The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J Maas

The Assassin’s Blade is a collection of the five prequel novellas to The Throne of Glass series. It comprises The Assassin and The Pirate Lord, The Assassin and the Healer; The Assassin and the Desert; The Assassin and the Underworld and The Assassin and the Empire.

In this collection of the stories, Caleana embarks on five daring missions, which take her from remote islands to hostile deserts. If you’ve read The Throne of Glass series, you’ll enjoy the backstory as to how so many different characters came to know, and owe, Celaena Sardothien. As with the main series, Celaena is the main character of the novellas and while she’s younger in these stories she’s no less stubborn and troublesome.

The novellas are action packed so the pace is fairly fast. Each story builds Celaena’s relationships with key players in her world, and gives us a clearer understanding of her history with Arobynn Hamell, a man without a conscience and Head of the Assassin’s Guild.

The characters are painted vividly in the reader’s imagination, and anyone looking to have more information on Celaena’s first love might be surprised to find that she has a hate relationship going on with Sam at the start. Celaena is single-minded in besting Sam at every turn. She sees him as a threat to her becoming Arobynn’s successor; cue some witty, and rather cutting dialogue.

In The Assassin’s Blade, Arobynn tasks Celaena with missions that are high on the profit margin but even higher on the scale of causing human suffering. Celaena has every intention of doing Arobynn’s bidding. However, the further she travels away from his immediate influence the less she remembers that he was her so called ‘saviour’, and the more her own thoughts and feelings rise up. In all the stories we get the sense that Celaena is running out of time when it comes to testing Arobynn’s patience. If you haven’t read the main series then you’ll be left wondering what Arobynn might do when he finds out how she’s using her training to liberate slaves or and avenge tyranny; instead of earning him money and influence.

Ultimately, the reader knows what Celaena knows. She might be separated from Arobynn by geography, but his influence is far reaching and no-one gets away with ‘disrespecting’ his authority.

The book is an easy page turner; the stories are pure entertainment . They are in no way essential to read before the The Throne of Glass series, but they do offer an entertaining backstory which include a few laughs before the tearjerker ending (given the start of the main series that’s no surprise). If you’re interested to know more about Celaena and how she thinks of pulling together the myriad threads that she does in the main series, then these stories will appeal.

Expect humorous dialogue, action-packed adventures and an undercurrent of suspense (more suspenseful if you’ve not read The Throne of Glass).

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