THRONE OF GLASS
(The condensed GoodReads version of my review is here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/556344528 )
The unofficial sequel to the Game of Thrones series, this tells the story of one of the single thrones fought over by the people of Westeros, for the kingdom in the far south, just east of Dorne. This kingdom first made its existence known in the series when it was mentioned that Flat-Face Pog of the Night’s Watch had come from there before he was brutally slaughtered by a zombie horse.
The Kingdom of Glass remained neutral during the War of the Five Kings, but it’s ruler, Lord Malbatrixavys, swiftly joined forces with Aegon the Pretender in the last book, trying to secure a marriage between his son Malvolio and Arianne Martell, whose own father Prince Doran was sure to side the same way—
Hahaha, not really, I made all that shit up. No, Throne of Glass is just another book I had to pick up after reading the glowing reviews. That and it has Sephiroth on the cover.
Well, I can’t say this will be a book where nothing happens, as within the first two paragraphs we learn that our hero, Celaena, is Ardalan’s most notorious assassin who’s been locked up in the salt mines of Endovier, and today a man in black has begun following her around. Looks like it’s our old friend exposition! I’ll get Dawn to put the kettle on…
Already I’m lead to ask why she’s not just executed, as it takes an ‘extra half dozen guards’ to escort her everywhere when they could be doing something useful. Is she just that good a miner? She must be, if she was so crap an assassin she got captured.
Well, the man in black is Chaol, Captain of the Royal Guard, and he spends some time leading Celaena through some corridors. She thinks about killing him and whether or not he might be a worthy opponent, because she’s hardcore.
She then goes on about the salt mines, and how they suck, and the different kinds of people you find there—the usual crowd, rebels, La Resistance, those oh-so persecuted magic users, then she thinks about how maybe she’s going to be executed, but I’m guessing that would mean the bad guys were actually smart, and how often does that happen?
But no, she’s been brought before… Dorian, the Crown Prince of Ardalan! Dun dun dun!
Celaena reacts to this surprise by thinking about how hot Chaol is. As you do. She refuses to bow because she’s hardcore, and instead gets thwown to the fwoor.
Apparently by a Duke. Who is then told he has a meeting with the treasurer. So, did the whole court come to this mine for this secret meeting? Or is the mine just right next door to the palace? Anyway, the Prince says there’s no point in making her bow, which prompts Celaena to think about her backstory, as adopted daughter of the King of Assassins. Assassins have a monarchy now?
Anyway, the Prince is totally hawt too, which annoys Celaena, because people she doesn’t like are supposed to be ugly. Then she thinks about how beautiful she is, just in case the audience was worried there.
They talk about how amazing an assassin Celaena is for a while (so amazing she got caught and sold into slavery), how many random guards she’s killed, blah, blah, blah.
And the Prince has a proposition for her. That’s all that happens in this chapter, but I suppose we have to make room for exposition this early on in the book.
The prince explains that his dear old dad wants Celaena to be his lackey, because he’s a moron. Celaena can’t let the prince get through a sentence without making a dumb quip to show she’s hardcore, and she got herself captured and thrown in a mine, so I don’t know why the king would want anything like this…
Well, I guess someone has to hold the idiot ball.
Oh, but it gets better! Because he’s a cartoon villain as well as an idiot, King Dumbass wants to hold a tournament to see who gets to be his champion. Yay, tournament book! Celaena’s competitors are all thieves and assassins (why thieves? Or are they just all assassins and some of them happen to steal stuff too?) but none of them are as famous as her (probably because they didn’t get their idiot selves captured).
But Celaena is still stupidly arrogant and complains about the king thinking he needs to test the great almighty her against others. Then she haggles for her freedom, and the prince stupidly agrees to lower her terms of contract from six to four years, even though he holds all the cards, and she agrees to enter the Hunger Games.
Celaena goes on and on about how she’s the most beautiful skeletal slave in all the mines, and pages of description ensue. Then to show us she’s a good guy, the prince’s dogs all like her. Celaena starts harassing Chaol by going on about how brilliant she is even though she’s only eighteen and trying to guess his backstory after he tells her to piss off.
My god. It’s Patch in female form! Run awaaaaaaay!
Celaena spends a few pages eating and lets the audience know how many jewels she’s heard of by comparing the leaves to them.
Leaves. Don’t. Work that way!
Somehow this reminds her of more of her backstory, which only embellishes what we’ve heard before by giving the king of assassins a name. Don’t worry—it’s a stupid one. Anyway the empire is evil because they burned down a bunch of trees and they hate magical creatures—never heard that one before, yawn. After the king banned magic, all the magic users disappeared, I guess because they were chicken. (Insert Goodkind reference here).
