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 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.
So I’ve seen these book floating around with nothing but rave reviews, and I have finally joined the club!
My first impression of Celaena – she’s vain, arrogant, and immodest. Basically, Chaol sums her up pretty well right at the beginning. But, then she has these moments where she softens, she shows an interest in reading, creates sincere friendships, and aches with the remembrance of the slaves and conquered peoples of the kingdom. She shows some growth throughout, mainly through her ability to let others into her life after living in a death camp for so long, and I like the walls that come down and show us that though she’s a deadly assassin, she’s still just a girl.
I like Chaol, he’s tough, but you can tell he’s got a heart of gold and he doesn’t coddle Celaena, which I think pushes her to get over herself and become stronger emotionally. Dorian’s ok, I didn’t really like him until the end when he starts standing up to his father. And Nehemia is a bad ass, I like that she gives us another strong female lead, and she and Celaena could take care of a lot of things together.
One of the things I have seen, complaint wise, about this book is the love triangle. I understand, but I don’t really think it gets in the way too much, Celaena is ok being on her own, something I really like about her, and that makes her feelings towards the boys a non-priority in the story. And there isn’t much of a triangle really. She and Chaol are building a friendship throughout the story, and hints at deeper feelings don’t arise until the end. Dorian is set to get her from the start, and it’s clear that he always gets what he wants; they have their fling, and while it’s obvious that Dorian is in love with her, I never got the feeling she reciprocated. I’m glad it ended, and I look forward to see how Celaena and Chaol’s relationship evolves in the second book (I hear it’s heart wrenching!).
Overall, the relationships are what stand out the most about this book for me. Celaena shows some maturity and growth, but all of her friendships are the center of the story. There’s a lot eluding to bigger things; fairy’s, magic, other realms, but not really enough to make much sense. All we are worried about is Celaena surviving long enough to become the kings Champion, which will hopefully give her some power to make a difference, and let us figure out what’s really going on with this King (who no one besides Chaol seems to think is up to something, I mean his entire guard is killed on his trip and he’s the only survivor, that doesn’t just happen!), and why Celaena is so important. It’s a set up book, but quite an enjoyable one!