Tuesday, October 28, 2014

BOOK REVIEW | Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Okay, I've been meaning to post my reviews on both Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight for awhile.  As most of you know, I didn't enjoy either and am currently reading Heir of Fire.   I reviewed this book back in 2013, but I'm tweaking it a bit to make it more appropriate/verbalize my thoughts better.

One sentence summary: Throne of Glass is about an assassin named Celaena - who is now in a slave labor mine due to a betrayal - that is propositioned by the Prince of her Kingdom to fight in a tournament that will determine who the next King's Champion will be.

When I initially began reading Throne of Glass, I slogged through about 20% of it and was so unimpressed that I thought it would be a very rare DNF.  But I was determined.  So many people were raving about this that I kept convincing myself to read more.  When I realized there were novellas, I thought that I would try to read them in order to establish the universe more.  (This is already very telling of how weak I find the world building to be.  You should never have to read a novella because you can't make it through the novel.)

 After my four star review of The Assassin and the Empire, I was really hoping that returning to the actual book would be a more positive experience. The novellas cemented the world that Maas had created for me and I felt prepared to tackle the novel itself again; they also proved that she is a very capable storyteller. Unfortunately, I think the novel just can't compare to the atmosphere created by her shorter works.

The first thing that bothered me was the fact that the world worships a Goddess who has gods as her consorts, yet treats women as inferior. I cannot wrap my mind around this. Technically, women should be more powerful than they are because cultures and religion are almost one in the same: one always mimics the other. I started trying to justify it, thinking maybe it was one of those things where the gods were more important and the Goddess was more how we consider Mother Earth to be, but no, it's more important.  She seems to be the most important deity.  They have a High Priestess who runs church services... church services.  As I mentioned before, religion and culture are so intertwined that to have a woman be the leader of a religious aspect of the world, but not in a secular aspect truly makes no sense (and is normally the other way around). Also, the fact that she has consorts, which means that the gods are inferior to her... I see no reflection of this whatsoever in the cultural attitudes of the people.  This is a world-building mistake that I think most people will be able to get over, but it really bothered me. 


(An example of well-done inclusion of culture and religion is A Game of Thrones.  The religion changes the culture - or the culture changes the religion - depending on what the person believes in: the Great After, The Old Gods, R'hllor, The Seven, etc.)

The second thing to bother me was this: the lack of mention of Sam. After reading the novellas and learning about this character named Sam who played a very important role, this didn't make sense to me. I also had a problem with Dorian, the main love interest.  


Warning: There is a bit of a love triangle in this story.  
 Disclaimer: I didn't find it to be annoying. 

Even though I didn't find the love triangle itself annoying, I did find the interest in Dorian to be distracting from the story and an unnecessary story arc.  She immediately pounces on the opportunity to be in a relationship with him because he likes books and is handsome.  I expect a bit more caution from someone who is an assassin.

Speaking of being an assassin... why was there so little murder or assassinations in this novel?  There were so many passages telling me about how perfect Celaena was: she could play piano, she was beautiful, she was intelligent, she was witty, she was the best assassin ever... which makes me wonder what kind of second-rate assassins she must have been running with because, seriously, why the hell wasn't there any assassinations happening?  Show.  Don't tell.  I don't care how much you hit me over the head with Celaena's bad assery, if I never see it, it doesn't exist. 

I also had some trouble figuring out who was narrating. There were many times when it was a close third person narration of Dorian or Chaol, the other main male character, but then something would happen and the narration would say that the narrator didn't see it. If the narrator didn't see it, then how could the reader see it? I can think of a particular moment when it is Dorian who is narrating the chapter, but something happens behind his back that Chaol sees.  If Dorian didn't see it, how did I learn about it in that chapter?  Who is narrating that scene? I think part of the reasons Maas' novellas were so strong in their narration was that they were solely through Celaena's eyes. Switching between narrators can be done and I tend to like books more when there is more than one narrator, however the multiple narrations in this novel were executed poorly.
 

Creating an entirely new world is a struggle and I congratulate Maas for being able to come up with some really creative plot points and details.  I like that she includes other races, which is a rarity in YA books. I like that two girls can talk to each other and be friends without all the cliche girl-hate.  Thank you, Maas, for that!  It's very needed in the YA world.

I originally ended this on a different note, but I have deleted the ending of my original review because I'm not sure who I would recommend this to anymore.  I suppose all I can say is that most people seem to enjoy it, but I just can't bring myself to overlook what I find to be glaring holes in her world building and narration.

And now you know what I dislike about Throne of Glass.  I'll upload my Crown of Midnight review tomorrow, but that one will take a bit more re-working than this one did.  I was pretty angry after I finished that one...

