The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5
Rating: ★★★☆☆

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 was just about to dive into the first book in this series, Throne of Glass, when a good friend told me that I had to start with the prequel novellas (compiled here in this anthology). And I’m glad I did. I think this gives a nice bit of backstory, history, and character development/insight that I appreciate going into the first book. I’m not sure that I wouldn’t have gotten that anyway, but I like seeing the story as it plays out.

There are five prequels included here and they build on one another, so if you’re going to read one (and I’d argue that a couple of them are absolutely necessary to the character of Calaena), then you might as well read them all.

When I first started I wasn’t sure what to think of any of the characters. I didn’t know who to trust, so I adopted my ‘trust no one’ mantra, or what to believe. Everything seemed suspect – and as I got further into Calaena’s world I think that my suspicions played out rather devastatingly.

Calaena, here, is a brash, cocky, skilled assassin. But that doesn’t mean she’s infallible. She’s also more than a little naive and trusting where she probably shouldn’t be, and her cockiness leads her to never really believe the danger that lurks so close to her. She trusts where she shouldn’t and doesn’t trust where she should.

And I think there are some hard-learned lessons for Calaena in this set of novellas. They hurt, her and me, and I look forward to some characters getting their deserved ends. Calaena matured and grew throughout these novellas and – based on the ending of the last one – I’m sure there’s a lot more change coming in her future. I can’t wait to see it.

If I have one complaint, it’s the focus on the society stuff. I get that Calaena has to recon a job, get intel and research her marks, and I applaud that. But the pages and pages and pages of description about the events and clothes and symphonies and blah, blah, blah. Boring. I skimmed so much in those sections. Luckily you don’t miss much by skimming.

What really did interest me was the world. Magic apparently was a thing, but now it’s gone, except maybe not entirely. I’m intrigued by Calaena’s history, and the history of a bunch of other characters we met throughout these novellas – some of whom I desperately hope we see again someday.

Also, here’s hoping that there’s a female character, other than Calaena, that isn’t written off as “bad” that shows up sometime soon.

It’s been years since I’ve read the blurb on the first book, so I’m really interested to see how Calaena gets out of her latest predicament. And see her take revenge on all those who have wronged her.