Blurb from GoodReads:
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 four 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.
Ok, so here’s the deal, there were parts of this book I enjoyed:
The idea of a female assassin working undercover shows a lot of promise. The book’s silver and grey cover is also really cool.
-Celaena’s fight scenes
-The bit where she does a death defying leap from a castle wall to save one of the other Champions (yay, cool!)
-The flashbacks to her captivity in the salt mines of Endovier (ugh, brutal!)
-The first chapter, where she’s really sarky with Prince Dorian
-The mentions her training with the King of Assassins, Arobynn, who sounds kind of badass.
-Chaol Westfall, Captain of the Guard- and Celaena’s ally- is kind of cool. Princess Nehemia is also okay.
-The magical ‘Wyrdmarks’ that Calaena investigates were interesting
But there were also some not so good bits (and by not so good, I mean a bit dire):
-Celaena seems kind of vacuous and narcissistic at points
-For tough, streetwise assassin, she sure does swan about in pretty dresses
-I had to learn ALL ABOUT the pretty dresses (*sigh*)
-Everyone kept on telling her she was beautiful
-She kept on telling herself she was beautiful
-Despite the tagline of the book (‘a heart of ice, a will of steel) she did NOT have a heart of ice, NOR a will of steel.
-Prince Dorian, her love interest (or Prince Bore-ian, as I called him) was absolutely TEDIOUS. And ARROGANT. And predictable. He also gives Celaena sweets, a PUPPY (???!!!) and lots of (previously mentioned) pretty dresses. It felt more like Celaena was going to prom night, and less like assassin-fighting-for-her-life.
-Prince Bore-ian’s ‘sapphire eyes.’ Repeated like, sixteen times. Grrr.
-NOT ENOUGH fight scenes
-Not quite dark enough in tone or plot
-Pretty predictable at points
-Celaena also spends a lot of time eating, sleeping and throwing up (seriously)- throwing up when running because she’s eaten too much, throwing up when she’s on her period, throwing up when training. You get the idea.
-She also coos over books a lot (not in an interesting way) and spends A LOT of time reading pretty boring-sounding books, when she should really be training for the competition. When not reading or throwing up, she’s faffing around dancing at a ball with Bore-ian. INSTEAD OF TRAINING.
-PRINCE BORE-IAN. (He gets a special mention, just because I found him so annoying. TBH, probably one of the worst characters I’ve ever read.)
-ToG was apparently inspired by ‘Cinderella.’ WHHHHHHHHYYYYYY??????
-I wanted to learn MORE about her time as an assassin, before she got caught. (Guess I’ll just have to read ‘The Assasssin’s Blade’ for that.)
-Celaena **loves** Bore-ian: uhhh….WHY???
Because of all of this, I felt a teensy bit disappointed by it (especially as this is by the same author who wrote the AMAZING ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses.’) However, I AM willing to give this book the benefit of the doubt, as apparently the rest of the series is a lot better, and has pirates in it. (One can only hope.) I get the sense that the series also probably improves and becomes more sophisticated over time, (‘Empire of Storms’ has got so much hype, I can only assume it’s good, or at least, better) but you’ll have to stay tuned for my review of ‘Crown of Midnight’ (the sequel.) Hopefully it won’t be as predictable. If you’re looking for something a bit more unique, try Marissa Meyer’s ‘Lunar Chronicles, which also reinvents ‘Cinderella’- but this time as a cyborg. Ooh, badass. (Books 1-3 of the Lunar Chronicles reviewed by me here.)
Overall rating: 5 out of 10
Read if you enjoyed: ‘Graceling’ by Kristin Cashore.
This book in four words: Could. Be. More. Badass.