Hey guys! So it’s been a while, over a month since I last posted a review, which is shameful really but it takes me a while to read books at the moment, given the whole being at Uni thing! I’m hoping I may be able to get more reading done when I’m back home for the Christmas holidays, but we’ll see! Anyway, it was nice to get back into Celeana’s world for a while and I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of short stories, more than I thought I was going to, as novellas aren’t usually my thing, but these were really good and really got me excited for Queen of Shadows, which I just started reading today!
I actually liked these novellas a lot more than the first Throne of Glass book, I liked seeing Celeana’s feisty nature and what she was like before Endovier and these novellas really give you a better insight into what motivates her as a character and how the events of her past have shaped her into who she is and it was great just to have more of an insight into Celeana’s past. I also liked that we really get to see the full range of her skills as an assassin in this book, if you have any doubt about how much clout she has as an assassin after reading Throne of Glass, then I swear, reading this will completely change your mind. It’s probably better to read this after Throne of Glass though, as this book really more builds on the Celaena we already know rather than introducing her as a character.
I liked the flow of the novellas, they all felt like they fitted together really well, but with one notable exception being The Assassin and The Healer. I felt like I really could have done without that one, because it just didn’t seem to fit very well with the others and I have to say it kind of bored me. I feel like it’s strange that they were published as individual
I also feel like the Team Chaol/Dorian argument is totally pointless after Assassin’s Blade. Sam Cortland people! Sam freaking Cortland! I finally understand what all the fuss was about him. He is boyfriend goals, he’s such a sweetheart to Celaena, even when she doesn’t necessarily deserve it. He’s snarky and witty, the perfect bantering partner to Celaena and he knows exactly what to say to get a rise out of her. The two of them fit together so perfectly. And yet, all of us who’ve read the series know what happens to him. I swear Sarah J Maas just takes pleasure in breaking our hearts at this point. Why Sarah, why do you do this to us? The scene in The Assassin and The Empire when Celaena finds out what happened to Sam tore my heart into pieces and nearly made my cry (it takes a lot for a book to actually make me cry). I loved that we see that the origin of Celaena’s mantra (well Aelin now, but I’ll refer to her as Celaena for this, because she is still Celaena), “My name is Celaena Sardothien and I will not be afraid”, originally came from Sam, that almost made me cry too.
I feel like the story I enjoyed the most out of the collection was The Assassin and The Desert, we get to see where Celaena learned a lot of her skills as an assassin and I also feel like it’s the story where she develops most as a character. Plus I loved seeing her friendship with Ansel, I was really sad at the way things turned out for them, because I really loved their friendship whilst it lasted, particularly the part where they stole the Asterion horses together, I thought that was great and when they were talking under the stars. The last few chapters I especially liked, they were very action packed. It was also really cool to see her with a big group of assassins as most of the time, she works alone, so it was nice to see how she interacted with a larger group. I also liked seeing her relationship with the Mute Master and how it was so different from her relationship with Arobynn and I thought the way they communicated without words was so cool.
I loved the development of Celaena and Sam’s relationship over the course of the novellas, how they go from hating each other (which we all know is code for secretly loving each other) to being in love and they’re just the most perfect couple, Sam feels far more like her equal than Chaol and Dorian ever do and the fact that they are so perfect just makes the ending of the last novella even more heartbreaking. The worst thing is, you know what is going to happen to Sam if you’ve read Throne of Glass but you still get attached anyway!
I liked that we get to see more of Erilea, in the Throne of Glass series, so far we’ve only really seen Adarlan and Wendlyn, but in the novellas we get to see places like The Red Desert and Innish, we get to hear more about places like Melisande and Fenharrow and it feels like the whole world is really fleshed out a little more, which I loved.
It was great to finally see Arobynn, I’d heard so much about him, but didn’t realize why everyone hated him so much until now. He’s such a twisted character and his relationship with Celaena is so strange, you can’t tell if he sees her as a daughter or as something much more than that and he spends all of his time just completely using her. Still in my own kind of weird way, I can’t help but be intrigued by him because he’s such a complex character and I’m excited to see more of him in Queen of Shadows. I also cannot wait for the Aelin-Arobynn showdown that we all know is coming!
