Synopsis: Trained assassin Calaena Sardothien is enslaved in the Salt Mines of Endovier when she is summoned by the Crown Prince of Adarlan to take part in a contest of sorts that the King is putting on. The winner of the contest becomes the King’s Champion and must then work for the king for a few years before being freed. While taking part in the contest, something evil lurks in the Glass Castle and Calaena must stop it.
Review: I almost gave up on this book within the first thirty pages. Calaena was just kind of irritating in that beautiful, arrogant, obnoxious, everything-she-does-is-perfect way, and I really couldn’t see myself liking the book. But then I decided that I should give it one more chapter**, and I got hooked.
Throne of Glass is the first in the wildly popular series of the same name, and focuses on Calaena, who was taken from her family at a young age and then trained to be an assassin. She turns out to be an excellent assassin, and becomes very famous. Then she is enslaved and this is where the story begins. The King sends his son, Dorian Havilliard, and his Captain of the Royal Guard, Chaol Westfall, to get Calaena. If you are already a little confused due to the names, it doesn’t get any better/easier. One of my issues with this book was that I couldn’t ever figure out how to pronounce Calaena’s name (or Chaol’s), and there were many outlandish names, Kaltain Rompier, Philippa Spindlehead, and Theodus Brullo to name a few.
Calaena is supposed to be in the castle incognito. She uses an alias, Lillian Gordaina, but … everyone still calls her Calaena. And with everyone calling her Calaena (in public, where lots of people are listening in), she is still surprised when someone guesses who she is, and it was just off. For a trained assassin I expected a bit more street smarts.
But, with annoyances aside, I did actually like this book! It was serious enough without being overblown, it was scary without being terrifying, with creatures from another realm, and it was sweet without being overly so. There is a bit of a love triangle, and I am still not sure who I should be rooting for. Should Calaena love a member of the family she hates, or should she love the kind, loyal Captain of the Guard? I actually don’t know that I really care just yet, but I think I might once I get a few more books into the series.
Character wise I really liked Nehemia, the Princess of Eyllwe. She’s rumored to be associated with the rebels, and I liked her storyline. I also liked Chaol, the Captain of the Royal Guard. He was kind and brave, and just really seemed like a nice guy. And by the end of the book I had warmed up to Calaena, although I’m not entirely sure that I like her just yet, but at least she wasn’t irritating me as much as in the beginning.
I think that many of my issues with the book will disappear when I read the next installments, which I do plan on reading. I’ve put them all on order from the library, and I’m not in any particular rush to read what happens next, but I think this series has great promise, and I know a lot of people really love it. I’m cautiously optimistic for the next books.
Bottom Line: Minor quibbles with characterization and plot, but this series has definite promise and sucked me in despite my misgivings.
This book reminded me of:
- The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins – A competition to the death for sport. A girl with the ability to kill. A love triangle. A society under evil domination.
- The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer – So many similarities between these series. Throne of Glass feels far more complex, but The Lunar Chronicles is more fun.
**For those interested, the chapter that hooked me is the one where Calaena is en route to the castle, and they stop in the forest for the night, and when Calaena wakes up someone has left flowers at her feet. Something about that scene just hit me where there are people (?magical beings?) out there who believe in her, and there is obviously more to her than just being a skilled assassin. I just really liked that scene.