Assassin Abducted

Holy mother of fire.

This book… I will not be right for months. If the next two are like this, I think my brain might break, guys.

Things really start coming to a head for Celaena and her friends here. We see just how sneaky and conniving Celaena can be, we get a taste of a few more territorial fae bastards, to steal Celaena’s term. Some people that I suspected were going to be important to our side proved themselves to be so.

Dorian seems… different after being occupied by a Valg prince. He’s strangely drawn to Manon Blackbeak, and makes the statement that he doesn’t like his women breakable. I think the death of Sorscha really affected him, as much or more so than being host to a Valg.

I’m still in love with Rowan. Why can’t I find my own Rowan?

We really start getting an explanation of what it’s going to take to destroy the Wyrdstones, and let me just tell you, I do NOT like where this is going. At all. Elena finally explains everything to Celaena, who had actually already figured it out.

I will say, after this book, I hesitate to label these as YA anymore. There’s a pretty explicit sex scene (a couple, actually) that make me feel like this belongs firmly in the “fantasy” genre without that YA tag. I feel like publishers these days tend to throw all fantasy and sci-fi literature into YA, whether it truly belongs there or not, which can put people off. I know people who flatly refuse to read anything labeled as YA, because “YA is all fluff.” That’s an incredibly untrue statement – sure, some YA is fluff, just like some adult literature is fluff (and not that there’s anything wrong with fluff, either – fluff can be fun). But a lot of things labeled as YA are some of the best things I’ve read in years. You know how they say “don’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, don’t judge it by its genre, either.

Anyway, Maeve finally makes her move in this book, that conniving bitch, and manages to kidnap Celaena. Celaena, who has made so many contingency plans because she’s willing to sacrifice herself and wants her friends to make the “right” decision and not try to rescue her. And all of this comes crashing down on them once they realize she’s been taken.

Of course, we all know it’s not gonna work that way. We know Rowan, at least, is going to go after her. Thankfully.

I’ve raved about Maas’ characters, but her descriptions of her settings are just as good. I never have a problem getting a clear visual in my head of the places she’s describing. This whole series has just been fantastic, and I can’t wait to see how it ends. It’s either going to make me incredibly happy, or incredibly angry, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Stay tuned – Tower of Dawn coming soon!


Assassin Avenged

Book 4 done! This one took me a little longer to finish – not because it was any less interesting. If anything it was the best book so far. I just had a hard time finding the time to read.

If you remember, in book 3, Celaena went off to Wendlyn, which was Chaol’s efforts to save her life. Queen of Shadows tells us of her return to Adarlan.

She definitely does not return to Adarlan the same person she was when she left – in more ways than one. One of the biggest things on her agenda was vengeance against her former master – the King of Assassins, Arobynn Hamel. In the process she uses him to further her own ends – and this is one instance where the student far exceeded the master.

Celaena’s cousin, Aedion, is in the king’s dungeon and set for execution – which was absolutely a trap for Celaena. But she realizes that, and she manages to manipulate Arobynn into helping her, the whole time letting him believe he has the upper hand. He does manage to get a few digs in, but in the end, Celaena comes out on top. Not only does Arobynn end up dead, she managed to change his will so that he left everything to her.

Dorian is also under the influence of a Valg prince, thanks to the Wyrdstone collar around his neck. It’s a serious point of contention between Celaena and Chaol, because she’s convinced the only thing they can do is kill him, but Chaol refuses to believe it. Chaol eventually becomes convinced, but something happens that changes Celaena’s mind.

Remember Manon Blackbeak? The Ironteeth Witch that I said was going to end up being important? When the king finally goes to meet his Wing Leader, she has a conversation with Dorian, who manages to shunt the Valg prince to the side long enough for Manon to realize that Dorian’s still in there. After fighting Celaena, and Celaena saving her life, Manon owes Celaena a life-debt. Her repayment is she goes to Adarlan and posts fliers all over the city – written in Valg blood – letting Celaena know that Dorian is still alive inside his body, giving her hope that possibly he can be saved. Manon Blackbeak is not the cold-hearted monster that Ironteeth Witches are reputed to be.

Rowan also shows up… thank goodness, because I love Rowan, irascible old warrior that he is. It’s a struggle for him, because there’s no magic in Adarlan, so he can’t shift. But it all works out in the end – because just as I suspected from the very beginning, Celaena restored magic. She also finally took care of the king – after releasing Dorian AND magic. And we find out that the king is a puppet, being controlled by someone else, someone who is actually embodying a Valg King. The last Valg King, the one who’s been trapped for thousands of years. In the end, I didn’t enjoy the death of the king as much as I wanted to – I actually felt sorry for him, and wished there could have been some way to not kill him.

