Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens (2 Aug 2012)
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 exhilarating. 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.
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I have this (somewhat annoying) habit of starting reviews with a long (and often tedious) tale of how I came upon this book. Will this review be any different? Of course not friends :D
I remember my friend Nourin (who also runs a book blog and YouTube channel with me) gushing last year about a fantasy novel called “Throne of Glass” and I especially recall this moment because I remember saying “are you sure it’s not Game of Thrones?” (insert LOL here). Anyway, I marked it on my “remember-to-check-this-out-“ list but forgot as I was buried beneath university work.
It was only few days ago that I suddenly remembered the book, and after wanting a break from all the contemporaries I was indulging in, I decided to give the book a go. I started the book at 11am on a Monday morning *perks of unemployment* and finished it around 6pm.
I have to say that I’m not as gushy and in love with the book as my friend was, yet I will admit I did enjoy the book despite a few faults I picked out, which I will outline at the end, to save me starting this review with negative aspects.
There was a definite reminder of The Hunger Games, Vampire Academy and even Harry Potter throughout my reading the book. The Hunger Games-esque comes from the battles that Celaena participates in to become the champion for the King. The reference to Vampire Academy comes from the way in which there’s a spark between Celaena and her trainer, Chaol. And finally, *running out of breath* the Harry Potter reminder comes from the mystery surrounding the creature that is killing off the other contestants and leaves behind markings on the walls, which just brings me back to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
References and reminders aside, it was a refreshing change for me to dig into a fantasy novel, a genre I’m not a huge fan of yet Maas’ writing was descriptive and I found it easy to immerse myself in the story and genre. The woven aspect of magic was a surprising bonus for me and I enjoyed that there was another edge to the story.
As for the characters, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the character of Celaena. There is nothing more enjoyable than seeing a kick-ass, bad ass heroine who has swagger to match. She’s cocky, she’s witty, she’s full of pride - and she backs that up with her prowess as an assassin and her skill. I read some other reviews of the book and there were mentions of how it was absurd that as an assassin, Celaena loved thrills dresses and books. Au contraire, I absolutely loved that despite being able to kill anyone with her bare hands, she was also delicate, feminine and enjoyed things like dressing up and the pleasure of reading. Not all bad ass heroines need to be portrayed as masculine or tomboy-ish, but rather they can be rulers of the world as well as being a woman and I’m glad the author allowed our character to be both.
The Crown Prince Dorian, was a character I was surprised to like. He is introduced to us as a bit of a ladies man, yet he is warm, kind, generous (and having read the next 2 books in the series, I can also say he’s badass). The Captain of the Guard, who is also Dorian’s best friend, Chaol, is the strong and silent type. At only 22, he has risen in the ranks and become a formidable figure yet the friendship that develops between Celaena and Chaol was heart warming. I felt like when Celaena hung out with him, she was able to be herself, not the assassin that she is reputable for, but just your average 18 year old girl. The same can be said for Chaol, who also finds himself able to joke and unwind in her company, and it was a friendship I enjoyed reading about.
However, when it comes to the romance, there was of course, a triangle, as expected, between Celaena, Dorian and Chaol. I felt like neither relationship was done justice or made to seem genuine, and it was very fleeting. There wasn’t enough depth or interaction to warrant some of the feelings between them, I personally felt. Also, I needed there to be more depth to Celaena’s backstory, though that is something that I can understand wasn’t done since in the following books, the author does indeed fulfil my wish.
As for the writing, though I was able to read the story in 5/6 hours, I stopped a lot in between each chapter and put the book down, as I often found the story not engaging me, and would only pick the book back up because I had nothing else to do and wanted to finish the story, in the hopes it would get better along the middle. The writing didn’t flow as easily and at certain points I was confused as to where the connection was in the plot, yet despite all that, I did finish the book and I did enjoy a change of genre but I just wasn’t as in love with the book as others.
On a side note, I did get bored and pick up the 2nd book, and boy oh boy did it blow my mind. Review for that, coming in the next week ;)