Throne of Glass: Chapter 1

Throne of Glass main

Katie, Ashers,

I’ve made a really dumb decision, god help me. I’ll be recapping/critiquing the ridiculous (and ridiculously popular) Throne of Glass chapter by chapter, and it is going to be a disaster.

W-Synopsis

“Nothing is a coincidence. Everything has a purpose. You were meant to come to this castle, just as you were meant to be an assassin.”

When magic has gone from the world, and a vicious king rules from his throne of glass, an assassin comes to the castle. She does not come to kill, but to win her freedom. If she can defeat twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition to find the greatest assassin in the land, she will become the King’s Champion and be released from prison.

Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her.

And a princess from a foreign land will become the only thing Celaena never thought she’d have again: a friend.

But something evil dwells in the castle—and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying, horribly, one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival–and a desperate quest to root out the source of the evil before it destroys her world.

This is my first read-along, so bear with me while I find and don my finest recaps-and-rage socks. It might take a couple chapters.

Direct quotes will either be bolded or put in block quotes. If it’s neither bolded nor in block quotes—even if it’s in quotation marks—it’s paraphrased snark.

Let’s do this.


Chapter Index

CHAPTER 1

So a first chapter has two goals: (a) present the protagonist’s chief characteristics, and (b) hint at their impending conflict. Something like Juanita is quiet but stubborn, and has a strong sense of justice, or Charming extrovert Hadia fears she’ll never step out of her totally-perfect sister’s shadow.

Let’s see how Throne of Glass’s first chapter portrays our heroine, shall we?

PARAGRAPH ONE:

After a year of slavery in the Salt Mines of Endovier, Celaena Sardothien was accustomed to being escorted everywhere in shackles and at sword-point. Most of the thousands of slaves in Endovier received similar treatment—though an extra half-dozen guards always walked Celaena to and from the mines. That was expected by Adarlan’s most notorious assassin.

Okay. The jaw-grimly-clenched tone compliments the casual arrogance of the “Adarlan’s most notorious assassin” claim, which—

Wait. If “thousands of slaves” are “escorted everywhere [ . . . ] at sword-point,” and the occasional special assassin snowflake merits seven guards, how many guards does Endovier employ? If I’m doing my math right—let me open my calculator—we’re talking thousands of guards. Sounds like a reasonable use of a kingdom’s military resources.

But back to Celaena, because that wasn’t even the entirety of the book’s first paragraph and already my Ridiculous YA Heroine alarm is wailing.

I’m supposed to believe a teenager is the country’s most notorious assassin, and warrants both shackles and an armed guard of seven to escort her wherever she goes? Come on guys, just give her a Bane mask and strap her to a gurney and be done with it.

So The Most Assassinist of Assassins emerges from the mines after an invigorating day of slavery to find she has a visitor: a man in ominous black and a face-hiding hood (someone please tell me how a hood can totally obscure the wearer’s face but still allow them to see out of it, I want to know). The sight of him waiting for her “hadn’t improved her mood.”

That’s it? A creepy dude comes for you after a year of slavery, and all you can say is the sight of him didn’t improve your mood? What about—oh I don’t know—curiosity, fear, surprise, wariness? Could you show any emotion beyond arrogance and badassery?

At least my impending rant about her fearlessness wasn’t necessary. See, she’s only 99% fearless:

[H]er ears had pricked when he’d introduced himself to her overseer as Chaol Westfall, Captain of the Royal Guard, and suddenly, the sky loomed, the mountains pushed from behind, and even the earth swelled toward her knees. She hadn’t tasted fear in a while—hadn’t let herself taste fear. When she awoke every morning, she repeated the same words: I will not be afraid. For a year, those words had meant the difference between breaking and bending; they had kept her from shattering in the darkness of the mines. Not that she’d let the captain know any of that.

“Not that [you’d] let the captain know any of that”? Girl, what makes you think he cares?

Let’s start a list of character traits for fair Celaena:

  • Inhumanly badass (allegedly)
  • Casually arrogant
  • Incurious
  • 99% fearless
  • Self-absorbed

Charming.

So Chaol Westfall, Captain of the Royal Guard, He Who Looms Skies and Pushes Mountains and Swells the Earth, takes Celaena on a stroll through the mine’s administrative building:

They strode down corridors, up flights of stairs, and around and around until she hadn’t the slightest chance of finding her way out again.

