Review: The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

Review: The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. MaasThe Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on March 4, 2014
Pages: 435
Format: Hardcover
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Discover where Celaena Sarthodien's thrilling saga began

Celaena Sarthodien is her kingdom's most feared assassin. Though she works for the powerful and ruthless Assassin's Guild, she yields for no one and trusts only her fellow killer for hire, Sam.

When Celaena's scheming master, Arobynn Hamel, dispatches her on missions that take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, she finds herself acting independently of his wishes--and questioning her own allegiance. Along the way, she discovers friends and enemies alike, and discovers that she feels far more for Sam than just friendship. But by defying Arobynn's orders, Celaena riskes unimaginable punishment, and with Sam by her side, he is in danger, too. They will have to risk it all if they hope to escape Arobynn's clutches--and if they fail, they'll lose not just a chance at freedom, but their lives....

A prequel to Throne of Glass, this collection of five novellas offers readers a deeper look into the history of this cunning assassin and her enthralling--and deadly--world.

Included in this volume:

The Assassin and the Pirate Lord
The Assassin and the Healer
The Assassin and the Desert
The Assassin and the Underworld
The Assassin and the Empire

When I first picked up The Assassin’s Blade, I was really excited to read it. I’ve heard so many amazing things about the Throne of Glass books. I was gifted Throne of Glass over a year ago by a good friend. People have been DEMANDING I read this series. So I’ve finally started! Unfortunately, The Assassin’s Blade did NOT meet my expectations.

So, why did I read The Assassin’s Blade before Throne of Glass (the official first book in the series)? I had a lot of people telling me to read The Assassin’s Blade first – they said they wished they had read it first because they would have understood and liked Throne of Glass more if they had. Some even said they re-read Throne of Glass after reading The Assassin’s Blade.

But then I had other people telling me to put The Assassin’s Blade down and read Throne of Glass first – they said it would be easier to understand the characters and world in The Assassin’s Blade if I read Throne of Glass first.

So, of course, my head was spinning and I was completely confused. But I had been set on reading The Assassin’s Blade for a long time – so long, in fact, that I tried picking up Throne of Glass and had to put it down because I’m a mood reader and I was too set on The Assassin’s Blade and, therefore, not at all in the mood for Throne of Glass.

I went into The Assassin’s Blade with high expectations for two reasons. One: Everyone LOVES Sarah J. Maas and her books. Two: I was, personally, very excited for The Assassin’s Blade. When I first picked it up in the bookstore, I read twenty pages and couldn’t put it down.

While I loved the characters, the world-building and Maas’s writing style, I wasn’t thrilled with any of the plots of the novellas. I rated each novella individually, then averaged them together. Overall, I gave The Assassin’s Blade a 3-star rating. Since I’ve never reviewed a novella compilation before, I’m just going to break this down and discuss each novella, plus I’ll include each individual star rating.

Here we go:

The Assassin and the Pirate Lord – Rating: 3 stars
As I mentioned, I had high expectations for this book, but especially for this first novella. The first twenty pages were what convinced me I HAD to buy it and read it first. But after the first twenty pages, things went downhill, fast. First of all, I’m not a huge fan of books that involve slavery of any kind. I’m also not that into books with pirates… Unless it’s Captain Jack Sparrow. Then I’ll make an exception ;)

I really like Celaena. She’s a tough bitch with a kind heart, which is an odd/rare combination, but also a perfect combination. She does what she has to to survive, but she has morals and lines she refuses to cross. She can take care of herself, but she’s not invincible and knows when to ask for help, though she does so a bit stubbornly.

I adored Sam! I liked the progression of his relationship with Celaena. They didn’t start out instantly in love. It took time and trust and, even at the end of The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, they still weren’t in the best of places. Though I could definitely feel the shift in their relationship when it happened.

I liked seeing life inside the Assassin’s Keep. I wish we had gotten to know Ben, though. He sounded like an amazing character. I never trusted Arobynn, not even for one second. I wanted him to be like a father figure to Celaena, but I knew it wasn’t in his nature, unfortunately.