Guys, for the most part, this series is keeping me on my toes. Other than me figuring out Celaena’s real identity back in book 1, anyway. It’s so good. Seriously one of the best things I’ve read in several years, it’s on the list with the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor and the Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo. I don’t know why I waited so long to read these – although the plus side to that is I don’t have to wait on the next book to be published because the series is finished. I have no patience.

I honestly can’t say enough about Maas’ characters – there is not a single one that I’ve found to be flat or uninteresting, particularly our main cast of characters. They’ve all got many facets to their personalities, and it makes them feel real. From Fae to Witch to Human, they’re all easy to connect with.

I’ve already started Empire of Storms, which so far is promising to be just as enthralling as the rest of the series has been so far. If you are a fantasy fan, I highly recommend checking these books out.

Assassin Enflamed

Book 3 in the bag!

Fair warning, guys – there will almost certainly be spoilers for the first two books in this review. I really have no idea how I can talk about it without them! If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like that kind of thing, then stop reading now. Really, just stop. Then immediately go out and pick up Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight. Read like hell. Then come back here and read this review.

Ready? Then off we go. You have been warned.

Would you look at her? Can I be her when I grow up?

First of all, back when I read Crown of Midnight, I began having some suspicions that Celaena Sardothien was not who she was pretending to be. Early on, when they first left Endovier and the little fairies visited her, I began to suspect Celaena was fae. Later, when someone associated with the rebels mentioned that they were rallying under the banner of Aelin Galathynius, that she was going to lead an army… and Celaena was very certain that it wasn’t possible… I began to suspect that the reason she was so sure is because she is Aelin. In Crown of Midnight, at the very end, we find out that this is true. She escaped when her parents were murdered, and she is the rightful queen of Terrasen.

Heir of Fire is the story of Celaena’s journey of learning to accept that she is still Aelin, whether she wants to be or not.

Maeve, queen of the fae, sends one of her blood-sworn soldiers to retrieve Celaena, who is doing nothing but watching the royal family in Wendlyn – the royal family she’s supposed to be assassinating but has no intention of doing so. Apparently, Maeve tried for years to get Celaena’s parents to bring Celaena to her, and they steadfastly refused. They didn’t trust Maeve – with good reason, as it turns out, but anyway. Rowan brings Celaena to Mistward to meet with Maeve, and Maeve offers Celaena answers about the Wyrdkeys if she “earns” them – so Maeve orders Rowan to train Celaena.

It begins very rocky and Rowan is ruthless and brutal, and Celaena is miserable. Eventually they reach a breakthrough, and Celaena starts to embrace her faeness and her power.

There’s a few other storylines in this book as well, and overall Maas managed weaving these concurrent stories together quite well. We also follow Chaol and Aedion – who happens to be Celaena’s cousin and has been pretending to be loyal to the king of Adarlan – who are assisting the rebels; there’s some about Dorian and the healer Sorscha that he’s falling in love with; and most interesting to me is the part of the story that’s from the point of view of Manon Blackbeak, one of the Ironteeth Witches, as her and her coven learn to ride Wyverns. I love the way she ends up choosing her Wyvern, and she’s such a complex character. I feel like she’s going to be very important later on.

Eventually, Rowan and Celaena reach a truce, and actually begin to get along and grow fond of one another. Not in a romantic way, I don’t think, it feels very platonic. And… they find the things that the king of Adarlan made, the things like the one Celaena killed in the library. Turns out they’re the Valg, demons from another dimension. And not just any Valg, they’re Valg princes.

From all these storylines, you piece together that the king of Adarlan is the one who froze magic, and how he did it, and that they’re going to try and undo it. He’s behind the Wyverns being given to the Ironteeth Witches, he’s the one who brought the Valg to their world… he’s just a nasty piece of work and I am seriously going to savor the moment that Celaena sticks his head on a pike.

Eventually, after almost dying at the hands of the Valg, Celaena finally completely embraces her power (which is fire – the same as her ancestor, the first king, Brannon – and the one thing that can destroy the Valg) and truly becomes Aelin and not Celaena.

Maas yet again didn’t pull her punches, especially right at the end of the book. Which I appreciate, honestly. If you want to write riveting literature, you have to take risks and kill those characters. I kind of lost my shit just a little at the end, but it really sucked me in and guaranteed that I will definitely read Queen of Shadows! I already started, so hopefully within the next week or so I’ll be back with a review for you.

