The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas
Published: March 4th 2014 by Bloomsbury Children’s
Contains all five novellas.
Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan’s most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin’s Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas – together in one edition for the first time – Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn’s orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out.
Let’s be honest, if Maas hadn’t written and released Tower of Dawn, I would never have gotten around to reading these novellas. I read this purely because I needed to before reading Tower of Dawn and, whilst I enjoyed most of them, there are a couple of unpopular opinions heading your way. Also, I should mention that I actually ended up listening to the audiobook of this (shock horror) purely because every time sat down to read it, I was getting distracted by other things – plus it helped when I was ill and didn’t really want to read!
The Assassin’s Blade contains all five prequel novellas, which started off with The Assassin and the Pirate Lord. The events of Skulls Bay set the rest of the events in the following novellas into motion which ultimately led to where Celaena (as she was known back then) to where she was at the beginning of Throne of Glass (trying to remain spoiler free, somewhat). I do feel like these prequel novellas could have really all been put into one prequel book, rather than five separate novellas. All the events from Skulls Bay leading up to the ultimate ending happened within months of each other and really followed as a consequence to the previous novella – so it would have made more sense to me to create one larger book, rather than 5 smaller ones.
What I really enjoyed about these books was the insight that it gave into Celaena’s character and who she really was and just how much she had grown from who she was then, to what she became in the Throne of Glass series. It was extremely easy to forget, most of the time, just how young Celaena was during these novellas – but then something would happen to show just how naive she was and her age was slap you in the face. Whilst she was mature in some areas (considering she’s Adarlan’s Assassin), she was naive in others (relationships with Sam and Arobynn) and it showed. Her naivety is really what got her where she landed because she put blind faith into someone she knew that she couldn’t trust…
I was most excited to be introduced to Sam. We heard a lot about him in the main series, but we can only meet him in the novellas. I was disappointed to find that I didn’t really like Sam and he’s much like a Tamlin, but not as extreme. If you have read the A Court of of Thorns and Roses series, you will know who Tamlin is – before you get your pitchforks out, let me explain. For me, the way I interpreted the book, Sam was very manipulative of Celaena – he often used her feelings for him against her (asking her questions like “Do you want to be with me?”) to get what he wanted. I understand that he was trying to keep her safe and trying to start a new life with her somewhere far away, but I think he went the wrong way about it. He refused to let her come along on a job (which is what she does because she was THE assassin of Adarlan) even though she wanted to – he wanted to keep her safe (understandable), but in the end, it should have really been her decision to make. He also knew that she didn’t want to leave the continent (although he may not have understood why) but he went and made arrangements without consulting her first to move away, and then expected her to accept it. He got angry when things didn’t go his way and he was constantly doing stuff that she didn’t like, and argued with her when she didn’t accept it. The difference between Tamlin and Sam was that Sam didn’t go to as extreme lengths as Tamlin did and Celaena, whilst naive, held her own against Sam. I think, if events had gone differently, the relationship would have turned sour, just like Tamlin and Feyre’s. For me, Sam’s sweet gestures (buying her sheet music) didn’t make up for the rest.
I think my least favourite novella was probably The Assassin and the Healer purely because it wasn’t as fleshed out as the others and it was a sort of middle point between what had happened with Arobynn in Rifthold and where Celaena was going for her punishment. It was still enjoyable, but if I had to pick my least favourite, it would be that one.
After seeing more of Arobynn and what he was like toward Celaena in these books, I would love to see a novellan from his perspective from this kind of time period, before Celaena went to the Salt Mines. I would be so interested to see what his thought processes were and what he was truly feeling at the end of The Assassin and the Empire, because he was such a twisted character – he definitely added another layer to the story!
All in all, I really enjoyed these novellas and the insight that they gave into Celaena’s character and the insights it gave into the characters that came back later on in the series. I am looking forward to seeing how some of these other characters play a role later on in the story! I gave this book 4/5 stars.