WHY WE CARE


Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

YOUR STORIES


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting [magazine] (https://store.focusonthefamily.com/goaa-thriving "magazine"). It is the first book in the “Throne of Glass” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

For the past year, 18-year-old Celaena Sardothien has been imprisoned in a slave camp. Chaol Westfall, captain of the Royal Guard, retrieves her. Celaena, trained to be an assassin since she was 10, was one of Adarlan’s most effective assassins before she was caught and sentenced to the slave camps by the king.

Chaol presents Celaena to Dorian Havilliard, Crown Prince of Adarlan, who has a proposal for her. The king is holding a competition to choose a champion, and Dorian wants Celaena to be his candidate. If Celaena wins, she must work for the king for four years as his champion, his assassin; afterward she will have her freedom. While Celaena despises the king, a tyrant who has banished magic, conquered kingdoms throughout the land and enslaved countless people, she accepts the proposal as it offers her a way out of the slave camp and freedom.

A year in the slave camp has left Celaena malnourished, scarred, weak and haggard. Prior to imprisonment, Celaena’s life as an assassin afforded her luxurious clothing and rich food, things that she wants to go back to. She will be competing against other assassins and criminals, so she knows she must regain her strength and skill.

Due to her notoriety and reputation, Chaol and Dorian decide that no one should know Celaena’s identity. She is given spacious rooms and outfitted with beautiful clothing appropriate to the person she is pretending to be: Lady Lillian Gordaina, a noblewoman and jewel thief.

Celaena is one of 24 competitors — made up of criminals, thieves, assassins and murderers —all sponsored by noblemen in the king’s court. Over the course of 13 weeks, she must compete against these men, and while she doesn’t consider most of them a threat to her victory, Cain, a massive and brutal man, is the exception. Duke Perrington, the king’s closest adviser, is Cain’s sponsor.

The competition consists of various contests, with the poorest performers being eliminated and sent back to the prison they were taken from. To regain her skill and strength, Celaena pushes herself through Chaol’s vigorous training regimen. Much to her chagrin, Chaol orders Celaena to have mediocre performances during the competition to save her best efforts for the end. She successfully holds back until she feels compelled to save the life of a fellow competitor during a challenge after he is sabotaged.

As the competition progresses, strange things begin happening in the castle. Competitors are murdered; their bodies ripped open and internal organs removed. Also, symbols known as Wyrd marks are written in blood around each body.

Celaena is alarmed by the killings. They appear to be caused by an animal. Once she has an unsettling dream, she decides to investigate the murders.

One night, Celaena feels a draft in her room and finds a secret passage leading down to crypts beneath the castle. While she finds a possible escape route out of the castle, she doesn’t fully explore the passages but has a dream about them when she returns to her room and falls asleep. In the dream, one passage leads her to the mausoleum of Adarlan’s first king and queen: Gavin and Elena.

In the dream, Elena appears to Celaena and explains that the king’s clock tower in the castle gardens serves as a portal between worlds. Something evil dwells in the castle and must be destroyed before a portal is ripped open and cannot be closed. Elena tells Celaena that she must find and destroy the evil in the castle, and she must win the competition.

Elena gives Celaena an amulet to wear for protection, an amulet that she holds after she wakes up. The next day, Celaena searches the mausoleum to look for clues. She doesn’t find anything.

While living and training in the palace, Celaena makes a new friend, Nehemia, princess of Eyllwe, a nation that has been conquered by Adarlan. Celaena feels a bond with Nehemia. They both feel like outsiders, and both are from nations that have been conquered by Adarlan.

Celaena also makes an enemy out of Kaltain, a beautiful noblewoman who is romantically interested in Dorian. Kaltain sees Celaena as a threat to her plans to marry the prince. Celaena’s relationships with Chaol and Dorian change because both develop romantic feelings for her.

