Friday, July 18, 2014

Book Review: THE ASSASSIN'S BLADE by Sarah J. Maas

(This is a spoiler-free review.)

THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE is a bind-up of five Throne of Glass prequel novellas. It follows Celaena, the most feared assassin of Adarlan, as she embarks on missions for the Assassins Guild and her master, Arobynn. Each novella leads into the next, so even though each is a standalone, together they create one story. The first novella, THE ASSASSIN AND THE PIRATE LORD sets the book’s conflict into motion. Celaena and her fellow assassin Sam (who is mentioned several times in THRONE OF GLASS and CROWN OF MIDNIGHT) are sent to oversee a deal with the Pirate Lord about slave trading. But Celanea begins to have second thoughts, and her actions in this story (and the consequences) carry through into the other novellas.

The five novellas are:

I read this book after completing both THRONE OF GLASS and CROWN OF MIDNIGHT, but I recently found out that the novellas were released as eBooks before THRONE OF GLASS came out. Just curious: Did any Throne of Glass fans read the novellas first? How did that change/influence your reading of the first two books in the series? Or did you read it in the order I did? I’m not sure if one way is better than the other. I definitely had a feeling of dread reading the novellas, especially THE ASSASSIN AND THE EMPIRE, because I knew what was about to happen to Celaena at the end.

Celaena’s character development over the course of these novellas was great. She begins as a clever and ruthless assassin with a ton of pride—she knows she’s the best there is. She always obeys Arobynn, her master and the leader of the Assassins Guild, because he saved her from near-death when she was young and trained her as his protégée. Throughout the novellas, though, she discovers Arobynn has his own agenda, one she does not agree with. We also see her struggle with her feelings for Sam. They have always disliked each other, but when they are thrown together on a mission, Celaena slowly realizes she may have been wrong about Sam. I adored Sam! I knew who he was from the other books, but I loved seeing him in action, not just through Celaena’s cryptic memories.

My favorite of the novellas is THE ASSASSIN AND THE EMPIRE. It ties closely to THRONE OF GLASS, dealing with many of the events we only hear about in memory/flashback in TOG. It takes on a darker tone, setting the stage for TOG and COM. We see the biggest emotional shift in Celaena here, particularly at the end. After finishing, I immediately wanted to pick up TOG again!

Sarah J. Maas is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. Maybe my favorite YA fantasy author! If you are a fan of this series and haven’t read THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE yet, what are you waiting for? I’d say it’s absolutely necessary if you want to truly understand Celaena as a character and why she acts the way she does in the series. Plus the cover is stunning, especially when you see it in person. So many colors!  

Check out my review of THRONE OF GLASS here!

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