[review] Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Notorious assassin Celaena is pulled from a labour camp by lady’s man Crown Prince Dorian and offered the chance to win her freedom. She must take part in a competition with 21 other criminals, and the winner will be the King’s champion. But an evil hides in the shadows of the castle, and Celaena must discover its origins before she becomes its next victim.

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)There is nothing I hate more than wasted potential, and that is the kindest thing I can say about this book: it had a lot of wasted potential. I should have loved this book. Fantasy has been my favourite genre since forever, and I love a kick ass heroine, but it takes more than being a supposed famous assassin and a tough guy attitude to be an awesome heroine. Add a narration style that simultaneously fails to hide secrets or use foreshadowing to create a feeling of dread for the reader, a love triangle that makes no sense, and enough plots to make a scarf and it was all I could do to finish the book. I rolled my eyes so often while reading I actually strained my eyes. Seriously.

From the very beginning Celaena rubbed me the wrong way. She had an arrogance that was not backed up until the end of book. She was carrying a lot of anger, and for a long time no reason was given as to why, and even then those reasons were half formed and apparently hints for some future reveal. (My bet, Celaena is a princess of one of the realms Dorian’s father conquered. This means she’ll be a perfect candidate to marry Dorian in the end. Yay.) The few times Celaena’s thoughts on other women were revealed it was obviously supposed to set her apart from these “other” women who enjoy fancy clothes and flirting and have nothing else to offer. Celaena on the other hand loves to read and kill people, so obviously she is so much better. The fact that she also enjoys clothes and flirting just means she’s in touch with her feminine side, right? Celaena’s character was hypocritical and more than a little ridiculous.

Basically, this book read like the first draft of an okay fanfic. I’ve read enough of both to know. The book was split into chapters, and I know what you’re thinking: “Meghan, most books are split into chapters.” Yeah, I realize that, but that’s not what I mean. I mean the book was split into chapters. It’s like each chapter was written and then posted with no chance to edit it before the next chapter was added to the story. Characters and plot lines appeared and disappeared unnecessarily. My favourite character, Philippa, was so underutilized it actually makes my heart hurt to think about it. Philippa could have been the female support that Celaena needed rather than her having to rely on Dorian and Chaol for constant reassurance. Celaena did have some female companionship in a foreign princess, Nehemia, who is another underutilized character, except for her deus ex machina abilities.

The narration jumped from perspective to perspective. No need to wonder what any character was thinking: eventually they would tell you themselves. While I don’t mind novels that show different perspectives, this meant that there was nothing for readers to deduce themselves. There’s no question if the bad guys are the bad guys: you get to hear their bad thoughts. There’s no slow discovery of romance filled with lingering touches and looks. Instead we are told that Dorian and Chaol can’t stop thinking about Celaena and vice versa. And I think this was one of my biggest problems with the novel: all the telling. Everything is told to us.  I felt like I was being a spoon fed a story, and it left no room for the imagination of reader, the deductive reasoning that makes reading so enjoyable.

Half of this telling was information that must have been provided in the “prequels” mentioned at the end of the book. We’re told about events and characters in a way that made me feel as if I was supposed to know this information already. This is not okay. I am fine with novellas that contain extra information, but I don’t think it’s right to expect readers to have read them, and it’s annoying to have these novellas pushed in the story itself. If you want me to feel bad for Celaena because she’s lost her “lover” Sam, then you better do more than have one chapter in which Celaena plays a sad song, okay? You need to reach every reader; not just the ones who stumbled across the “prequels” before reading the actual book.

Man, I’ve already said so much and I haven’t even spoken about the love triangle yet. In short, I felt like the characters had the same base code with slight modifications. The skipping from view point to view point made the falling in love aspect of the story feel rushed and fake. While the characters claimed to struggle with their feelings, I didn’t see or feel that struggle. Emotional moments were forced, and Celaena skipped back and forth between the two male leads for seemingly no reason. Honestly, I would have preferred her to be alone. Maybe if they cut out all of the unconvincing romance, there would have been time to show some of the actual competition.

So yeah, I really didn’t like this book. I can’t think of the last time I disliked a book so strongly, and it sucks because so many of my friends, friends whose opinion I really value, did enjoy the book. I guess it just wasn’t for me. Maas has potential, I’m sure, but in my opinion she doesn’t show it in this book.

Don’t just take my word for it!

