Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan’s Assassin, probably the most feared person in the lands. Until she was sent to death camp Endovier, that is. A year later, the Crown Prince of Adarlan offers her a way out: she has to fight in a competition to become the King’s Champion (aka his minion). Naturally Celaena is like hell yeah because being a minion > dying in the salt mines tbh. In the castle, she has to fight 24 other Champions in multiple tests. She befriends the Crown Prince, Dorian (who is in love with her), the Captain of the Guard, Chaol (who refuses to acknowledge he is in love with her), and the Princess of Eyllwe, Nehemia (who helps the Eyllwe rebels). Then, however, Champions start ending up dead, and Celaena investigates in Wyrd marks, the strange marks that show on the victims’ bodies. With a little help from ancient Fae queen Elena, Celaena figures out that the worst Champion, Cain, is summoning monsters from other realms with these Wyrdmarks, even though magic was outlawed ten years ago. In a final battle, Celaena manages to beat Cain, even though he uses his Wyrd magic to tear her apart. Then she becomes the King’s Champion and lives happily ever after. (Hahahaha never.)
What went down
- Celaena Sardothien is the most notorious assassin of Adarlan, but she got caught and was imprisoned in the Salt Mines of Endovier for a year. One day, the Crown Prince of Adarlan stops by Endovier to offer her a way out: she has to fight in a competition to become the King’s Champion (minion), and after four years, she’ll be free.
- Of course, she accepts, because she’s not stupid. Together with Prince Dorian and Captain of the Guard Chaol she travels to the Glass Palace in Rifthold, the capital of Adarlan. However, no one knows she’s Adarlan’s Assassin, because Celaena’s identity has been kept a secret all these years and also I doubt the people of the palace would be happy to know that Adarlan’s Assassin lived under the same roof, so they call her Lady Lillian Gordaina.
- Then Celaena starts training, because she is horribly out of shape because HELLO, slaving in Endovier. She trains with Chaol, who hates/doesn’t trust her. Celaena also finds the library and asks Dorian to let her borrow books. This is an important fact because SHE LIKES TO READ. *pats Celaena*
- C meets the other competing Champions (murderers, thieves, all kinds of fun people) and also Lady Kaltain, who hangs out at court hoping to marry Dorian even though she is engaged to Perrington. Perrington’s Champion is called Cain and he’s an asshole. We do not like him. Other important Champions are Nox, who becomes Celaena’s friend, and Grave, another assassin who shows up in book two. We also hate Grave.
- The Champions train in a big room together. They start their official training with a test (basically just testing their stamina), Celaena vomits because she’s been in the mines for a year and has basically no strength anymore. Luckily, there’s Chaol to train her, even though he doesn’t want to because he can’t handle the glory that is Celaena Sardothien.
- Celaena and Chaol meet Nehemia, Princess of Eyllwe, and rumored rebel conspirator. Celaena speaks her language because she learned it in Endovier and they get along perfectly. Flawless friends. Nehemia asks Celaena to teach her the common tongue, and then Nehemia can teach her better Eyllwe.
- But THEN things get weird as one of the Champions is found dead. And by dead I mean his face was scratched off and there’s holes in his body because his organs have been eaten. It’s all very pleasant.
- The first test arrives, and is an archery test. Celaena passes, because she’s awesome, even though Chaol told her not to excel at anything, so she has to stay in the middle, which infuriates her because she’s the fucking best.
- During another training one Champion tries to flee, but is killed only moments later. Well then. Now we know that fleeing isn’t an option.
- Meanwhile, Dorian’s mother, the Queen, has decided her son is ready to get married and is looking for a bride. Dorian doesn’t like this one bit.
- Dorian visits Celaena in her chambers and finds her playing beautiful music on the piano, one of her vulnerable moments. They talk, but Celaena eventually sends him away. She does tell him about this guy Sam, who she used to be in love with, but who died thirteen months ago. SOBS FOREVER.
- The second test involves the Champions climbing a very high wall to get a flag. While getting to the top, Nox is nearly thrown off the wall, but she saves him just in time and still place in time, because she’s awesome like that.
- At Samhuinn, a holiday to celebrate the dead, Celaena finds a secret doorway in her room, and goes to investigate. The first passage leads her outside to and she is almost tempted to run away but doesn’t, because she would always be hunted down. Then she takes another passage and she sees a dinner where all the Champions have been invited but her, which annoys her to no end, and she sees Chaol leaving. She hurries back because he’ll probably come for her.
