Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
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 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.My thoughts:
I had heard so much about this series that I decided I wanted to try it. I've had such good luck with YA fantasy lately. Off to the library!
The book starts out with Celaena braving unspeakable cruelty and is given a chance to serve as the king's champion in exchange for freedom after 4 years. While this starts out with lots of promise, I have to say that it flagged for me in the middle. I liked all the characters involved (except those you weren't supposed to like). My biggest problem came from Celaena's attitude at court. While it made sense to me that she could easily slip into the role of courtier (assassin... hello!) she didn't. In fact she had a lot of missteps to the point it kind of became unbelievable she was the best of the best. She also started to become very spoiled in her nature in how she started to complain about everything. It was a bit annoying. However, thankfully the whining was interspersed with some adventure and also her compassion for others. I loved that part and it made the middle much better for me. This also set us up for who Celaena really was underneath the assassin exterior at the end. That person I really liked.
My favorite part came toward the end with the tournament at it's pinnacle. The final battle was not a let down but we do not get all the answers. I figured that since this is the first book in the series so you know more learning about herself, her family and her romance will come. I will warn those that there was a love triangle brewing for most of the book but looks like it gets solved in the end... but maybe not permanently. I'm not sure about that, but I can see the possibility of an opening.
I give this book 4 stars. While there were aspects of it that I didn't care for, I'd have to say that there were also parts where I wanted to keep reading even when life told me to put the book down (darn life!). I recommend it to those that enjoy YA fantasy.