At least, that was her escort’s intention, because she hadn’t failed to notice when they went up and down the same staircase within a matter of minutes.

But an assassin as assassinly as she cannot be fooled:

If she wanted to escape, she simply had to turn left at the next hallway and take the stairs down three flights. The only thing all the intended disorientation had accomplished was to familiarize her with the building. Idiots.

Actually, I agree. If he’s this concerned, why didn’t he blindfold her before tromping her through the entire building?

Celaena pauses her scornful inner monologue to assure the reader that she’s not some dark-skinned uggo—

She adjusted her torn and filthy tunic with her free hand and held in her sigh. Entering the mines before sunrise and departing after dusk, she rarely glimpsed the sun. She was frightfully pale beneath the dirt. It was true that she had been attractive once, beautiful even, but—well, it didn’t matter now, did it?

—which will make a lovely addition to our list:

  • Inhumanly badass (allegedly)
  • Casually arrogant
  • Incurious
  • 99% fearless
  • Self-absorbed
  • Pale and beautiful

Meanwhile, her interaction with Chaol Westfall, He Who Looms (etc., etc.) is just brimming with tension. (Just kidding, it’s not.) She’s pleased by his voice, at least: “How lovely it was to hear a voice like her own—cool and articulate—even if he was a nasty brute!”

  • Inhumanly badass (allegedly)
  • Casually arrogant
  • Incurious
  • 99% fearless
  • Self-absorbed
  • Pale and beautiful
  • Snobby
  • Judgmental

Chaol asks a question, which she deflects, and his resulting growl launches her into fantasies of his blood splattered over the marble, followed by the delicious memory of “embedding the pickax into [her overseer’s] gut, the stickiness of his blood on her hands and face.”

Naturally, this makes her grin at him.

Celaena: [Grins at him.]

Chaol: “Don’t you look at me like that.” [Moves his hand back toward his sword.]

Whose bright idea was it to put this man—who goes all angry-werewolf when a criminal shrugs off a question, and almost draws his sword when she tries to unsettle him with a grin—in charge of the Royal Guard? He has anger issues and deep-seated insecurity and impending mass murder all over him.

Then it’s Celaena’s turn to ask a question (“Where are we going again?”), not get an answer, and display her resulting anger:

When he didn’t reply, she clenched her jaw.

What’s with these two getting pissed over nothing? It’s like watching two surly, entitled teens who—oh. I get it.

Having covered the basics of Celaena’s personality, the chapter fulfills its second purpose: providing (sledgehammer-subtle) hints of the awaiting conflict: magic has disappeared from the kingdom, and the King of Adarlan has been filling the salt mines with rebels from the countries he’s conquered. (I’ll be so surprised when our heroine becomes the magic-wielding leader of a rebellion that overthrows the King.)

Celaena briefly shudders at the rebel-slaves’ plight, wondering if they’d have been better off dead. But before you go insist I label her “compassionate”:

But she had other things to think about as they continued their walk. Was she finally to be hanged?

Granted, I’d be more concerned about my impending execution, too—but brushing the slaves off with “[b]ut she had other things to think about” is harsh.

Their destination, when they arrive, surprises Celaena:

The [red-and-gold glass] doors groaned open to reveal a throne room. A glass chandelier shaped like a grapevine occupied most of the ceiling, spitting seeds of diamond fire onto the windows along the far side of the room. Compared to the bleakness outside those windows, the opulence felt like a slap to the face.

Because obviously an isolated prison camp/salt mine’s administration building requires an opulent throne room on the off-chance a royal will drop in for a—

On an ornate redwood throne sat a handsome young man. [ . . . ] She was standing in front of the Crown Prince of Adarlan.

I stand corrected.

CHAPTER TALLIES

Just for fun, let’s keep track of how many times some things happen every chapter. Let’s start with:

We’re told Celaena’s A Total Badass: 5

Celaena proves she’s A Total Badass: 0

Celaena fantasizes about murder: 3

Celaena murders someone: 0

Chaol’s surly teen-boy rage: 4

Our protagonist is unbearable.