Assassin Revealed

Guys. I finished Crown of Midnight.

This is the second book in Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, and boy was this one a rollercoaster ride. For those interested, I did live tweet as I read this book, and those two threads can be found here and here. Definitely worth a gander if you’re interested in my initial reactions.

I legit read this book in two sittings. It has been a long time since a book grabbed me like that, and I enjoyed it immensely.

We start off the book with Celaena showing up with proof of one of the assasinations she’s performed for the king of Adarlan, and that proof is in the form of a severed head and two severed hands. Ew.

However, you soon find out that she isn’t actually performing these assassinations – she’s faking their deaths and raiding corpses for the body parts. We all know that the King would kill her if he knew, so naturally she’s keeping it a secret.

She also makes a decision between Chaol and Dorian in this book, although not the choice I would have made. Personally, I’d have chosen Dorian, I don’t know why but I really like him. I still hold out hope that Celaena is going to kill the King and replace him with Dorian.

I will say, after some of the events in this book, Maas does not pull her punches. At all. There was a gut punch in this one, and I’m not going to be over it for a while.

Celaena finally solves the puzzle of the Queen’s tomb, though, and looks through the right “eye” – which turns out to be Damaris, the first King’s sword. She finds a poem, which is also cryptic, and of course the sassy talking door knocker is of no help. He is, however, hilarious, and I love him. Celaena makes the (terrible) decision to visit Baba Yellowlegs, the witch with the traveling carnival the Queen ordered for her younger son’s return. As it turns out, Baba Yellowlegs is an actual witch, one of the Ironteeth Witches from the Witch Kingdom. She’s also creepy AF. She proceeds to try and kill Celaena… we all know how that ended. But Celaena got her answers – that poem points to the Wyrdstones, keys to opening a Wyrdgate. Extremely powerful, the Wyrdstones were hidden to keep their power out of the wrong hands. The poem, when decoded, tells where the three are hidden. As it turns out, the King has at least one, if not two of them. Because that’s great.

In true Celaena nature, she goes off researching and exploring more secret passages, ends up being followed by Dorian and Chaol at different times, and finally has to share (some) information with them. Secretive as she is, she doesn’t tell them everything.

There are some shocking discoveries made, in secret tunnels in the library, and shocking things done, in the secret tunnels that lead to the tomb. We also find out that my suspicions about Celaena’s true identity – both of my suspicions – were absolutely correct! I never actually said what they were, and I still won’t, because that is a HUGE spoiler. But I was right… and much like when I said that Harry Potter would be the final Horcrux, and when I figured out who Brother Zachariah was before Cassie Clare actually told us, I will never stop gloating about being right. That’s just the kind of person I am 😛

At the end of this book, Chaol manages to get Celaena sent to Wendlyn, on the surface so that she could assassinate the King and heir, but actually because he was trying to save her life. On the day she left, she whispered something in his ear, that when he investigated, revealed her true identity. An identity which I began to suspect in the first book.

This book was full of ups and downs, and definitely kept me guessing. I’ve already made it about halfway through book 3, Heir of Fire, so stay tuned for that review within the next week or so.

Have you read the Throne of Glass series yet? Did you love it? If you haven’t, I hope my reviews will help encourage you to do so, because I am thoroughly enjoying it!

Follow me on Twitter!

I’m going to try live-tweeting as I read Crown of Midnight, because I tend to make snarky comments out loud to my books as I’m reading. I’m going to share them on Twitter, so be sure you go follow me! You can find me here.

Assassin Victorious

Guys… I finished it. And it was good. I hesitate to call it great, because I reserve that for my favorites, but it borders on it. And being the first book in a series, I have hope that the rest of the series will be great.

I had actually intended to do three posts total, but once I hit the halfway point I just couldn’t put the book down. Things took a sharp left turn from “typical fantasy novel” into “what the actual hell is going on here?”

Celaena continued her characteristic sass throughout the book, with quite a few comments that made me giggle. One of my favorites being when Dorian was trying to teach her how to play pool.

If you don’t stop feeling and start instructing, I’m going to rip out your eyes and replace them with these billiard balls.

Celaena Sardothien, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

I think I love it because it’s exactly the kind of thing I think when people annoy me (which, let’s face it, is often. I worked retail for far too long to enjoy the company of people anymore).

There was also the one where she was practicing archery with Chaol, and he was criticizing her.

“You’re going to hit the left wall,” he said, crossing his arms.

“I’m going to hit you in the head if you don’t shut up.”

Chaol and Celaena, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

This girl’s got sass for days, and I love it.