Two weeks of travelling later, Celaena wants to kill Chaol, either because he’s the descendant of her Nephilim vassal and his death will grant her the power to become human, or because she’s hardcore, there doesn’t seem to be an actual reason.
They reach the extremely tacky castle and Celaena remembers how the last time she was there she’d killed someone. She tells Chaol she was only captured because the other assassins were jealous of her brilliance and sold her out.
Suddenly POV switches to Prince Dorian, who goes on about how beautiful Celaena is (of course).
Ah, the perils of finding a book with an actual story. This is going to take a while, we’re not even 10% done. Celaena taunts Chaol about how easy it would be for her to escape, but doesn’t, because…
Then she sees some slaves and wangsts over the fact that slavery exists and is bad—well, that and the slaves might think she had something to do with it, and she wouldn’t want them to think badly of the wonderful noble her who used to free loads of slaves and stuff when she wasn’t killing people.
(Don’t worry, like all assassin protagonists I’m sure she only killed bad people)
When they reach the castle, Celaena is taken to her quarters (instead of a cell, why?) and makes a weapon out of hairpins. Then she gets fitted for some clothes and thinks about murdering the tailor for not listening to her no doubt brilliant suggestions. Then she thinks about murdering the woman sent to serve her because… she’s hardcore.
Then there’s a POV shift to Dorian, who’s hanging out with dear old dad so they can argue about… uh, stuff. Well, it’s more vague sniping. And then King Dumbass hits him. Ha ha.
Because everyone in the book is an idiot, they show Celaena around the castle so she can plot escape routes. They talk about Dorian’s brother Joffrey—uh, Hollin, who’s an Enfant Terrible, and Celaena points out a gargoyle that’s obviously important because of reasons. Chaol takes her to a library where—surprise, surprise—it’s revealed that Celaena is an avid reader. And no one else is, because none of them are as good as her.
Also because King Dumbass doesn’t let anyone else read them. But Celaena gets some books from Dorian anyway, I’m sure it’s all extremely important to the plot.
The next day she overhears some random woman call her a harlot and tries to murder her with a flower pot. Because she’s hardcore.
Celaena is finally taken to see King Dumbass.
Losing some of her hardcore-ness in the face of meeting the king, Celaena bows, ‘her skirts whispering’. Whispering? Is she hearing voices now as well?
Also the king’s sword is called Nothung. Not Hung. Lol.
Celaena surveys the competition, who are all ugly and stupid because she’s brilliant, except one guy who’s just kind of ordinary (and Most Definitely Not a Villain) and another who might be Gregor Clegane. The king announces how they’ll all be competing to be his champion, and Celaena wangsts that ‘champion’ is just a fancy way of saying ‘murderer’.
Uh, Celaena? What did you think an assassin was?
She whines about how evil the king is and how the people should revolt. Why don’t they revolt? Why are other countries losing to King Dumbass? Because of the reason.
Dorian shows up later for flirting tiems and to give Celaena her cover story (which was much more interesting than her actual story), but then some woman called Kaltain shows up to flirt with him and she and Celaena insta-hate each other. In her honour, Celaena spouts off some semi-misogynistic pseudo-feminism.
Celaena is woken up the next day by Chaol so she can complain some more. He in turn gives us this line:
“Stop whining. No one gives a damn about your clothes.”
Oh, Chaol; I think you’re my favourite character! Celaena goes back to thinking about killing people and Chaol continues to be as annoyed with her as I am. They have a sparring match in which Chaol somehow overcomes her Sue powers and wins, and Celaena goes all Sweeney Todd and refers to the weapons as her friends.
Scimitar. Training weapon of deceit. I love you./Dr. Z.
… no one will get that reference.
The master of weapons, Brullo, introduces himself to the champions. I’m sure his character will be integral to the plot. Then some of the other champions introduce themselves, and they’re all boring. Celaena goes all assassin-snob on them, whining that none of them would be allowed into the Assassin’s Guild because they’re not ‘refined’ enough.
She whines about how no one is basking in her murderous glory, and Chaol has to explain to her that that’s good, because it means they’ll underestimate her.
Then there’s a training montage.
Another Sue called Nehemia shows up the next day. Her personality is that she’s Princess Leia, and she and Celaena immediately become bff. They go on about how much King Dumbass’s kingdom sucks and how everything’s better where she comes from. (Again, if King Dumbass is really so crap compared to you, why is he winning?)
