Eighteen-year-old Celaena Sardothien is a prisoner in the salt mines of Endovier, living out a life sentence for her life as a notorious assassin. After surviving a year as a slave in the harsh mines, she is suddenly given a way to freedom: the king is hosting a competition for a position as his personal assassin, and Prince Dorian, crown prince of Endovier, wants to champion Celaena. Despite her loathing for the war-faring king, Celaena agrees, and her new journey–emotional and physical–begins. Once she arrives at the palace, she finds her competition to be fierce, full of other criminals and soldiers. Over the weeks of elimination challenges, Celaena finds herself involved with many of the big names at court. She also finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery as other potential assassins are found dead, one by one. Is she next? How can she stop what seems to be a malevolent, magical force? A destiny awaits her beyond any she could have imagined. Oh, and don’t forget love interests! (I’ll just say “love triangle with swoon-worthy guys” and leave it at that.)
Maas started her story on the premise that Cinderella was actually a deadly assassin. You can still see remnants of the Cinderella fable, and it works well to give the plot a sense of the familiar. Luckily, though, Maas’ story also grew beyond that common mold, becoming a spicier story in its own right with echoes of the tale we all grew up with. Though it doesn’t pack as much punch as some of my favorites (Graceling, The Hunger Games, East), I enjoyed it. I didn’t get to know the characters as well as I wanted, and in the obligatory love triangle, the romance was too obvious on one side and too subtle on the other. Celaena also wasn’t my favorite of the characters, perhaps because we don’t see enough raw emotion (there is some, but I wanted a little more depth). Despite all that, it was a fun story with thrills that kept me guessing until the end, and, for my interests, it was worth the read. Besides, I enjoy a kick-butt female protagonist who can hold her own. In conclusion, as they say, it’s a safe bet for readers who enjoy light fantasy with strong women and dreamy guys. While I don’t expect to ever own a copy myself–I borrowed mine from my awesome local library–I am glad I read it and am looking forward to the sequel.
Speaking of a sequel, it’s called Crown of Midnight and promises a darker, more emotional journey than the first book with “new, overarching” plot lines. Sounds good to me! Crown of Midnight is expected to be published on August 27, 2013. For those who can’t wait that long, Maas also has four “prequel” stories available in eBook format.
Copyright August 2012
Image from www.goodreads.com