Normally, I like to begin my reviews with a picture of the book I’m reviewing but, frankly, I don’t ever want to look at this book again. I finished reading it three days ago but I’ve avoided writing this review because it meant I would have to do so. Despite being a young adult novel, Throne of Glass took me longer than I would have expected to finish, and that was because I read a few chapters, despaired of how horrible it was, read two books (Underground and My Life as Emperor) to avoid going back to it, before forcing myself to finish it before I read anything else. I read 366 pages in a day simply to get it over with.
‘You’re being overdramatic,’ I hear you cry. ‘It can’t have been that bad, surely?’ You, my friends, did not have to read this. 404 pages of barely competent writing, poor worldbuilding, ridiculous plotting, and dreadful characterisation… I was honestly ready to give up on the second page but, as I said to Mon who gave me this dare ‘I will not fail you, though I will complain the whole time’. At some point, one character states that ‘I am not one inclined to sit through pages of nonsense and bloated speech’ – the author clearly did not realise that was exactly what she was writing.
I’m procrastinating again, aren’t I? Why was this book so bad? How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways…
‘Perhaps he truly didn’t find her attractive. The possibility of it stung more than she would have liked.’
The plot, what little there is of it, follows an assassin called Celaena Sardothien, a teenage girl who is freed from slavery in the salt mines to compete to become the King’s Champion. Oh, but she is not just any assassin. She is the best ever assassin in the entire history of assassins, she is famous, she is feared, she is ‘frighteningly smart’, she can fight with any weapon handed to her, she is sassy, she is strong and, of course, she is very pretty. So pretty, in fact, that every man loves her – of course, she is involved in a love triangle with the captain of the guard and the Crown Prince – and all the women are envious of her. We learn on page two ‘she had been attractive once, beautiful even, but – well, it didn’t matter now, did it?’, and that is just the beginning of incessant references to our protagonist’s appearance. She cringes about her dirty nails, tries to stop herself preening ‘but failed miserably’, complains about how small her breasts are, curses her restrictive corset, complains about certain clothes she is given and flaunts others – ‘ She couldn’t blame them; the dress was spectacular. And she was spectacular in it’ – can’t bear the ‘agony of wet shoes’… I could go on, but I’ll spare you the pain. For a hardened assassin who had toiled as a slave in the mines, she acts like a spoilt, bratty princess – and the author has to remind us every other sentence that she is an assassin, because we are shown no evidence of her profession.
‘Dorian peeled himself from the wall. For all her assassinating experience, she didn’t notice him until he sat down on the bench beside her.’
You’ll notice I haven’t said anything more about the plot, or about any of the other characters. That is because they’re only there, plot and character, to show how amazing our protagonist is. The plot is designed to show how amazing she is at fighting, but that she also loves to read and play the pianoforte because she’s not like other women at court or other brutish assassins for that matter. With regards to characters, the prince and the captain of the guard are in both love with her – ‘As sweaty as she was, she was beautiful’ – the foreign princess is her only friend and thinks she’s wonderful, some courtiers want to kill her but their plans are foiled… Oh, and most of them have really silly names – there is a woman in this book called Phillipa Spindlehead. No, I am not joking. At one point the ‘legendary sword of Gavin’ is mentioned. No offence to anyone named Gavin but… really? Yes, I am summarising a lot here, but that’s what the author does…
‘The new murder cast a pall over the next two weeks, and the two Tests they brought with them. Celaena passed the Tests – stealth and tracking – without drawing much attention to herself or risking her neck to save anyone.’
When you’re summarising the more ‘exciting’ parts of your plot in order to have more ‘will they, won’t they?’ scenes with the oh so wonderful assassin and the prince she’s meant to hate, or more descriptions of the exact material and colour of her dresses, or such delightful imagery as snowflakes crashing to the ground and clouds putting on their shoes – that’s when you should realise you have a problem. When the plot does eventually sort of turn up there’s a demon that’s defeated in less than a page, a character conveniently shows up just at the right moment to save another, there’s a deus ex machina near the end of the book when the spirit of a long-dead queen appears to save our heroine – and just when you think the plot is tied up neatly, no, there’s still around thirty pages left. I understand why, I mean, with such riveting passages as this one…
‘She bit into an apple. It was tart, with a sweet, honey-like aftertaste. “Oh? And what books do you love?” He named a few, and she blinked. “Well, those are good choices – for the most part. What others?” she asked, and somehow, an hour flew by, carrying them on the wings of conversation.’
It is all so utterly pointless, frivolous and, frankly, stupid. I say stupid because I have saved the ‘best’ for last. I wanted to quote this part in full. Bear in mind this is the best assassin ever in the history of the universe we’re talking about here.
“Candy!” A large paper bag sat on a pillow, and she found that it was filled with all sorts of confectionary goodies. There was no note, not even a name scribbled on the bag. With a shrug and glowing eyes, Celaena pulled out a handful of sweets. Oh how she adored candy!
Celaena issued a jolly laugh and crammed some of the candy into her mouth. one by one, she chewed through the assortment, and she closed her eyes and breathed in deeply as she tasted all of the flavors and textures.
When she finally stopped chewing, her jaw ached. She emptied the contents of the bag onto the bed, ignoring the dunes of sugar that poured out with it, and surveyed the land of goodness before her.
All her favorites were there: chocolate-covered gummies, chocolate-almond bark, berry-shaped chews, gem-shaped hard sugar, peanut brittle, plain brittle, sugarlace, frosted red licorice, and, most importantly, chocolate. She popped a hazlenut truffle into her mouth.
“Someone,” she said in between chews, “is very good to me.”
Either that or they’re trying to poison you, you incompetent waste of space. If that passage didn’t convince you not to read Throne of Glass, I don’t know what will. Avoid this book like the plague. Don’t even try to hate-read it like I did – consider this review your warning. At one point a character threatens to rip another’s eyes out – I would gladly rip my own out rather than read any more of this drivel.