Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass (Novellas #0.1-0.5)
Genre: YA Fantasy
Format: Paperback (430 pages)
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens (March 2014)
My Goodreads Rating: 5 stars
Book Depository: The Assassin’s Blade
Celaena Sardothien owes her reputation to Arobynn Hamel. He gave her a home at the Assassins’ Guild and taught her the skills she needed to survive.
Arobynn’s enemies stretch far and wide – from Adarlan’s rooftops and its filthy dens, to remote islands and hostile deserts. Celaena is duty-bound to hunt them down. But behind her assignments lies a dark truth that will seal her fate – and cut her heart in two forever…
Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine and find out how the legend begins in the five page-turning prequel novellas to the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series. (Goodreads)
Hi there, fellow bloggers! It’s been a few days since a review, and I’ve been busy speed reading through multiple library books, working, lazing around, etc etc. I know I’m a little (or a lot) late to the party with this book, because the novellas came out in 2014, but regardless I’m going to review it because I think it deserves a little shout out. I’m not one to usually read prequels, and I’m not sure why- I think it’s because I like to stick to the main action, and don’t like diversions. This is ridiculous, because a lot of the time prequels offer amazing insights into the pasts of certain characters and some crucial context….But I still kind of avoid them. Anyway, I picked up this collection of novellas purely to fill a Throne of Glass-shaped hole I’ve had since I finished Empire of Storms, hoping to seek some solace from all the FEELS. And I’ll tell you one thing:
Biggest. Mistake. Ever.
Because there are five stories, I think I’ll give my general opinion first and then a brief breakdown of each. Okay. Where to begin? Well, first I’d like to express my gratitude that we get to see assassin Celaena in all her glory again. I say again like this book just came out, lol. I regret not reading these novellas ages ago, because they would have provided some seriously important context. But like I said, I rarely keep up with prequels and I barely knew these stories existed. If I could have, I would have read these immediately after Throne of Glass. Nonetheless, I’m glad that I finally got to know some key characters from the series. There’s a nice insight into Celaena’s past with Arobynn, her relationship with Lysandra, the other assassins, and most importantly, Sam.
Sam. Excuse me while I go cry.
Move over, Chaol, Dorian and Rowan. I’m over all of you, because Sam slays all of you. I’ve read five books in this series, and it’s only now I’ve gotten to see how big of an impact Sam had on Celaena. Why, Maas? Why do I always finish your books feeling more distraught than ever? There isn’t a moment of peace before she shreds you apart.
Like I said, there are some great throwbacks to scenes mentioned in the main series, and some key characters from Empire of Storms in particular. I missed out on the big reveals because I read this book late, but I know I’m not the only one. Rest assured that you can still appreciate the significance of these novellas, even if you only read them after finishing Empire of Storms. They offer great clarity on Celaena’s past. I recommend reading Empire of Storms after this. Now, for a breakdown of the novellas (warning, there may be some minor spoilers ahead):
The Assassin and the Pirate Lord
We follow Celaena and Sam as they are sent to Skull’s Bay to secure a deal with Captain Rolfe, also known as the Pirate Lord. If I had known how much of an influence he would be in later books, I would have tried to read this novella much sooner! I really liked seeing the cunning and attitude- and sword-wielding Celaena again, and we finally get a proper insight into Sam’s character. Their actions in Skull’s Bay have significant connections to Empire of Storms, so it was really cool seeing how Celaena handles the Pirate Lord.
Rating: 5/5 stars
The Assassin and the Healer
We follow the aftermath of the first novella, as Celaena travels towards the Red Desert. This novella is much shorter, but is still enjoyable and bridges the gap between the first and the third. We again get to see more of Celaena’s character like we knew her in Throne of Glass, the powerful assassin who doesn’t take any crap from anyone. I think I enjoyed the first novella more, but it was still cool meeting Yrene, the healer who interacts with Celaena and the consequences of this.