I think my biggest issue with The Assassin and the Pirate Lord was definitely the plot. It was slow and boring and not something I’m a fan of. I also didn’t really like any of the secondary characters.

The Assassin and the Healer – Rating: 3.5 stars
I actually really enjoyed The Assassin and the Healer, though it still wasn’t my favorite of the five (maybe second favorite?). I liked the setting a lot, as well as the secondary characters. It was the shortest novella and likely meant just to be filler to get to the third novella, but it was enjoyable. It was interesting seeing Celaena out of her element and on her own, without Sam, Arobynn or any other familiar faces. I really like Yrene, but what are the odds we’ll ever see her again, outside of this single novella? For that reason, I tried not to get too attached. However, Celaena’s interactions with Yrene proved that, deep down, Celaena is a kind person with a warm heart. I liked seeing that side of her.

The Assassin and the Desert – Rating: 3.5 stars
I loved the plot, the secondary characters (Ansel, Mikhail, Ilias and the Mute Master) and the lessons learned in this novella. Going into it, I was nervous that it would be Celaena traveling in the desert for weeks by herself (boring!) so I’m glad Maas skipped all that and went right into the action of the main plot.

The Assassin and the Desert definitely had a lot of action and betrayal. I was so upset with where things ended for most of the characters and I felt so bad for Celaena. That said, I can see Ansel playing a major part in one of the main books. I’m eager to see her and Celaena reunite!

Sadly, despite being my favorite of the novellas, The Assassin and the Desert still had small sections that were slow and a bit boring. Certain things annoyed me, though I don’t think I can really explain why.. They just did. But, as I said, it was still my favorite, despite these small issues.

The Assassin and the Underworld – Rating: 3 stars
The title of this novella had me really excited. I took the title literally and assumed all the wrong things. So that was a bit disappointing. I also found this novella to be the most slow and boring of the five.

With this novella, my distrust in Arobynn increased tenfold. I was so mad at Celaena for not questioning Arobynn more, though Sam was incredibly suspicious of him and sort of made up for Celaena’s behavior. I definitely fell for Sam in this novella, which was such a bad idea.. Someone on Twitter spoiled me regarding his fate, yet I still let myself fall hard for him. Sigh.

Though this novella had a handful of good – and even intriguing – moments, I was mostly just bored and disappointed.

The Assassin and the Empire – Rating: 3.5 stars
I mentally and emotionally braced myself for this novella. As I mentioned, the major plot point in this one was spoiled for me. But I didn’t know how or why it happened, so that was still a shock – though, as I’ve said, I never trusted Arobynn, so that part wasn’t a shock at all! Even knowing what would happen, my heart still broke into a million tiny pieces. *SOBS*

The ending of The Assassin and the Empire was definitely the most intriguing/exciting/crazy/etc of all the novellas. Sadly, it was also really predictable. In The Assassin and the Underworld, Celaena was tricked. But in The Assassin and the Empire she was played – big time! I knew by whom and I had a good guess as to why.. But seeing the actual explanation was a bit shocking.


Overall, The Assassin’s Blade was an interesting read. I loved the characters and world. Maas is a great writer! But I really couldn’t get into the plots of the novellas. Some of them were slow and boring, some just were about subjects that I don’t normally like to read. Each one had certain moments that were enjoyable or memorable. There were some amazing secondary characters that I truly hope we’ll meet again in later books.

As for reading The Assassin’s Blade before Throne of Glass? I should probably wait until I read Throne of Glass to see how I feel about it. But as of right now, I definitely have no regrets. The Assassin’s Blade is described as being a prequel. In my eyes, reading it first was the only logical thing to do.

Final Thoughts: Despite being bored with The Assassin’s Blade and its plots, I’m still very excited to read Throne of Glass. I like the flow of the stories in The Assassin’s Blade and I like where it ends, setting things up perfectly for the beginning of Throne of Glass.


2 thoughts on “Review: The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

  1. I read the novellas before I read Throne of Glass. I was a little bit confused at first but I thought it was nice to get to know Celaena before the actual series started. So much heartbreak in The Assassin and the Empire :(

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