Word Spelunking

Throne of Glass

The Assassin and the Princess - Sarah J. Maas 3.5/5 Stars There has been a lot of buzz surrounding Sarah Maas' Throne of Glass, a story that has been a decade in the making and has had devoted fans for years...so, I was equal parts excited and hesitant to read it. But I dove in and found a captivating fantasy story, yet, it is not without its flaws.Eighteen year old Celaena Sardothien was once a most feared and skilled assassin, but then she was captured and thrown into the salt mines of Endovier where she suffered greatly, until the day Prince Dorian came. The Prince makes Celaena an offer she can't refuse: compete, as his champion, in a royal competition against other assassins, thieves and murderers for the chance to be the royal assassin. And after four years of service, Celaena will be given her freedom. So Celaena finds herself at the royal castle, being trained by Captain Chaol Westfall, competing against formidable foes and flirting with the prince. But when the mauled bodies of champions start to show up, Celaena tries to uncover the murderer's identity and ends up discovering a world of magic, evil and unexpected truths.Throne of Glass is a richly and ambitiously developed story that offers a complex mix of fantasy, action, intrigue and romance. I really liked and enjoyed this book with its impressive writing, intricate storytelling and engaging characters.The story easily pulled me in and kept me enthralled for the most part, but at times, this 400+ pages book felt much longer. Maas has crafted a gripping beginning and an exhilerating ending, but some of the middle meanders and feels like unecessary filler. The competition between the champions and the fantastical elements are all very exciting and intriguing and I wish more time was spent on these things and less on other things (Celaena's flirtation with Dorian, clothes, parties, etc).Maas' world-building, however, is quite excellent; she has developed an intricate, layered and fully imagined world, history and social/cultural structures. I felt completely immersed in this world and I'm still desperate to learn more (thank goodness for the novellas!). The dialogue is witty, refreshing and thoroughly engaging, without ever feeling over the top or contrived.I have a very love/hate relationship with Celaena. I love what a strong, capable, smart, complex and full on badass heroine she is, but she's also quite vain and arrogant, which makes her realistic, though not always likable. Yet, at times she is very Mary Sunshine perky and girly, obsessing over clothes and her looks, creating a very awkward juxtaposition. I had a hard time accepting this sunny version of her, especially since she's spent a year being abused and neglected in Endovier and has lived a life full of killing. I would have liked to have seen her darkness explored more and her badass assassin skills depicted more, but, for the most part, she's a fascinating heroine that is easy to root for.Prince Dorian and Captain Chaol Westfall make for two very different potential love interests. I wouldn't call this a full blown love-triangle...yet. It's more like love-triangle lite. Prince Dorian has some really great qualities- he's smart, kind and witty- and while his and Celaena's relationship is not insta-love, it did feel incredibly forced and progressed unnaturally fast. Then there's Chaol *swoon*. Chaol has such a quiet depth and strength about him that is so enticing. I love the genuine friendship and connection that develops between he and Celaena because it feels so real and natural. When it comes to love-triangles I try not to get too invested or care too much, but in this case I'm totally Team Chaol!The villainy in this story does not lie within just one person or being, but across many characters and places, which I found intriguing and well executed. Though somewhat predictable, the story is full of enough unexpected twists, revelations, character motivations and subplots to keep readers breathless and thrilled till the very end. MY FINAL THOUGHTS: An ambitiously and intricately developed story, Throne of Glass has much to offer-impressive writing, engaging characters, excellent world-building and refreshing fantastical elements- but falls short of epic grandeur. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it greatly and eagerly await the next installments.

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