Sarah J Maas
Length: 432 pages
Editions: print and ecopy
Source: Borrowed a friend's copy
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.
A true heroine, who is both feisty, self-reliant, and feminine
Yup. Those alone would have prodded me into reading this book. Toss in a delicious cover and the fact that the main character is an assassin? Woo! It opens at the death camp/salt mines of Endovier and Celaena is being lead out of the mines into an opulent chamber where she meets the Crown Prince, Dorian. From the start, despite her current predicament, she is witty and sharp. The snarky remarks in her head as she observes every step are fantastic. Her wit is sharp as she duels words with Prince Dorian; at no time does she grovel. After agreeing to be his Champion and attempt to win the position of King’s Champion in exchange for her freedom after 4 years, Dorian, the King’s Guard Chaol, and the entourage begin the journey back to the city. We learn the history of Erilea and the spread of the evil of this king, the horrors wreaked upon its people as he strives for power, squashing out anything that opposes him.
Seriously…there’s so much story potential as prequels. I know there are prequel novellas and now I’m gonna have to get them. I want to know more about Celaena’s past, see how she develops into being Ardalan’s Assassin. I want to see the world as neighboring countries fall to Dorian’s father’s rule. The build-up is intense.
This book was action-packed and the mystery was well done. I picked up on the hints early on, but that didn’t make it less enjoyable for me. I understood Celaena being torn between Chaol and Dorian. I understand Dorian’s fascination with her after the parade of vapid twits I’m sure he’s endured from his mother.
I loved the characters! You see all these different aspects of personality from Celaena and Chaol and Dorian and Nehemia: From wit to loyalty to sympathy to empathy; from growing from pompous ass to growing strength and patience and learning to manipulate things to his favor; heartfelt emotion being packed away for a cold exterior to show he/she remains unaffected. Truly wonderful personalities and interactions, the conversations had me smiling.
I cannot wait for CROWN OF MIDNIGHT to release and see how Celaena’s life and relationships develop in this rich, lovely, fantasy world. She’s strong and courageous, with an indomitable spirit, a capacity to love despite her profession and harsh life. Nehemia chose well when she gave her another name of Elentiya, Spirit That Could Not Be Broken.
“Guards have no use in a library.” Oh, how wrong he was! Libraries were full of ideas ---perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons.
“Here’s a lesson for you, Weapons Master,” she said, stalking past him. “Give me real men to fight. Then maybe I’ll bother trying.”
“Find the evil in the castle…But the only truly evil thing in this world is the man ruling it.”
“Maps had always interested her; there was something bewitching in knowing one’s precise location in relation to others on earth.”
“You deserve to be laughed at for such foolish thoughts! I spoke from my soul; you speak only from selfishness.”
--“You’re remarkably judgmental.”
“What’s the point in having a mind if you don’t use it to make judgments?”
And then…there’s one phrase, the last lines of Chapter 54…whoa. :P But you don’t get that one from me. I don’t want to give anything away.