From Goodreads: 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.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Celaena’s story is one of heartbreak, and yet there is triumph there as well. Treated horribly by those around her, forced into tortured slavery, her disposition is phenomenal, and her ability to interact with others as well as she did amazed me. I have no doubt that I wouldn’t have acted so well in front of the court! While still always cautious and wary of others, I found Calaena to be a true heroine, even if she is an assassin, and am extremely interested in her back story, which is alluded to throughout the novel, and which I believe is covered in more depth in the prequel novellas that I’m about to scoop up and devour.
Maas has done a superb job creating a story that instantly wraps up the reader within its grasp, and it’s a story that, though long, is virtually perfect. The wit and banter between the characters, especially Celaena, Dorian, and Westfall, was hilarious and I really liked the dynamics between them all. I think a love triangle will develop more so in the next book, but I’m definitely routing for Dorian, though Westfall is great too!
This book is fast paced and its fantasy world is intense. I really liked learning about Wyrdmarks and the Fae magic, though I wouldn’t say that this novel revolves around those elements. Really, it’s a story of survival, where everyone battles against each other, like in The Hunger Games, but instead of a battle to the death, it’s more like a reality TV show where the loser goes back to wherever they came from. In Celaena’s case, that would be back to the slave mines, a fate worse than death. With much riding on the outcome of the sparing and ability tests, Celaena has more than enough on her plate, but something is also stalking her and her opponents. Throw in the shredded remains of her competitors here and there, and this novel also takes on a mystery as the people of court attempt to figure it out before it’s too late.
With all these numerous elements Maas employs throughout her novel—love, betrayal, mystery, intrigue, murder, mayhem, duels, fancy feasts, and witty banter—this novel is a must read. Five stars.
I won an ARC of this novel from Becky at Book Bite Reviews, who picked me up a signed copy of this amazing novel during BEA!