These ‘about me’ sections, or even sections that inform you about blogs, have never been my forte. Much to my chagrin, I was never taught the unwritten rules of what you are supposed to say. The links at the side of the blog – Twitter and Goodreads, for example – are liable to tell you more than I could ever say in words.

Mostly, this will be a book blog. I read a lot, and I love to share my views on my most recent reads. I try to read a little bit of everything, but if you look closely you’ll notice I will occasionally become obsessed with one specific genre for a short period of time. Old books, new books, yet to be released books – I read them all. If you’re an author looking for advance readers or just wish for more reviews of a book you’ve already released, please feel free to contact me. There is a contact form at the side of my blog – if you scroll down below the Twitter and Goodreads sidebar you will find it – so drop me a message and I’ll be sure to get back to you in double time. After all, finding new authors is what makes the book world go around.

Thanks for taking your time to read this. With a little bit of luck, you will find my blog much more interesting than this mundane introductory section.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Review: Throne of Glass

Throne of Glass Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m always tentative when it comes to reading the books everyone loves. Whenever there is a lot of hype I fear being let down. Due to this, it took me even longer to work my way around to reading this one than it should have. It sat on my bookshelf for quite some time, I kept looking at it and yet it couldn’t quite bring myself to read it. I feared I would be let down. I did not want to be let down. In the end, however, I did pick it up. Mostly because I found most of the other books in the series on offer, but still… the important thing is, I have now worked around to this book. I have jumped on the bandwagon, and – if I’m to tell the complete truth – I’m more than ready to become a member of the fandom.

I’ll admit that the notion of the story always interested me. It really was the hype that held me back. Due to this, I read the first two books in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series prior to this one. The series interested me more, with the storyline screaming out to me. Truthfully, I’m glad I did such a thing. When I started Throne of Glass, I had quite a few issues with the book. Knowing Maas was capable of so much more, having enjoyed A Court of Thorns and Roses so much, I continued on with hopes of the book improving. Fortunately, such a thing did happen. By the end of the book, I was enjoying it so much more than I’d believed at the start. It went from a three star book to a four star book.

Why wasn’t I enjoying it at first?

There are quite a few reasons for this. I’ll get to them in time, but I’ll start with my biggest issue: the whole assassin aspect. I entered the book hoping for the world’s most deadly assassin. I expected a heartless soul. I expected slaughter. I expected real spunk. What I was given surprised me. What I was given was not what I had expected. What I was given was not what I would call a deadly assassin.

I wish to break slightly here, before the haters come out to get me. I am not saying I dislike our main character. I’m merely saying she was not what I had been made to believe of her. As the book progressed, I came to enjoy her more and more as a main character. To do this, however, I had to forget she was supposed to be a deadly assassin. It was hard to do with the constant references, but I managed to like her in the end. She is a fun main character. There is a decent amount to her. She has layers, making her that onion in Shrek. I enjoyed seeing the different aspects of her, but I just couldn’t bring myself to enjoy the assassin aspect of her story. It felt as though it was thrown in to fit in with the story and not the character. Had she not been an assassin I’m sure I would have loved her even more. Alas, she was not the assassin I had wanted.

Assassins are supposed to be deadly creatures. They’re supposed to have removed all emotional ties from their life. Revenge will often be an aspect of their life, but that is about it when it comes to emotions. When I read Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder, I had a few issues with her assassin. Valek was not the assassin I had envisioned, he seems second rate compared to the image in my mind. He was a fun character, but he would never be the creature I desired. This demonstrates how I have high hopes for assassins. I came to enjoy him as I found out more about him, but he was never the deadly weapon I pray for when I read the word ‘assassin’. Celaena, our Throne of Glass assassin, works to make him look like a true weapon of destruction. Her history suggests countless years of turning her into the perfect weapon, the things people say about her suggest she will do anything, and yet… well, she read like any other girl.

