In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is 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. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--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.
Going into re-reading this series I know I am going to have some issues with it as a whole. It's not perfect by any means but I am still incredibly entertained and interested in the story. My favorite character, Chaol, has his own book out now Tower of Dawn. So I wanted to re-read the series before jumping into the new book. However, even with everything I know that happens in future books I am going to review these books individually like I am reading them for the first time.
Like I said earlier, Chaol is my favorite character, but I don't mind Celaena as a character especially in the first three/four books. I find her to be very self centered but also at times a really interesting character. I understand why people don't like her, but I don't mind her. I am incredibly interested in her back story. The character I feel is the most annoying has to be Dorian. I find his character to be a bit boring and overused. He almost had me when he gave Celaena access to the library and a puppy, but even that couldn't trick me into fully liking him. I enjoy Nehemia's character and her friendship with Celaena, but I don't think we get enough of her in this book. I don't fully feel like we as readers have gotten to know who Nehemia is as a whole character.
There are parts about Celaena I feel like we should have gotten to see more. For example, we are constantly being told that she is the greatest assassin in Erilea but her mindset sometimes says differently. She doesn't always think like a well trained assassin but instead like a childish newbie who can't get over her big ego. That definitely bothers me because it makes it seem like bad writing. We are not shown very often that Celaena is this badass assassin because for a good chunk of the book she's trying to get back into shape after being in Endovier for a year, and when she's finally back to normal we are mostly told she's this amazing fighter but we aren't shown it. We have a scene during the trials where Celaena is shown to be a fantastic archer and one scene at the end in particular where I think the assassin/fighting part of Celaena shines, but it is brief. I wish we had more moments where we can really see Celaena as Erilea's deadliest assassin and less scenes where she's being a insufferable whining child while training with Chaol. It definitely hurts the story and makes me see why she isn't a well loved character. It also feels like one of a few a continuity errors. Another one being that Celaena is specifically stated that she messed with the hinges of the door of her bedroom so the squeaking will wake her up if someone comes into her room. And then just a chapter or two afterwards 2-3 people sneak into her bedroom while she is asleep.
I like Maas' writing style, I think she writes characters and relationships/friendships really well. Her friendship and slowly budding relationship with Chaol I think is incredibly well written and it's the moments where they're flirting/bantering that I think shows a good side of Celaena. I really love her friendship with Nehemia, you can tell that Celaena really wants a female friend, something she hasn't really had in the past. I am definitely hoping there is more world building in the next book because I feel like that may be where the weakest part of the writing is for me (other than the continuity errors). We are hearing a lot about other places in Erilea but so far we have only seen pieces of Endovier and then mostly we are in Ardalan.
Overall I enjoyed this re-read a lot! I thought it was a lot of fun and I am excited to pick up the book of short stories, The Assassin's Blade, next. I have a stack of books to read first but it is definitely on my upcoming TBR! I recommend this series if you're in the mood for a fun easy to read/get into fantasy. It is really hyped and a lot of people I know do not think it is worth the hype so I feel like knowing that going into it may lower your expectations and secure a better reading experience. Personally, I think Chaol Westfall is enough of a reason to pick up this series.