After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.
Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: kick ass female assassin; interesting world building and characters; a writing style that made it difficult to pin down or guess plot twists (which I love!); a quasi love-triangle (which…seemed a bit unnecessary?); a lot of weird tie-ins/wrap-up sections in the end that might not have been needed
This is a book I picked up SOLELY because of the amount of rave reviews I’ve seen lurking around the last few months; it seemed everyone was talking about this series, and I decided I wanted to know why.
It took me a little while to actually settle IN to Celaena’s story, to be honest. The beginning, for some reason, seemed a bit rough…as if the author was patchworking all her ideas into a quilt, but hadn’t quite closed up the seams. I have to say, I don’t think I really became invested in the story and the characters until AFTER chapter fourteen; something about the first 13 chapters just didn’t appeal or call to me.
Once I got excited about what I was reading, however, it didn’t take long to get me hooked. The writing is pretty, the style intriguing and thought-provoking. It’s a style that doesn’t leave readers grasping at straws OR guessing the plot twists before their time; instead, it’s a healthy blend of back story, character arcs/motivations, and present action–just enough to keep readers always reaching for more, flipping the pages.
I feel as if perhaps Celaena, our main protagonist (as well as the other main characters) wasn’t really given much room to GROW here. While it’s true she stops seeking escape around every corner or plotting the destruction of everyone who dares look at her, there’s not much past her stone-cold shell and wise-cracking demeanor. I LOVE how fiery and fierce she is, and we are given a few glimpses at a side of her I WISH we’d seen more of in this book–particularly in instances with Dorian.
I wasn’t pleased with the relationship aspect, however. While Dorian and Chaol each maintain their own unique relationships with the assassin, I didn’t see a reason to have it become the quasi love-triangle it did in the end. I NEVER ONCE thought that she and Dorian made a good couple; in fact, I REALLY hated the idea of them winding up “together” at the end of this book. Something about the way Celaena treated him, perhaps, or acted around him… I can’t explain it, but I just couldn’t picture her actually loving him in THAT way. That’s not to say I didn’t like the scenes with the two of them–she’s different around him in a way I hadn’t expected. The scene in the bedroom the morning of Yulemas is one of my FAVORITES, because she lets her guard down completely–we see her in a completely different light, and I loved it. I just… I don’t understand why every book anymore NEEDS a love triangle. They’re usually done only for the drama…and OVERLY done, at that.
The ending, also, seemed a bit…unnecessary? I understand Sarah J. Maas was attempting to clear up loose ends or tie in future plot lines, but… can’t she have done that in a different way? The last few chapters just seemed to DRAG…I wish they’d been written differently, or taken out altogether. I don’t feel (at this point, having only read this first book) we really NEEDED all the wrap-ups we were given. This is a series, after all…shouldn’t some things remain sort of mysterious and unexplained, at least for now?
Overall, I enjoyed this read. The characters are quirky and fun, the story is different from what I’d been expecting; Sarah J. Maas knows her craft, that’s for sure. I will be picking up the next book sometime in the future, definitely!