The YA fantasy novel Throne of Glass centres on eighteen year old protagonist Celeana Sardothian, a captured assassin. She must win the King’s contest to become his Champion, but will only be granted her freedom after years of servitude and murder. She must decide between dying in the slave mines of Endovier, or entering a contest to become the evil King’s personal assassin.
I loved this book so much because of the characterisation. The protagonist Celeana was amazingly represented as a woman who did not look down on other women to better herself as one. She establishes herself as strong and determined when speaking with Nox, a fellow contestant in the fight to become the King’s Champion. They are throwing knives at targets when he compliments her, acknowledging her skills as “good”. Celeana questions his compliment and Nox clarifies that he means she is “as good as anyone”, and not just good “for a girl”.
The gender roles here are definitely positive ones for a young adult audience, demonstrating the flexibility of identity rather than reinforcing a narrow conception of expected gender roles (e.g., the feminine can’t be strong AND have an extensive, pretty wardrobe).
Celeana was also allowed to experience pain, loneliness, and romance equally and her thought process extensively details her strengths and weaknesses. This is a demonstration that she is not perfect, as her arrogance is the cause of many an angry outburst.
For a fantasy novel that’s character driven (rather than politics driven like Game of Thrones, for example) it was refreshing to read a narrative that wasn’t heavily romance focused, or gender role focused, from a female perspective. I finished this book in a day and have since read Crown of Midnight, and Heir of Fire. Definitely one of my favourite reads of 2015 and well worth a look!