And then suddenly we get Chaol’s POV so he can worry about some of the dogs being eaten while being annoyed by Celaena, who bugs him constantly about what type of woman he likes.
…oh my god. Oh my god! You know what this means!?
Celaena is basketball coach guy from Hush, Hush! He’s after me again! Run, Chaol!
Oh god, finally—the quarter way mark. Shit, this is going to take twice as long as usual and I already hate it twice as much. Celaena is of the ilk of the classic Legomance Sues of my youth, assassins who never assassinate people and go on and on about their clothes all the time.
Curse you, basketball coach-guy!
So Celaena spends her time training and vomiting (is she bulimic or something now?) and whining about how no one’s paying her any attention, until one day Chaol fails to show up for training practice (almost as if the Captain of the Guard has other things to do!) and she talks to fellow competitor Nox about how one of their fellows was murdered.
Then there’s more training montage.
When we next see our hero she’s gone back to her usual past time of annoying Chaol, who isn’t busy investigating a murder because… he has to give his backstory to Celaena. It’s not very interesting. Celaena tells him about the time her idiot guardian decided she wasn’t a good enough assassin and broke her hand. Because he’s hardcore, I guess.
The first anti-climactic test for the champions is an archery competition—insert Katniss joke here. It’s all very boring and Celaena shows off even when she’s explicitly told not to because she’s hardcore.
Chaol asks Celaena about her scars so she can wangst about all the terribly tragic things that happened in the mine and how she killed some guards who raped and murdered a women who treated her scars and they didn’t kill her back because… they knew she was the main character. She tells Chaol they died too quickly, even though a few sentences earlier she said no one deserved to be whipped as she was, which means no one deserves to be whipped, but torturing people to death is a-okay?
Then some guy called Sven tries to escape and dies. I’m sure he was integral to the plot.
And now we’re with Dorian’s POV—haven’t seen him in a while. He goes on and on about the clothes his mother’s wearing today and she tries to convince him to get married. He’s disgusted by her ‘prejudice’ of being annoyed with Princess Leia—uh, Nehemia’s refusal to wear a dress she sent her. How is that prejudice? Because of the reason.
He goes on about how everything’s boring for a bit. God, I miss Maxon and his sweet stupidity. Then he watches Celaena, gushes over her Sue beauty and has a boring conversation with her. Then he tells Nehemia it’s not suitable for her to be with the champions, but because she’s such a good diplomat she tells him to piss off, and they somehow end up having a stupid fencing match.
Back with Celaena (joy of joys) she begins gushing over Dorian’s hotness as he spars with Nehemia. Chaol shows up to tell her to get da fuk out and she has a tantrum.
Suddenly we’re in Kaltain (the Dawn character)’s POV. She gossips with the Duke who thwew Calaena to the fwoor at the start of the book. We learn that she’s a ho who wants to be queen, that’s the kind of girl I like!
She manipulates the Duke against Celaena by telling him Dorian’s in love with her—what a horrible person! (Why couldn’t this book have been about her?)
Then we switch to Dorian and Chaol, as they discuss what a bad idea falling in love with Celaena is, even though we know they’re going to do it anyway. Also that one guy who was murdered is mentioned, but not a lot, because we need to make room for womance!
Celaena sits about wangsting over her old boyfriend Sam (Gamgee or Tarly?) and how he was betrayed too, and then died or something. Then Dorian shows up to listen to her play the piano, which—of course—she’s brilliant at. They have a boring conversation. A long, boring conversation with much sniping, whining, sanctimony, and all around Mary-Sue-ness.
The next test for the ‘champions’ is to scale the castle walls and get a flag. Celaena has tar on her hands, so it’s easy for her to grip the stone walls of the…
Wait, I thought the castle was made of glass?
Anyway, then some guy dies. No one cares.
Then another one of the assassins tries to kill that guy who was Most Definitely Not a Villain, but Celaena risks her life to save him because… she’s hardcore? No, that’s not even fake-hardcore, that’s just kind of dumb.
Celaena saves ‘Nox’ through the magic of bungee jumping, which I’m pretty sure doesn’t work that way, and complains about how she could have won because she’s so much better than everyone else, even though we’ve established quite firmly that showing off her skills is a bad idea.
Assassin guy isn’t punished even though it was said at the start that trying to kill the other champions would get you kicked out, but who cares about that when there’s sniping with Chaol to get through! Celaena makes Chaol feel sorry for her with her wangsty training from hell backstory, and demands an apology for being called a criminal.
And now they’re friends. Lovely.
Oh, and some other guy died too.