I’ve read this novel twice now, and even on the second reading, I haven’t lost my pleasure or joy in following the Dashwood sisters in their journey to marriage. Although I am a strong believer in the idea that marriage isn’t everything (in this day and age), there is something thoroughly enjoyable about watching these two girls become women and attempt to find the man with whom they shall spend the rest of their lives. The contrast between the two under such similar circumstances only helps to promote this love as it is a great reminder of the contrast between myself and my sister.
I can remember reading Emma for my major assignment in Year 12 English Studies. And I’m sure that I wrote many fancy things about the techniques, and the hidden meanings to the story. And just a whole hoop-la of technical jargon that showed what a great piece of writing Emma is. But, honestly, that doesn’t actually tell you if it’s a good story to read or not. After all, something can be technically brilliant, but completely boring (and tedious) to read. But, I digress, rereading this story not only left me thinking about and reminiscing on the joys of English Studies and the hours spent comparing and contrasting very random texts, but it also reminded me of just how much I love the word of Jane Austen.
Arobynn’s trap is drawn so neatly in The Assassin and the Empire, and honestly, it will make you cry. His petty feelings of ownership over a girl at least half his age lead to a complete destruction of two peoples’ worlds. Although I knew that it was coming, having read the first three Throne of Glass books, I was still left with a pit of despair sitting deep in my gut. A feeling of hurt at the pain and suffering that a sixteen-year-old girl suffered at the hands of the man who was supposed to be her mentor and saviour.
Although for me, this story was mostly about the beginning of Celaena’s change to Aelin, it also finally gave an insight into just why Celaena and Sam became an item. Although his death and their love is a driving factor for much that she does, I never quite understood what a reportedly sweet man could be doing falling head over heels for a thorny, indulged assassin. Yet, finally, with The Assassin and the Underworld, this made sense.
This, by far, is my favourite of the five prequel stories in The Assassin’s Blade. The idea of a society of assassin’s based out in the middle of the desert is very poetic and the picture that Maas paints of the landscape in which Celaena finds herself is so tranquil and isolatingly beautiful. Her quick friendship with Ansel is another echo of this isolation – a great deal of symbolism for Celaena’s life up until this point. She is isolated and beautiful, unable to open herself to the hearts of others.
Although The Assassin and the Healer is a short story between Celaena’s adventures (literally), it helps to further her character development and cast shadows across her relationship with Arobynn. Her willingness to do what is right, and even to suffer the punishment for this (as she is now doing after her actions in The Assassin and the Pirate Lord) shine throughout the story. Even amidst the loathing and self-righteousness she feels at her self-imposed exile.
This short story shows two aspects to Celaena as such was before the beginning of Throne of Glass. And, whilst they are so at odds with one another, they are a great insight into the woman she slowly becomes throughout the rest of the Throne of Glass series. The spoilt, petulant child that she is at the beginning of the series is completely offset by the even more self-centred and indulged child that she is in this first prequel.