Saturday, October 31, 2015

Throne of Glass: Book Review

Heyo! Yandere Panda here!

*in a sing song voice FOR THE FIRST TIME IN FOREVEERRRRR... Haha, jk. 

Okay, so this will be my first book review of the first book in a more recent series. I just finished it, and thought "Oh, hey! Why not make a blog post! It pertains to the blog theme in general! Wooh! Yippeee! Toodaloo! Fruity doody doo!"

Ahem... *coughs

Oh, right uh... To the review!

Throne of Glass: General Premise

 As a writer myself, I tend to be more critical when it comes to written work, and will call things as I see it after analyzing, and it was my pleasure to come across this book, after stumbling upon it at my local library. 

Throne of Glass is a YA fantasy novel, the first in the series of the same name.

This illustration just screams "Chuck Norris Bada**ery"

The book follows Celaena Sardothien, an assassin in a fictional world, set in the kingdom of Ardalan, a kingdom that is ruled by a tyrant that has banned magic. (Whatta jerk. Must be a muggle or something.) She is famous for what she does, and a year prior to the story, was captured and sent to the Great Salt Mines of Endovier for punishment.

In the Great Salt Mines, she was forced into inhumane, slave labor where guards would whip the prisoners very harshly and abuse them on a daily basis, leaving them with little food, and terrible living conditions. The conditions of the place were so bad, that even surviving for a few weeks was lucky. Due to a year of being in these living conditions, Celaena was stuck in a weakened state, and obviously nowhere near as powerful as she was in her Assassin days, with scars all over her and painful memories.

Lucky for her, the Crown Prince of Adarlan, Dorian comes by and offers her freedom from the mines, but on one condition: she must become his champion in a competition for being the Royal Assassin of Adarlan. She must fight twenty-three other contestants, consisting of warriors, thieves, and killers. If she wins, she will serve as the King of Ardalan's assistant for four years, and then will be free. If she loses, she will return to the Salt Mines. She agrees to enter this competition, and is escorted by the Captain of the Guards, Chaol, to the Glass Castle, where the competition is being held.

We also find out a bit more about Celaena's background. She didn't choose to be an assassin, she had no choice. It is revealed that Celaena is from the kingdom of Terrasen, and her parents were killed when she was little, being traumatized by it (as revealed later). After her parents were killed, the King of the Assassins, Arobynn, rescued her and gave her an option: either to end up as an orphan on the streets or to be taught the ways of the Assassin and repay him in the future. She chose the latter option, and the King of the Assassins became the closest thing she had to a parent, being brought to a keep, and trained amongst other people. She's slain her first victim at the age of nine years old, and also dealt with a lot of hardship along the way. At this point, and throughout the book, we still do not know how she got captured and the exact background of the whole thing, but supposedly it is explained in the e-Reader prequels and the sequels after.

In addition, it is also hinted that she has a connection to magic, but nothing is really revealed, as the King ruled out magic, destroyed magical beings, and just created a ton of hardship in her life, in general, as His Majesty had a role in having her separated from her home. And now she's stuck with the possibility of working for him, but only if she survives this competition. Now I know the competition part with the fight of the death sounds a lot like Hunger Games and Battle Royale, but there's so much more to it. This book has a few similarities to other popular books, but there's just so much going on at once in the story, which makes it more unique. (Now THAT, is inspiration from different books done right. I'm looking at YOU, Divergent. You could use a few tips. *dodges bullets from the fangirls. Yes, THIS is how you dodge a bullet, Tris.)

Thank you, thank you. *holds up wine glass with Kool-Aid in it and does that Leo smirk thing.

They finally arrive at the Glass Castle, and Celaena is given a luxurious bedroom, clothing, food, and a wonderful selection of beautiful clothing. It turns out that our sassy, arrogant, sarcastic main heroine has quite the feminine side to her, being fond of clothing, reading, and playing the piano. She goes under a codename in the competition, so nobody else knows about her being the Queen of Assassins, besides Chaol, Dorian, King, and the servants. Her alias is Lillian, a Jewel Thief, much to her dismay. Later on, she meets the other twenty-three competitors. 

Over the course of nine weeks, the competitors will train with their respective trainers and tests will be conducted every so often, to knock out contestants, until four remain, and will duel by the time nine weeks is over. People will go home or die if they lose. The winner of the duel will become the King's Assassin. Chaol, her trainer person tells Celaena to lay low and not reveal her identity as a strategic maneuver, which annoys our prideful heroine to no end. She's far too full of pride to want to appear weaker than the rest of her competition. Which is understandable, I mean anyone who's known as the best of something would probably act in the same way, if they were thrown into her situation prior to the story, and then forced to act like one of the weakest competitors while the other contestants taunt her mercilessly for being "pathetic". 

