I LOVED this book. Once I read the synopsis, I had to get my hands on it.
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.
Before I started this book, I’d read a few reviews that were mostly negative, so I was bracing for disappointment. However, it was amazing! Haters be damned! Don’t listen to them; this book was great!
A discrepancy that the negative reviewers brought up was the legitimacy of the statement that she was the country’s best assassin. I guess they didn’t believe she could really kill with her bare hands. Oh, how the reviewers underestimated her just as the men in this book underestimate her! There was event after event that proved how good she was! She could drop a grown man in a matter of seconds, and she could keep up with the pack during all of the challenges. However, Celeana was really emotional, but I LOVED that about her. To have the ability to kill but to also love and laugh, cry and scream — it was so believable. People do what they must to survive.
The characters in this novel are all complex and delightful to read. I enjoyed the relationship between Celeana (or Lady Lillian, her alias at court) and the Crown Prince, Dorian. They had so much in common. My favorite thing about their relationship is she didn’t fall for him right away. He was known as a bit of a player and Celeana wasn’t interested until their compatibilities seeped into the cracks of the wall she put between them.
I enjoyed the tension in Celeana’s relationship with Chaol, her trainer and Captain of the Royal Guard. They had a love/hate relationship, but with each victory and each overcome obstacle, they began to trust each other and a relationship was born.
I even want to mention Nox, one of the thieves. Personally, I was rooting for him and I was a bit disappointed with how it all ended between Celeana and him. However, it was all so fun to read and so exciting! Even Celeana’s relationship with the Princess Nehemia was intriguing. This book was well-paced, and the relationships developed over time leading to an amazing story.
There were a few things that stuck out to me in this novel. Initially, I started reading with a negative picture in my head and the third person narrative was a blaring eye sore. (I hate reading third person. I like to know what the main character is thinking and feeling at all times.) However, once I got into the book, I didn’t notice it anymore and the third person was a great way to show the differing views between characters. Another slight issue I had was the characters playing pool in the Castle. I adored these scenes between Celeana and Dorian but for some reason Billiards just seemed too modern to be in this time. (Even though it’s dystopian and it’s anywhere and nowhere at the same time.) I even did some research and apparently billiards came about in the 15th century so Maas’ inclusion of pool in the story isn’t so unusual at all. Huh, you learn something new every day. 🙂 The only thing I didn’t like about this book was the cover, it seems too dated to me. I don’t like the girl and the cover is a bit cheesy.
If you like adventure, action, romance, and books involving kings and their courts, read this book. There is even a fantasy/magic element that I thought was integrated very well. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and even though the ending was open-ended, Maas brought everything together in the end leaving the reader satisfied but still ready for more. I cannot wait to see what happens next. The next book is yet to be titled and is expected to be published in 2013. I’ll have to keep an eye out for this one!