This is an “oh my heart” book. And it’s like that from the very beginning. I’ve been putting off reading it for a while since I always get ridiculously hooked on Maas’ writing. Normally that’s not such an issue because I can read the whole book cover to cover in just a day… this book is a little longer, and I had to be an adult. But I finally put aside a day to read it. And… oh my heart.
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.
2016 was a good year for me - I got to read a lot of books, both new and old. So here is a list of my favourite fifteen reads for this year.
I’ve been waiting to read this since it came out in September last year. Waiting and dying, and constantly having other, more adult things that I should be doing… so when I finally got to read this… just unbelievable, uncontrolled excitement. I made sure that I had an entire weekend free, so I could spend my days enjoying Maas’ brilliant writing. And as usual, she didn’t disappoint.
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.
The third book in the Throne of Glass series takes some of the things we learnt about Celaena’s past become crystallised. The greater focus on her personal journey and self are a great change of pace. Understanding her pain and past just made me love the her even more and honestly, not many series send me through the amount of emotional turmoil and ups and downs as this series.