on August 7th 2012
Genres: Young Adult
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.
Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom.
Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.
This series is all the rage for a lot of the book people I follow on Twitter. When I saw the first book was available to read on Oyster I decided to see what all the fuss was about. I got about 25% through and quit because I was bored. This week another book in the series came out and people on Twitter were all excited like it was the second coming of Harry Potter. I decided to try again to see if I missed something. I forced myself to finish it this morning. Yeah, forced. That’s not a good sign. Checking the % finished number every few pages wasn’t a good sign either.
I checked reviews on Goodreads after I finished and am relieved to see that I am not alone. This seems to be a love it or hate it book.
Here’s what bothered me.
Creepy Male Main Characters
Celaena is a seventeen year old female assassin who has been in a prison camp for a year. She is taken out by a Prince and the Captain of his guard to compete in a contest. If she doesn’t win the contest she is going to be sent back to prison. Once at the palace she is kept in her rooms with guards on the doors unless escorted out.
These two men who took her out of the prison have complete control of her life. They have become her jailers. What do they do? They take turns coming into her room in the middle of the night when she is in bed. WTF? That’s not okay.
You know what is even worse? Sometimes she doesn’t wake up when they come in so they stand there and watch her sleep. No, just no. Why is this somehow considered sweet and romantic in YA books? It is not sweet. That is Get Me A Restraining Order behavior. (Why is such a supposedly fearsome killer such a heavy sleeper that they creep up on her all the time anyway?)
So then one of them starts coming onto her. He’s supposedly some major womanizer but of course he wants to give it all up for her. Well, except for that time she is escapes and sees him kissing on another woman while Calaena is supposed to be locked up. How does our heroine react? Does she realize that he is a creep? Don’t be silly. She wonders what is wrong with her and why she feels so jealous.
At the end of the book, (that’s your spoiler alert) she decides to just be friends with him because she wants to be free at the end of her sentence and make decisions for herself. Good on her. But then the other guy comes along and finds out about this decision. His response? He ogles her short nightgown because he always comes in unexpectedly at night. Then this conversation happens.
He pulled out the chair in front of him and sat down. She filled a goblet with wine and handed it to him. “To four years until freedom” she said, lifting her glass.
He raised his in salute. “To you, Celaena.”
Their eyes met, and (creepy dude #2) didn’t hide his smile as she grinned at him. Perhaps four years with her might not be enough.
Right, she’s celebrating the fact that eventually she is going to be free to make her own decisions and he is thinking that now that Creepy Dude #1 is out of the picture that she is all his for the next four years. Chilling.
Magical Puppy Raising
At one point in the story Calaena is given a puppy by Creepy Dude #1. Here is her response.
…I want her trained. I don’t want her urinating on everything and chewing on the furniture and shoes and books. And I want her to sit when I tell her to and lay down and roll over and whatever it is that dogs do. And I want her to run – run with the other dogs when they’re practicing. I want her to put those long legs to use.”
…. “When I’m training” — she kissed the pup’s soft head, and the dog nestled her cold nose against Celaena’s neck — “I want her in the kennels, training as well. When I return in the afternoon, she may be brought to me. I’ll keep her in the night.” Celaena held the dog at eye level. The dog licked her legs in the air. “If you ruin any of my shoes,” she said to the pup, “I’ll turn you into a pair of slippers. Understood?”
Oh, Lord, help me. It is attitudes like this why I have to remind myself on a daily basis that it is illegal to beat people. It is a puppy. It is a baby. It doesn’t know all the rules just because you explain them once. She can’t hold her urine. A person locked up in a room can’t take her outside and she isn’t allowed to urinate in the room. Good plan.
I have this discussion all the time. People bring me 9 week old dogs thinking there is something horribly wrong with them because they aren’t housebroken yet. Or they want drugs for the 4 month old because he is chewing on things. Have they taught the dog manners? Of course not. Dogs are just supposed to know or else magical dog trainers swoop in during the night to teach. Trust me – sending a young puppy outside in the morning for a few hours and then locking her up in a room for the rest of the day and ignoring her (which she does), does not a trained dog make. This is a recipe for an abandoned dog when it doesn’t live up to expectations.