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The Ninja Reader

High-brow or downright pretentious, good PNR or sparkly vampires, I don't care about the premise so long as it entertains me.

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Bullying: The Social Destruction of Self
Laura Martocci

Throne of Glass

The Assassin and the Princess - Sarah J. Maas Friendlist, I really, really hate being a black sheep. You know, when you guys are all hyped up about a book and I'm pretty much "whatever"? Yeah, this is the case with this one. Throne of Glass tells the story of Celaena Smartass Sardothien (her middle name is not mentioned in the book, but I'm willing to bet money it's something along those lines), a notorious assassin, pulled out of labour camp to participate in a Hunger Games-esque tournament. She competes against 21 other men for the honour of serving the king, but things get even more interesting when her competition starts dying mysteriously. This book has a lot of things going for it - a heroine who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to go after it, court intrigue, magic, and action. Also, I am crazy for the awesome portrayal of female relationships which Ms Maas gives us, if only because Celaena doesn't need to be the only awesome lady in the book so that she can stand out.The plot is also excellent. The tournament format, which is a little difficult to pull off in that setting, actually works because of how the other subplots are woven in. I think in this case, the fact this story started out as a fictionpress.com piece works, because the subplots are never left idle, and there aren't many plot threads tangling around.There's also some pretty cool character interactions. The dreaded love triangle makes an appearance, but it's well written here, because both Celaena's love interests are developped and interesting, and the attraction between them is pretty much organic and believable. There are times when it feels forced, but by the end, I think it has reached a stage that is both realistic and satisfactory. Overall, fans of Maria V. Snyder, Christopher Paolini and R. A. Salvatore will love Throne of Glass.So why did I give it three stars?Well, part of it is personal preference, I guess. Though the book has a lot of things going for it (like, seriously, a LOT) there's also something really... sanitised about it. I mean, yeah, there's violence and gore, but it's on the PG-13 side, while the hot action is pretty much limited to a few chaste kisses... even if our heroine is a notorious assassin.Look, I'm not saying all books should have sex scenes thrown in every ten pages or so - every story works differently. Sabriel, for example is sometimes classified as MG, and we only get a kiss there as well. But Sabriel and her love interest are running for their lives for the majority of the book, and they don't trust each other at first. Their attraction comes slowly, and the build-up towards the already mentioned kiss gives us satisfactory payoff. Moreover, even though sex doesn't happen, it is still discussed and handled in a mature fashion throughout the book, one that is realistic without being preachy. Throne of Glass, on the other hand, pretty much glosses over the whole deal - sex is only mentioned either as a weapon to manipulate men (as exemplified by Lady Kaltain), or to terrorize women ( the first person to show Celaena kindness in the labour camp was later raped and killed by the overseers. It is only mentioned to clarify if Celaena is still a virgin, and why it didn't happen to her. ) I mean, it's as reasonable an explenation as any, but would it have been so bad to see Celaena share a moment of intimacy and tenderness with someone? Why should sex not also be seen as an expression of love? As for the characters, while I enjoyed Celaena's quips, I couldn't help but feel she was using them to hide something else... or make up for it. I never got a good idea of who she was as a character, and her motivation was just about as twee as the book's treatment of the topic of sex. She wants to be free, but she has to work for a man she hates? Why? Isn't she a notorious assassin? What stops her from running away and joining the resistence fighters? Surely she can't be that naive as to assume he would always catch her - the reason she ended up in the labour camp to begin with was because she was betrayed.But that's neither here nor there. Again, it's not a bod book, but in a world full of amazing, amazing fantasy, there isn't really anything that makes it stand out either. It has an awesome premise which I think younger audiences will enjoy, but I was personally a bit disappointed in the execution.Note: A copy of this book was provided by the publishers via NetGalley.