From the publisher: 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 kings 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.
**Celeste and Christina received this book from Net Galley but this did not influence the review in any way**
♥ Initial thoughts:
Celeste: Wow, so similar to Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder, (that’s a good thing) but yet still so different. I was thrilled to get a copy from Net Galley and couldn’t wait to start this since it came with very high expectations. It began with captured infamous assassin Celaena Sardothien bargaining with the Crowned Prince, Dorian, for an offer that she just could not refuse. This story unfolded in a militarian world filled with many battles, enemies, lovers, mysteries and corruption. I loved every page!
Christina: Let me first say that when I found out that this was up on Net Galley, I literally tripped over myself to get to the computer, crossed all the things after requesting it, refreshed my email account for days (and crying a little inside for each day that went by with no word), and then celebrated like a drunken fool when it said “this title is now available on your page for viewing.” In short, I wanted this one and I wanted it bad. I’m thrilled to say that it lived up to almost every expectation that I had for it.
Christina: So, Calaena Sardothien is a badass– like a real hardcore, dagger-wielding badass. I fell in love with her feisty spirit, her ability to love and laugh after enduring such hardships, and her quick-wit. Did I mention she’s a total kickass? Yeah, you get it. Girlcrush Level 5 Alert, it’s happening people.
♥ The hero:
Celeste: Well, at first in all honesty, I actually wasn’t sure who it would be. I really like Dorian Havilliard, but if it had been Chaol Westfall I would have been pretty thrilled too. Dorian is shadowed by his father, The King, a very powerful man. Dorian is still strong and stands up to his father and makes his own decisions as much as he is able to without being exiled. He also has quite the deep soul. I adored him.
Christina: ALL THE SWOONS, FOLKS! I know what you’re thinking. Swoons, this is good, right? We like swoons. We want the swoons. Well, I’m cheating here because the problem is that, for me, there are two heroes, and they both had me swooning.
On one hand, you have Dorian, the Crown Prince. He may be a womanizer of sorts, but that’s only because he’s wickedly charming and intelligent. I was putty in his hands from his very first interaction with our very own Adarlan’s Assassin. I’ll just say, he gives her books and access to his library, wants to talk with her about them, and signs his letters “Most Affectionately.” Don’t laugh at me, it was very Beauty and the Beast-like. I have now deemed him “His Holy Unfness.”
Then on the other hand, you have Chaol, and he’s Captain of the Royal Guards. I swooned for this captain for a whole other host of reasons. He’s constantly challenging Calaena, whether it’s in their training or mentally or even emotionally. He’s brooding and mysterious, but caring and attentive, and… just, can I keep him?
♥ The chemistry:
Celeste: Yep. It’s there. I was sold sold sold.
Christina: Absolutely, it’s there. Ahem… *fans self.*
♥ The story:
Celeste: I loved the competition. It was simple enough, but the whole story had layers to make it complex. It builds in a way that keeps you pulled in, I kept turning the pages to find out who has what secrets.
Christina: The stacking of this story was great. You had the competition as the main focus, and while the sub-plots included romance(s) and killing and corruption, it wasn’t overly complicated or distracting. There was just enough mystery to keep you moving forward, but not enough to drive you crazy.
Celeste: Formatting. Not a fault of the author, but I was missing sentences at the beginning of every single chapter. Every single time it felt critical (I won’t hold this against the review, I just felt frustrated). I also struggled to keep up with the names- from the names of characters, to their languages and countries it was a lot to keep track of. However, none of that made me dislike the book and by the end I had it down pat.
Christina: I’m not really sure if I have any complaints. The plot moved steadily forward, all the characters were necessary, the 3rd POV helped give insight into all the characters, and it didn’t end in a cliffhanger. I think it was a well-rounded book, but if I had to choose one thing, I guess I’d say that I wish we had more scenes with Celaena and either Chaol or Dorian. Yes, I’m greedy.
♥ Secondary Characters Short Answer Quick Fire
- Celeste: rawr! Sexy brooding bad boy with depth
- Christina: Again, can I have him? He could train me any day.
- Celeste: hard to tell at first, but he seems like a stand-up guy
- Christina: He played favorites at times, but he was mostly fair.
- Celeste: I was guessing the whole time!
- Christina: So strong and cunning! She was also a good friend.
- Celeste: EVIL
- Christina: I loathed him. Evil. Jerkface. Asshat.
- The King:
- Celeste: not to be messed with. hated him by the end
- Christina: I felt Celaena’s terror in his presence. Scary-freaking-dude.
- Duke Perrington:
- Celeste: barf!
- Christina: He’s a cockroach that I want to smash to smithereens.
- Celeste: floozy, or was she? or wasn’t she *wink* WOW
- Christina: Pawn used to play the game by ruthless men.
- Celeste: love him. Hope we see him again!
- Christina: Adored Nox. Swoony in his own way.
- Celeste: wow! I hope to see more of her too, and all her wisdom
- Christina: Also a badass! I think we’ll be seeing lots more of her.
♥ The ending:
Celeste: wha? like that? say it ain’t so! However, I can see Celaena’s reasoning for it. I’m so excited to see what happens next….
Christina: *lip quiver* Well, dang. And then, DAAAANG! I will say that I loved that there wasn’t a cliffhanger. But guess what? I’m still eager for the next book and I want more.
If you liked this check out the novellas…
The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, The Assassin and the Desert, and The Assassin and the Underworld, and this July the 4th novella, The Assassin and the Empire, will be published. There are loads of extras on the author’s website if you enjoy poking around.