January 23, 2015

Review: The Assassin's Blade (Novellas 1 and 2) by Sarah J Maas

“Nervous?" he asked, his voice barely audible above the steady slice of his oars through the calm bay.
"No," she lied.
"Me too.”

The Book Rest - Review for The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J MaasTitle:The Assassin's Blade (Novellas 1 and 2)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: A-
Recommended For: Fans of the Throne of Glass series (obviously!) and fans of The Young Elites and Graceling
Source: Library e-book

One-sentence review: A great way to better understand assassin Celaena of the Throne of Glass series, but these two novellas are not necessarily imperative to the series overall. 

TBR It: Goodreads
Buy It: Amazon

Why has it taken me so long to get into Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass series?! It has quickly become one of my absolute favorites. I'll be honest, I think it was the cheesy covers that swayed me from reading sooner, they seem too high fantasy for me. I tend to enjoy books and series with fantastical elements but considering myself a "fantasy" enthusiast just felt too Dungeons-and-Dragons for me or something. However, this series has definitely changed my mind and attitude! If loving high fantasy is wrong, I don't want to be right.

The Assassin's Blade is not technically the first book in the series and it's not the first book I read. I began my obsession with Celaena Sardothien with book one: Throne of Glass. However, The Assassin's Blade is a book consisting of five prequel novellas that I read to better understand Celaena's character before moving forward with the rest of the series. I've decided to give each novella a mini-review because you can definitely read them stand-alone or not at all. Hopefully my reviews will help you decide if they're worth your time.

This compilation centers on Celaena Sardothien, the realm of Adarlan's most notorious assassin and, unbeknownst to most,  merely a teenage girl. Orphaned and trained at a young age by her master, Arobynn Hamel, Celaena trusts no one, not even the assassins in her guild. Each novella follows Celaena on a mission she must complete and gives the reader better insight into her background for the full series.

Novella 1: The Assassin and the Pirate Lord
In this novella, the reader is introduced to many of the assassins who are part of Celaena's guild, including her master Arobynn and the infamous Sam. Arobynn sends Celaena and Sam on a mission to meet with the Pirate Lord. What they think is a simple collections mission turns into a battle of conscience as Celaena and Sam learn Arobynn wants to get into the slave trade.

I admit I mostly wanted to read these novellas to learn about Sam! He is mentioned lightly in Throne of Glass and I had to learn who he is. While my appetite for knowledge was somewhat satiated, overall this novella was a huge disappointment and I could have skipped it. Celaena and Sam are rivals for Arobynn's attention and while this novella does show how their similar moral compasses bring them closer, overall it was dull and I was happy for it to end. The Pirate Lord was very one-dimensional and there was really nothing else to help me through this one. I enjoyed learning about Celaena's heart for the oppressed, but I didn't have any breakthrough moments reading this.

Novella 2: The Assassin and the Healer
The second prequel novella takes place as Celaena is on her way to the desert for her punishment for her actions in the first novella. While staying at a disheveled inn at a poor port town while waiting for her ship, Celaena seeks adventure by teaching a sorry barmaid how to fight for her safety and fight for a better life. There isn't much more to say about this one which is why it's another novella I would have skipped. Again, we learn about Celaena's empathy for the poor, lowly and defenseless. We also see how she is no-nonsense even when helping people. But again, I didn't find anything groundbreaking in this novella. The only way I think I'll be happy I read it is if I run into any of these characters in the future of this series.

If you're thinking you definitely don't plan on reading these novellas at all after my unenthused reviews, don't lose hope because next week I'll be talking about the other novellas in this compilation that bring a lot more hope to whether or not you should read!

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