NEXT CHAPTER >

CHAPTER INDEX


31 thoughts on “Throne of Glass: Chapter 1

    1. You have no idea how glad I am to hear that; as soon as I published this post I wanted to take it down because what do I do if I’m not funny enough? (The answer is cry myself to death, FYI.) Thank you for saving me from that fate. =D

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  1. This was hilarious! Thanks for putting a smile on my face first thing in the morning.
    I’ve been warned that Throne Of Glass is particularly hard to get through but it’s supposed to get better with later books (although I’ve been told the same is true for The Mortal Instruments series and, let me tell you, that took 4 barely, more determination than I thought I had, and I can barely qualify it as ‘better’).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you liked it! =D

      It’d make sense that the series improves over time; the very basic premise is promising, and I know Maas’s storytelling and writing style improved a lot between Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses. But yeah. I’ll nevertheless approach them with caution.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hahahaha I love this so much, I kept laughing all the way until the end ! This is such an original concept and I heard other people saying that Cealena never proved her badasserie, it just kept being brought up without any actual proof and that’s kind of too bad ! I’m thinking about reading it but I don’t know I’m still pondering it.
    Can’t wait for your final review and to read more of these, this one litterally made my day 😂

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    1. Aw, thank you! I’m glad you liked my exasperation. =D

      I can’t take credit for the concept, though; there are a lot of fantastic chapter-by-chapter critiques of problematic and poorly-written books out there. One of my favorites is Cleolinda Jones’s recaps of the Twilight series. They’re infinitely more funny than mine will ever be.

      Don’t let my critiques dissuade you from reading it! It might be right up your alley. =)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooh okay, I’ve never seen them before, but I’ll definitely check them out.
        No, I won’t, don’t worry, I’ve had my reservations for a long time but still I’ll give it a shot. 😀

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      2. I’ll look forward to your review of it!

        If you do look for other read-along or let’s-read versions of books, you’ll no doubt find a ton of great ones. There are some books (like the Twilight series, and the Fifty Shades of Grey series) that I won’t touch with a ten-foot pole–but the snarky read-alongs I’ve read for them are glorious. =D

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  3. I have no clue what I was expecting when I started reading this, but THIS. IS. PURE. GOLD. I am trying not to obnoxiously laugh out loud like a creep, but what the hell? I can’t help myself. Everything about this makes me cringe about the prospect of actually reading this book, yet I’m curious enough to want to know what’s going on. I’m thinking this is the read-along that will finally make me pick up this book and go somewhere with it because I already know I will be waiting patiently for each of these posts to go up.

    ““[N]ot that [you’d] let the captain know any of that”? Girl, what makes you think he cares?”

    Let me tell you, I lost all composure reading that. Keep up the awesome work! You’re hilarious, and I can tell this series of posts is going to be absolutely amazing.

    P.S. Henceforth and forevermore, Celaena will be referred to as “The Most Assassinist of Assasins.” It is law.

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    1. This coming from you has me all ablush. I’d been working on these posts for the last couple weeks (to give myself a head-start), then saw your glorious first Reviews After Dark post–and I immediately questioned my decision to do this, because did I mention your review is glorious? So it’s an enormous relief to hear I’m not embarrassing myself in public, and (even better!) that you loled obnoxiously. Your obnoxious lols are valuable.

      Gushing aside, if you do pick the book up, please let me know what you think of it. I’d love to hear your opinions. =D

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  4. I just discovered your read-along, and I am laughing my ass off! I actually started at the last chapters and started reading backwards, but finally jumped back to the beginning. SO funny!! I have been sitting here howling for the last 10 minutes, and I’m late for my kid’s hockey game…

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    1. Oh my goodness, I am so happy you’re enjoying it! Though I’m sorry to make you late to the hockey game; I’ll try to tone down the funniness in future chapters. (Just kidding, you’re doomed to being late for all appointments until I finish this incredible book.)

      Hope your kid has great time, and comes out of the game injury-free! =D

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  5. I’ve not read this. …which is now making me question my own existence. Not that that’s a first. 😉

    If anything, though, that makes reading your snark not only entertaining, but an efficient use of time. Two birds? Meet one stone. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh hey, I’m NOT the last person in the world to read this book! That’s a relief to hear. We can live under our respective rocks together. 🙂

      I’m more than happy to be the stone that . . . kills the birds. Wait, I don’t like this after all.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry I was on a crazy hiatus and only just saw your comments. But: 1) thank you! And: 2) I popped over to your blog and saw you started a The Selection read-along, and holy crap yes. I haven’t read your first chapter yet, but I am so on board for this, if you decide to keep it up. High fives.

