We are in the middle of moving AGAIN, thanks to the Landlady selling the house, so the house is a disaster. Once we move I will be updating pictures I miss.
Working at the book store I always saw these books, I just never thought much of them. Fast forward to earlier this year when I found out an artist I really adore has been doing the covers of the newer books. She was always talking about how wonderful the books are, and how excited she was to see her work in book stores. So, I bit the bullet and bought the first book.
I will say this right now and get it out of the way. It’s a teen book aimed at girls. And has very similar plot lines to a dozen other books I’ve already read. It’s kind of a mix between Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games and Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen.
Celaena Sardothien is the worlds best assassin, and she has somehow ended up in prison. Most stories, this is the middle to the end, not the very beginning. Kind of turned the book in it’s head and did make me feel a little confused, I could have sworn I grabbed the first book! While it isn’t really discussed HOW she was caught, it does get more into her history throughout the story so I don’t always feel so confused and was back to being pretty sure I bought book 1.
Celaena is taken from prison with the agreement that she goes through a competition to become the King’s Champion, after 4 years of service, she will be set free and all records wiped. For the Assassin of Adarlan, that’s not an issue, until they brought in a stipulation. To ensure her freedom, she’s not allowed to let anyone know who she is. The most infamous Assassin, with the pride of a 17 year-old-girl who knows she is the greatest, reduced to a common thief. She is not allowed to excel, or fail, she has to stay perfectly in the middle while people less talented than her get the recognition.
So basically, a young girl taken from her horrible environment, cleaned, clothed, and fed, and then forced to take on a fake identity to perform in a deadly competition. But, it is set apart by the fact this isn’t the only plot. Other Champions are being murdered and found mauled all over the castle, and around the bodies are strange markings. What do the dreams Celaena’s been having about a strange woman in the castle catacombs, the visiting Princess, the competition, and a slimy Duke have in common?
There is a standard typical romance in the book – the famous YA Triangle between Celaena, the Crown Prince, and the head of the Guards. I usually blank out the romantic relationships unless they’re really good, and I was more interested in her reactions with each instead of the romantic. The other relationships in the book I was really impressed with were Celaena’s female friends. There was the appropriate amount of mean girls fighting over boys, but she built a friendship with a Princess and no boy-jealousy every came over them. The Princess was worried about her people, and her growing affection made her care and worry for Celaena. Not to many YA novels have lovely female relationships like that, they tend to be catty and jealous.
I also rather enjoyed Celaena’s duality. Even though she was a world-class Assassin, she was still a beautiful 17-year-old girl. She loves candy and looking pretty, but she also loves reading and fighting. She was egotistical, sarcastic, and caring. Too many writers think that female characters are either or, not both. They are either an ass kicker, or a ‘girl’. Celaena is both, even the Princess was a wonderful balance of both. There are a few things brought up in the book that seem to reflect this. The Queen that has been appearing in Celaena’s dream is known mostly throughout history as a ‘Damsel in Distress’, but as Celaena learned more about her, it turns out she was a Warrior along her brothers and soldiers. History was changed to take her power away. There are also several comments made to Celaena like ‘if only she was a man’ and while she was dealing with period cramps ‘it can’t be that bad!’, all things that many of us have heard through our lifetimes.
As much as I enjoyed the book, I felt really let down by the big bad guy reveal. The moment the murders started happening my thought was “it would be a shame if it was the really painfully obvious character”. So, figuring the most obvious choice would not be made I came up with some ideas on who it was, and what was really happening. My heart was crushed when it was the painfully obvious choice, and my hypothesis had nothing to do with anything. I feel like a really cool opportunity was missed to make a really cool monster/summoner combo, instead of just taking the easy way out.
Outside of the let-down of an ending, I did enjoy the book. I rather liked Celaena, which is odd for me and YA heroines, and I would like to keep reading the series.