The Assassin’s Blade

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: Sarah J Maas
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pub date: Mar. 2014 (first read Sept. 2016)
Series: Throne of Glass #0.5

I first picked up the Throne of Glass series about two years ago and flew through the first 4 books during the summer, before picking up Empire of Storms when it was released in Sept. 2016. I used to read a lot of fantasy when I was really young, like elementary school, and then moved on to reading a lot of young adult books in high school. I didn’t read a whole lot throughout University, because I was so busy with school, but I got more into historical fiction and general fiction when I graduated and started reading a lot again.

Throne of Glass was one of the first big fantasy series I picked up after graduating, but since reading this series, I have a read A LOT more fantasy series over the past two years. With the final book coming out in October, I decided I wanted to re-read this series again. Partly because I just really want to re-visit these characters, and partly because I’m curious if I will still like these books as much as I did on the first read through now that I’ve read so much other fantasy.

Interestingly enough, I didn’t get around to reading The Assassin’s Blade until after Empire of Storms, which is definitely not the ideal way to read the series as there are a ton of characters introduced in TAB that appear throughout the series. EoS definitely made a lot more sense once I finally read TAB.

So this time I decided to start with TAB since it is the prequel to the rest of the series. I was surprised I had rated this 4 stars originally because I was kind of remembering it as more of a 3-star read, but after re-reading it, I’m sticking with my 4 stars. The first 2 stories are probably 3 star reads, but the last 3 stories more than make up for it. (TAB is a compilation of 5 novellas set before ToG).

The Assassin and the Pirate Lord is a great introduction to the characters and the world of Erilea, but I do find Celaena pretty annoying in this novella. She has the biggest ego for someone who repeatedly makes mistakes and Sam picks up ALL of the slack for her in this story. I know most people don’t really like the Assassin and the Healer, but I think it’s actually a solid short story about two women bonding and looking out for each other. It doesn’t really add a lot to the book overall, but Yrene goes on to become pretty important to the story in Tower of Dawn, so it’s cool to see this little origin story for her here.

I think the Assassin and the Desert may actually be my favourite novella of the lot. I love Ansel’s character so much and I really loved watching Celaena make a female friend and how the silent assassins challenged her thoughts on how an assassin’s guild could operate. Arobynn has always led his assassins through fear, competition, and intimidation, so it was nice to see a group of people who (while they’re still killers) looked out for each other and created a real sense of community. I really enjoyed the arc of this story and I think that as a stand-alone novella, this is the strongest of the book.

That said, the Assassin and the Underworld and the Assassin and the Empire are the two stories that really dragged me into this world, set the stage for the rest of the series, and broke my freaking heart. I’ll say up front, I’m not a Sam groupie. I know a lot of people love Sam in this book, but I find him a little controlling. Arobynn is obviously all kinds of abusive and manipulative (like seriously, textbook abuser), and I know I’m supposed to love Sam because he threatens to kill Arobynn for hurting Celaena and made him promise not to hurt her again, but honestly Celaena can look out for herself and I didn’t like that Sam was emasculated by her money and wouldn’t let her help him on missions. He always wanted to be there for her, why couldn’t he let her be there for him too.

But I did really like the last two novellas because I thought they had some killer character development for Celaena and they provide SO MUCH context for later books. Not just for all the secondary characters, but for why she is able to be so ruthless and how much trauma she has been through. Knowing what I know from all the other books, there is just so much depth to her character. Celaena’s ego drives me nuts sometimes because in some of the later books it’s like she can do no wrong, but I would say in this book her cockiness is her character flaw and it’s what gets her into so much trouble, and ultimately destroys her.

The ending is brutal. If you read the books in the publication order, you know what’s coming at the end of this book, but it doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking. I’m not sure if I would recommend reading this book first if you were reading the series for the first time, but having already read the series once, I think reading TAB first is the only way to read this series. I can’t wait to jump into Throne of Glass and just immerse myself in this series over the next 2 months!

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