Despite her sass, she does still show herself to be perfectly human, and it’s always that girlish side of her coming to the forefront. To see the things she’s seen, and do the things she’s done, she still has hope and an innocence about her. I can’t say enough about how complex the character is.

The second half of the book is where the action really starts picking up – we have the continuing mystery of who (or what) is murdering the champions, and we add the mystery of the Wyrdmarks. Celaena notices these strange carvings on things all around the palace grounds, and when she mentions it to Princess Nehemia of Eyllwe, Nehemia tells her that they’re Wyrdmarks. She also claims to know nothing else of them.

Celaena also has discovered a secret passage in her room, which, being the person that she is, she has to explore. It leads to some very interesting information, and a meeting with a long-dead half-fae queen. It also proves to be a huge part of the mystery surrounding the murders of the champions.

During all of this, Chaol and Dorian are both falling hopelessly in love with her – like I didn’t see that coming.

Nehemia also turns out to be very interesting – she knows far more about the Wyrdmarks than she originally let on, and I feel like she’s going to be one of Celaena’s greatest allies.

As for the Wyrdmarks themselves, I have to say it’s a different take on a magic system – though they aren’t strictly “magic” the way this particular world uses it. They exist “outside” of magic, and work despite magic being gone from the world. It’s something I can’t wait to learn more about as the series progresses.

And of course, as we all knew she would, Celaena wins the competition. (I mean, the fact that there are six more books was kind of a clue to that.) It didn’t happen quite the way I expected, she won in spite of some heinous cheating. She is now officially Adarlan’s Assassin, and the King owns her for the next four years. I do NOT like that man, and I cannot wait for Celaena to kill him and put Dorian on the throne. I don’t know that’s actually what will happen, but it’s going to be a damn shame if it doesn’t.

Overall, I’d give it 4/5 stars. I’d give it 4.5 if all of the names weren’t so damned tongue twisting. Dorian is pretty straightforward, but Celaena isn’t, and then you have Chaol. Nehemia. Kaltain. Then the places! Adarlan… I keep wanting to call it Ardalan. Eyllwe. How are you even supposed to pronounce that? I know you want something that sounds “fantasy” but I don’t want to have to tie my tongue in knots trying to say them. 😛

I’ll definitely be continuing on with the series – stay tuned!

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Taking On a World of Words.

The idea is you answer the three “W’s”:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, which most of you know because I’m posting about it here! If you haven’t seen it yet, go check out my post The Sassy Assassin.

What did you recently finish reading?

I recently finished The Seeress of Kell by David Eddings – for about the hundredth time. This will always be one of my favorite series, but re-reading it is what inspired me to start this blog – as much as I love it, I need to read new things and not just read the same things over and over again.

What do you think you’ll read next?

It’s quite likely that I’ll continue on with the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, and read Crown of Midnight. I’m enjoying the adventures of Celaena Sardothien, and would like to finish the story.

What are your answers to these three questions? I love to know what everyone else is reading!

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week’s topic is Top Ten Books I Hope I Find Under My Christmas Tree This Morning – and we shall see if I can narrow it down to 10. In no particular order:

  1. Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor – I recently grabbed Strange the Dreamer off the Bargain shelf at Books-a-Million, so now, of course, I need the sequel!
  2. Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman – I LOOOOVED Seraphina and Shadow Scale, and I can’t wait to get my hands on this book set in the same universe.
  3. Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare – I mean, it’s a Cassie Clare book. I need it in my life. I have Lady Midnight already, I just need this one and book 3, which brings us to…
  4. Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare – I really need to finish reading this series, guys.
  5. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – and…
  6. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo – I’ve read Six of Crows, but I don’t own it yet, and I neither own nor have read Crooked Kingdom. I own all the original Grisha trilogy, though, so I need to complete my collection.
  7. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling – The new, fancy, illustrated hardcover version. It’s GORGEOUS and I need it.
  8. The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss – and…
  9. European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss – I’ve read the first one, but don’t own it. It was good enough that I want to own it and the sequel. I haven’t read the sequel yet, but if it was as good as the first book, it will be amazing.
  10. Origin by Dan Brown – I own and have read all of the other Robert Langdon novels, I just haven’t managed to get my hands on this one yet. Hopefully it will be as good as the rest.

I managed to narrow it down to 10! What books are you hoping to get for Christmas (or Hanukkah… or whatever holiday you celebrate… or just because if you don’t celebrate)?

The Sassy Assassin

I’m currently about a third of the way into Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.