As the weeks pass by, we see some development with the relationships of Celaena with Dorian and Chaol. With her witty, facetious nature, she tends to bicker with them a lot, but we definitely see growth between them all. At first, we see some physical attraction from the dudes towards Celaena, as Celaena is said to be very beautiful. Anyway, Chaol and Celaena interact a lot in this book, as he is her advisor and trainer and he finds out a decent amount about her, even though he started off distrusting her as an assassin. Their feelings end up growing for each other, even though Chaol doesn't want to admit them at all. Dorian and Celaena don't interact nearly as much, but when they do, there's definitely banter and more physical attraction and their feelings grow for each other. Ooh! Love triangle!

Alright, I know what some of you guys are thinking. YA Fiction? Love Triangle? Seriously? Lol, well a ton of forms of entertainment have love triangles nowadays. It's a norm. And this one, is actually pretty well developed. Chaol and Dorian are childhood friends and it's interesting to see their interaction with one another. Also, we get to see the relationships with Celaena on both sides and how they differ. Dorian is a prince who is kind and highly disagrees with the deeds that the King has done and spends the first book wondering what he should do about it, as he's powerless to stop the King. He chose Celaena as his competitor, as a form of rebellion towards his father and then ultimately fell in love with her. She's different from the noble ladies that he's courted, she provides more insight into the state of the kingdom and brought a different perspective onto his life. I know that sounds a tad cliche, but there's definitely a lot more to it, once you read the book and see it for yourself. Also, things get a lot more complicated in the second book, so I hear. With Chaol, he started off highly distrusting her, always mocking and teasing her, but still carried out his job and trained Celaena. Over time, he starts to find out more about her background and starts to trust her and eventually have feelings for her, but doesn't really realize it till later. Now, this is a love triangle done right. We see development on both sides, we don't really know who she will end up with, and we can see it happening for either of them. Way better than a certain "love triangle" I blogged and ranted about before. *cough

Along the way, we find out a bit more of the competition and a few other characters. This big, muscular, powerhouse is Celaena's main competitor. Cain, a shower bag who always taunts people, but is well loved by the other contestants, because of his strength and natural fighting abilities. Celaena also gets an ally, named Nox. He's a kind thief, and they help each other in the competitions. Throughout the book, I sincerely wished for the poor kid to not die. This noble, satanic woman, named Kaltain is also thrown into the story. She's thirsty for Dorian, but there's far more to her. As the secondary antagonist, she basically is there to find out more about the true identity of "Lillian" and will stop at nothing to mess with the competition. Celaena also gets another ally, Princess Nehemia, from the kingdom of Eyllwe. Nemehia was sent to Adarlan, to learn the ways of the kingdom, or so we're told. She secretly aids the slaves and rebels of her kingdom, as they are going through corruption as well. She's witty and arrogant as well, but sensible and kind, becoming Celaena's closest companion.

As the competition goes on, some of the people in the contest start to die off, one by one, mysteriously in the castle. The deaths are brutal too, having their organs ripped out, limbs dismembered, etc. Then, Celaena discovers these strange, magical markings around the castle and ends up having strange dreams. She then discovers more and more secrets of the kingdom and the castle itself, and soon, it is up to her to stop the growing threat and win the competition... Before it's too late. Many twists and turns happen, and some of the supporting characters have a far bigger role than you think, later on.

The Review

Although this book is not perfect, there were definitely aspects about it that impressed me, a person who is generally not fond of YA novels, ever since books like Divergent started copying off of each other with their cliches and badly written narratives.

Let's start off with Celaena Sardothien. Overall, I definitely saw her as a well-written character. She's complex, has strengths and flaws, and has a very large role in the story, especially in later books as we find out more about her. But this review, will mainly be analyzing her character in the first book. Celaena was my favorite character, and potentially could be on my "Top Female Characters List". Whether she will or not, will depend on how good of a character she is in the later books. Anyway, I just loved the backstory of Celaena. 

She's an assassin, but there's so much more to it. Being from another kingdom and not much being revealed about her time there, waking up with the blood of her dead parents on her at the age of eight, being taken in by Arobynn, and trained as an assassin in the Assassin's Keep. At a young age, she experienced much hardship and trauma. She mentioned to Chaol that one time, Arobynn stated that she needed to be good with a sword with her left hand, as she was mainly right handed. To do so, Arobynn gave her the option: either he would break her right hand or she will do it herself. And that's exactly what she did. Then, she mentioned to have lost a lover prior to the story, and then was brought to the Great Salt Mines. There, she was whipped over twenty times when she first arrived. She almost didn't make it, but a slave girl gave her some salve. The next day, the slave girl was raped and murdered by the guards right in front of her. Celaena continued to go through crap like this, and one day she had it. She tried to escape the place and murdered twenty-three of the guards who treated the prisoners and slaves so horribly. Unfortunately, she failed to escape, after coming close. Even after being relocated to the Glass Castle, she dealt with traumatic nightmares and still has the scars on her body. We also know that she has some connection to magic, but that's not expanded upon until later books. So we see now, that she's so much more than your typical female assassin who is powerful.

