A Quick Little Review
I have a strong dislike for this cover, but I did really, really like what was behind it. I spend a lot of time on this blog hating on love triangles, but this one has potential to be really good and interesting, so if you like love triangles, or you’re just tired of giving them hate all the time, you will probably like the romance in here.
There is more than romance. The world is pretty interesting and built large enough for further adventure, though it is a bit uninspired in concept, and the plot is structured well, centering around a strong heroine. Celaena arrives fully formed, with a past mysterious enough to be interesting while still explained enough for clarity. I enjoyed the balance and scope of this novel, as it’s the first in a series, and I look forward to reading the sequel. 4/5 stars.
Convicted assassin Celaena Sardothien has survived for a year in the salt mines, a place criminals are sent to die, usually within mere months. A chance for freedom comes in the form of Crown Prince Dorian, who has chosen to sponsor her in the contest to become King’s Champion, a shadowy royal assassin. She journeys to the royal palace and trains under the tutelage of Dorian’s friend and guard, Chaol Westfall, before embarking on a months long competition against cruel soldiers, thieves, and assassins to become the Champion.
Shortly after the competition begins, one competitor after another is found brutally murdered and Celaena begins to find evidence of old, outlawed magic everywhere in the castle. When she investigates, she soon discovers that her destiny is tied to hunting the evil that dwells within the castle.
The Pointy Elephant in the Room
I hate the vast majority love triangles. I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again. They’re lazy; they’re the fastest, most obvious way to drive conflict in a romance-based plot and their outcomes are usually painfully obvious from the get-go. I still think that as a general rule, but this love triangle has some potential. All three characters are complex enough to make things interesting, with weaknesses and conflicting loyalties that can provide some interesting plot points as the series moves forward. This one also features the two men as friends long before the woman enters the picture, which strengthens it as well, adding extra angst to the compulsory jealousy. Each love also has unique internal challenges and is unique overall. How she feels with each man is different, in experience not in strength.
I do feel, however, that there is a predictable outcome to this love triangle. One of the love stories is much more star-crossed than the other, and it did manifest first. Both are good indicators of being the final winner, but I do think that there is potential here to go some other way. I hope it does, and I will reserve final judgement on this love triangle until I’ve finished the series. Point is, I don’t hate it, and I think it will be interesting to see it play out, so good job Ms. Maas.
Let Me Climb Off the Soapbox for a Moment
The plot was not all love triangle, so I should probably talk about it as well. It was pretty standard fantasy fare: tyrant king at war with the world plus an unlikely hero and a side of court intrigue. We’ve all read some version of it before, but it is well executed here. Each scene comes to life with descriptions that are effective without dragging on and on. Celaena is a believable heroine; she has a long and complicated past that involved years of training in her profession as an assassin. Her strength and experience are truly hard-won, something that I think makes her stand out from other heroes of her genre
The mystery bit of the plot was a bit thin and obvious, though maybe that’s just me after watching too many crime dramas (Suspect all the wrong people for a long while, turns out to be the guy you thought it was in the first five minutes.) Celaena’s got a lot to learn about observance and logic, I thought. Certain things were just too easy to figure out for me and not for her.
Pretty much everything else was good. The world-building was consistent and coherent, the pacing was fine. This was a series opener that struck a strong balance between explanation and events, creating a good story between its covers, but leaving plenty of loose ends for the series to go on. So many other series have boring first books or uninspired sequels, but I bet that won’t happen to this series. I also really liked the changing perspectives. Using third person can be distancing sometimes, but this was one case where it really frees up the story to be explored from so many different angles, helping, rather than hurting, character empathy.
Fans of high fantasy and YA romance will love this, as it fits firmly in both genres. There’s a good deal of mystery within the castle walls too, so if you like medieval court drama style fiction (Philippa Gregory and the like), you also may like this, even if you are not usually much of a fantasy reader. This is a fantasy-romance-mystery-drama that is strongly constructed and written well with plenty of room for growth in future installments. I look forward to Crown of Midnight and whatever comes after for Celaena and her friends and beaus.
- From Z to A: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (fromatozbooks.wordpress.com)
- Friday Favorite: (yaforever.wordpress.com)
- Sarah Maas (crazyinlouisiana.wordpress.com)