Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass is a very popular fantasy series that many readers adore. It tells the story of Celaena Sardothien, an assassin serving a sentence for her crimes in the salt mines of Endovier. The Crown Prince makes her an offer, she will be set free if she acts as his champion in a competition to find the next royal assassin.
In the novel, the majority of the time the reader is seeing the story through Celaena’s eyes, but there are at least five different points of view. The shifts in perspective seems random, rather than a deliberate choice to develop character or because the plot absolutely requires it. The scenes from the villain’s POV and the two love interests POV added nothing to the story and amounted to cackling about how devious they were or mooning over Celaena in a way I can’t imagine a captain of the guard or even a playboy prince doing. The love triangle and romance(s) were full of tropes and I personally didn’t become invested in them at all.
I also found characters to be inconsistent. I appreciate that Maas tries to make an extremely physically strong heroine who is also feminine, and I don’t fault Celaena for her vanity or shallowness; on the contrary, I appreciate flawed characters. But in my opinion, there is nothing endearing about her, no reason for me to root for her. She just didn’t seem like a real person, and her contradictions didn’t seem believable. She’s supposedly an accomplished assassin, but we’re only told this, never shown. There are no deaths that are a result of her hand, nor depth to her character.
The leading men fared no better: Chaol is supposedly such a smart, capable guard, but makes so many allowances and oversights during the book that it is hard to believe. Prince Dorian was also rather bland. Hints at backstory were just awkwardly shoved in. There was nothing sophisticated about the political intrigue. Books like The Winner’s Curse do such a great job using fantasy as a way to explore complicated realities of war and conquest, which was not done in this novel. Additionally, the lack of diversity in terms of race and sexuality in this novel is disappointing yet expected, as it is a problem I’ve noticed with all Sarah J. Mass books. If you want to read a series with diverse characters and a strong yet feminine protagonist who is well-characterized, I implore you to try the Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski. Although the protagonist is white and blond, wields a dagger and wears pretty dresses, she is completely different from Caelana. Overall, I gave Throne of Glass 3 stars.
Rascal Rating: 3 stars
Almas Khan is a fifteen-year-old artist, aspiring author, and avid consumer of dark chocolates. She lives in a small Canadian city where she spends most of her time with her nose in a book, battles the patriarchy, longs for a kitten, and does schoolwork. Find her on Tumblr and @itsalmaskhan.