Bee and I got the opportunity to read ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses‘ a few months back, which meant we read Maas’s books in kind of the wrong order. Everyone loves the Throne of Glass series. Everyone loves Maas’s writing style and the fantasy setting. Well, when ACTR fell a little short of the mark, we didn’t know what to expect when it came to reading her debut. Thankfully, it was AMAZING. Here’s what we thought…
Once I’d read the first three chapters, I was already starting to draw comparisons with Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder, whose books take place in a similar world. (Come to think of it, a very similar world.) Similarity 1: The female protagonist is given an ultimatum. Similarity 2: She’s a killer. Similarity 3: The guy that’s training her falls in love with her. I felt reassured that TOG was so reminiscent of Poison Study, but was looking for something slightly more original.
The big driver of the plot is the competition to become the King’s Champion. Celaena had to battle a bunch of burly guys (who were also killers) to get top spot. Seeing as the latter 30% of ‘A Court of Thorns…’ comprised of Feyre having to complete different difficult tasks, I was starting to see a pattern.
I wasn’t really expecting TOG to have a lot of romance in it, to be honest. The cover portrays a kiss-ass girl with TWO swords, not TWO love interests. We’ve got Dorian, the prince and Chaol, the Captain of the Guard.
Maas has said that TOG was first based loosely upon Cinderella, so I was then expecting a relationship with the prince. They seemed to really like each other, but not everything about one another. I don’t know, I just didn’t really bond well with the couple. And, even more ACOTR comparisons: Cel falls in love with her captor (just like Feyre and Tamlin, in their Beauty and the Beast retelling.) Chaol doesn’t have much prominence within the book, but you know he’s interested in Cel due to his wistful and slightly jealous demeanour.
There’s no doubt that Celaena is a strong female character and her speech was sometimes witty. However, I thought she was slightly…(pause whilst I brace myself for the backlash!)…irritating. Oh gosh, I know, I’m sorry, but I just didn’t really….like her. I much preferred Nehemia and Philippa as characters, even though they only played minor roles in the story.
Obviously, with two books still to read, I could change my opinion. It might just be that Cel was adjusting to her situation and grieving over the death of Sam (I guess I’m going to have to read the short stories, now.) So, perhaps my opinion will change!
When the magical element was added to the book, I was intrigued and excited. I loved the idea of Cel getting given a task by a ghost queen, and definitely think that this will be a developed plot as the novels progress. It was interesting to see the contrast in ACOTR and TOG, because in ACOTR, magic is still a thing and I have a hunch that they happen within the same universe, just in different time zones! There’s a lot of potential for more magic, which will hopefully be done well, as the only thing I really had a problem with was the final battle between Cain and Cel. It seemed a little unrealistic and far-fetched. But, I knew that she would survive in order to make it into ‘Crown of Midnight’.
I also liked how I wasn’t overwhelmed by the map and the new world. That’s sometimes the thing that puts me off fantasy, having to concentrate on a new atmosphere and learn all the names of the cities and counties. But, TOG wasn’t too heavy-handed with its namedropping and weird character names: though how the heck do you pronounce Chaol?!
Overall, I’m going to give ‘Throne of Glass’ 4 stars. I thought it was an excellent fantasy, and, apart from Shadow and Bone, I haven’t really read much within the genre. TOG has definitely made me want to pick up so more hardcore fantasies, and perhaps encourage me to finish A Game of Thrones that I got half way through.