Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publication: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; 1 edition (August 7, 2012)
Description: 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 Thoughts: This was a breathtaking, epic fantasy debut by Sarah J. Maas. Celaena Sardothien is a very famous assassin but treachery caused her to me sentenced to labor in the salt mines of Endovier until she dies. She is pulled from that certain death by Crown Prince Dorian and his Captain of the Guards - Chaol Westfall - because they need her to compete to be the King's Champion.
Dorian has picked her because he knows his father will hate the choice. Chaol doesn't like the choice and is determined to keep a very close eye on her. She has no desire to be the King's Champion but in a choice between certain death and a possible future, she chooses to compete.
When she arrives at the glass castle, she finds she will be competing against a couple of dozen other candidates put forward by the King's councilors. She trains and adjusts to life in the castle. And, as she trains, she gets to know both Dorian and Chaol better. There is some romance here but none of them can really pursue it because of other more important things.
Celaena also makes friends at the castle. A couple of her competitors earn her support and a princess named Nehemia from the nearby land of Eyllwe becomes her friend too. And, even though magic has been banned in the land, Celaena has some magical assistance from the first queen of the land of Erilea though she doesn't know why. Along with friends, she has a number of enemies too. Her main threat in the competition is Cain who is the candidate put forward by Duke Perrington who is a crony of the evil king - Dorian's father. A jealous rival named Kaltain is also in league with Duke Perrington and scheming to become Dorian's bride. Along with human enemies, something evil is loose in the castle too and is killing her competitors in gruesome ways.
This richly conceived fantasy reminded me of works by Tamora Pierce. Celaena is a strong young woman with more secrets than we learn in this story. Both Dorian and Chaol are wonderful romantic heroes in their own ways. I look forward to reading more in this world.
I can safely recommend this one to fantasy lovers of all ages. I can't wait to share it with my students and have already pre-ordered a copy for my keeper shelf.
She would win. She'd win, and serve the king, and then vanish into nothing, and think no more of castles or kings or assassins. She didn't wish to reign over this city again. Magic was dead, the Fae were banished or executed, and she would never again have anything to do with the rise and fall of kingdoms.I received this eARC from Bloomsbury via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You can buy a copy here.
She wasn't fated for anything. Not anymore.