7 August 2012, Bloomsbury USA
Celaena is saved from working in the salt mines. She was sent there as punishment for being the best assassin in Adarlan, and her skills are still wanted-- the Crown Prince Dorian wants her to compete with two dozen others to win the right to be the champion of the king. If she wins, she will also be granted her freedom. While she doesn't particularly relish this proposition, being a bit out of shape after a year of abuse in the mines, she sees no other way out. She is given to the care of Philippa, her maid, and Choal, the captain of the guard who is in charge of her training. Since she is fairly notorious, she is living in the palace under the identity of Lady Lillian, a jewel thief. The other competitors (all men) don't take her seriously until her skills are evident in the competitions. Not only are competitors eliminated for not doing well enough at the tests, but several competitors are found dead, killed in very gruesome ways. Magic has been outlawed and eliminated in the kingdom, but when Celaena find Wyrdmarks near the bodies, and later in her own room, she becomes suspicious. Despite the grueling training and tests, she finds time to read books, befriend a visiting princess, Nehemia, and fall in love... with both Dorian and Choal, to a certain degree. She manages to make it to the final show down of the competitors, but the violent and huge Cain is not fighting fairly and is endangering all of Ardalan. Even though her background is an assassin, can Celaena use her skills to keep the kingdom safe?
Strengths: Like Brewer's Soulbound, Pierce's Alanna, or Cashore's Graceling, this is high fantasy with a take charge heroine, lots of action, and a bit of romance. The medieval setting makes sure that luxurious ball gowns, servants, and a castle are involved as well. I was drawn into this more than I thought I would be.
Weaknesses: I would have liked this more is Celaena hadn't been so beautiful. In Alanna, two men sort of fall in love with our character before they quite realize that she's even a girl; Celaena sometimes seems to revel in her beauty more than her abilities. If she is that good an assassin, I don't think she would have been quite as comfortable and lazy during the competition. While I was drawn into this, it is rather derivative. There are several prequels to this that were published online, and I feel at a disadvantage for not having read them.
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The Assassin and the Underworld (Throne of Glass, #0.3)
The Assassin and the Empire (Throne of Glass, #0.4)