March 10, 2014

Ass-Kickers in Glass Slippers: an audiobook review of "Throne of Glass" by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass
by Sarah J. Maas
audiobook via Audible, Inc. (2013)
Running time: 12hrs. 47 min.

What if Cinderella was an assassin?

Okay, you have my attention.

That question is the inception of Sarah J. Maas' debut novel about an eighteen-year-old assassin recruited by a young prince to be his chosen champion in a tournament that will see the winner gain freedom, riches, and a new beginning. Considering Celaena has been imprisoned in the salt mines of Endovier after a failed attempt to kill the king, she prefers the idea of dying in battle over dying in chains.

Celaena is one of those hero-type characters that is as ferocious as she is fragile. Granted, she spends much of this novel exuding ferociousness, and the fragility she presents is a facade to her captors, but in her quieter moments she lets her guard down and shows herself to the reader that she is every bit the self-conscious teen. It just so happens that she knows a couple dozen ways to separate you from your mortal coil.

Much of the novel feels like a cross between The Hunger Games and The Game of Thrones, but with maybe less blood and more belly-aching. Celaena does a lot of belly-aching for a gal who makes Buffy the Vampire Slayer look like a slacker in the boot-to-butt department. There's a great attention to detail in the set pieces and descriptions of characters as well, though the world-building aspect of the novel felt a little muddy at times for me. Maybe I tuned out some of the exposition that gave backstory, or it just wasn't there, but this world Maas has created felt like it existed in a snow globe rather than an actual globe.

When there isn't a lot of forced romantic tension and dungeon-crawling for clues, the book is action, action, action. The ebb and flow in the pace worked good, too. I just didn't get too connected to the characters or the world, so when the book was over, I felt satiated, but not excited to read the next installment. This isn't a genre I gravitate towards though, so that may be my prejudices shining through. In any case, if you are a fan of YA epic fantasy with strong female protagonists, Maas has a really good start to something here. And while I'm not chomping at the bit to read the impending sequel, I'll certainly keep it in mind when I'm looking for another venture into the genre.

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