by Sarah J. Maas
First sentence: “After a year of slavery in the Salt Mines of Endovier, Celaena Sardothien was accustomed to being escorted everywhere in shackles and at sword-point.”
Review copy provided by my place of employment
Release date: August 7, 2012
At first glance, this should be a great fantasy novel. A strong, but not exactly noble, heroine (is there an assassin theme this year?) is put up against twenty three other people (Hunger Games!) in competition for the spot to be the king’s Champion (i.e., heavy) and win her freedom.
Of course she’s Beautiful, Desirable, Awesome, Cool, Flawed, Intelligent, Perfect, and both the prince and the Captain of the Guard is in love with her. (Or so I assume; I never actually got to that point.)
It has Everything a Woman Fanasty Reader wants, right?
Well, there is one problem: the writing is crap.
Sorry. I suppose I should beat around the bush, and I do have to admit that it may be me, not the book, but honestly I had no patience for this (all from the ARC, so maybe the editing will get it together in the next month…):
“She curtsied, looking up at him beneath lowered lashes.” (*eye roll* I understand she’s playing a part, here, but this is just lame.)
“She actually did trip on her dress, and her shoes cut into her heels quite terribly, but he would hear none of her objections as he dragged her into the hall.” (Blah blah blah. There were a lot of instances like this, where I just wanted to say: Really, we don’t need to know how many buttons are on her dress, or whether or not her heels hurt terribly. Get. On. With. It.)
“‘Save it for the competition,’ he said softly, but not weakly.” (SERIOUSLY??? Why does “softly” imply “weakly”? Why do I care?)
“Ahead, Cain turned a corner, heading north — back toward the castle. [repetitive] Like a flock of birds, they followed him. [What have they been doing up to this point?] One step after another, never slowing down. [I didn’t think, giving the previous two sentences, that they had been slowing down.] Let them all watch Cain, let them plot against him. [Okay then: she switched Point of View here, didn’t she?] She didn’t need to win the race to prove she was better — she was better without any kind of validation that the king could give her! [You keep telling yourself that, dearie.] She missed a breath, and her knees wobbled, but she kept upright. The run would be over. Soon. [Not soon enough.]”
There were more, but that pretty much gives you an overview of my irritation. I know that by reading so many middle grade and young adult fiction books, my patience with plotting and wordiness has become limited. But, this was egregious even for a crossover novel (was it supposed to be teen? Adult? I never did figure that out).
So, I bailed. The romance(s) were moving too slowly for me (too much simpering, not enough smouldering), the author kept telling me rather than showing me stuff, and the whole plot was taking way. too. long.
One other note: this author has a huge fan base [don’t shoot me!], and has written several on-line prequels leading up to this novel. I don’t think reading on-line fiction should be a prerequisite to enjoying a novel, and yet I felt that I was missing something when reading this one. Yet another reason I bailed.
But I’m sure some people will luuuuuvvvv it. Just not me.