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The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas Audiobook {2 Stars}

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 Audiobook {2 Stars}

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
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
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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.

2 Stars

Strengths:

  • 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.

Weaknesses:

  • 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!).

Summary:

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.

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
– Anya

 

 The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

© 2015 – 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. This is actually my favourite of all the Throne of Glass novels! For some reason, I just really connected to Celaena in these novellas, and I think we finally got to see (at least somewhat) of the “totally badass and perfect and bestest assassin in all the world”-ness that had been talked up so much in the first two books.

    I think the main reason why I loved this book so much is because of Sam and Celaena’s relationship. I liked seeing this more vulnerable side of her, and it definitely made her more personable to me.

    I can see why your annoyances decreased your enjoyment, though! And your comments about the narrator just reinforce my decision to never listen to an audiobook, haha.

    I definitely suggest you read Crown of Midnight because it is a really good book! And Heir of Fire is even better :)

  2. Oh… I was so shocked to see a two star review of a Throne of Glass book. I haven’t read these since I am suspicious of novellas, (I really have no idea why. I don’t even think I have had a bad experience with one) but I LOVED the first three Throne of Glass books. I don’t know, I really like Celaena. I think that she is a very realistic character. I mean, her life is pretty screwed up. If anyone has an excuse to act the way she does, it’s her.
    Rachel recently posted…What’s in a Name? Hopefully Not MineMy Profile

  3. Bummer! I really thought you’d like this more – I loved it! I do think the audio book could be to blame, but I also think you’re looking at Celaena’s character way differently than I did. She’s kick ass because she’s been training forever – before the books begin. We don’t have to see that. But her arrogance is one of her fatal flaws. Her other fatal flaw is her inability to read people – and that gets her into a lot of trouble. For me, a character with fatal flaws like these is MORE lovable, not less. And it’s more exciting to see their journey and how they’ll overcome those flaws – I mean how much fun would it be if Celaena was actually as amazing as she seems to think she is? I think it’s better that she’s clearly kick ass and yet needs some serious work. I know it’s part of what’s making mw enjoy the series so much. I’m glad you’re going to keep trying – Crown Of Midnight was epic for me and Heir of Fire has the training and amazballs fighting I think you’re looking for.
    Berls recently posted…2014 Book of the Year | FinalsMy Profile

  4. It sucks that the narrator may have gotten in the way of your enjoyment a little :( But Celaena does think quite highly of herself in the early days. I read these after reading Crown of Midnight (I marathoned the series in the order the books are set before I read Heir of Fire) and it really emphasized to me how much Celaena had grown as a character over the series. And you’re right about the currency and time- I hadn’t noticed how little it’s mentioned until now.

    But yes, it was freaking awesome when you got to see Celaena snap in the last novella, and I promise there is more action to come as you continue the series. And character growth, and twists, and feeeeelllllsssssss.

    Can’t wait to see your thoughts on Crown of Midnight (which is the book I’ve seen a lot of people who hated Throne of Glass give 4 or 5 stars too. It steps the story up a notch) :D
    Bec @ Readers in Wonderland recently posted…What’s in a Name? Hopefully Not MineMy Profile

    • I just finished Crown of Midnight and definitely enjoyed it more :D. I think I’m going to go with 3.5 stars since I didn’t get all the way into it, but the setup for book three makes me exceedingly happy!

  5. So repeating a lot of what was already said but I am definitely bummed to hear that this did not fix the problems of Throne of Glass. I also struggled with Throne of Glass, not because Celaena has flaws ( though the flaws she has are ones I find particularly grating) but because I never for a single second could buy her as not only an assassin but the country’s BEST assassin. It felt like Maas wanted to give her an air of bad assitude and decided ” I know, I’ll make her a notoriously feared assassin” and then proceeded to give no thought whatsoever to what that would actually mean for the character and her personality and attitudes. Anyhoo, I also listened to Throne of Glass and also worried that the way the narrator read Celaena made her sound less mature and more Paris Hilton than she might come across on the page. I plan to continue on with the second because there are too many people who love these books and characters and I NEED to understand:0).
    Stephanie recently posted…Tough Traveling – MessiahsMy Profile

    • YES THIS EXACTLY! Just even the amount of rigorous training she apparently had would have warped her personality to be a lot more in control and disciplined in my opinion. And yes, maybe she could have turned out differently due to something else, but that needs to be covered for me to believe it! I did just finish reading Crown of Midnight in print and enjoyed it much more, so you have hope!

  6. Ashley Christy says:

    I was super not into Throne of Glass for many of the same reasons you listed – for being the “best assassin” she sure didn’t seem to have the skills to back up the claim. Also, the fairy/magic subplot fell flat for me because it SHOULD have been the most interesting part and I found myself skimming it. I gave Crown of Midnight a chance, and while it was MUCH BETTER, I still didn’t love it. It was good enough for me to give book three a chance. I really loved book three, even though she was arrogant and still struggled with some skills.

