This is probably going to be a very spoilery fangirly review of the book which I am writing after many rereads and listens. I had written one post for the whole series here when I binge read the series for the first time, but I realized that the series that has become one of my favorites ever deserves a review for each book.
Celaena is Adarlan’s Assassin who was captured and has been in a slave camp for an year. When Crown Prince Dorian and Captain of the Guard Chaol arrive at Endovier to offer her a chance to win back her freedom, she finally feels some hope. She participates in the competition for the King’s Champion, makes unexpected friendships with Dorian and Chaol and Princess Nehemia of Ellywe but discovers that nothing in Rifthold is as it looks. When her competition starts dying and ghosts and beasts from the otherworld becomes both help and hindrance, she has to race against time to figure out the killer before she becomes the next victim.
Celaena is very very hard to like initially. She is very full of herself, her internal monologue mostly consisting of ways in which she can kill everyone around her. She comes across as very arrogant and may be even narcissistic, but slowly we get to know that it is just a kind of mask to keep going in the face of utter defeat and despair. She is also just a teenager who has seen way too much death in her life and become great at bringing it herself. I loved getting to see all facets of her – the bookworm, the clotheshorse, the chocolate lover – a typical young girl but also an assassin.
Nehemia is a wonder in this book. She is compassionate, strong, confident, fierce defender of her people and a great friend. I loved her relationship with Celaena, the kind of BFF we would all love to have. Nehemia always has her back and protects her and I loved how she defies everyone for her convictions.
Chaol is a hard person to both like and dislike. He is very good at heart and brave and loyal and I can’t help but like him for these qualities. But he also sees everything in black and white, cannot look past Celaena’s past as an assassin but doesn’t really say anything about his King who is a mass murderer and tyrant. His friendship with Dorian is obviously one of the highlights of the book and I also liked he started to accept Celaena a little by the end and may be even consider her a friend.
Dorian Havilliard is an absolutely adorable sweet baby cinnamon roll. He is charming, playful, kind, intelligent and everything that his father is not. We can see his transformation from a slightly spoiled Prince having a gala time with his court ladies to a young man trying to come to terms with the brutality and cruelty of his father while not being able to do anything about it. We get to see glimpses of what kind of a King would he really be in the future. His relationship with Celaena was like a young cute college fling full of banter and fun and flirting. Their conversations are especially enjoyable in the audiobook. I really wish they become best friends and remain together. I love their pair.
The plot of the competition itself is like Hunger Games but thankfully not a very long time is spent on it. And the outcome of it is anyways quite obvious, so we don’t really feel invested in the process. I liked the whole mystery part with Celaena trying to find the killer and doing some extensive research for it too. The book can get slow at times but the action sequences at the end are totally worthy it. The writing is quite simple and easy to follow and I could see how SJM has improved through the years (because I read ACOTAR series first). But the book is enjoyable and fun for the most part and definitely made me decide to read the Crown of Midnight. Though I love this book more after multiple rereads, I will still keep my original rating here.
Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️