YA Weekend: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Wendy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars: Celaena maintains a level of charm and sass that makes it easy to understand why the prince, the captain and soon the visiting Princess Nehemia find her endearing as often as they find her frustrating.
Celaena Sardothien is the infamous “Adarlan’s Assassin,” betrayed and sent to slave away in the salt mines. The king had expected her to die a slow, torturous death, but he failed to break her. To her surprise a year later, she is summoned some time later to fight for her freedom in a competition that will name the King’s Champion. Sponsored by the Crown Prince Dorian, Celaena is removed from slavery and treated with almost every courtesy as a lady, and trained by Chaol Westfall, the Captain of the Guard, but warned that she must not reveal her true identity.
The balance of Celaena’s moments in finery with her time in training and competition were really well done in terms of revealing her character. She is as comfortable and confident in either situation, though her sometimes overwhelming ego makes it difficult for her to hold back the truth about her identity. I appreciate that, while her time in slavery does haunt her, there is no over-indulgent brooding. Celaena maintains a level of charm and sass that makes it easy to understand why the prince, the captain and soon the visiting Princess Nehemia find her endearing as often as they find her frustrating.
As much as I loved these moments of Celaena getting to be herself with Dorian, Chaol and Princess Nehemia, I grew impatient with the repeated referrals to her as Adarlan’s Assassin as there was little but her repetition of her esteemed title that indicated her skill. While she occasionally got to display her physical abilities, the focus of the story moved away from the competition. And while I suppose I have no choice but to accept that she is an excellent assassin with a hit list to prove her worthy of the praise (at least until I read the novellas), her survival training seems suspect.
Still, these moments reveal that Celaena is just a normal girl beneath whatever title she may hold and whatever tortures she’s been through. The moment she truly endeared herself to me was when she discovered the library and happily twirled through it. The book won me over when her follow up with the prince on this library led to him commanding her to read his favourite books that they might discuss them. I immediately developed a strong desire for Celaena, Dorian and Chaol to start up a secret book club.
Magic is initially very subtle. It has been banished when the book begins, but it is evident that it will play a role in Celaena’s future. I liked that I almost forgot about the fantasy aspect as Celaena adjusted to her new life. Maas spent a healthy amount of time developing the characters and their relationships. There is most certainly romance involved, but it does not preclude friendship. Once these bonds are strongly established, the story eases back into the major plot of the competition and the magic that will eventually alter Celaena’s experience.