Throne of Glass:  Sarah J Mass (2012)

I’m going to begin this review with a quick clarification; I am clearly not the target audience for this book and so I probably judge it quite harshly, but I didn’t know it was chic-lit until after I started it.  The cover had been doing the rounds all over my social media and I thought the idea of a female assassin fantasy series looked pretty good.  As such I asked for the book for Christmas and was given the first three (I won’t be reading the other two).  I may be about to lose some followers for this review but then such is life.

First things first, I have a massive issue with the description of Celaena as an assassin.  The training done by this ‘assassin’ (who if I remember right doesn’t actually kill anyone through the whole book) is amateurish at best.  Repeatedly running until you vomit is incredibly counter-productive, as any child who’s ever done PE could tell you.  It will not make you stronger or fitter since you are losing all the nutrients you gained through your food.  So this ‘assassin’ knows nothing of physical training.  Equally, she assumes when she first sees her opponents that the bigger man must be slow (unless of course he’s magicked up!).  Anybody who knows anything about combative arts will know that this is nonsense and plenty of big guys are fast as hell (trust me, I learned this the hard way!).  Combine this with the staff-handling near the end and I just don’t buy her as someone with any expertise in combat.  Also, she is surprisingly squeamish about death and maiming for somebody who is allegedly a professional killer.

But then what can one expect?  This is an assassin who reads romance books, loves candy, is very concerned with what dress she wears and gets irked when she can’t go to the ball.  This is an assassin who drinks wine given to her by a known enemy, frets about marrying for love, and goes all gooey inside when a pretty man tries to flirt with her.  Not that it matters, since the competition to become king’s champion makes the Crystal Maze look like the Hunger Games.  They climb things a bit (but as safely as possible), run about a bit, get tested for poisons with the antidotes on hand, and even the climactic final combat is not fought to the death – unless one of them cheats.  Harsh though this sounds, the whole process seemed incredibly boring, and even the author seems to be more interested in the inevitable chic-lit ‘love triangle’ than she is in the champion’s contest.  Harry Potter played for higher stakes when he was twelve years old!

My final rant (promise) is about Celaena’s morality.  She gets on her high horse about the monstrous king and his terrible conquests, but then says that if she becomes his champion (aka, the king’s private murderer), she’ll perform any foul deed if it leads to her freedom.  For the record, this isn’t a ‘freedom to topple his regime’ deal; she states clearly that she just wants to be free so she can escape this realm – and presumably find a beach where she can sit and read Twilight (ok, that was bitchy, but this book really did frustrate me).

Now this review has been mostly negative so once again I’ll state that I am well aware that I am not the target audience for this book, and I am at least partly to blame for my frustration since I only got it because I kept seeing it online and hearing praise – almost literally judging the book by its cover.  And for all my ranting there were positives to be found in Throne of Glass.  The world in which this is set looks well thought out and interesting, and I’d be interested to know more of the history that led up to the current situation.  Celaena and the prince were fairly dull but both Nehemia and Chaol had a lot of potential – and both could become very interesting characters as the books go on.  I’d have liked to have seen some more of Endovier as well, and thought the setting was a great place for a story to begin.

Overall I did not enjoy this book and I felt it had far more flaws than virtues, but then it wasn’t written for me so perhaps my opinion is biased!