Title: The Assassin’s Blade
Author: Sarah J Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s – an imprint of Bloomsbury
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Genres: Young Adult – Fantasy
Format: Purchased eBook and Hardcover
“The Assassin’s Blade” by Sarah J Maas is a compilation of five novellas that tell Celaena’s story before the events of “Throne of Glass.” This bind up was told all from Celaena’s perspective through five different kinds of “trials” in the year before the events of the first book.
Fair warning: this is a long post.
As it says on Goodreads: 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.
So before I go into a bit of detail into each novella, let me just say that this bind up was definitely worth the read. If you’ve read the first book and didn’t think it was up to par, or if you loved it and have read all the books out so far, I highly suggest reading this to get a sense for who Celaena was before shit went down.
The Assassin and the Pirate Lord
This first novella was about how Celaena was sent on a mission with her rival from the Assassin’s Guild, Sam Cortland, and how the two had to work together to see a deal through with the Pirate Lord, Rolfe. Celaena doesn’t question the mission and begins to go through with it, Sam begrudgingly by her side. But when they learn the true purpose behind the mission at hand, they do everything in their power to destroy the original deal while trying to make them as inconspicuous as possible.
This novella really showed who Celaena was at the beginning before she had a lot of bad things happen to her. She was ruthless and cunning, and so willing to get in and get her hands dirty without question. But I believe that her inner compassion for those who would otherwise not otherwise be looked at twice really shone through. She could see the anguish in the eyes of those she would help and she could see the fear and pain in all of their faces. I think this really shined a light on Celaena as a person. Though she’s supposed to be Adarlan’s Assassin – this tough brute of a young woman who kills her mark every time – she’s really still a young woman in the world who has feelings and compassion for others.
I really enjoyed this novella as it not only showed some budding romance (though it was kind of blind to Celaena at first), it also showed the beginnings of a softer side of Celaena that is a recurring theme in the main book series.
The plot itself was good and engaging and it allowed to really see how things would turn up in the future.
The Assassin and the Healer
This was probably the most boring of all the novellas as it was from dual perspectives and not a whole lot happened in this one, except Celaena taught a girl who was working in an inn for little to nothing and who wanted to be a healer how to defend herself. Again, this showed Celaena’s compassion even though she didn’t really care whether or not the girl actually learned anything.
But it did show a lot more action and just how skilled Celaena is with a blade. Oftentimes in “Throne of Glass” Celaena would say how she could easily dispatch a guard or a person with a flick of her wrist, but she rarely acted upon it.
In this novella, though, she acted upon it and it was awesome.
There was blood and guts and it was a story that mostly told of how she thinks of others before herself. She knows the importance of the girl becoming a healer on another continent in an academy that could specially train her and how the world needs more people like her in it.
Overall, this was my least favorite novella, but it was still a good read because yay, kickass scenes!
The Assassin and the Desert
This one was probably my favorite novella. It’s about how Celaena has to go to the Red Desert after having essentially given up Arrobyn’s business contract with the Pirate Lord and how she has to train with the Mute Master and have a signed paper telling of her accomplishments at the end of a month before he would forgive her.
When she first gets to the desert, it’s hot and disorienting, obviously, but once she’s in the actual assassin’s keep area, she is almost instantly tested for her skills and how she would survive in a place like that. Though the Mute Master doesn’t train her right away, he does eventually teach her their ways and how the importance of observance and patience in a given situation can either make or break you.
She also meets a girl there, Ansel, who is different in that she bears armor that’s entirely shaped like wolves. It’s the symbol of her homeland and she’s kind of a spirited girl. When she takes Celaena on an errand one day, they end up stealing very expensive horses. In fact, Celaena even considers Ansel to be a friend.
And then it all kind of hits the fan.
Though this novella was heartbreaking in some places, it was a fun novella with more humor than I was expecting. It also showed how Celaena’s training came into play and how she was brave enough to turn back and help others rather than just helping herself (see a theme?).
The Assassin and the Underworld
This one was a bit different in that Celaena was given a contract to kill a woman’s ex-husband and get her documents for plans for some sort of slave road that’s being built. Now this novella in particular had a lot of up and down moments, particularly in the romance area between Celaena and Sam. There was dancing and plenty to observe on her mission.
But then when she goes to fulfill said mission, one, she’s almost killed, and two, the second time she goes, she’s played for as a fool and ends up giving the enemy exactly what they want.
And she refuses to play those games anymore.
She ends up buying her freedom, and Sam’s, and the two become much more engrossed in one another soon after that.
But this one showed that Celaena isn’t invincible, that she is capable of making mistakes. It showed a human side of her, and a girly side of her.
The Assassin and the Empire
Okay, this one was the most heart wrenching even though I knew what was going to happen. But still, the feels strings were tugged during this novella. It was a risky move that Celaena and Sam were willing to make in order to keep their freedom and to live separately and far away from Arrobyn and his Keep, but the events that lead up to the devastating thing were even more devastating because of how and why it happened (and you do find out why after and oh my gosh did I want to punch a certain someone in the face).
This novella was the one that lead right up to the beginning of the events of the first book. It showed how and why Celaena was captured and then to be imprisoned in Endovier. It was… an emotional roller coaster, really. I really enjoyed this novella, except when it wrenched my heart out. This one showed how Celaena is broken by traumatic events in her life (and if you’ve read the second and third books, you know what I’m talking about).
WOO. Okay. That was a lot to go through. But overall, these novellas are definitely worth the read for the background story information that we get about Celaena and how they all somehow portray different parts of her – whether it be revenge and rage, or compassion and kindness.
If you’ve read the series, I highly recommend this novella bind up.
I rate the entire bind up 5/5 stars.