I got a little frustrated in The Assassin and The Underworld because you can see that Arobynn is betraying Celaena, I immediately didn’t trust him as soon as she returned to Rifthold and I felt like the job offer was shady and you just want to scream at her, no, not to take it but of course she does. I feel like Celaena can be very gullible sometimes in these novellas, first with Ansel, then with Arobynn and I’m glad that she’s not as trusting now as she used to be. Still, I really loved this story because of the development of Sam and Celaena’s relationship, it was so perfect and when they finally kissed, I just wanted to punch the air and scream YES! It was kind of slow to start off with, not going to lie, but once I was about halfway through the novella, I really started to enjoy it and the ending was just epic! I also enjoyed seeing Celaena all jealous over Lysandra, it was a side to her I’d never really seen before, so I liked that. I’ve heard that Lysandra comes back in Queen of Shadows, so I’m quite interested to see how they interact.
I enjoyed the first novella The Assassin and The Pirate Lord too, although I have to say, Celaena as a character was at her most arrogant and annoying here and I swear, you compare 16 year old Celaena to 18 year old Celaena and you see just how much she has grown as a character! What I did love though, was Sam and Celaena and all their back and forth, love-hate banter and the action sequences in this were really great. Plus who doesn’t love pirates? This was a really fun story and a nice novella to start with I felt, because Sarah doesn’t throw you straight into the heartbreak, it’s a light, fun story with lots of action & a good set-up for the rest of the novellas because what happens in this one, impacts every other story in the book.
Is it wrong that I’m slightly sad we didn’t get to see exactly what happened to Sam? It had the required emotional impact the way it was done but I felt like if we had seen what had actually happened to him, it would have been even better. I just felt like if we had actually seen it, then the dramatic impact would have been even greater than it was. Maybe I just enjoy being heartbroken, I don’t know! I just would have liked to have had a bit in The Assassin and The Empire from his POV so that we could see what really happened rather than hearing about it second hand.
I feel like I find myself even more impressed with Celaena now than I was before, now that I understand the full extent of what she’s been through, I’m even more impressed at who she is now, that she still manages to hold herself together after all of that horrible stuff happened to her, I have a great deal of respect for her as a character. I also feel like after reading this I understand her so much better, why she is the way she is, why she doesn’t trust people and her actions in Throne of Glass make so much more sense after reading this.
There were some great supporting characters introduced in this, people like Ansel, The Mute Master, Lysandra, Arobynn, Yrene, The Pirate Lord Rolfe, Ilias and I would love to see some of these characters make reappearances in the main Throne of Glass series (and I know that at least some of them appear in Queen of Shadows which makes me very happy) as I enjoyed reading about them in this book.
I don’t really have much to say about The Assassin and The Empire because it just completely broke my heart. It was kind of like a car crash, you knew exactly what was going to happen and you didn’t want to watch and yet you couldn’t tear your eyes away. I just wanted to scream at Celaena when she went to get revenge on Farran because it was so obvious it was a trap. Still even though it was heartbreaking I loved this one. Sarah is absolutely brilliant at writing broken Celaena and all the chapters after Sam dies and the events that lead up to Celaena being sent to Endovier give you all of the feels. I also liked the way this one was set up, starting with Celaena in the wagon being sent to Endovier and working its way backwards through the events that preceded it and then finally ending with her arriving at Endovier, I thought that format worked really well.
Overall, I really enjoyed these novellas, which were so cleverly intertwined that they really read as one whole book rather than a series of novellas. There were occasional grammar and punctuation issues where things didn’t quite read as they should, but these were few and far between and overall the writing was just as lovely as I have come to expect from Sarah J Maas. These novellas were fun stories which give you a greater insight into Celaena as a character and how she came to be the person she is in Throne of Glass and I really feel like they add something to the series rather than being completely unrelated novellas. This book is definitely worth a read (if only to experience the wonder that is Sam Cortland), as it really fleshes out Celaena’s backstory. I think you can read it basically whenever you want, it is intended to be a prequel to Throne of Glass but I feel like it’s better to read it afterwards as Throne of Glass gives more of an introduction to Celaena as a character where The Assassin’s Blade just builds on her story. Personally I read it before Queen of Shadows, which I think is a good idea as it has given me a better understanding of Arobynn and Celaena’s relationship going into that book, but I reckon it can be read whenever.
My Rating: 4/5
The next book I will be reviewing is Queen of Shadows, the most recent instalment in the Throne of Glass series. I’m so freaking excited for this one, I can’t even tell you guys. It’s been so hard avoiding spoilers these past few months. I’ve already started reading it, and am enjoying it so far!