Author: Sarah J. Maas
Overall Rating: 3/5
Celaena Sardothien is an assassin, some say she’s the best assassin in the world and she’s paid top dollar for it. She’s the favorite of Arobynn Hammil, king of the Assassin’s and leader of the Assassin’s Guild, and is just one of many assassins that Arobynn has taken under his wing and shaped into lethal weapons at his disposal. One such assassin is Celaena’s rival Sam Cortland, who has always managed to get under her skin in ways no one else can, that is except for maybe Lysandra who is the bane of Celaena’s existence. Lysandra is being trained as a courtesan and her attempts to flirt with all of the men in Celaena’s life puts them in complete opposition to each other. Assassin’s Blade is a collection of short stories from before the first book in the Throne of Glass Series, Throne of Glass which provides a peek into the life that Celaena led before everything in her life fell apart.
Assassin’s Blade is a prequel to the seven-book Throne of Glass Series and is broken up into five sections each depicting a significant event in the protagonist, Celeana Sardothien’s life. We learn that she is the best assassin in the Assassin’s Guild which is led by a domineering male authority figure called Arobynn Hamel. She is arrogant and brash which contributes to the arc of her character and lands her in any number of complicated and convoluted situations, some of which are good and some nearly get her killed. She finds love, heartbreak, friends, betrayal, discipline, and the freedom to live in the moment.
This young adult fiction novel is full of action with a fun hint of romance and fantasy to start off the series. We get a taste of how the world has been changed since magic left the realm and for the loyalty that Celeana feels for the people that she loves.
While this was not originally written first I do feel that it belongs at the beginning of the series. It was entirely by accident that I read it before Throne of Glass because I was unaware that it wasn’t the official beginning of the series but I feel that it makes a splendid introduction to the world and provides a vivid back story that makes you fall in love with Celeana before her will is tested in the Throne of Glass novel. It also allows you to understand why she struggles against her relationship with characters that she meets in the Throne of Glass novel including the Crown Prince, Dorian Havilliard, and the Captain of the Guard, Chaol. If you need a faster-paced introduction to the Throne of Glass Series I would recommend reading them in publication order which begins with Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight, the first and second novels in the series, before reading Assassin’s Blade, the prequel, and then continuing on with the rest of the series. There is also a guide for doing a tandem read of Empire of Storms and Tower of Dawn that is linked to each of those when you get further along in the Throne of Glass Series.
One of my favorite aspects of this novella is the development of the characters. Both Celaena and Sam go through gorgeous character arcs during which we see them go from a couple of brash teenagers armed to the teeth and fully capable of killing just about anyone or anything they come up against to people who love and are loyal and have a firm footing in morality, though still with the training of fully-fledged killing machines. This also sets the backdrop for a number of other characters that are developed throughout the Throne of Glass Series.
I will say that one of my least favorite aspects of this book is the pacing. This book is slower than most of Sarah J. Maas’ novels and is slower than the rest of the series which can make it challenging to get into at first.
If you enjoyed Assassin’s Blade you might also enjoy the A Court of Thorns and Roses Series, the Crescent City Series, the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, and its follow-up the Six of Crows Duology, the Serpent and Dove Trilogy, the From Blood and Ash Trilogy, The Folk of the Air Trilogy (also known as the Cruel Prince Trilogy), and The Shadows Between Us.
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