Book Review: The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

Posted October 6, 2016 by Debby in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. MaasThe Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #0.5
Published by Bloomsbury on March 4th, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, High Fantasy
Pages: 435
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

Discover where Celaena Sardothien's thrilling saga began

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...

A prequel to Throne of Glass, this collection of five novellas offers listeners a deeper look into the history of this cunning assassin and her enthralling—and deadly—world.

Included in this volume:

The Assassin and the Pirate Lord
The Assassin and the Healer
The Assassin and the Desert
The Assassin and the Underworld
The Assassin and the Empire

4.5 Stars

I’ve been a fan of the Throne of Glass series for a long time, but I had always skipped the novellas… till now. I’m just not always a novella person – I’m naturally skeptical about how much they add if they were cut from the actual books for a reason. Well. This is probably the best collection of novellas I’ve ever read, and I think they definitely add to the series in a positive way.

The Assassin and the Pirate Lord: 4.5/5
This was a fantastic way to dive back into the Throne of Glass universe. It instantly reminded me of everything I love about Celaena – her arrogance, her fierceness, her strong morals. And hey, I’m finally getting to know Sam… and I’m liking what I’m seeing. Seriously, they have such an interesting dynamic, and he is hella charming.

This is one of the better novellas I’ve read till now (for all kinds of series) because though it’s not strictly speaking vital to read to enjoy the series, it has a strong self-contained adventure that serves a clear purpose. A nice glimpse of Celaena’s life back when it was arguably somewhat less complicated that gives an indication of her character and conviction. Not too much depth and damn I could have used a romantic flutter, but I’ll let that go.

The Assassin and the Healer: 3.5/5
So this story actually continues from where the previous one left off, but it’s more of an in-between story. While Celaena is on her way to the desert for her punishment in the form of training with the Silent Assassins, she stops off in Innish to wait for a boat. There she encounters a healer who is stuck working at a crappy inn, and she finds a kind of kindred spirit in her. While I enjoyed the story (because quite frankly, I will drool over any moment of Celaena being cool), this is the kind of novella you could easily skip and never miss out on. Then again, maybe Yrene will return at some point in the series, and in that case, having this origin story may be quite nice.

The Assassin and the Desert: 4/5
In the next installment of Celaena’s adventures, she’s out in the Red Desert, training with the Silent Assassins. This is another complete story arc, to be honest. It’s a new setting, you meet some new characters (who, again, I feel could also show up later in the series), and you definitely get a glimpse of another area of Erilea and learn a bit more about the complicated political dynamics in this world. What I love most though is that Celaena is still such a badass. Like I honestly got giggly about how awesome she is in this story.

What was a bit heavy handed in this story was Celaena’s continually recurring thoughts to Sam. Like I could feel the building romantic tension without that, so to have her thinking of him so often was kind of unnecessary? But since at this point I did already ship them, I didn’t mind that too much. Perhaps my favorite parts of this story were the awesome action scenes. Honestly, the movements are all described so fluidly that I could basically see it all in my mind – as if it were a movie – and it was an absolute breeze to read through.

The Assassin and the Underworld: 4.5/5
It’s what I was waiting for: Celaena is back in Rifthold… and so is Sam. I mean, I’m not always 100% focused on romance, but the tension was building so much that I was desperate for this ship to actually set sail. And it did. And it was glorious. Sam is just so pure and good. But also fierce.

I also love this story because it shows that Celaena is a kickass assassin, but she can also be a total girly girl. Those things are NOT mutually exclusive. She gets so excited about dresses, jewelry, perfumes – you name it… and she wears those things only for herself, not to impress others or as a cover on her assassin missions… She just loves it. And then, you know, she can kill you. There’s an interesting mission in this one, and some intriguing deception that I kind of saw coming, but it sure made for a compelling read.

The Assassin and the Empire: 4.5/5
Oh god. Here’s where the heartbreak comes. Seriously, I feel emotionally violated. But then again, having read Throne of Glass, I absolutely 100% knew that this was coming. But still, to know the exact details of when, where, and how… Ouch.

To be honest, as a novella, this one has it all. And if you only want to read one of these, read this one. There’s romance, hope, betrayal, action, intensity, and heartbreak. And once again, you get a better understanding of Celaena as a person. This was a vital moment in her past that undoubtedly shaped who she is for the rest of her life. So maybe she was a bit naive about a certain thing (or a couple of things) and I was yelling at the book, “NO! BAD IDEA! STOP!” But it makes sense. She had a youthful moment of hope, and freedom seemed so close… Sadly she just is proven how messed up and dark the world truly is. But I love her. So much. Such a complex, amazing character.

Summing Up:

Wow. I did not expect to love a collection of novellas this much, but The Assassin’s Blade is outstanding. The five stories actually flow directly into each other and together tell the tale of the events that got Celaena to where she is at the beginning of Throne of Glass. Together, they actually work as a complete novel. There’s some world building as Celaena visits other areas of Erilea, and there’s a lot of character development. You definitely get to know Celaena on a much deeper level by reading these stories… and basically I just fell completely in love with her (again) because of them. And Sam… oh Sam.

I’m not the biggest fan of novellas, so please believe me when I tell you that I 100% advocate for these stories. They’re exciting, enlightening, beautifully written, and truly impressive. Not completely vital to the series, but a definite positive addition.

GIF it to me straight!

Recommended To:

All fans of the series!

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2 responses to “Book Review: The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

  1. I was basically nodding my head at everything you said (wrote?). 😀 I loved ToG so much too so it was kind of great to basically get *more* Celaena. I’ve actually been thinking of rereading these novellas and after reading your review I am very tempted haha. *glances at pile of unread books.* (And this is slightly off topic but gosh, I love your blog header!! It’s soo cute!)

  2. This is such a great review, you captured my thoughts perfectly! I’m also wary of novellas and feel like they add nothing to the story most of the time. These are the exception. I’m so glad I read them because I feel like I got an even better picture of Celaena, this world, and why Sam was so important to her in Throne of Glass. And like you said, they’re self contained stories that also connect to each other like links in a chain, which I love. It’s rare to have novellas feel so integral to a series! I’m glad you finally read them 😀