My rating: 4.5 stars
I knew almost from the first page that this was the start of a great series and was only about a quarter of the way through when I went hunting for the next book in the series. I just knew this was one of those series that I wasn’t going to be able to stop reading until it was finished.
The story follows Celaena, world’s greatest assassin and 18 year old girl. When the book starts she’s serving out a prison sentence doing hard labour in the salt mines where typical life expectancy is a couple of months due to the harsh treatment and lack of food. She has so far lasted a year and, while still alive, is not in the best of shape physically or mentally. When the crown Prince offers her the chance to win her freedom by competing to become the kings champion (assassin) she feels it’s her only chance to get her life back despite potentially having to work for a family she despises. If nothing else, getting out of the mines may give her a chance to escape.
From the mines Celaena travels to the glass palace where she has to work to regain her strength, compete against 23 other challengers with varying backgrounds including thieves, assassins, soldiers, mercenaries and murderers. There can however only be one winner with the losers returning to wherever they came from should they survive which for Celeana means the mines and certain death.
I thought this was a fantastic story. While there are some familiar elements such as the competition, a love triangle, a mysterious past and spirits, fae and demons they are put together in a way that feels original and really works.
It’s an easy read with a lot of action that keeps you reading when you really should be doing something else (like sleeping or eating). The characters are likeable, Celaena in particular. She is a fighter, who is determined to win but is also quite lonely and desperate for friends. She does come across a bit vain and arrogant but she’s also quite funny and more protective than you would expect an assassin to be.
My main criticism however and the reason I couldn’t give 5 stars is that I really couldn’t believe the whole world’s greatest assassin bit. There was way too much crying, fear and depending on others to make it a believable claim. Also maybe the fact she kept trying to save people rather than kill them made it difficult to accept. I’m guessing however if she did spend all of her time going round killing people she probably wouldn’t have been so likeable.
Anyway, it’s been at least 12 hours since I finished so it’s time I got started on the next in the series. Can’t wait to find out what happens next and possibly get to the bottom of some of the mysteries.