TITLE: The Assassin’s Blade
SERIES: Throne of Glass, book 0
AUTHOR: Sarah J. Maas
FORMAT: Epub via Google Play Books
PAGES/LOCATIONS: 387 pages
GOODREADS’ AVG. RATING: 4.54 out of 5 stars; 16,725 ratings
Contains all five novellas.
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.
DATES READ: July 6th-14th, 2015
You might be the best, Sardothien, but there’s always someone waiting for you to slip.~Captain Rolfe, the Pirate Lord
Look out folks, I am officially joining the hype train as a fan of Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass Series and I have only read the five novellas telling the history of Adarlan’s greatest assassin, Celaena Sardothien. Celaena’s character growth over the course of the novellas felt natural, it truly felt as if she was finally learning about the world around her and developing her own opinions of it rather than continuing to blindly trust in the opinions of others. I found it incredibly satisfying to witness Celaena’s growth as a human being, her willingness to allow herself to feel emotions and accept the feelings of others and to trust them even if she was hurt by them in the end teaching her empathy and how to forgive. The five novellas continued to focus on the single strongest event exhibiting Celaena’s growing independence, her freeing of the slaves in The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, and the impending repercussions of her choice. The story arc of the five novellas exhibited a seeming feeling of poetic justice that Celaena would go about freeing slaves due to her own sense of moral outrage only to become a slave herself in the end – definitely not justice in her favor, but a form of justice all the same.
If Arobynn Hamel is telling the story, then yes, I suppose I did deserve it. I cost him a good deal of money – a kingdom’s worth of riches, probably. I was disobedient and disrespectful, and completely remorseless about what I did. But if the two hundred slaves that I freed are telling the story, then no, I suppose I didn’t deserve it.
I love this reflection by Celaena while with the Silent Assassins in the Red Desert because it accurately addresses a very real difference of opinion all based upon the perspective of the person being questioned – to some she is a hero, whereas to Arobynn she is nothing more than a disobedient and willful assassin that needed to be punished. Arobynn Hamel…he is a seriously messed up individual, an individual capable of significant pain, not just the physical pain typical of an assassin but emotional pain as well through his skillful use of manipulation. Arobynn himself even admits it: “You might be free of me, but you shouldn’t forget who I am. What I’m capable of.” Celaena does very well to describe just how Arobynn and his emotional manipulation has impacted her life:
Father, brother, lover – he’d never really declared himself any of them. Certainly not the lover part, though if Celaena had been another sort of girl, and if Arobynn had raised her differently, perhaps it might have come to that. He loved her like family, yet he put her in the most dangerous positions. He nurtured and educated her, yet he’d obliterated her innocence the first time he’d made her end a life. He’d given her everything, but he’d also taken everything away. She could no sooner sort out her feelings toward the King of the Assassins than she could count the stars in the sky.
Arobynn purposefully ensured that he would have all of the power in their relationship, leaving Celaena vulnerable and in need of him even when she thought herself free. This behavior from Arobynn is further exhibited after he shows up in Celaena and Sam’s apartment and lays out all of his “feelings” to Celaena, which she then reflects on stating:
He was using words as chains to bind her again. He’d had so many chances over the years to tell her that he loved her – he’d known how much she’d craved those words. But he hadn’t spoken them until he needed to use them as weapons.
Celaena herself admitted that words could be weapons that were just as harmful as steel and Arobynn continued to prove that very point over the course of the novellas. Arobynn is one of the most well written villains I have come across within the YA genre because he never truly came across as a villain, rather he consistently showed himself as a man concerned over the future and well being of his guild and its members which he has heavily invested in. This doesn’t make him inherently evil, it is the methods he utilized which shade his character in a more evil light. I really appreciated Arobynn’s character and hope characters in future novels are just as well written.
I further admit that these novellas broke my heart because of Sam Cortland, his death was the most evil thing that Arobynn could have done and it was only made more heinous by how he used it to manipulate Celaena. Sam’s love for Celaena was beautiful because it was a love he had harbored for her as they had grown up together, going so far as to say:
The only secret I’ve borne my entire life is that I love you. It was the one thing I believed I’d go to the grave without voicing.~Sam
I appreciated their relationship because there was a certain brutal honesty to it that is refreshing – they didn’t expect the other to change who they were for the sake of their relationship, but built it upon both sides being willing to compromise. Sure, they wanted to protect each other and wanted to do so in different ways but that is a completely logical desire based upon their jobs as assassins – and more importantly, they made it work! I appreciated Celaena’s desire to take their relationship slowly and get to know Sam as her lover and friend when he had previously been nothing more than her competition. Celaena grew into her feelings towards Sam, realizing that she cared about him and it eventually growing into love which is a much better read than instantaneous feelings of love appearing seemingly out of no where. Sam taught Celaena so much and while I know that his death had a major impact on her, I can only imagine that it has also filled her with an inner strength which will allow her to survive the salt mines of Endovier and in the future prove why she is known as Adarlan’s greatest assassin.
TL;DR REVIEW: 4.75 out of 5 stars. I know that so many of my fellow book bloggers have read the Throne of Glass Series and now I understand why. Sarah J. Maas has built an amazing character in Celaena Sardothien and I look forward to reading more of her adventures! If you are a fan of YA fantasy novels and haven’t yet read Throne of Glass, what are you waiting for? Seriously, move it closer to the top of your TBR pile and enjoy.