Celaena Sardothien is the assassin with everything: a place to call her own, the love of handsome Sam, and, best of all, freedom. Yet, she won’t be truly free until she is far away from her old master, Arobynn Hamel; Celaena must take one last daring assignment that will liberate her forever. But having it all, means you have a lot to lose . . .
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.
The flashback which Maas utilises to tell this story adds to the potency of this short story. Although throughout the story you are fighting for Celaena to succeed and truly become independent of the court of assassins, the prologue is a constant reminder that this isn’t going to happen. Yet, in spite of Celaena’s world turning to ash, you just hope that it isn’t as bad as it seems in the beginning. But, alas, it is. This is a short story that is about loss and suffering, pain that most of us won’t have experienced before, and certainly won’t have experienced so young. Or at least, for the sakes of others, I hope that it is a pain and suffering that won’t be experienced until much later in life.
When the King of the Assassins gives Celaena Sardothien a special assignment that will help fight slavery in the kingdom, she jumps at the chance to strike a blow against an evil practice. The misson is a dark and deadly affair which takes Celaena from the rooftops of the city to the bottom of the sewer–and she doesn’t like what she finds there.
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.
While falling for Sam was the true reason Celaena was eventually betrayed, her future betrayal and bitterness at Arobynn was laid out within this tale too. His maliciousness and ability to set Celaena and Sam up in the most excruciating of ways begins in this way, and it is this long-term foresight and possessiveness that creates a truly terrifying villain in the King of Assassins. The inklings of what he is truly capable of and the uncaring way in which he is willing to pit members of his own court against one another sent goosebumps down my spine. There is something truly horrifying about a villain who has no conscience and is driven purely by their own needs.
The Silent Assassins of the Red Desert aren’t much for conversation, and Celaena Sardothien wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s not there to chatter, she’s there to hone her craft as the world’s most feared killer for hire. When the quiet is shattered by forces who want to destroy the Silent Assassins, Celaena must find a way to stop them, or she’ll be lucky to leave the desert alive.
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.
The teachings which Celaena undergoes are not in the slightest what are to be expected. They leave fluidity, flexibility and peace as the true trophies of the art. Not brutality and violence. Those within the community are taught with kindness and care, although, it is an incredibly abstract way of teaching – much of the time, it is difficult to understand what the lesson even is until it is finally explained. Maas is able to use this to remind us that we are constantly learning, changing and shifting, but it isn’t always clear what the outcome of these life lessons will be until we have come out the other side.
Meet the Assassin: beautiful, defiant, destined for greatness. Celaena Sardothien has challenged her master. Now she must pay the price. Her journey to the Red Desert will be an arduous one, but it may change the fate of her cursed world forever…
Although The Assassin and the Healeris 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.
Yrenne Tower also appears, albeit allusively in later stories, and it is the one small act of kindness which Celaena performs in this short story which leads to her future actions. Likewise, this story is a reminder of the lack of power which the women in this society often hold. Their inability to find their own reality and fight for themselves in an often cruel world. The Healer’s ability to finally stand up and fight for herself shows a mass of gumption and inner strength that not only helps her find her own way in life, but is also what inspires Celaena to act on her behalf.
On a remote island in a tropical sea, Celaena Sardothien, feared assassin, has come for retribution. She’s been sent by the Assassin’s Guild to collect on a debt they are owed by the Lord of the Pirates. But when Celaena learns that the agreed payment is not in money, but in slaves, her mission suddenly changes—and she will risk everything to right the wrong she’s been sent to bring about.
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.
The first chapter of this novella is exactly how I pictured Celaena in her days as “the world’s greatest assassin”. She is rude, conceited and incredibly difficult to like. In fact, if I hadn’t read the first three Throne of Glass books, I probably would have wondered what this young character had going for her. However, as the story progresses and her care for others is heightened, you can see where he consciousness started to affect the rest of her life. Without that, she wouldn’t have been able to fall for Sam, get caught by Arobynn. In other words, this was the perfect catalyst story for everything that follows.
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.
I loved this prequel. Side stories that were mentioned in the main Throne of Glass series are told in full in The Assassin’s Blade. We also FINALLY get to find out more about Sam – how Celaena fell for him and what happened to him. I honestly love everything about Celaena, so of course I was going to love this book. But I’m not entirely biased… or maybe I am.
I loved the format of this book; it was a series of five short stories. I liked that you could read them as entirely separate novellas, or you could read the whole lot. There was a nice thread that followed through between each story. It provided good breaks to put the book down, but it also allowed for large periods of time to pass. Unlike the main books, there are months of inaction between each story. Even though one story is the catalyst for the actions in the next, there are periods that would quite honestly be a little boring to read about.
My absolute favourite thing about this series of short stories is meeting the man who created Celaena. The complexity that Maas lends to this character is tremendous. He is impossible to completely hate, but you kind of despise him at the same time. Just read the book, you’ll understand exactly what I mean.