Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas
Celaena Sardothien is her kingdom's most feared assassin. Though she works for the powerful and ruthless Assassin's Guild, Celaena yields to no one and trusts only her fellow killer for hire, Sam.
When Celaena's scheming master, Arobynn Hamel, dispatches her on missions that take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, she finds herself acting independently of his wishes--and questioning her own allegiance. Along the way, she makes friends and enemies alike, and discovers that she feels far more for Sam than just friendship. But by defying Arobynn's orders, Celaena risks unimaginable punishment, and with Sam by her side, he is in danger, too. They will have to risk it all if they hope to escape Arobynn's clutches--and if they fail, they'll lose not just a chance at freedom, but their lives . . .
Assassin's Blade consists of 5 novellas:
1. The Assassin and the Pirate Lord
2. The Assassin and the Healer
3. The Assassin and the Desert
4. The Assassin and the Underworld
5. The Assassin and the Empire
Finally, we're given a look at Celaena Sardothien, the Assassin of Adarlan, protégée of Arobynn Hamel, King of Assassins, looong before she won her way into the King of Adarlan's in Throne of Glass. Here we see into the series of events that lead up to her being packed up and shipped off to the salt mines of Endovier.
These read much like a mini-series for me. Instead of short stories, as traditional novellas usually are, we're given a fully developed storyline that is divided into 5 separate scenes, similar to a BBC series. Because of this, I LOVED IT. Every second. Every sentence. I started this book as a remedy for my Book Hangover from Queen of Shadows, desperate to get a fix, no matter how small, of this incredible world. I was shocked to find myself putting off finishing the last novella in a dire attempt to prolong my time with Celaena, and to put off the inevitable waterworks from the sadness that is Sam Cortland's death.
What I loved:
I loved getting to see Celaena before she was broken, in all her arrogant, cocky, still-young-but-not-innocent glory. We're given glimpses of this in Throne of Glass, but much of it is bravado that she wears like a mask in order to survive in a politically-charged dangerous world. Here, however, she's Numero Uno, the heir to the King of Assassins, and SHE KNOWS IT. Maas did a brilliant job of hitting the rewind button in that particular aspect of character development for our main heroine.
One of my main issues with Throne of Glass was the idea that Celaena Sardothien was supposed to be this lethal, dangerous, incredibly trained killing machine, yet all we see her do is play piano, try on dresses, and not really kill much of anyone... AT ALL. After reading these novellas, missing puzzle pieces clicked into place for me: in Throne of Glass she really doesn't want to kill... not after what was done to her and to Sam *stifles sob*. In a way, after the last novella The Assassin and the Empire, she can never be that person ever again. Killing now takes on a whole new purpose for Celaena. Before it was a job. A reputation. A paycheck. Because of Arobynn's betrayal and Sam's death, from now on killing translates into Revenge. Vindication. Survival. Rage.
What I disliked:
I didn't connect with Novella #2: The Assassin and the Healer. It was much shorter in comparison to the other scenes, seeming more like an addendum to The Assassin and the Desert rather then a stand-alone novella. I found myself reading through it at mach speed to get to the next section.
Maas is a master at weaving tags and multiple storylines on top of one another, so I don't doubt she had a purpose with this one. Possibilities: 1) We're given more information regarding Celaena's homeland and the its destruction 2) Yrene, the barmaid with healing abilities, may show up later in future books now that magic has returned 3) We're shown that Celeana has a compassionate heart when she saves Yrene from a lecherous group of thieves.
This was my only issue. The rest is pure gold. Sarah J. Maas is a sick, twisted genius of wordcraft witchery.
I highly recommend these novellas to anyone who is a Throne of Glass fan, or if you're considering starting the series. They are invaluable in providing excellent backstory information, AND you get to meet Sam Cortland who totally outranks Chaol & Dorian in Awesomeness. Once you get to Novella #4, bring out a box of tissues and bunker down, because it's going to be an emotional rollercoaster till the end. But it is SO WORTH IT.
I rate this 4/5 stars.
If you enjoyed this review, check out my review on Sarah J. Maas's latest release in the Throne of Glass series: Queen of Shadows.