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
So I really wanted to like this book, I mean you gotta love girl assassin, battle royale, and an interesting love triangle. Okay, so not so much the love triangle but it was basically a mix pot of fantasy and Hunger Game-eque winner take all. And overall I did like it, but at the same time, at parts I felt a slight indifference to it.
Calaena was a pretty good strong heroine who put her money where her mouth is, but she also still had that bit of girly-ness in her too. The rest of the characters are also enjoyable, and I quite liked Nehemia, who is another strong female character. Dorian and Chaol are are like foils of each other, one over the top, one is more moderate.
The plot had both its perks and its flaws. The story definitely falls under the fantasy-lite category and that’s not always a bad thing, but there’s definitely some plot lines that fell in the juvenile side where it could have been built up better. The good part is it’s still pretty action packed and with fun dialogue and a interesting mystery that needs to be solve. The bad part was the interesting mystery got put on the back burner and instead we’re left with the love triangle.
Yes I have to talk about the love triangle. I am not a love triangle fan in books, I will however give this book credit for not entirely being your obvious one-sided love triangle where you wonder if the author bother to put in “second male lead” just to annoy the crap out of you. With that being said though, there’s still a bit of unbalance here. Calaena’s relationship with the boys is a reflection of their personality almost. Calaena and Dorian’s relationship seemed entirely too over the top, and extremely contrived while with Chaol it was so underwhelmingly subtle, if you blink you might miss it (or even dismiss it, if you’re already in Camp Dorian).
Overall an light and fun fantasy-lite that’s pretty nice for when you need a relaxing read with a some action thrown in there.
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