This was an engaging book to read and one that I will doubly enjoy because my newly teenaged cousin will be reading it as well. I liked the perspective of a female teenage assassin. I look forward to continuing the series and delving more into Caelena’s origins, what happened to her family, the man who mentored her and how she feels about the lives she has taken in the course of her work. Most of this novel concentrated on Caelena’s training and getting herself into shape to win the competition. I appreciated the detail that acknowledged that she wasn’t in immediate fighting shape, and that she had to work hard to be a worthy opponent. Maas’s strength in this book is her world building, and I loved getting to the know the characters, rules and mythology of this world. It’s a great set up to further explore why and how magic became forbidden, her relationships with Dorian, Chaol, Nehemia, and her relationship with the King.
Caelena is a feisty and smart heroine, who looks forward to making the best of her opportunities without getting too bogged down in the troubles of her past. I really liked that she was optimistic, strong and forward focused, and this book has really built the anticipation to meeting characters Caelena has mentioned as being important in shaping her life. Recommended.