I appreciate how Maas gave her some feminine attributes: she created a main character both dark and light. The dark aspect, however, did not hit the mark for me. It was all buried under flirting, dresses, love, and all the other pixie aspects of femininity. I wanted to read about her breaking bones and torturing children. Okay, maybe not torturing children, but you get what I mean – I wanted to see more of the assassin. Hence why I found her easier to enjoy when I pretended the ‘assassin’ aspect did not exist. As I said, it felt more like a story pointer than a character pointer. It didn’t seem to fit in the way I had hoped for, leaving me wanting so much more.

I’ll stop ranting about my assassin view now, though. I really could rant and rave for a very long time, but I believe I have managed to get my point across by now. Basically, to sum it up in as few words as possible, I hope to see more of this dark and deadly assassin everyone is talking about in the future books.

Now I’ll move on to the other aspects of the story that originally left me fearing a three star rating.

For me, the start of the book felt terribly slow. I wanted a lot of action, I wanted things to occur, yet things seemed to move at a slower speed than I’d anticipated. I feel as though this is just something that happens in Maas books: of the three I have read thus far, all three have felt somewhat slow at the start. Thus, I dealt with it. Nevertheless, I did feel as though some things at the start of the book felt pointless. Things occurred that didn’t really have much of an impact on the overall story, seeming to exist solely so we could be reminded how wonderful our main character is.

Didn’t I mention that? Our main character is wonderful. In every way. We’ll be constantly reminded of it. Males and females alike will remind us of her beauty. People will constantly tell us how great an assassin she is. References will be made to her intellect. She’s an all-round wonderful character, and everyone will say so. Mind you, we’re told this rather than shown this. I would rather be shown. Like with the assassin aspect – don’t tell me she is a great assassin, show me!

Another thing that bugged me was the romance. It all felt far too forced. Because our main character is beautiful, everyone seems to want her. Males become territorial, forgetting the good old saying of ‘bros before hoes’. I can accept romance in such books, but when it is thrown in from the start and feels so forced, I find myself unable to care about it. Whenever there was a romance scene, I just gave up. I didn’t really care. No ships developed within my mind. I have no preference as to how the love triangle plays out, or whether it dies out. For me, the romance took centre stage and buried many other aspects of the story (I promise to hold back on saying that ‘a’ word here).

I know it seems like I really disliked this one, but I clearly came to enjoy it in the end. It managed four stars out of me, pulling away from the dismal three stars I had originally feared. I’ll admit it’s not the strongest four stars I have ever given – it’s a lower four star rating than the four stars I gave to A Court of Thrones and Roses – but it was a much higher four stars than I believed it capable of in the beginning.

What change my mind, then?

Once the story started to move, it became truly gripping. I was super excited to see how it ended, turning page after page. I quickly found myself unable to put it down. As with things seeming a bit slow at the start, this seems to be the norm for any Maas book. Things appear slow at the start and then the story opens up and pulls you in. Many aspects come to light, and you’re reading in search of all the answers you need.

Fear not, there are enough unanswered questions to leave you reading on. With there being multiple layers to this story, we’re given enough answers to appease us whilst also leaving us more than ready to read on so that we can continue our search for the truth.

Honestly, I hadn’t expected so many different aspects to come to light. I’m especially interested to see where certain parts of the story will go. The magic in particular, I wish to see more of in the future books. We’re given enough to know the basics of the magical world, and yet we don’t really know anything at all. I hoping this aspect will come into play a lot more in the future.

One thing I wish we’d been given more answers to, though, was in regards to our main character. Many aspects of her past are still shrouded in shadows. I understand that she is supposed to be a mystery, but I favour it when we know the ins and outs of our main character. I came to enjoy her more and more as the book progressed, yet I cannot help but think my enjoyment of her would have occurred sooner had I been able to find out even more about her. I hope that her past grows less murky as the books progress, as that is one thing I really wish to know more about. I want more than the mere glimpses at information; I want specifics.

Honestly, the way the story grew made it worth reading for me. By the end of the book I was ‘mildly curious’ about the future and ‘slightly addicted’ to the storyline, with those words inside of those apostrophes being played down. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that the story managed to get its claws into me. The start had me expecting so little that when everything was thrown together my mind was blown.

Overall, I understand the hype. I admit that I had expected something more, but I can see why so many people enjoy it. Moreover, I’ve already moved on to the next book. After all, I need some answers and I need to see where things go.

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