    So, I got to thinking about it and couldn’t figure out why I didn’t love the first two and I did this one even though she displays a lot of the same traits. Maas really does improve with each subsequent book, but that didn’t seem like a good enough reason. Then I realized that I listened to the first two and read book three. I really do think the extra petulance from the narrator was pushing Celaena over the edge. It might be worth TRYING another book in print rather than audio to see if it improves the experience for you. I think I would have always had issues with Throne of Glass, but I probably would have liked Crown of Midnight a LOT more in print.

    • Right?? And I just find it so hard to believe that NO ONE older has been training for longer and is better *shrugs* I just finished Crown of Midnight and also enjoyed it much more, haha. I guess this means I’ll love book three though :D And I also read Crown of Midnight instead of listen to the audio, so that could have been it too for sure! I remember specifically hearing the narrator emphasize a sentence in a way that I wouldn’t have interpreted it and thinking wow that makes me dislike Celaena more than I would!

  7. Okay, definitely read the books and then make a decision about Celaena! Although I will agree with you – despite her swaggering, she sometimes really isn’t the best. What makes her so badass to me is that she has to learn how accept that fact as possibility, and then later on in the books she 1) betters herself or 2) learns that she needs help. Her character is more complex in CoM and HoF too, if that helps :)
    Kayla @ The Thousand Lives recently posted…It’s time to confess my sinsMy Profile

    • I assume you mean the last two currently pubbed books? ;-) It’s always a strange situation when the later books are good but I dislike the early books, since it makes it hard to recommend to people haha. “Here, slog through these two and then enjoy the third and fourth!” ;-)

  8. Ooh! It was so interesting reading your point of view, especially the bit about Celaena not being assassin-y enough. I read the stories individually when they first popped up online as a promo (waaaay back in the day), so I had a different experience from you. I actually was more disappointed in ToG because I thought she was far less assassin-y there than she was in the novellas. But that’s the beauty of individualized reading experiences, yeah? :)
    Shae/Shelver @ Shae Has Left The Room recently posted…Darcy and Pan and Eyre, Oh My!My Profile

    • Hehe thanks! I had similar feelings about Throne of Glass really, though at least then she was forced to train and fight so it was more believable in some ways. But I just finished Crown of Midnight and am happier now ;-)

  9. Dang I was told to read this (if my library ever gets it) because it would make me like book 1 more than I did. Now I am thinking it won’t.
    Felicia the Geeky Blogger recently posted…Audiobook Review: Snow Falling on Bluegrass by Molly HarperMy Profile

    • Haha yeah that definitely didn’t happen for me. I just finished Crown of Midnight though and did find that it improved for me. I’m not a fangirl yet, but I am looking forward to reading book three now.

  10. I honestly loved the novellas and I really love Celaena (fav character ever!!) so here comes my defense to your list of weaknesses..

    1: Celaena is super arrogant. I think we all know this by now. Personally, I like it. She can back it up more often than not.
    2. She’s been training with Adarlan’s best assassin (her boss) since he rescued her from the river. He literally had her in the most rigorous training since that point in time. Given the information we get in book 2 and book 3, it only makes sense that Celaena would have an advantage over other people in skill and learning curve.
    3. She is horrible at reading people and interacting with them. She’s not at all a people person and I think she starts to learn this at some point. Yes, she might be good at fighting but she’s got plenty of flaws. I just think it makes her more interesting, even if it gets to the line of frustrating.
    4. This is another character trait…. I’d just try to get to book 2.
    5. True. I don’t really have an argument for this one. Maas’s world building seems brilliant besides the minor details though.
    6. I don’t really do audio books so that might be the problem. I like everything a lot better when it’s my brain voice reading me things.
    Kaniesha @ Deux Lectrices recently posted…Kaniesha Reviews: Afterworlds by Scott WesterfeldMy Profile

    • Haha, sounds fair! My main problem with the training point is just that we see her actually train so infrequently. Living the life she does, she should really be training nearly every waking hour instead of going shopping ya know?

  11. Oooof. I felt your annoyance bristling on my skin there! Did you have any similar issues with Throne Of Glass? Because now I’m a little worried about reading it. (I know we talked about Throne Of Glass briefly before, but I can’t remember what you said then… )

    • Haha, hopefully your computer didn’t melt or anything ;-) I did have similar issues with Throne of Glass, but I just finished Crown of Midnight and I was much less annoyed then.

  12. That is funny because a few people told me I MUST read these before reading the first actual novel. And I was thinking, that seems strange… no I don’t want to.
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    • Yeah, I heard that as well. It does explain some things in the first novel and subsequent novels, but I didn’t find that I needed to know it for the first book since I didn’t read it before the first book *shrugs*

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