“It has an awesome premise which I think younger audiences will enjoy, but I was personally a bit disappointed in the execution.” – Katya

“Fantastic story, multi-dimensional characters, an intriguing lore, a love triangle well done–these elements have made THRONE OF GLASS such a success to me.” – Alexa Loves Books

“Sarah J. Maas really created an interesting world with great characters who still have lots to share. A very, very good debut.” – Amy @ Tripping Over Books

Throne of Glass is an example of everything I love about fantasy novels.” – Christa @ More Than Just Magic

“Slap a label on me and call me a fangirl because Throne of Glass is one of my new favorite books EVER.” – Jen @ Almost Grown-Up

“In all, for me, Throne Of Glass by Sarah J. Maas was an enjoyable read and I am dying to get my hands on the sequel.” – April @ Good Books and Good Wine

“I really love historical fiction novels, add in fantasy elements and I have found a new favourite book for sure!” – Andrea @ Cozy up with a Good Read

“To be fair, there are plenty of people who loved this book, but I’d only recommend it if you like insta-love and love triangles.” – Tamara @ Aussie Speculative Fiction in Focus

Did I miss your review? Link me and I’ll add yours! Add me on goodreads (be sure to let me know in the comments that you’ve added me) to have your reviews linked automatically.

About megtao

Student. Writer. Nerdfighter. Fights for love, justice, and awesome.
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13 Responses to [review] Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

  1. Beth :) says:

    I literally just finished this book yesterday and I have to agree with you. It could have been a really good book but there were so many strings that could have lead to really good things but they just trailed off into nothing. It had a lot of potential but it just didn’t live up to it.

    I liked Celaena but I felt that she was an unfinished character. Also the love triangle was sort of forced. It was just shoved in there. I also found it a bit of a confusing, anti-climax.

    So I find this review quite accurate and thank you 🙂

    • megtao says:

      I’m glad that someone else was able to relate to my review. I’ve really only read reviews praising this book, so I’ve been feeling a little like the odd person out. XD

  2. Candice says:

    Oh, I’m sad that you didn’t enjoy this one! But… yeah, I get what you’re saying. I think the plot had a lot of premise, but could have been a lot more than it was. I read an ARC of it and really fell in love with the story… but I sometimes don’t think I read as critically as I should. Like I get all “Oh… I don’t care that this part doesn’t make sense.. KISSING!!!” I am glad that you wrote a great, honest negative review… you know, backing up what you didn’t like/thought it lacked/etc with actual evidence other than “It was just stupid.” We can learn a lot from you, oh wise reviewer! 🙂

  3. Christa says:

    I’m sad that you didn’t like this one 😦 Especially since I recommended it to you a couple times!

    But I understand your frustrations and even though I don’t feel the same way I’m not surprised by some of the points you make. Like the including important information in the prequels. That’s just not cool.

  4. aimee says:

    I was excited about this book when I first heard of it, but over the past few months, I’ve been hearing a lot of the things you mentioned in your review. I don’t think I could handle any of the things you’ve pointed out either (I’d be way too frustrated), so I have no idea if I ever will read Throne of Glass. (And I’m also really sick of EVERY series having a love triangle, so that’s already off-putting enough as it is.) I really enjoyed reading your review, however. (As usual. 😀 )

  5. One of the things I really love about the book blogging community is that not all of us will feel the same way about a book. I really loved Throne of Glass (as you can tell from my review and constant fangirling) and I’m sorry that you ended up disliking it so strongly. I must admit that after reading your thoughts, I definitely started thinking about the book again and I can actually really see where you’re coming from! I think it says something about how awesome you are as a reviewer that I feel you’re really making an unbiased, objective set of observations about a book – and you can even get fans of said book like me to agree with some of what you said.

    • megtao says:

      This comment really means a lot to me! I was very worried when writing and posting my review that I would get a negative reaction because I know many of you loved this book so much, so I’m so glad that you feel my review was objective!

      Just seriously thank you so much ❤

  6. Like you, I’m a diehard fantasy fan. And, like you, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t really enjoy Throne of Glass. Based on your review, this does sound like a rather unpolished work, which is a bit sad since I’ve read that the author worked on this for many, many years. I don’t think I’ll like Celeana, which is the main reason I am (somewhat) content just accepting the negative reviews as how I’d feel about it. I’m curious to see how people view the sequel, because if the general consensus is that Maas does grow as a writer, then maybe I could try it out. But definitely not yet.

  7. Sorry, I know this is such an old post, but thank goodness I stumbled upon it because I was genuinely starting to think that I was the only person who didn’t like TOG! I absolutely agree with all of your points; I was getting so tired of all the telling (Celaena’s a badass fighter, Celaena’s one of the most feared assassins, Celaena is so beautiful that no guy shuts up about her, etc etc) the shallow-ness of all the character, the plot that made no sense multiple times, and the way the author just kept trying to make us like Celaena by “setting her apart” from the other ladies of the court. I can’t fathom why such a cookie-cutter series has such a strong following but thanks for sharing!

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