Celaena shows up uninvited to a royal ball. She asks Chaol to dance, but he refuses because Duke Perrington, who knows Celaena’s identity, is watching and would disapprove. She dances with Dorian instead.

Afterward, he meets her in her quarters, and they kiss several times. Despite his father’s warnings against having a romantic relationship with Celaena, Dorian becomes determined to be with her. After Dorian leaves, Celaena walks onto her balcony. Chaol watches her from the gardens below. He sees how happy Celaena is and knows she is thinking about Dorian.

While Celaena spends her daylight hours training or competing, at night she reads books from the ancient castle library, attempting to decipher the Wyrd marks that were left around the murdered bodies. In an ancient book, she finds information that the Wyrd marks are used in a sacrifice. Once a monstrous creature, a ridderak, has been summoned through a Wyrdgate, the symbols guide the beast to the victim. The person summoning the creature offers the victim as a sacrifice in exchange for the victim’s strength.

The only place to summon and hide a creature like the ridderak is the secret tunnels beneath the castle. Celaena ventures down to them and sees Cain, the largest and strongest competitor, chanting as he summons the beast. Cain sees Celaena and locks her in the passageway with the ridderak, changing his plans and using her for the sacrifice since she discovered him. Celaena rushes to the mausoleum to retrieve Gavin’s legendary sword, Damaris, to kill the ridderak, but it bites her before she stabs it to death. The wound almost kills her, but Nehemia finds her and heals her using Wyrd magic.

Celaena recovers and competes so well that she wins her place in the final competition against Cain, who has grown very strong from stealing the strength of the competitors he sacrificed to the ridderak. Despite Cain’s brawn, Duke Perrington has talked Kaltain into spiking Celaena’s drink before a required toast. Celaena unknowingly ingests the poison, which dulls her senses, making it easier for Cain to severely batter her.

As Cain gloats over her poisoned, broken body, Chaol encourages her from outside the ring while Nehemia, using Wyrd magic, summons Queen Elena for help. While some others watching the contest can’t see the queen, Elena appears to Celaena and removes the poison from her body. With the poison gone, Celaena manages to defeat Cain and is declared the winner. After the defeat, Cain tries to stab Celaena in the back, but Chaol sees the impending attack and kills Cain before he can stab Celaena.

Chaol, haunted by killing Cain, visits Celaena as she is recovering. Celaena knows that Cain was Chaol’s first kill, and she understands how he feels. Dorian walks into Celaena’s room as she and Chaol share an embrace, and he can sense that there is now a connection between them.

Chaol leaves abruptly just before Dorian tells Celaena that the contract with the king is ready to be signed. Celaena breaks off the relationship with Dorian, telling him that they cannot be together if she is serving as the king’s assassin. Dorian wants to continue the relationship and suggests that they be together in secret, but Celaena refuses. She asks that they remain friends, and Dorian agrees. When Chaol visits Celaena later that day, she tells him that she ended things with Dorian.

Celaena signs the contract to be the king’s champion, his assassin who carries out his every request without question. The king warns her that if she fails to fulfill the contract or return from an assignment, he will kill Chaol, then Nehemia and her entire family. While she dreads what the king will ask her to do, Celaena can’t help but yearn for the freedom she will receive after four years.

Christian Beliefs

None

Other Belief Systems

The king has outlawed magic, Fae and faeries, claiming that they were offensive to the goddess and her gods. The people of Adarlan celebrate Samhuinn, a holiday where the gods and the dead are said to be closest to the earth. People go to services at a temple, light bonfires as an offering to the gods and summon the dead to them.

In winter, they celebrate Yulemas, a holiday to celebrate the birth of the goddess’s firstborn son. It is also considered a time to relax and celebrate carnal pleasures. People go to services at the temple to get blessings from the goddess and her gods.

