Oh I do so love a strong heroine! The heroine in this book, Celaena Sardothien, is a particularly kick butt kind of girl... she is the most notorious assassin in all Adarlan, and she is imprisoned in a death camp to be worked until she can work no longer. Bearing that in mind, she jumps at the chance to represent the Crown Prince in a contest to find the most worthy killer to be named the champion of the King.
Celaena is a blood thirsty young girl of 17. She was taken in by the King of Assassins as a small girl and trained to be the best in the land, and she doesn't miss many opportunities to think about how she can dispatch the witless guards around her. Luckily for them, she is intrigued by the path laid out in front of her, and the feint glimmer of legitimate freedom at the end of it. So she doesn't kill everyone and run off, she hangs around to take part in the contest.
What I loved the most about Celaena is that she was really very weak at the start of the book, but she didn't give in and show that weakness. Her spirit is undaunted, and she fights to survive with her every step. I also loved reading about her developing camaraderie with the Captain Westfall, the Captain of the Royal Guard. He is a very suspicious man, and he rightly doesn't trust Celaena as far as he could throw her, especially around the Crown Prince, Dorien, who just can't seem to resist her. I found the interaction between these three characters to have just the right balance of trust and mistrust, coy and overt behaviors, and some really zingy dialogue. As you might expect, there is a little bit of a love triangle going on here, and I really enjoyed that element. I found it hard to call how it would work out, but I enjoyed being able to read the thoughts of all the characters.
The contest between the killers made for good reading, but the primary focus for plot development became a murder mystery involving sorcery and spirits. I was less satisfied by that development than the progress of Celaena as I wanted her to play a larger role in solving that problem than just reading tons of books. When she was finally allowed to examine a body, she was fantastic! I can see a rosy future for her in a more empowered role within the Kingdom.
While I wanted a little more action from this book, given the promise of it being about an assassin, I think that there is more than enough to entertain here, and I look forward to reading more about Celaena. I might start with the 4 prequel novellas that have been released, and I do expect a sequel to Throne of Glass in the future which I would be excited to read!