I had been hearing about this book for so long that I’ll admit I was a little worried when I finally began reading it. The last time I read a book that had such a huge hype around it I found it to be really disappointing (as you can gather from this extremely ranty review!), so I wondered if it would live up to everything I had heard about it.
So imagine my relief when this book turned out to be amazing!
For my fellow behind-the-times readers, Throne of Glass tells the story of eighteen-year old master assassin Celaena Sardothien, who has spent the last year of her life as a slave in the salt mines of Endovier after being betrayed, and subsequently captured. However, she is given a chance to regain her freedom by the Crown Prince of Adarlan, Dorian Havilliard: if she represents him in a tournament held by his father and wins she will become the ‘King’s Champion’ (basically the king’s personal assassin) and be freed after four years. Accepting this deal Celaena travels to the capital city of Rifthold to compete in the tournament, but sinister events begin to unfold…
One of the few complaints I have heard about this book has been about the heroine herself: I have seen Celaena described as unlikable because of her vanity, arrogance and childishness. And whilst she certainly does possess all these negative qualities, I actually quite liked that about her! There are too many perfect heroines in YA these days, with perfect morals, who are ridiculously selfless and humble, and quite frankly it’s annoying. No one is actually that perfect, and I really can’t stand such goody-two-shoes characters! So for me, Celaena made quite a refreshing change, even if she doesn’t necessarily have some of the most endearing character traits. She is certainly one of the most interesting and animated characters I have come across in a book recently, and I loved the fact that she is so tough, yet also girly and frivolous.
I also loved the chemistry between her, Dorian and Chaol (Captain of the Royal Guard). Whilst at first I was pretty worried about the idea of a love triangle, the ‘triangular’ nature of the three characters relationship wasn’t pushed too much, and definitely wasn’t the centre of the entire story as so often happens.
I really liked both Dorian and Chaol and the juxtaposition between their characters. Whilst Dorian is a bit of a smooth talker and known to be a ladies man, he definitely has a heart and is very moral, often feeling torn between his duty as Prince and his own values. Chaol meanwhile takes his job very seriously and is kind of grumpy, but is also very loyal and comes to be very protective of Celaena (not that she really needs it!). Of the two, I think I preferred Chaol as he seemed more complex and I was intrigued to know more about him, so I’m kind of hoping to find out more in the next book!
There was also some great secondary characters, for example Nehemia. I liked with her that she seems to develop a lot throughout the book, and my idea of her kept changing until I finally knew the whole truth about her. I also liked Nox, Celaena’s fellow tournament contestant and friend, as he livened up the training scenes.
The ‘villains’ were also pretty good, with Duke Perrington being absolutely detestable and his champion Cain being a truly deadly opponent for Celaena, even if he could have been a little more developed as a character.
I also liked Kaltain Rompier (well I hated her, but in a love-to-hate-her kind of way!) because she ended up being way more than she seemed. At first she came across as a not very nice, but not particularly intelligent hanger-on at court, but it gradually became clearer that she was more of a force to be reckoned with than I had first thought. And at times I even felt slightly sorry for her, having Duke Perrington all over her all the time!
The tournament itself didn’t end up being such a huge plot point as I had imagined. I had assumed it would make up the main part of the story but it actually just ended up being the backdrop to the more sinister goings on in Rifthold. The mystery that unfolds was pretty intriguing, although it doesn’t exactly come as a huge surprise at the end when you discover who is at the heart of it.
Overall I really enjoyed Throne of Glass. I didn’t expect to, as I worried that it wouldn’t live up to the huge hype around it, but it has actually ended up being one of the best books I have read in a while. I am definitely excited to read the next book in the series, Crown of Midnight, and am kind of hoping to see a bit more of a Chaol/Celaena relationship in this one!