This was a pleasant change of pace from the fantasy young adult books I've read recently. Calaena is a main character who is actually capable of handling problems without needing a male character come to her rescue. She's the best assassin out there, but this wasn't a position she gained quickly or easily. She has a past that actually has an effect on her character, rather than just being there to make her more interesting. The year she spent in a death camp right before this story began has actual consequences on her body and her abilities that she has to work to overcome over the course of the book. And it was nice to see a female character who could be badass and still like dresses.
Another thing I found in Throne of Glass that is depressingly uncommon in the fantasy young adult books I've read: Calaena has a female friend who is actually a good friend. And as a bonus she is clever and awesome as well.
There was a bit of a love triangle that formed between Calaena, Chaol, and Dorian, but I never felt that it took over the rest of the plot. It was there without being the focus of the book. And at the end of the day, Calaena cares more about the safety and freedom of herself and those she cares about more than getting with a guy, something which I can admire.
Is it perfect? No. Other than Calaena's best friend, all other women are pretty much dismissed or vilified. While there are consequences to her time in the death camp, Calaena still manages to look beautiful when she really shouldn't. Calaena's a master of more things than is really realistic and gets ridiculously angry when she isn't immediately perfect at something. She never actually kills anyone in the book, despite her title of assassin. Chaol, the captain of the guard, kills a man for the first time in this book, which seems strange to me.
And yet, despite these things that normally really bother me, I still just really loved the book. I liked the characters a lot. I look forward to reading the sequel.