Katsa had some humility.  There didn’t seem to be much of a journey that she had to go on or through as a character.  Maybe further down the line she will, but as far as who she is at the beginning (an extremely self-assured assassin with no real emotional ties) she doesn’t change in any way by the end.  Sure, there is a lot of talk about what she went through while in the mines, but I never really connected to the pain that she felt.
Emotionally Celaena doesn’t deliver at all.  She is a very two dimensional character in a three dimensional world.  The “love triangle” felt like an awkward episode of 90210.  I guess what I’m trying to say is this: the world building was excellent, but I expected the character building, especially of the protagonist, to be astounding.  A story this epic needs a female this epic to back it up, and I didn’t feel like Celaena delivered. 
The only other thing that truly bothered me was this: I like consistency when I read a book (any book) and flip flopping back and forth between given (for lack of a better word I’m going to say Christian) names to titles had my head spinning.  The author flip flops back and forth between calling the Prince “Dorian” and simply “The Prince”.  It is the same with going back and forth between “Celaena” and “The Assassin”.  There may or may not have been a specific reason for it, but if there was I wasn’t seeing it straight off.  Normally, if this were a film or play, I would say it was a way for characters to distance themselves from one another, but in print it doesn’t work as well.  It only left me confused, and wondering if there was more than one prince, or more that one head to the prince’s guard, etc.  I couldn’t keep them straight, and that made it harder to identify with them (finally, about 45% in, I had everyone figured out, but by then it was too late to really latch on to any one character.)
I honestly think that Maas knew everything that there is to know about this story, these characters, and this world.  I honestly do, there is a certain degree of intelligence in this writing and it’s pretty incredible, especially in the concept of the characters, and it could be due to a bad editor, but somehow I felt like a lot of things didn’t transfer.  Like there were things that I was supposed to know and didn’t, some bit of information that was right on the fuzzy outer scope of my brain but I just couldn’t reach it.  Normally I never want more detail, but in Throne of Glass I did.  I really really did.    

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