This book was a surprise to say the least. I usually have trouble reading fantasy novels, mainly because i’m not quite used to reading them yet… but this book was really good, i was addicted to the characters and their developments as well as the mystery embedded into the story, it was a journey from the beginning to the end, with an ending making me crave for more of the story so i will definitely be picking up the sequel, this book was in itself a beautiful read and a gorgeous story that made me feel so enraptured by the world Sarah J created.
So, I finished this book last night while treating myself to a bath… so forgive me if i’m not as rambling as usual because i didn’t finish it five seconds ago. The story itself is set in a beautiful fantasy land that we’re introduced to from the perspective from Celaena Sardothien (forgive me if i misspell) a girl who is only 18 and is the land’s most well-known assassin who has spent the last year in one of the most hellish places known to her world, a salt mine where people are known to not last the month and yet she manages an entire year which is unknown to have ever occurred so we’re shown straight away that Celaena is a fighter! my favourite kind of protagonist (badasses make me happy). One day she is taken from the mines by the Captain of the Guard – Choal Westfall and taken to Prince Dorian Havilliard who proposes a deal to Celaena: Fight as his champion in an upcoming competition and become the King’s (his father) Champion and in a few years she will leave the castle a free woman pardoned of all of her crimes. Naturally, she agrees not knowing that she has just thrown herself into a world of mystery and magic in which she will be in a constant state of fighting for her life and her freedom whilst struggling not to give away her heart. This book was beautiful. The plot line was gorgeous and thrilling and the IMAGERY! WOW!! definitely a re-read and possibly the source of my new book addiction.
Ah the business end of my reviews! where to begin? Each and every single character that i came to love in this story had their own character development that made them even more precious in my mind. It was truly beautiful and actually went really well with the way the story developed which is kind of rare, usually when we go into the perspective of another character it can seem kind of repetitive or even necessary to the growing plot line of the book; but in this instance when the perspective changed i felt like i needed that quick insight into the character’s mind to understand what the hell they were doing or even what was going on in the story at the time, it was beautifully balanced and not all repetitive.
Let’s start with the protagonist Celaena Sardothien. Celaena is a beautiful character to read and to look through the eyes of. She has a witty sense of humour and a way with the boys that is insanely inspiring. She is introduced to us when she is originally serving her sentence in Endovier, and even though she’s half-dead, starving and frail her spirit is not weakened; she is as strong in her mind as she always was and even when facing the possibility of execution she has an air of confidence about her that screams “try me.” It’s really fascinating following her character through her journey’s especially as she evolves as a person. She starts off as someone who refuses to get close to, or trust anyone and only ever thinks of her freedom, even if working as the King’s champion makes her feel a little sick to her stomach she’s willing to do anything to gain back her freedom. we’re also shown that she is brave and will not take lightly to any wrongdoings she witnesses when she is discovered to have killed three rapist/murderers who did horrible things to an ally of her’s in Endovier. Over the course of the book she develops friendships, loyalties and even what is hinted to as a budding romance (or two). it is really captivating to witness her subtle evolution not to mention the mystery that her past holds. For instance… who is Sam? Who betrayed her? How did sam die? Who are her parents? What happened to her when she was 8? Who was she in Terrasen? SO MUCH MYSTERY! While some of these things were briefly touched upon in the book, and some i have budding theories for; i’m hoping that all the answers will lie in the next book of the series (though i doubt it with there being four other books and all) also a question that plagues me to this moment is this: What’s the mark on her forehead and what does it mean? i can’t help but feel it’s important to the story, but i’m so impatient for answers i’m lost tempted to Google. ALMOST. i will be picking up the next book in the series soon though, so look forward to that.
Next comes the boys; Dorian Havilliard and Choal Westfall. These two play a large roll in Celaena’s life in the castle, not to mention the sourcing behind some of her character evolution; but they’re not some side character love interests… oh no! they have lives and stories of their own not to mention they each evolve in their own right, thanks large in part to Celaena. Dorian Havilliard is the Crown Prince of Adarlan whose father is a raging warmonger who has basically conquered the entire realm; so you’d expect him to be nothing short of pompous and entitled but he isn’t. Rather he is a young man who is struggling between who he is expected to be and who he is. He tries in every way open to him to disobey his father and show that he isn’t the same kind of man, however, his choices are limited as he lives in fear of the King’s wrath; which he has no qualms about releasing on his family and close advisors. Dorian tries with every fibre of his strength to prove to himself that he can be someone different from his father all the while struggling with his duties as Crown Prince. He is expected by his mother to take a wife, expected to become king and rule just like his father, and expected to behave. In reality however, he wishes only to marry for love, wants to rule with kindness, compassion and without war and most off all he wants to break free of the expectations beheld of him and just to be free to be himself and love whom he wants (which is admittedly shown in his playboy beginnings). He evolves through the influence of Celaena to become all the things that he wants to be. He falls for her, hard and in this transformation there is a moment when he dances with her at a ball that he feels like a man, and a man who is king; she gave him feeling of wholeness and and with it came a capability to ignore what others think of him and to hell with the expectations of others. It’s a truly beautiful transformation.
Chaol (don’t ask me how to pronounce it) Westfall also undergoes and extraordinary transformation. Beautiful, Loyal, Brave Chaol, i could sing his praises all day; try me. He is Captain of the Guard at 22 which is portrayed to be quite the achievement and struggles with no inner demons content with the way he sees the world in black-and-white. This all changes when Celaena comes into his life, naturally he treats he with mistrust, Adarlan’s Assassin alone? Around the Prince? to Chaol, that’s a hell-no situation. So he guards the world from his perception of her by staying by her side at all times when she is outside of her rooms and leaves at least three guards by her chambers when she’s not. In all this time together his world view changes, he cannot at first understand who someone with so many scars from being whipped and has stayed in one of the worst places on earth for such a long time can laugh freely, smile and makes jokes (even if it’s at someone’s expense). Sometimes he wants to strangle her for the way she acts around others (meaning himself and the Prince) and other times he gets a knight in shining armour complex around her. What’s more is that he comes to respect her during the corse of the book; he sees how she changes from someone pale, weak and frail with only humour to defend herself to someone who is strong, challenging and a force to be reckoned with. He trains her and trains with her from day one recognising her talent over and over again, all the while letting her crawl closer and closer to his heart without either of them realising. it’s almost frustrating really. Along the way the most extraordinary change is that he starts to trust her, and even when she seems on the brink of dying is close to breaking everything he ever knows to help her; then comes the moment where his reality shatters; he kills a man to save her life. no longer is he the perfect Captain of the Guard in his own eyes but someone who is stained and he does not regret the action that led him to saving her life even if he feels dirtied by it. Its was amazing to read his ever changing perspective on life.
If i had anything at all negative to say it would be this: I wish some more exploration into the society (meaning holidays and religion etc) had been done but i’m sure that’s rectified in the following books. i would’ve also liked for more information about the land and the mythology behind the Wyrdmarks and maybe something that really gives a feel to how the series will develop. But again all this can be done through following books since this is a series and not a stand-alone. I look forward to reading more from Sarah J Maas!!!
Til next time,