First up: the world creation is seriously good. It came off the page and sucked me in. Celaena, the main character, was the best assassin in the land until she was betrayed and captured by the King’s men.
Instead of being executed, she was sent to the salt mines of Endovier. The mines are a death camp where the average life expectancy is a couple of months. Through a combination of willpower and the king’s determination for her to die slowly and painfully, Celaena has survived for a year.
One day the Crown Prince arrives to offer her a choice: stay in the mines and die or compete as his champion in the trials to find the King’s Champion (snazzy term for his assassin) and eventually earn her freedom. Obviously she chooses the latter option and finds herself in a competition more dangerous than she had imagined.
A dark magic has been woken and is killing off the contestants in gruesome ways. Celaena realises that the only way to survive is to find the source of said magic and try to eliminate it.
This book has a kick-arse and easy-to-adore main character, scathing one-liners, a palpable sense of danger and a story as fast-paced as its dialogue.
What’s not to like!?