I mean, it makes a whole lot of sense for her to be an extremely powerful assassin if she was trained by the best one in the land from a young age. She has knowledge of turning anything into a weapon, knows her poisons, and is a capable battler though she's definitely weaker than before due to malnutrition and being beat up all the time. She also loves to read and is miraculously good at the piano. Though the latter didn't make too much sense to me, but whatever, I guess it's supposed to add onto her character? However, one thing that bugged me about this book was the fact that it kept saying that she was "beautiful", over and over again. Like, we get it, we got it after the first few times. And the constant suitors vying for her attention whenever she dresses up in a pretty gown. It just got really repetitive. The flirting and physical attraction aspects to her relationships with the two dudes kinda bugged me also, as that was also repetitive. Though I do like the flaws that she has. Troubles with the trauma, being very slobby and unladylike at times, her wit and arrogance. I liked the sassy banter between her and the other characters as it added a lot of humor and it made her character more interesting. The arrogance was understandable, as she truly was one of the best, and hey, no person is perfect. Flaws are good to see in a character, because nobody likes someone who's perfect in every aspect. *groans. Anyway, I kinda understand where she's coming from with the physical attraction towards Dorian and Chaol. She's a teenage girl, and it's nice to know that she's not some typical, stone-faced assassin who is immune to love while everyone else is pining for her. Assassin or not, she's still a teenage girl and I respect her liking towards clothing and attractiveness in people, as those things ultimately make her seem more relatable and human. I'd take that over some stone-faced assassin who is perfect at everything and is unrelatable to the audience. 

Though I find love triangles to be a little too common these days, this one to be more interesting and better developed. I liked Chaol and Dorian and I personally did not care too much about who she ended up with because I liked the interaction between the three. I liked Chaol because he was more complex, being a Captain of the Guards, tasked with dealing with an assassin of all people. Dorian came off to me as a stereotypical prince, at least at first. The charming, attractive, Adonis, who doesn't act much like a prince. But then, we start to see more to him, which is a common theme in this book, as you can see. Things are never what they appear to be, and everything has a lot more to it. Dorian doesn't know exactly everything that is going on in his kingdom and castle, but he clearly has an idea of what the King has been up to, and I'm anxious to see what happens in later books, because supposedly, he goes through a lot later on.

Nehemia was one of my favorites also. She ultimately had a role in helping Celaena with the magical aspect of the story. Her interaction and friendship with Celaena was a pretty great one, with development on both sides.

I also liked the roles of the antagonists in the story. The King, the Duke, Kaltain, and Cain. They all are connected through the secrets of the castle and the kingdom, connected to the magic somehow, which is yet to be explored in the later books. I also liked the connection between the King and Celaena and the role it played in the story. 

And now, we move onto the plot. Honestly, I loved the plot as a whole. There were multiple plots going on at once and I can tell that it's thought through very well. We have a deathly competition for a position in the kingdom, a love triangle, magical connections, the roles of the antagonists in the events, the mysterious deaths, the friendship between Nehemia and Celaena, Nehemia's role in the story, Celaena discovering what she was meant to do and be, etc all going on at once. It's a very complex, but a well-structured plot. And in the next book, we will find out more of Celaena's role in the series, her true connection to magic, and more about these mysteries of the kingdom. A good setup.

Overall, the plot, characters, dialogue, and development were very well written. But some of it falls short with the excessive descriptions and some issues with repeating aspects of Celaena's character that are overdone. I would give it a 4 out of 5, or at least a high 3, if possible. It's definitely not a 3 out of 5, as it is far better than that, but it is definitely not higher than a 4 out of 5 with the reasons being stated above. I enjoyed this book, and I actually finished the thing, which is unusual. Most of the time, I will drop the book some time through if it becomes too dragged out and boring or if something just sucks about it in general. What kept me going was definitely the complexity of the plot, the different twists in the story, and the interest in the main heroine. With that being said, I will definitely read the second book and see what I think about it.

Till then, good day, my fine people! And happy Halloween! I am spending mine watching old, kid movies like Nightmare Before Christmas and just chillin and reading up on what will happen in this series. Unlike most people, I actually like to look up what happens in stories, because I hate not knowing things and I also need to know what to expect, in case if I have to drop the series!

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