This is book two in a series, and I did review the first so if you haven’t read that or the book and don’t want it spoiled for you, maybe not read this one yet?
The series still follows Celaena Sardothien, but now we get passages from Dorian, the prince, and Chaol, the Captain of the Guard. Celaena is officially now the King’s Champion and heads about doing his business. Assassinating his “enemies” …or in Celaena’s case, fake their death. Even at the risk of her own death.
This story expands more on the Wyrd marks and what they mean, and the old Queen Elena and her task for Celaena to find the root of the King’s evil. Celaena comes across a hooded figure one night in the library, a terrifying hissing figure, but it races away without a trace. This leads her to find yet another secret passage, but this time in the back of the Library.
I love this series. It is fun to read and keeps a good pace. Sarah J. Maas is not good at Mystery or subtlety. Characters don’t have ulterior motives like most books, they can usually be taken at face value. That can either be by design, or author’s personal preference (being able to take someone at face value in OUR world is tough), or just inability. Either way, it kind of ruins the mystery (to me) of the unknown because you don’t have to wonder if one character is scamming another. Take the last book, I knew from the beginning who was summoning the Ridderack, but I was hoping it would be something different and unexpected, so revealing who was summoning the Ridderack was a let down because I wasn’t surprised. In this one, Dorian’s cousin Roland is brought to the castle to help on the council, and out of the goodness of his heart he sides with Dorian on all council matters. I thought he was a plant by the King to get Dorian on his side …but no, Roland was brought in for another matter and honestly believed in Dorian. On one hand, like I said, no mystery, but on the other …it’s kind of refreshing to see characters at face value. To see that there IS goodness in people, even in Royalty. Trust is a real thing in Maas’ world.
Another thing that impressed me with this series is its relationships. Celaena and Nehemia are basically friendship goals. They lay in bed in the mornings together eating breakfast, they walk Celaena’s dog together, Nehemia was teaching Celaena how to read the Wyrdmarks. It’s just utter support on both ends. No cattiness, no jealousy, no bullshit. When they do fight, it’s not about a guy …wait, I can’t say that, their fights are usually about the King and what he’s doing. Nehemia is tied in with the rebels and her own rebellious people, Celaena works for the King and just wants to survive her 4 years of indentured servitude and then disappear. Their fights are brutal, but not stupid and trivial like most YA fights. Nehemia is scared for the lives of her people and the country, and so is Celaena, but she has seen first hand what the King can do. So she is also afraid for the rebels, but her fear and knowledge makes her want to stay as far away from the problem, and get Nehemia to as well. The man took over an entire country 10 years previously, and somehow wiped out all opposing ruling families and scattered what remained. It was never brought up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one of Celaena’s greatest fears was the King would send her after Nehemia.
This story could have very easily been another Christopher Pike god-like heroine with the Ego to match. But while Celaena HAS an ego, it really only comes out in her work. She knows she’s the greatest fighter, she knows she’s the greatest killer, but when she isn’t in her assassin mind-set, she’s just an 18-year-old girl. A girl who loves sweet foods, pretty dresses, and reading. Also, I think if Celaena was written any other way, or even slightly different, her personality would be jarring. But keeping in mind she is an 18-year-old girl who spent a year in a worker prison being starved and beaten, her personality traits work. This book also broadens our view of Celaena; we get to see her at the height of happiness, all the way down to violently deadly grief. With how deeply Celaena feels, and how close she gets with the small amount of people who she feels have saved her, her violent reactions to things makes sense.
I love this series, and I’m excited to see where it goes.