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Book Nook: ‘Throne of Glass’

“Throne of Glass” is a young adult high fantasy novel about a teenage assassin, Celaena, who has been given a life sentence in prison and tries to win her freedom via a combat tournament. Although I enjoyed the novel, I wanted more from it.

The two best parts of the book were Celaena and her best friend Nehemia. Celaena is an intelligent, strong and witty young woman. The novel’s third-person omniscient narration, mostly through Celaena’s point of view, was a great choice. I was excited to learn more about her backstory and the clever ways in which she plotted against her opponents. Nehemia, the rebel princess from another kingdom that Celaena befriends throughout the novel, is mysterious and powerful. She’s incredibly intelligent, so seeing the way she navigates spying on her enemies is also very intriguing. I was very invested in these two and they kept me interested in the novel.

Another strong point is the plot. It’s fast-paced and engaging. Celaena is constantly coming into conflict with the people around her, whether it’s other competitors or members of the aristocracy. She occasionally unveils the kingdom’s secrets and learns more about her past. I felt very absorbed in these events.

I found the world building somewhat engaging but slightly disappointing. The book lays the groundwork for the entire series, but it can’t stand on its own. There’s rich potential that isn’t explored in-depth, and there are too many loose ends.

The novel paints a picture of a medieval fantasy kingdom that was once shaped by magic. Non-human fantasy races, like faeries, used to live alongside humans; however, magic has disappeared entirely from the land as a result of the tyrannical king’s decree. The mechanics of this disappearance aren’t really explored. There are several other kingdoms that the evil king has conquered, but most are not explored in-depth. There’s some form of religion involving high priestesses and different Gods which feels reminiscent of Roman mythology, but this isn’t expanded upon by the author. Ancient pseudo-magical marks called “wyrdmarks” play a major role in the book’s story. They keep appearing at the scene of serial murders of different competitors in the tournament. Celaena tries to learn more about the Wyrdmarks to prevent her own death at the hands of the mystery killer, but their origin and how they work still feels unclear by the end of the novel. The book’s setting is largely confined to the two castles in which the tournament takes place, and as a result, mainly explores aristocratic side characters. The world of “Throne of Glass” is interesting at face value but feels too much like it’s setting up its sequel.

I found it hard to care about the romance subplot. Neither love interests felt like they had chemistry with Celaena. Due to their ulterior motives and confusion about their feelings toward her, neither of them seemed like trustworthy or legitimate suitors. This subplot also felt like it was setting up a sequel, even though the book spent a lot of time on it.

I enjoyed reading “Throne of Glass” and I will definitely read the sequel. It’s a great book to read for fun, even if it has its faults.

Title: Throne of Glass

Author: Sarah J. Mass

Published by: Bloomsbury Publishing

Shamrocks: 4 out of 5