Throne of Glass is one of those books which is talked about a lot on Twitter and in Top Ten Tuesday lists, which made me a little bit scared of reading it. It is also the first in a massive series, and I am already in the awkward position of being a series-phobe in the midst of at least 5 YA fantasy series. Whoops. Then there’s the fact that I read Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses in January and didn’t really care for it. But I really wanted to see what I was missing out on, so I bought it anyway because I have very serious self-control issues when it comes to clicking ‘Add to Basket.’
All these reservations aside, I really enjoyed Throne of Glass (hurray! Now I can read all 700 of them!); the setup was fun and original within the genre, and Maas introduces just the right amount of characters with just the right amount of detail to keep readers interested without drowning them in crazy-named people who only speak once. While the story of teen assassin sprung from a death camp in order to compete for the role of the king’s private killer is slightly ridiculous, I don’t think it feels like it while you read it
The world-building was secondary to plot and characters, which I liked; one complaint I have with books within this genre is the need to basically learn a whole new language (like all the silly fairy species in A Court of Thorns and Roses and thedifferent Silver abilities and families in Red Queen), which is a bit tiresome, and Maas helpfully avoids this here. The magical element of the book is only introduced quite late on, which meant it added to the story rather than just clogging it up with concepts you have to keep flicking back to check on.
Celaena (I keep having to check how to spell her name and I’m not sure I was pronouncing it right in my head while reading) is ace – brave, witty and, most excitingly of all, a reader! Her book snobbery really amused me and I liked how a passion for books became something that could unite people from opposite ends of society, when Celaena and the Crown Prince argued about his reading list. I’d have liked to learn more about Celaena’s background: her career as an assassin and the loss of her parents are alluded to but not in tremendous detail. Just to emphasise my self-control issues, I have now ordered the next three books and the novellas, so I hope they shed a little more light on this subject. I am a bit scared by how insanely long Queen of Shadows is; someone please tell me it’s worth it. Or that maybe there are loads of pictures.
Obviously, I also liked the feminist aspect of the story too, with Celaena competing against men who foolishly underestimate her because of her gender. There are some other interesting female characters too, and the friendship between Nehemia and Celaena was something unusual in this genre; I don’t think we are over-run with bonds between women on fantasy shelves, and the fact that both characters are influential within the book and their wider roles appealed to me.
I think I am the last person in the world to get into this series anyway, but I recommend it. Throne of Glass avoids many of the cliches which pervade the YA fantasy genre while containing many of the elements which make the genre so popular. I now need to clear my TBR before the next book arrives and demands my attention.