- But before Chaol can make it to her rooms, Dorian is there, because he is in love with her. Chaol then arrives, sends Dorian away, and gives Celaena a ring. It’s all very obvious.
- Celaena dreams of another passage behind the secret door in her room and a tomb that was hidden there. There, she sees the sort of ghost of Elena Havilliard, first Queen of Adarlan and part Fae. Elena married Gavin, the first King of Adarlan, but her father was Brannon, who I believe was the first King of Terrasen? Maybe not. Elena tells Celaena that there’s evil in the castle and that Celaena must win and become Champion to defeat the evil. Elena gives Celaena this special protective amulet. When Celaena wakes up, she still has the amulet, and she realizes it wasn’t a dream.
- Another Champion is found dead and half eaten. This is getting out of hand.
- Nehemia and Celaena go for a walk and find Wyrdmarks near the clocktower (these are apparently signs of magic, which has been banned from Adarlan). Nehemia doesn’t want to talk about them but obviously knows more. Nevertheless, Celaena gets books from the library to investigate it.
- When another body is discovered, Chaol asks Celaena to help him and she finds out that whatever has been killing the Champions is a monster, but also helped by a human. Uh oh. (Chamber of Secrets, anyone?)
- Dorian gives Celaena a puppy for Yulemas! (Important facts here, people.) They kind of really have feelings for each other by now. She names the puppy Fleetfoot and it’s all very precious.
- In the library, Celaena finds Nehemia reading a book that she’s not supposed to be able to read at all, because her common language skills aren’t that good yet. Huh?! Celaena then suspects Nehemia is controlling the evil monster to avenge her people (who have been enslaved and slaughtered by the King of Adarlan).
- For the Yulemas religious ceremony, there are these children giving blessings from the gods, and Celaena ends up getting a blessing from Deanna. THIS IS IMPORTANT.
- There’s a Yulemas ball and Celaena is not invited, but who cares, right? She dresses up fabulously and goes anyway. Mostly to make sure Nehemia doesn’t attack anyone, but also because no one puts Celaena in the corner. Chaol does not approve, but Dorian does and they dance and dance and dance all night. Nehemia does nothing.
- After the ball Dorian and Celaena kiss. She likes it.
- Perrington tells Kaltain that Celaena is actually Adarlan’s Assassin and they plan to drug Celaena during the final battle so Cain can finish her off. Obviously he can’t do it on his own because she’s flawless.
- Celaena finds out that the monster is a ridderak, who has come from another world (there are many worlds beyond their own) with magic. She suspects Nehemia is controlling it. However, when she goes in the tunnel that leads from her room to the tomb where she found Elena, she finds Cain and the monster there. Surprise surprise!
- Celaena defeats the ridderak using Brannon’s sword from the tomb and almost dies from its venom, but in her room, Nehemia shows up to heal her. It turns out Nehemia knows her magic and has been protecting Celaena with Wyrdmarks all along and everything is wonderful. Except, you know, for Cain killing the Champions. Also, this is where Nehemia finds out that Celaena is not Lady Lillian, but Celaena Sardothien. Now they’re besties, because Nehemia doesn’t care about that, and she names Celaena Elentiya.
- Final battle time! The final four Champions fight each other. First, Cain fights a mercenary named Renault, and beats him. Then Celaena beats Grave. Before the Celaena/Cain finale, they are forced to have a victory drink. However, Kaltain has poisoned Celaena’s drink and this makes Celaena very much suck at the fight.
- Cain uses the fight to all but execute Celaena, and the poison makes her see all kinds of dead creatures from other worlds, waiting to attack her. Everything is awful and she nearly dies, but then Nehemia calls for help by using Wyrdmarks and Elena comes and heals Celaena. Celaena then beats Cain, because she’s much better than him.
- Cain is not happy and after looking at the King of Adarlan (pretty sure he gave his blessing), he tries to kill Celaena. Chaol is like nah bro and stabs Cain before he can reach her. Wooo! This leaves Chaol very upset and confused, but whatever, he’ll be fine.
How did it end?
Celaena “breaks up” with Dorian because she’s now the King’s Champion and he is the Prince, and also because spoilers tragic spoilers. He doesn’t like this, but whatever. Celaena signs a contract to become the King’s Champion, but not before the King threatens her that if she doesn’t listen to what he says, he’ll murder Chaol and Nehemia and everyone she cares about. He’s not that nice, really.
Wyrdmarks: Ancient magical signs that do magic. You have to draw them very carefully or they won’t work.