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 exhilirating. 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.
My Review: (This is my definition of a Kick the Puppy Review.)
First I want to say that this isn't a bad book. I think at least some of my disappointment is that all the hype seemed to suggest that this would be one of my "Books of the Year". And it wasn't. My main problem with this book is that Celaena is supposed to be this infamous and deadly assassin. And it didn't feel at all like she was. Yes, she survived the salt mines and when you hear what life was like there, you do get that she's mentally and physically strong. But it's like all her deeds are in the past. In the present, in the world of this book...not so much. First, she sleeps like a log. I mean, another character is able to enter Celaena's room and watch her sleep. Now, my husband was in the military and for years he would jump up at night at the slightest noise. Like his life might depend on being able to respond quickly. And yes, if you're in the "Killing People" business, I would think that having people be able to sneak up on you while you are sleeping would be a Bad Thing. Then in the contest...well, I don't want to throw a spoiler. But her behavior during the contest was odd and not what I would consider very assassin-y.
The world building aspect was probably the best part of this book. It did lift the book up enough that I could overlook my issues with it. Will I read the next book in the series? Yes, I do want to learn what happens next. And the ending- the author left us with something interesting and intriguing at the end. But I'm not going to rush out and buy the next book. I'm not even going to make the next book a priority read. I'll leave it at this...I finished this book almost a month ago and kept putting off this review, because I find that unless I really love or hate a book, it's harder to write a review.
Overall Rating: 3 stars