I was captivated by this YA fantasy about a girl, a deadly assassin sentenced to life slaving in the salt mines. After a year, the Crown Prince offers a deal: be his candidate in a competition to decide the King’s Champion and earn freedom. The Prince and the Captain of the Royal Guard are surprised to find Celaena not ruthless or dangerous, but kind — although outspoken and determined. As she trains, she develops romantic feelings for both of them. Matters are complicated when contestants start dying. She delves into the mystery, prompted by a benevolent ghost who wants her to root out the evil. Magical writings called Wyrdmarks are part of the puzzle if only she can decipher them. The situation worsens when she is attacked by a ridderak, the monster killing contestants. She barely survives to fight in the final round. Failure seems certain when she is poisoned before the duel and can’t combat her opponent who uses demons to win. Celaena is a great character — a girl whose life is marked by pathos, but never gives up. I was up all night finishing this one.