While the king has outlawed magic, Celaena finds Wyrd marks, symbols that can summon magic, around his clock tower. The king forbids magic in others but he knows and uses Wyrd marks himself. The Wyrd is believed to be the force that holds together and governs the known world, and countless other worlds, too. The mother goddess is believed to be a spirit from another world who entered through a Wyrdgate and found Erilae in need of form and life.

At the final competition, Kaltain makes a toast to honor the great goddess, the mother who bore them all. There are also portals between worlds that serve as ways for the worlds to communicate with each other.

Authority Roles

Celaena’s parents were murdered when she was 8 years old. When her mentor, an assassin, found her, she was badly hurt. Arobynn, known as the King of the Assasins, did not give Celaena a choice to be trained in the art of killing. She knew that if she refused his training, she would have been killed or sold into prostitution. While Arobynn trained Celaena at great financial cost to himself, he made her work as an assassin to repay the amount. Celaena considers Arobynn a tyrannical but doting father figure.

Dorian has a poor relationship with his father, and the two often have contentious, tension-filled conversations. When Dorian questions his father, the king hits him across the face and demands obedience. The king is cold, overbearing and cruel. Queen Georgina pressures Dorian to marry well.

Profanity/Violence

Profanity includes: h---, b--tch, b--tard and d--n. Holy gods, by the gods and by the Wyrd are used as a swear phrases.

The king burns people and places associated with magic. Competitors are found dead, their bodies ripped open and their internal organs removed. The killings are ritualistic with magic symbols written in blood around the bodies. A competitor tries to escape and is shot through the neck with an arrow. During a climbing competition, a competitor falls to his death. Others try to sabotage and kill each other. A creature chases Celaena. She kills it by stabbing it through the face with a sword.

Celaena fights in the semifinals and bloodies a competitor’s nose. When she fights Cain, he hits, cuts and kicks her poisoned body. When Elena removes the poison, Celaena stabs Cain in the side and gets her spear to his neck, winning the contest. Cain moves to stab Celaena in the back but is killed by Chaol instead.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Dorian flirts with women and is known throughout the kingdom for having numerous romantic female companions. He is frequently admiring women’s bodies and stares at a woman’s breasts at a ball. When Celaena asks Nehemia if her father might arrange a marriage between the princess and Dorian, Nehemia says that the prince is too much of a womanizer. Nehemia wants her husband to warm her bed, and her bed alone.

Kaltain knows that Duke Perrington is interested in a physical relationship with her, and even though he disgusts her, she encourages his attention to keep her place in the royal court. When the duke looks at her with lust, she wonders how far she will go to secure her position at Dorian’s side.

The king warns Dorian that he will not complicate the royal line with illegitimate heirs — he must not have a romantic relationship with Celaena. He demands Dorian marry well and produce grandsons before any dalliances. Without knowing Celaena’s true identity, Kaltain refers to her as Dorian’s harlot. A maid tells Celaena that she should be flattered that she’s attractive enough to be considered Dorian’s lover. When Dorian offers Celaena friendship, she tells him that she would rather not be seen as one of his lovers.

Dorian and Celaena flirt with each other, and she is deeply attracted to him. Chaol is concerned about Dorian and Celaena’s relationship. While Chaol is fairly certain Celaena is a virgin, he wonders if Dorian knows, and if that knowledge makes Dorian more interested. Celaena and Dorian dance at a ball, and afterward he meets her in her quarters and kisses her several times. They kiss on three other occasions before she ends the relationship with him.

Celaena tells Chaol of a slave girl being raped and killed in prison. The only reason Celaena wasn’t sexually assaulted as well is because the guards were afraid of her. Competitors make lewd remarks to Celaena.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Drugs/alcohol: Several characters drink alcohol and Kaltain smokes opium regularly, not being able to function without the drug.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

12 and up

Genre

Fantasy

Author

Sarah J. Maas

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Bloomsbury USA

Released

On Video

Year Published

2012

Awards

Best Fiction for Young Adults 2013 (Young Adult Library Association)

Reviewer

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!