Review originally posted at awritergoesonajourney.com
Sarah J. Maas
In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake. She got caught.
Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament - fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin's heart be melted?
I did not initially realise that this title was actually young adult but I think it has sufficient story-telling to fit either young adult or adult markets. The protagonist, Celaena, is a strong character and in many respects this is a fairly strong and quite creditable novel. I did however have some concerns.
The first and biggest of these, at least to my anal retentive nature, is an error I like to refer to as Spidie Screw-up. In the 2002 film Spider-Man, our arachnid hero, Spidie, leapt off a tall building after his love interest had fallen over the edge. He accelerated through the air, caught her and with a deft squirt of spider web, was able to save her. That scene was strongly criticised for the simple reason that it defied the reality of gravity. Even allowing for Spidie streamlining himself to be less air-resistant that his sprawling, arm-waving target, he simply could not have caught up with her as depicted due to the fixed nature of gravity and it should have been bye-bye to Kirsten Dunst.
Unfortunately Mass has made the same error, even worsening it by having Celaena not just catch up to someone in free-fall but at such as speed that the collision knocks the wind from her chest. Sorry, but that’s Spidie Screw-up all over again. It is disappointing that this was not picked up on and corrected during editing.
The above was a continuity or reality error. My other couple of concerns are more structural. Without being able to describe it too much and avoid spoilers, there were some unexplained and quite curious deaths around the Glass Palace. Overall there seemed to be much less concern being shown about these by people in general than one would have thought. This is also a country where magic was suddenly forbidden in relatively recent times. The appearance of some cryptic marks at the scene of the killings, apparently drawn in blood, did not appear to strike anyone much as possibly being magically related. For me at least, both of these points detracted from the