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´m supposed to be studying for my biology exam tomorrow, but no, here I am, grinning from ear to ear and typing up a review. But I couldn´t wait until Saturday to post, and if I´m not studying I might as well do something productive…such as express my absolute love for Sarah J. Maas and her beautiful mind. She had the idea for this book when she was 16 years old! How awesome is that? Heck, I´m sixteen and I definitely do not have the discipline to sit down and write an entire book (although I´ve tried. Oh, how I´ve tried…), and let me tell you something: this story is so, so good.
First of all, the main character is a seventeen year old badass, known as Adarlan´s Assassin. She´s astonishingly beautiful (probably to lure in her prey), has a problem with authority figures, is 90% sass and can kill anyone with nothing but her bare hands…while blindfolded. But she is also a teenager, a very dramatic teenager at that, and people are always surprised when she acts like one. Celaena (I´m not even going to mention how many different ways I managed to spell her name while taking notes) has to go through all the normal things girls go through, but with some little extra things that come with the profession of being the Crown Prince´s Champion. She gets period cramps, loves chocolate, falls in love, complains about waking up early…and then she tries to stab someone and fights beasts from other realms and has to deal with an evil king. Even though she´s a skilled assassin and I´m at most a sedentary teenager, it´s very easy to relate to her. Not just because of her love for reading, but because of her humor and who she is in general.
Okay, but one thing that bothered me a bit was that Celaena had this huge reputation, but as much as she loved to threaten everyone, she attempted zero murders (except for the flower pot thing, but c´mon). I´m not much into gory things, but for someone as angry as her, who was stuck in the mines for an entire year, she attempted very little compared to what I expected. And as my inner Les Miserables geek would say, in a slight and shameful parody, empty threats at empty tables (oh, my God *cringe*). But she is human, and comes to a realization at the end of the book that breaks my heart and makes me happy at the same time.
Chaol´s and Dorian´s love for Celaena is apparent, but they´re different kinds of love. This is a love triangle between the Crown Prince, the Adarlan´s Assassin and the Captain of the Royal Guard, but incredibly enough, it´s fitting. I know it´s going to end in heartbreak, but Celaena is so used to being hated by everyone and losing everyone she loves, that it feels fair that two people love her in different ways. Chaol is calm and secure, someone to trust and whom she loves, and Dorian is similar to her, so understanding and someone she also loves. They both ground her, and although she doesn´t need them to survive, they help her live through all the loneliness she feels.
Maas doesn’t completely romanticize the time they´re living in, which is rare in the fantasy genre. Yes, she shows the beautiful dresses and the balls and wonders of that world, but she makes sure we don´t forget the horrible side to this land of magic and castles, that most of the wonders are for the nobles, while people are being sold as slaves, living in rot and filth. Which brings me to the wonderful character that is Nehemia, princess of Eyllwe. Wonderful, incredible Nehemia who doesn´t take anyone´s crap and who fights for her suffering people. Her and Celaena´s friendship is the best thing, and no one can say otherwise. They are the ultimate squad goal.
So, if you like reading about assassins who fight for their freedom, silver tongued princes and castles entirely made of glass, this is the book for you.