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  6. So. I know you wrote this a trillion years ago, but I saw from your Obsidian snark posts that you’d done this book, and I just started it, so I thought I’d embark on my journey through Throne of Glass with your snark. I’m only a few chapters in, but this is already making my experience with this book 1000% better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aaaaaah this makes me so happy, I can’t even tell you. How far are you now? Are you enjoying it more than you expected to? (Of course, I’d love for you to agree with everything in my snark, but I’d also love for you to genuinely enjoy the book. Either way, I’ll be pleased.) 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m on chapter thirty…two, I believe. It’s slow going. I can only read a few chapters of this book at at time, but I’ve been diligently following along with your snark and it’s made it SO much more enjoyable. I don’t know if I could bear it otherwise. Will anything more important than awkward romance happen?? Will Celaena ever actually assassin someone?? Or prove that she can?? Why do Dorian and Chaol just waltz into Celaena’s room whenever they please?? I’m SO disappointed that this “competition” is just a bunch of mediocre tests that a camp counselor could probably pass…I was expecting danger, drama, something Hunger Games-esque, at least! But I think this book officially lost me when Celaena finds a way to ESCAPE THE CASTLE in those tunnels behind her tapestry and she decides to stay to “earn her freedom the honorable way.” LIKE, WHAT? Where has she shown me she even cares about honor? Or earning things? If I’m supposed to believe she’s staying for the relationships she’s “built” in the castle, then…BUILD THE RELATIONSHIPS. I literally laid down on the couch in despair. It’s taken the the tension out of literally everything that’s happened since then. This book is in severe need of a rewrite. But I’m going to finish…I’m going to stick it out!! I mean, I’m this far, right?

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      2. I’m so glad my snark’s helped you persevere—but, on the other hand, perhaps for your sake I should’ve wished you DNFed the book and spent those hours on something better? The less time you spend languishing in despair, the better?

        But mostly I’m just glad you’re as outraged as I am by all the ineptitude. I’m feeling your capslock in my soul.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m generally bad at DNFing books, unless they’re really, really dull, and while this book caused me a whole lot of frustration, I wanted to see it to the end so that maybe I could gain some insight as to why this book is so beloved. But I have seen people say many times that you’ve just “got to get past the first one.” So even though this book was tough to get through…I’m STILL intrigued. However, I think I’ll wait a bit before I embark on that adventure. But if I open that book and Celaena wakes up to Chaol or Dorien standing at the end of her bed I’M DONE.

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      4. Well, if you get around to the sequel before I do, I’ll be very excited to read your thoughts on it. Keep me posted on your timeframe for that, if you don’t mind!

        (I’ll be especially keen to hear how many times a dude bursts into her room uninvited. It’s bound to happen. They can’t just STOP. It’s basically a tradition at this point.)

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I think I’ll probably go for the sequel at the end of this month. I need to give myself some time away, but I feel that if I leave it for too long I’ll never end up getting to it (mostly I just don’t want to have to suffer through a recap). I was actually in a bookstore yesterday (as per usual) and read the first chapter of the 2nd book, and I was shocked at how so very assassiny Celaena suddenly proves herself to be. She actually kills someone! On PAGE TWO. I was shocked. I have some hope now, but I do think the only way she can truly redeem herself in my eyes is if she kills someone who walks into her room uninvited. Maybe the squeaky hinges will actually come in handy in the next book fingers crossed

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Oh, wow, that’s so quick! It usually takes me a year or more to get around to reading the next book in a series–especially if the preceding book wasn’t amazing. I admire your timeliness (though I understand your reason for wanting to be so timely).

        Holy crap, she kills someone? I’d heard something about how she doesn’t prove her assassinliness in the second book either, but clearly I was misinformed! That’s awesome. Here’s hoping you enjoy the book, then!

        Let me know how your reading journey goes, please.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Well, it was only the first chapter, so who knows- maybe it was just a real time dream? But I REALLY hope not. I’ve heard so many mixed reviews on this series I’m mostly curious just to see how it turns out. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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