The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas is a collection of novellas that tell the story of Throne of Glass’ heroine, Celeana, before the events of the first book. Since The Assassin’s Blade was released in a gorgeous bound edition, I of course had to buy it. And since I owned it, I wanted to actually read it ;-). I had heard that The Assassin’s Blade is where Celaena really proves herself to be the country’s best assassin, so I went in having high hopes that my concerns after book one would be soothed. However, I ended up just getting more frustrated for much of The Assassin’s Blade since I really don’t feel that Celaena was acting like even a halfway decent assassin, let alone the best in her guild. Before you start throwing rotten fruit, let’s discuss ;-).
Note: I listened to The Assassin’s Blade on audio, which definitely changes my reading experience.
The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas
Narrated by Elizabeth Evans
(Throne of Glass #0.1-0.5)
Published by Bloomsbury on March 4th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 448 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
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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.
- The Assassin’s Blade does have the benefit of taking place in several places only mentioned in Throne of Glass and I loved getting to explore the Red Desert and various cities with Celaena. It was also very interesting hearing about the general consensus on the street concerning the king and his treatment of prisoners, given that we know how things will end for Celaena *gulp*.
- I remember Celaena mentioning Sam in Throne of Glass, but I have to admit that I did end up falling for him and his particular brand of sweet charm. I had actually completely forgotten Celaena’s memories of Sam at the beginning of The Assassin’s Blade, so it was funny going in blind to their eventual relationship ;-).
- Despite my griping below, there was some killing in The Assassin’s Blade and I appreciated it! Especially in the last novella, Celaena showed her happiness to kill those she decides to kill instead of just talk about it, ha.
- The Assassin’s Blade does very well as a collection of novellas because it reads like a full story. There are reminders in between the novellas about what happened previously, which I can see being needed when they were released separately. However, they easily fit together to form one overarching story of Celaena’s fall from grace.
- All right, time for me to air my grievances so that we can discuss them ;-). The biggest annoyance I had is that you can make a drinking game out of how many times Celaena says literally “I’m the Adarlan’s most-feared assassin” or “I’m Adarlan’s Assassin after all” and you need to be hospitalized for alcohol poisoning.
- Despite how often Celaena likes to think about how awesome she is, she does very very little training on screen or even mentioned as having occurred. Yes, she trained a fair amount when she was with the Silent Assassins, but it didn’t sound like she went out of her way to get in more training when she was home at all. Instead of her first thought when she gets a new weapon being “awesome, now I have to work my butt off to be any good with this thing,” she went and tried on some more dresses and got a spa day. Given her age, I am in no way convinced that she could be the best assassin in the guild without training every spare moment of every day all the time because that’s probably what everyone else is certainly doing.
- In Assassin’s Blade, Celaena is also tricked, captured, and rescued a shocking number of times. She definitely doesn’t seem to be able to read people at all, which seems like it would be a rather important skill in her line of work.
- In the first two novellas of The Assassin’s Blade, there is very little killing despite there being plenty of times when Celaena probably should have done some killing. She really likes letting enemies go for a girl who has been taught nothing but death….
- There are a number of really awkward paragraphs in The Assassin’s Blade where Maas is clearly trying to avoid dealing with made up currency or ways of determining time. She literally has a character avoid saying a sum of money out loud when they clearly would in real dialogue. When building a fantasy world, you kind of just need to bite the bullet and come up with currency for it!
- I will definitely admit that a number of these could easily have been only small annoyances if I liked Celaena’s character more. The reason I worry I don’t like Celaena all that much? The narrator…. I’ve listened to both The Assassin’s Blade and Throne of Glass on audio and I’ve noticed many times when if a phrase had been pronounced with different emphasis, it would have sounded much less petulant. I’m planning on reading the next two books physically to hopefully see if I can avoid this problem continuing (and to find out for sure if that’s my overall problem with Celaena!).
The Assassin’s Blade clearly didn’t work all that great for me. I understand somewhat why people say that Celaena becomes more of a badass when you read these novellas, but she still just spent too much time cooing at jewelry for me. Some of my irritation is definitely due to the narration of The Assassin’s Blade I’m sure, so I do recommend against listening to this series on audio. I am still planning on reading Crown of Midnight because I have assurances that that is where the cool magic and world-building comes in and I do still trust you all ;-). I would also say that I don’t really think that The Assassin’s Blade novellas need to be read if you don’t care much about Celaena and Sam’s history or how she got put in a salt mine in the first place. All right, time for everyone to nicely discuss my experience with The Assassin’s Blade and reassure me that I’ll love Crown of Midnight :D.
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas
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