Rating: 3 out of 5
Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; 1 edition (August 7, 2012)
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 kings 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.
My Initial Thoughts
A really promising start to a series that is a fun modern fantasy.
The Characters are interesting if a little stereotypical. The heroine, Calaena, is clever, athletic and sassy. She is not perfect and struggles with where her life has taken her. She is also, wait for it, a book reader. OMG YAY a heroine who is kick ass and READS and adores her library. The male leads are a little cliched you have the strong but silent Captain of the Guard and the flirty play boy Prince.
There is the stock standard love triangle, I am not sure you can escape them anymore in these books. But I think I am team Captain Westfall, Prince Dorian is a bit to shallow for my liking.
The author is clearly a huge book nerd as all her main characters are also book nerds *squee*
At first it bugged me a little that Calaena is a bit to perfect and I thought "is there nothing she can't do?" But then it clicked; she is an assassin, her job is to infiltrate and kill people. It would make sense she is proficient at a variety of things (not just killing) so she can close to her victims.
There are some well written action scenes, and some tantalising story threads started that have sparked my curiosity (think I have guessed Calaena's dark secret but shhhhh not telling).
The blurb seems to promise lots of action the story revolves more around Calaena recovering from her time in prison and getting through the trials. I also felt the author tried to fit to much in (there is a trials type game Calaena has to get through, political intrigue, a mysterious creature killing competitors, love triangle, back stories, world building......and more). All of these threads just distracted to much from the main story and, while it was interesting, left me wondering why we needed to know it all right now and not have it revealed later through the series. This book really had more of a set up feel to the series, almost a prequel. I suspect all the main story threads have been revealed and over the next couple of books all will be revealed and expanded on. I can see that being annoying for some but for me it was ok.
Interesting side note do you think the girl on the front cover strongly resembles the author herself? Am I the only one who has noticed this?
While this is isn't as ass kicking as the blurb would suggest it, has it's moments and is a promising start to the series. I will read the next book as I suspect the second book in this series is where things will really happen. I would recommend this book to fans of the genre.