I have conflicting feelings about this book. I definitely liked it but it wasn’t at all what I was hoping it was going to be.
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.
It starts off well enough with Celaena being in a slave camp and getting drafted into a strange competition in the palace. We learn just enough about the world to be intrigued and to know that there is much more to come. And we’re introduced to just enough magic and mystery to know that not everything and not everyone is what the seem.
And Celaena is reluctant to talk about her past so we know something big is going on there.1
I do wish there had been more action. Reading the description made me think lots of action. This was more like a drawn out training montage with a mystery in the background. I was expecting lots of sword fights and assasinations and Celaena was just very different, personality wise, than I thought she was going to be. I feel like the author was aiming for badass assasin but let a little too much of her own personality get into her.
And then there were the two men. Now, I am not a fan of love triangle. And the male who got most of the romantic attention in this book is not at all the one I was a fan of. But I did like that Celaena didn’t obssess or ANGST about the guys. She just sort of shrugged it all off. She was happy to kiss when kissing presented itself but wasn’t overly attached. She had other things on her mind that were more important. I liked that. Because, really, tournament to the death, ghosts haunting her dreams, and beasts and murderers and rivals lurking the halls of the castle is enough to deal with.
I would’ve felt pretty “meh” about this book if it weren’t for the last fight scene and Chaol’s part in it. And I really liked that bit and the aftermath left me very much wanting the next book. Though I do hope there’s a little MORE of everything in the next one. More action, more romance, more mystery. Not just…weeks of lying around waiting for things to happen.