Rating: 4/5 stars
The Assassin and the Desert
Following the events in Skull’s Bay, Celaena is sent to the Red Desert as a punishment from Arobynn to train with the Silent Assassins until she receives a letter of approval. Can I just stop and say that Arobynn is a truly terrifying character? I’m just going to throw that out there, because this novella and the one before seriously shed light on how cruel he can be! Anyway, in this novella we’re introduced to the Silent Assassins and another majorly important character: Ansel Briarcliff. Ansel at first seemed like an amazing ally for Celaena, but Maas likes to keep a reader on her feet. Like with Rolfe, I wish I had read about Ansel way before I progressed with the series, because certain reveals would have been AMAZING. They were missed on me, unfortunately. But I definitely want to read Queen of Shadows and Empire of Storms again, so maybe I’ll regain some of that awesomeness.
Rating: 5/ 5 stars
The Assassin and the Underworld
Celaena is back from the Red Desert, and in an attempt to gain her forgiveness, Arobynn offers her a job: assassinate the conspirator of a notorious slave deal and be rewarded generously. Again, seeing Celaena in her assassin mode is seriously cool, because as the series has progressed we get to see less and less of this. This novella is seriously dark, and I loved to see the relationship between Sam and Celaena grow. Arobynn (you bastard) is a central figure in this, and it filled me with rage how much control he has over every damn thing. There are some stunning scenes in this story in particular, making it my second favourite. That sewer scene? Had me in tears. Arobynn’s reveal at the end? I was seeing red in anger. The one good thing that happened in this novella was the ending, when Celaena buys her freedom, but alas, it was not to be.
Rating: 5/5 stars
The Assassin and the Empire
Saving the best till last. And by best, I mean the one that utterly destroyed me and left me just as upset as I was after I finished Empire of Storms. Curse you, Maas. Anyway, this novella follows Celaena and Sam after they are free from Arobynn. It really broke my heart, how close to freedom they were. When the pair are left almost penniless after dealing with Arobynn, they take on one last assassination attempt that would leave them in the clear- but it is a deadly one. I’m sorry, I can’t talk about this one without spoilers, but I hope the majority of people have read this one anyway.
If you’ve read any book in the series, you know what happens to Sam. I knew, and I knew that one of these novellas would have to go into detail about that. I really should have braced myself more, as I wasn’t expecting myself to love Sam so much. Honestly, Chaol/Dorian/Rowan who???? Bring Sam back! He was such a good character, and his relationship with Celaena felt the most authentic. His life is so sad to read about, so when Celaena bought him his freedom and they planned to run away, it hit me sooooo hard how double-crossed they were by Arobynn (you bastard). Excuse me for a sec.
Getting to know how Celaena ends up in Endovier is great, but also heartbreaking. I think this story is one of the darkest moments in the entire series, especially finding out what happens to Sam. See the gif above to know exactly how I reacted to that. And how I remained for two days afterwards. That was literally me in my bed, crying over Sam. Arobynn (bastard) is just so evil, and I know some people weren’t happy with a certain outcome for him in Queen of Shadows, but after reading this I feel that it was exactly what was deserved. He’s a coward. Wow, I feel such hatred right now. Ok, this review is long enough, I think. But just to finish, it was a heartbreaking insight into the Celaena we meet in Throne of Glass, and now that I know how much Sam meant to her, and how much she has gone through, I appreciate her character so much more. Oh crap, I’m thinking of Empire of Storms again-
It hurts so bad. Maas does that to you, but it’s just a credit to her great writing. Still, I’m sad all over again, and preparing for a whole lot more. Sam, I’ll never forget you. As for Celaena, you have my eternal respect.
“I am Celaena Sardothien… and I will not be afraid.”
My rating: 10000/5 stars
Wow, that turned out longer than I expected! But seriously, there’s an even bigger hole in my heart than before, so thanks for that, Maas. I can’t wait for the next two books! Thanks so much for reading, and if you have any thoughts about these novellas, let me know below! 🙂