Author Sarah J. Maas
This post does not contain any spoilers.
Genre – Young Adult Fantasy
The book has a kick-ass cover. Apparently, the American version is not the same as this one? Why the publishers would do that when this cover is so dramatic, I will never know.
TWO MEN LOVE HER
THE WHOLE LAND FEARS HER
ONLY SHE CAN SAVE THEM ALL
In a world without magic, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the viscous king who rules from his throne of glass but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she will be released from prison to serve as the King’s Champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.
The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. And a princess from a faraway land with befriend her. But something evil dwells in teh castle–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival–and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.
This is a great blurb. The first three sentences, centered at the top, set the tone. This is a serious book with serious consequences for failure: a romance within a dangerous setting. Not only are lives at risk but so are hearts. In the first paragraph, we learn about the protagonist, her circumstances and the setting.
The second paragraph increases the tension with effective phrasing: ‘fight for survival’, ‘desperate quest’ and ‘root out the evil’. The situation seems untenable. The question the reader ends up asking is: Why is she the only one who can save everyone? Will she succeed?
What is interesting about the book blurb is that it gives a lot of the story away. The relationship with the two men that come to love her develops over the entire course of the book.
Since this book was Sarah J Maas’s debut novel, I think the publisher decided it was important to make the book blurb as interesting as possible, while not worrying about revealing interesting plot developments. Established authors can probably get away with being more mysterious in their book blurbs because they already have an audience. New authors have to develop one. No matter how interesting your plot may be, no one will read them unless you grab them with your blurb. This just might mean giving up some of the mystery of your plot in order to catch the interest of a browser.
After a year of slavery in the Salt Mines of Endovier, Calaena Sardothiem was accustomed to being escorted everywhere in shackles and at sword-point.
This is not a first line that particularly ‘grabs’ me, especially after the book blurb. But it was interesting enough for me to read on to find out why so much security was needed for one girl.
Backstory was generally related through conversations and the protagonist’s internal dialogue. When the ‘princess from a faraway land’ is introduced, Celaena thinks to herself, ‘She’d sworn never to trust girls again.’ This line irked me. The reason for her to think that was vague, nor was the context explained anywhere in the book. I just don’t think YA authors should be encouraging girls to mistrust each other. Women have enough to overcome without creating more hurdles for ourselves.
Celaena’s heart gave a screech and dove behind her spine.
This line was so visual it made me imagine her heart was a puppy and was cowering behind someone’s leg. It made me empathize with her.
I very much enjoyed the beginning of the story, learning about the world Maas created and the relationships that developed between Celaena and the secondary characters. Unfortunately, the middle fell apart for me. I found it repetitive and found Caleana’s actions somewhat perplexing. Why she doesn’t share her research with the secondary characters is beyond me.
I found an excellent article called ‘5 Common Problems with Middles‘. I think Maas might have fallen into one or two of these traps.
Another issue I had with the book is that Celaena is another perfect protagonist. Blond, beautiful, smart, well read, good dancer…best assassin in the world. Typical stuff.
This is the first YA fantasy book that I’ve read that included the main character (or anyone) getting nausea and cramps during their period, or even mentioning menstruation at all. High points for that. Maas did a good job of showing how her two love interests handled learning that she wasn’t sick, it was her ‘monthly cycle’ causing her symptoms.
Although, the book was not one of my favourite reads, I did enjoy reading it overall