‘The Assassin’s Blade’ by Sarah J Maas consists of five novellas set in Erilea. Because of this, it’s a little difficult to review it as a whole, so I will do it individually.
First up it’s: ‘The Assassin and the Pirate Lord’ – We finally meet Sam, Celaena’s first love. and did I correctly detect some animosity between them? I love it when it starts out that way (reminds me of when she meets a certain prince from Wendlyn). It surprised me how much Celaena was still Celaena at sixteen. I mean, she’s really sassy already; making freeing 200 slaves from a Pirate Lord really entertaining.
After reading Empire of Storms it’s nice to see people being reunited and a few things make a bit more sense now I know the history of Rolfe and Celaena. With this little tale being roughly 80 pages long, it’s an ease into Celaena’s past and it makes you want more. I almost wish I read it before Throne of Glass.
‘The Assassin and the Healer’ – This was a very short story. It’s Celaena meeting a healer, giving her life lessons aplenty and then moving on. It’s another spoke in the grand wheel of her destiny; showcasing that bold sympathetic streak that drives her forward. There’s a part where the healer talks about what happens to her mother and what people with her gifts have gone through since the absence of Fae and magic and it reminded me of what witches hundreds of years ago went through. Where neighbours turned on each other and if you were gifted with knowledge of healing then you were called out as satans filth. I found this to be a really powerful correlation to the real world and it made me connect.
I noticed a possible thread that could later show itself. The healer goes to Torre Cesme for training. A place where crippled Choal and Nesryn are currently on their way to. I wonder if they’ll meet in the next instalment? Also, her last name in Towers, and that next instalment is called ‘Towers of Dawn’, *hint hint*.
‘The Assassin and the Desert’ – Celaena meets the Mute Master, ruler of the Silent Assassins. She’s been sent there by Arobynn to train with them and to get the Mute Master’s approval. She makes a friend in Ansel who is another student training with the assassins so she can take back her home from the people who killed her family and stole it when she was but a child (remind you of anyone?). Because of Celaena and Ansel’s similarities, they hit it off pretty much straight away and who can blame them?
It is the longest of the novellas yet and there was a lot of building. I was thankful of this because it wasn’t for nought. It came across as a bit slow in places and slightly tedious but when I got to the last few pages, I understood the reasoning behind it all and felt grateful. For people who have read the later books in the serious, you understand the kinship better between Celaena and Ansel after reading this short story, at least I do. And it links beautifully with those later books as well.
I picked up on a possible thread that could help Celaena in future books. Specifically the spider silk merchant. He seemed fond of Celaena and respected her enough ask her service on a dangerous mission. Where she perhaps to fill out this mission in the future she could have a considerable ally. Time will tell.
‘The Assassin and the Underworld’ – Celaena returns to Adarlan and a groveling Arobynn sends her on a mission close to her heart. Upon returning, Sam and Celaena grow closer still and at the end it finally seems as though they are in a good place with both of them free from Arobynn. It’s a longer story again but it honestly didn’t feel that way. It felt much more like a full length book than the others I have read so far. I have a feeling it’s because it was set in Adarlan where things could potentially continue.
However, that description ^ sounds cute and happy and full of rainbows… but it isn’t. Arobynn played Celaena and she in fact helped the continuation of slaves much to her dismay. Even though she and Sam are free of Arobynn and now live together, the winner is still the King of Assassins.
There’s one bit in this novella where they all attend a ball/party and very late into the evening (early morning) a group of men turn up all wearing masks looking to enjoy the festivites on offer. Celaena interacts with one of them and I couldn’t help but think that it may have been Dorian. His confidence and the attraction that was blatantly there correlates with Throne of Glass.
And last but not least: ‘The Assassin and the Empire’ – The title for this didn’t make sense until the end but its a harsh foreshadowing of what’s to come for Celaena. This novella follows Sam and Celaena’s attempts to leave the Guild and secure enough money to move to the south and start fresh together. Arobynn is still very much involved in their lives and he pulls their strings like a grand puppetee, which results in the death of dear Sam and Celaena carted off to Endovier. Celaena mentions time and time again in this story that she is the reason why things have turned out the way they did. Skull’s Bay is the starting point for her and she blames herself for asking Sam’s help back then.
This story is gritty; there’s grief, rage and silence. This is the true starting point of Celaena’s journey I think. Here she learns that rage can blind you, and there’s always a grand scheme playing. At the end of this story she begins to become the Celaena we meet in ‘Throne of Glass’ which allows us to understand her better at the beginning. We can understand her pain for Sam and the guilt that she feels for him and the terror/hate for the crown. ‘The Assassin and the Empire’ is dark and it sets the perfect tone for a prequel to the rest of the series.
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