Publication date: August 7, 2012
Targeted Audience: Young Adult
Genre: YA Fantasy/Fiction
Blurb: 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 four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. 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.
I honestly haven’t read a proper fantasy book in about a year and for someone who loves fantasy books a lot, admitting this is shameful. So when I started reading this book I almost cried with joy. I kept re-reading the names of the characters and the names of the places because I wanted to remember them as fast as possible. It was as if my brain had been hungry for unknown worlds and now that I was reading about one it couldn’t stop devouring it.
Alright, now about the plot. This book follows the story of an assassin named Celaena Sardothien who is 18 (my mind was blown when I found that out) as she gets called upon by the crown prince of Erilea- Dorian Havilliard, to fight in a competition to become the King’s champion.
Celaena had made the mistake of being caught and was now serving her sentence in the harsh and impossible surviving conditions of the salt mines of Endovier.
She had tried escaping once but had failed. So, when Dorian offers her a deal to win the competition and serve the king as his champion for a few years after which she gets back her freedom, she couldn’t possibly say no.
However, things take a turn towards disaster-ville when she starts forming unwanted relationships with the people around her and suddenly escaping is not the only thing on her mind anymore. To make matters worse, her competitors start dying due to reasons unknown. Now add to that an evil beast on the loose and a ghost who thinks it’s cool to start counseling Celaena on what to do. Yep, it’s a fantasy book alright.
At some points I felt like a certain scene was unnecessary, and somewhere in the middle the plot seemed to go nowhere in particular which I found a little frustrating and I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Sarah J. Maas’s writing style either because I can’t think of any line that really struck me as beautiful. I mean don’t get me wrong, her writing has a nice flow but none of the lines stood up to me as a perspective I never thought about.
I liked the general plot and how everything was slowly unfolding but I was expecting so much more action! Specially since I knew she was an assassin but what I got was a mystery (which is not bad but it wasn’t what I went in hoping for) and a love triangle of sorts. Whenever there were action scenes (which were very rare, sadly) it got over way too quickly for my liking which is probably why I loved the final duel A LOT since it was full on action!
The world building was done greatly but I’m sure there are a lot more things to know about this world which I’ll hopefully find out in the next books.
The characters definitely had distinct voices. Celaena had a very clear thought process and she always weighed her options and took the right decisions most of the time. And most of the times her actions went along with her slightly narcissistic/vain character but there were times where her actions or thoughts felt very out of place. Like the times where she wanted to kiss Dorian, those moments felt a little forced. Besides the bantering and obvious flirting and way too much blushing between Dorian and Celaena I couldn’t really see any growth in their love.
She is a very contrasting character, because at one point she will think of ways to kill someone with a bone pin and at other times she can’t seem to stop fussing about her clothes. This can be a good thing and a bad thing.
Good because it shows us that girls can love dresses and books but also be super badass and it also shows us that even though she is one of the most feared assassins, in reality she is just an 18 year old girl who loves reading books, dressing up and dancing in balls.
Bad because some people have a hard time taking the character seriously because as an assassin she seems too aloof and too out of touch of what is actually happening around her. She thought about escaping the palace but after she was fed and given nice and pretty clothes and a huge library (which would be a good reason to stay if it wasn’t for the fact that she was an assassin who should be out there plotting a way to assassinate the bloody king!) she just totally forgot about the whole escape!
Dorian was someone I thought I would really like in the beginning but he turned out to be a very typical, handsome and sweet prince who doesn’t agree with his fathers ways and just wants to be able to marry a woman he really loves, which is saying a lot considering how many women he winks at on a daily basis. Needless to say his character felt very uneven to me.
Chaol Westfall is probably the only character in the book I absolutely loved. His character didn’t contradict his personality at any point of the book. Another reason why I loved him was because he knew Celaena was a dangerous assassin and so he respected her for it, unlike Dorian who just assumed that Celaena won’t attack him cause he liked her *Bats eyelashes way too many times*
I loved the way Chaol supported Celaena throughout the book. I loved how he felt like an actual person to me instead of just a character in a book. I don’t ship him with anyone but me. So clearly I am Team Dorian.
I really liked Nehemia. She is a very honorable character, loyal and beautiful. She is the princess of Eyllwe who is staying over at the Glass Castle with the king but in reality she is in league with the rebels. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind reading the whole book from her perspective.
The king… I have some serious issues with him. He is said to be all powerful and scary but he didn’t seem anything like it! I’m not saying he seemed friendly, he just didn’t feel scary either. I felt like he was one of the unimportant characters to be honest. I felt that we were just supposed to feel fear in our hearts for this supposedly super creepy and evil king but I didn’t feel that way.
So whenever there were scenes where Celaena felt light-headed being in the presence of the king I couldn’t empathize with her because even though I know he punishes people a lot and acts all mighty evil, I haven’t seen the evil things he did or he can do. This was one of those ‘show more-tell less’ situations. I hope I get to see more of his evil side in the future books.
The mystery of the wyrdmarks, an evil beast on the loose and the whole ghost thing was really the only thing that made me read it till the end.
The book ends with the final duel between the remaining participants of the competition which was my favourite part of THE WHOLE BOOK! BECAUSE THERE WAS SO MUCH FIGHTING AND ASGDFASFSK! I loved it!
Recommendations: It is a good one time read for fantasy lovers as it is a simple fantasy book. I know I made the book sound kind of terrible but I really did like it. However, there were some things that didn’t settle with me very well, that’s all. You should read the book and find it out yourself.
Ratings: Before I started writing this review I thought I liked the book so much that I would give it 4 stars. However, now I’m starting to think that it’s more of a 3.5 stars book, but I will definitely read the next book (hopefully next month).
Lots of love and pasta,