Quick-take: This book about a skilled assassin would be better if she actually did some assassinating.
Celaena Sardothien is the world's most renown assassin. However, one wouldn't know with this book.
The book constantly tells us how amazing she is, but throughout book, all she talks about is boys, books, and her newfound BFF. I would expect her to be a bit more grizzled after supposedly spending a year being whipped in a hard labor camp. Oh yeah, and she is really good at the piano.
As the book was progressing towards the end, I finally realized why the book constantly refers to Celaena as "The Assassin" -- otherwise, we'd forget she is a killer. She performs absolutely no assassinations throughout the entire book. Basically, she just trains really hard, sneaks in to parties, gets involved in a romantic triangle between 2 high-ranking officials, and stays up late reading books in the library.
I really wanted to like this book. I was hoping for another highly-talented fighter like Vin from Mistborn, except darker since she is supposedly a hardened assassin. That is not what I got. I got a young girl going out of her way to adopt a discarded puppy. I got a young girl staying up late to read books. Or having late-in-to-the-night talks with a handsome prince.
Who exactly was this book written for? It certainly isn't for fans of Mistborn or Hunger Games. If I set aside the "assassin" premise and put this story in to the murder-mystery category, then I would not be as upset. Duelists dropping like flies is the main story arc, and investigating that is decent content.
This book would be better if all the fantasy elements were removed (the dream-sequences were not well done) and the whodunit portions was expanded.
Score 3/5. Despite the flaws, it was decently entertaining, and that is a book's main goal for me.