Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 326
In Throne of Glass, the first novel in a medieval-era fantasy series of the same name, protagonist Celaena Sardothien is the dauntlessly fierce female hero. Trained as an assassin in childhood, the eighteen-year-old orphan has already proven herself in countless terrifying situations. In this book, her path is entwined with that of Prince Dorian as she embarks on a mission to gain a position as the king’s assassin. If she won a contest and earned that place, she would be bound to the king but later could finally be freed. Modeled on the male knight figures in Arthurian romances, Celaena’s character is nevertheless largely in tune with contemporary feminist ideas of independence and single-mindedness.
Celaena enters the contest in good faith and begins the necessary rigorous training, but a plot twist soon arises. During her training period, potential contestants die one after the other. While the reader assumes Celaena is not implicated, it is incumbent on her to solve the mystery, not only in the interests of self-preservation but because the prince or other members of the royal inner circle might be the real targets.
As she pursues her twin goals of winning the contest and finding the killer, along the way Celaena gains a platonic friend and training partner; she also finds romance with the prince and his friend but pursues neither relationship further. Although the contest requires both strength and intelligence, there was probably little doubt in the reader’s mind that Celaena, despite setbacks along the way, will ultimately triumph, as indeed she does.
The novel fits well within young adult fantasy and, while Celaena is an appealing character, she is not particularly memorable. Fast pacing and an engaging assortment of fantastic creatures keep the reader’s interest, with enough digressions to make them look forward to seeing how these might be resolved in the next installment. The author fairly convincingly dispenses with any ethical dilemmas inherent in the assassin profession.