Published by Bloomsbury in August 2012
After a year of slavery in the Salt Mines of Endovier, Celaena Sardothien was accustomed to being escorted everywhere in shackles and at the sword-point. Most of the thousands of slaves in Endovier received similar treatment-though an extra half-dozen guards always walked Celaena to and from the mines. That was expected by Ardalan's most notorious assassin. What she din not usually expect, however, was a hooded man in black at her side-as there was now.
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.
This book has come a long way and it seems that now it is finally basking in the glory it deserves. The first draft of this was written when the author was sixteen and was originally available on Fiction Press. Now nearly ten years on, the world gets to read an epic fantasy novel that will ultimately become a film - that I have no doubt about. The author has managed to create an intricate and believable fantasy world that sucks you in and becomes so real to you that you honestly feel that it has it has been around for ever. The writing is extremely atmospheric and very descriptive in nature, allowing this new world to be visualised with ease.
I would offer a piece of advice if you are embarking on reading any of this author's work. I would suggest either reading all of the novellas first or none at all, as I found I was a little confused as to how Celaena had ended up in the salt mines, as I had left her in a previous novella in a rather gorgeous apartment. So it took me a little while to work out what had happened. However all are worth reading and will allow you to immerse yourself in Calaena's world.
Calaena is one of my favourite characters from this year. I honestly think she is just amazing. So young, yet so strong - a fierce sense of morality twinned with killer instincts. However we saw a more vulnerable side to her in this book. I think certain events in her life had begun to wear her down. She showed her loving and caring side, allowing others to enter her life and be close to her for the first time. The budding friendships between Calaena and Dorian and Chaol are intriguing and I desperately want to know where the author plans to take them. I was hoping to see Chaol become a stronger feature in her life, as he really stood out for me, so much more that Dorian. He has the strength and talents to match Celaena and can stand up to her with ease.
I really enjoyed the plot and I found myself thrilled by how the story developed as revelations occurred. I was surprised to see the inclusion of magic and the paranormal world within the book as it hadn't appeared in any of the novellas. However, it was a welcome addition to an already interesting world.
I am really excited by this series and want to insist that everyone I meet takes the time to read it. I look foward to meeting with Caelena again in the future; I really hope there is a second book in the planning stage. I have to be honest and admit to being rather sad to leave Caelena's world, as I feel like I have got to know her so well over the last couple of months. She really is a character everyone should know.