This is the second book (and series) I’ve read by Sarah J. Maas, and while I enjoyed the other more, I still plan on continuing with this series (mostly because the second book in her other series doesn’t come out for months BOO HISS).
Celaena Sardothien is a world-renowned assassin who has been enslaved in a work camp for the past year, for…I just realized I have no idea why. I guess for being an assassin and because the king doesn’t like her (the feeling is mutual).
Prince Dorian, the king’s handsome, charming son, drags her out of this prison for a strange contest that the world’s best assassins and warriors will soon be taking part in. The winner of this contest will become the king’s champion, and basically do his bidding, which we can assume will involve a lot of mayhem and murder.
Dorian promises that if Celaena is able to win, she’ll only need to work for the king for four years before winning her freedom (just like college). Since her only other choice is to stay in the work camp and probably die, she takes him up on her offer, even though she hates the king with the fire of a thousand suns.
Since she is a famed assassin and could easily kill almost anyone she wants, she’s assigned a guard, Chaol, who is immediately distrustful of her. The two soon begin to form a closer bond, even as she and Dorian grow more intimate. This being YA, of course there is a love triangle. Thankfully, it’s handled well and you’re not bashed over the head with it every five minutes because Celaena’s possible lovers understand that she’s busy fighting for her life, and it’s maybe not the best time to guilt her into a makeout session (coughcoughGALE).
Celaena is thankful for the opportunity to live in the castle, in very comfortable quarters, for the entirety of the competition, until competitors begin to die off in absolutely horrible ways. She’s forced with trying to unravel this mystery while ALSO training and competing in a dumb contest to work for a man that she hates.
She’s aided by Dorian, who she’s not sure she should trust, and Chaol, who is not sure he can trust her. My favorite of Celaena’s allies, however, is a friend she makes along the way, a princess from an enemy country named Nehemia. Celaena and Nehemia quickly become friends and their bond is strengthened along the way. I hope the rest of the novels in the series focus as much on their friendship as I assume they will on her relationship with both Dorian and Chaol because GIRL POWER.
There are some prequels to this novel that I did not read, mainly because apparently Celaena is wildly unlikable in them and I was pretty sure they’d make me not want to read any further. Some reviews I read of this book criticized Celaena as being flighty or other words I imagine boil down to “too much like a teenage girl” but I didn’t mind that she had interests outside of killing. Maybe because those interests (reading and PUPPIES) are so dear to my own heart, but also because…she’s 18, no matter how adept at killing she is. Just pretend she’s Buffy Summers and you’ll be fine.