So far, I’m pretty well enjoying it, although where I’m at it’s just a pretty standard fantasy novel. Celaena Sardothien, the Assassin of Adarlan, is a young woman living as a slave in the salt mines, when a mysterious man (who turns out to be the Captain of the Royal Guard of Adarlan) takes her out of the mines and to meet the Crown Prince of Adarlan.

She’s given the opportunity to leave the mines, she just has to serve as a “champion” in a competition to find a Champion for the king of Adarlan. Prince Dorian offers her freedom in exchange – eventually. She will have to serve as Champion for six years (which Celaena, being the snarky sasspot that she is, negotiates down to four), and then she will be free.

I like the character of Celaena. She has depth, and she’s just full of snark. Snark is my favorite, I’m quite snarky myself at times. When told she must prove herself worthy, her response is full of sass (and not a small amount of arrogance)

“Why not just hire me already?”

“As I just said, you must prove yourself worthy.”

She put a hand on her hip, and her chains rattled loudly through the room. “Well, I think being Adarlan’s Assassin exceeds any sort of proof you might need.”

Throne of Glass, Sarah J. Maas

I also love the dimension given to the character by the fact that she’s this extremely skilled, hardened assassin, but she’s also still a girl. She’s young, only 18, so she has moments when that girlishness comes to the forefront. She loves clothes, becoming almost giddy when they reach Rifthold and she has servants dress her in a fine riding habit.

She was cheerful — jubilant, really — and her mood improved when the servants coiled her braided hair onto the back of her head and dressed her in a surprisingly fine riding habit that concealed her miserably thin form. She loved clothes — loved the feeling of silk, of velvet, of satin, of suede and chiffon — and was fascinated by the grace of seams, the intricate perfection of an embossed surface. And when she won this ridiculous competition, when she was free… she could buy all the clothes she wanted.

Throne of Glass, Sarah J. Maas

I love that opposition, it makes her feel real and very human. Humans are very complex creatures, we all have our quirks and idiosyncracies, and almost all of us will have something about our character that seems in violent opposition to the impression we give people (for me, it shocks people that I listen to rock and metal… and blows their minds that I have tattoos.) Celaena also loves books and loves to read… a girl after my own heart. Actually, now that I think about it, I think I like her so much because she is very much the character I would love to be if I were in a fantasy novel. She’s intelligent, sassy, highly skilled, and loves to read. That is not to say that she’s perfect – she definitely has flaws. Her confidence does brim over into arrogance at times, and her first thought any time anyone annoys her even slightly is to kill them. Overall she’s a great character – she’s not flat, she’s not cookie cutter, she’s complex and entertaining.

We also find out that magic has vanished from this world, and that had it not, Celaena would be a magic user. She mentioned that her gifts might have destroyed her if magic hadn’t vanished, so I’m very intrigued to find out what her gifts were (are? I feel like at some point in this series, magic is going to return… because why mention that it is gone if you’re not going to return it?)

So far I am truly enjoying the story. There are a lot of great parts that make me giggle, like when Celaena threw a flower pot off a balcony trying to hit Lady Kaltain, or when we find out the name of the king’s sword is Nothung. Look, I won’t say it was intentional on the author’s part, but having an extremely arrogant king with anger issues carrying a sword called “not hung” just screams “overcompensating” to me, and I laughed. A lot. The characters are all pretty dynamic and complex, and most of the men seem utterly smitten with Celaena despite the fact that she’s fairly deadly. It’s going to be interesting to see how the love story aspect of the novel plays out, because right now it could go about three different directions.

I am still waiting for that plot twist to come along that’s going to set this series apart from all the other fantasy series out there. I don’t know if it’s going to be the return of magic, or Celaena winning this competition, or what, but I feel like that thing that’s going to make this series special is waiting just around the corner for me.

Our first read is…

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

I finally finished Seeress of Kell, and though I was tempted to continue on and reread both Belgarath the Sorcerer and Polgara the Sorceress, I’m also super excited to actually start sharing my thoughts on a new series with you guys. So I resisted that urge – maybe eventually I’ll do a reread of that whole series here, simply because it is one of my favorites. But that’s for another day.

My plan is that I will break each book up into chunks, with multiple posts for each book. I’ll be reading ebook copies, so that will make it easy for me to make notes when I find things I want to comment on. I don’t think I’ll approach it as “x chapters per post,” rather it will be when I feel I have enough notes to be worth a post.

I have high hopes for this series, I know that it has been immensely popular, and several friends of mine highly recommended it. It is part of that wave of new YA fantasy that has come out in the last few years, and if it holds up next to some I’ve read (notably the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor, and the Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo) then it will be fantastic.

Stay tuned!