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 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 three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. 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.

From the first few pages I was instantly hooked and unable to put this book down; and while this review is coming a little later (as I read this book when it was first published in the US) – I would feel strange posting a review for Queen of Shadows without the predecessors first being here. This book has romance, adventure, mystery and fantasy. Not to mention, it’s hard to not instantly become attached to these characters.

We’re first introduced to an 18-year-old Celaena when Prince Dorian and his company come seeking her out at the salt mines in Endovier. They go seeking the best assassin all around and had no idea what to expect. Celaena sees the opportunity to win her freedom, which is something she has desperately longed for, and accepts the offer.

Dorian is the prince of Wendlyn. He’s funny, flirty, and a sweetheart. He comes out of the gates charming your pants off – unfortunately he’s a little immature and has a lot of growing up to do. Especially before he’s ready to stand up to his father. I can’t get enough of his curiosity and his love for learning. It kind of makes up for his lack of depth on the surface.

Choal is the captain of the King’s guard, and he totally sneaks up on you as one of the love interests. It’s so easy to dislike him at the beginning of the book, but once it progresses and you realize how much you actually care for him… it’s astonishing. He’s stolen your heart without you realizing it, and I think a lot of that comes from the fact that we slowly realize how much he cares about Celaena.

Normally I’m against the cliche of a love triangle, but this one is honestly one of my favourites. The way they are written into the story isn’t something that threatens to be too overbearing, which I think is really important. It’s a gradual progression too and honestly is just as important to the storyline as Celaena’s history.

“You could rattle the stars,” she whispered. “You could do anything, if only you dared. And deep down, you know it, too. That’s what scares you most.” ― Sarah J Maas, Throne of Glass

Ultimately this series has become one of my favourites and this book set the bar pretty high. There were some hiccups along the way and a little growing that needed to happen and some slight personality flaws in Celaena – but she’s a teenage girl. It’s to be expected. I would honestly recommend this book to anyone who likes awesome fantasy stories that are packed with action but aren’t overly done.