I’m so invested in the lives of the characters from the Throne of Glass series that I couldn’t wait until September for the next book to come out. I placed a hold on a digital copy of The Assassin’s Blade, the collection of short novellas that collectively make up a prequel to the series. As soon as the book landed in my account, I raced through the stories, soaking up every detail.
I was both captivated and disappointed as I read this book. On the one hand, I needed to know more about Celaena Sardothien. I needed to understand her and I wanted to love her in this book as much as I had loved her for the rest of the series. But as I read each story, my disappointment grew. I had expected to see a glimpse of the strong, courageous, calculating, triumphant woman that she grew into, but instead, I got the arrogant, clumsy, foolish, headstrong girl that she started out as.
I should have expected as much. It takes a great writer to so clearly show the growth and transition of a character over a series of books and then to have written a prequel series that goes back even further to where it all started.
I can’t decide if I wish I would have read The Assassin’s Blade before the actual series. I don’t think that it really mattered, to be honest. It was kind of fun to get the “aha!” moment when you read a story or are introduced to a character in her past that she had only alluded to in the later books. Now you can put all the pieces into place and connect the dots. As a reader, it is more enjoyable to connect the dots yourself than to have every detail spelled out for you in a linear fashion.
So to review: The Assassin’s Blade tells several short stories about Celaena’s life when she lived with Arobynn Hamel in the Assassin’s keep. You get to meet Sam, her first love, and you might even fall in love with him a little yourself. This book describes Celaena as the most known and feared assassin in the land, as we already knew she was, but we don’t actually see much of that. What we see in the book is Celaena making mistakes, thinking she is utterly amazing and then realizing she messed up, rushing into things when she should have taken the time to think through the trap. We do see an introduction to her kind and generous nature, which I think is important. Since we’ve read the rest of the books in the Throne of Glass series, we know that she is the heroine whom we are all rooting for. She is the good in our traditional dichotomy. So this book shows us that, while yes she is a trained killer, she has a heart somewhere in there. Her true nature pushes through so that we can see her compassion and grace. We don’t see it 100% of the time, but it’s there, setting the stage for the rest of her adventure.
I would give this book five stars and I would recommend it if you love the Throne of Glass series. I can’t tell you whether you should read it first or last or in the middle. You’ll have to decide that on your own.