20 comments:

  1. I was also really hoping to enjoy this novel. However, I didn't even nearly finish it. I tried very hard to get into it, but was unable to do so. I thought maybe it was just me being in a reading slump, but I picked up another book and flew through that one in a day. Maybe in a few years when all the books are out I'll try again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, wow, it was a DNF for you? Maybe you had some of the same issues I did, then. :/

      Delete
  2. I dived into Throne of Glass having pretty high expectations as well, (because of all the hype) and was left a bit disappointed. Well, I enjoyed the story, but I wasn't as blown away as every else seemed to be. I have all of the books, but I haven't continued on with the series just yet. I'm trying to wait until I get a better control on these review copies before I marathon the series. I heard that her character, the writing, the world, etc gets better once the story continues on, so hopefully that's true.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I got a bit lucky and started reading it before the hype, but by the time I finished it, the hype was real. (Which shows you how long it took me to finish it, lol.. >_>)

      I've heard that too, but I actually disliked the second book more than the first. :(

      Delete
  3. I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy this as much as you'd hoped :(
    As for the whole religion-culture thing, I hadn't really noticed that before! I might've briefly thought about it while I was reading, but it definitely isn't something I remember now xD Thank you for pointing it out! I might be forgetting some details, but I don't think Maas meant for women to be portrayed as overall inferior. I think Celaena was just considered lowly because she proclaimed to be an assassin, which (even if they have a female supreme Goddess) can still be viewed as a job better fit for males.
    I love Nehemia. Not just her character, but as you pointed out, also that she brings racial diversity and doesn't hate Celaena just because they're both smart/attractive girls.
    Great review overall! You were far more critical than me (my review was something like: omg Chaol *fans self*) and had some excellent observations :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't remember if it's the first book or the second book, but Celaena states how women can't hold rank in politics because of their sex. So, women are definitely treated as inferior.

      As for Nehemia, didn't they have a different religion where she was from? It was definitely a different culture.

      I reeeeallllyyyy liked Nehemia, too. Maas did great work with her.

      Thank you! :D

      Delete
  4. hello my pretty doll:)
    hmmm such an interesting post! I love read so you canbe sure I`llread this book, thank you so much for sharing. Now willbe a lot of colddays so books and tea is my favourite opction for winter :)
    i just followed you too :)
    keep in touch :) and have an inspiring day!
    muaa!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'll try to read Throne Of Glass so that I can have my own opinion on it. But a assassin that spend most of her time not doing her job put me off. Besides, I hate it when a character's qualities are throw in your face constantly.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The first time I heard about this series was because of Regan of PeruseProject and I ordered the book though I didn't read it and is still unread on my bookshelf? Why? Because there are mixed opinions about it and I'm afraid. The premise looks so good but a lot of people say the second one is a huge improvement so I don't know what to do.
    Thanks for this review and your honesty, and I'll be looking forward to reading your Crown of Midnight review to make up my mind and read the book =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh boy, I actually really hated Crown of Midnight, whereas I tolerated this one. :( I'm slugging through Heir of Fire because of uni so I'm still undecided. The general consensus is that most people like it, though. I think it depends on what annoys you in books as to whether or not you'll enjoy it!

      Delete
  7. I felt the same way about Throne of Glass! I went into ot excited because of all the hype and was disappointed. The overall story was good, but it was really lacking in world building. I felt the same way about Celaena being an assassin but we never saw it and I talked about that in my review. The second book is way better and fleshes some things out, but I think there is still some world building to do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually had a HUGE issue with the second book. While she fixed some of the narration problems, there were new problems thrown in, and the anthropological issue is even more highlighted. At least we get to see Celaena actually be an assassin, though. Because, you know, she is one, lol.

      Delete
  8. I haven't read Throne of Glass yet, but I think I'd have been puzzled about a Goddess who actually treats her female human worshippers as inferior to men... I guess time will tell. Great review, Jules :)
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's more that the interpretation of the religion is lost in the culture... or something. I don't know. It was a weird thing, lol.

      Thanks! :)

      Delete
  9. Just wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the Liebster Award! Congrats! You can check out my post here: Love at First Write

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh wow! There are a lot of people who love this, and very very few people who don't. So it was interesting to see things from your perspective. I want to try this trilogy and have it on my TBR, but now I won't have as high expectations in case the holes in the story bother me as well.

    Check out my latest book review: http://olivia-savannah.blogspot.nl/2014/11/a-thousand-pieces-of-you-review.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Olivia! I think it's just best to enter into with an open mind. I try not to get hyped about books because I don't want to place them on a pedestal before I've even read it. Sometimes it just makes the reading experience lack luster.

      Delete