My last review of an SJM book before Tower of Dawn TODAY! AHHH! I don’t know what to even do with myself, I’m so excited and nervous about what’s upcoming. So nervous… I’m going to die. This review is going to be a little different. Sarah J. Maas released all of these stories as individual novellas before compiling them into The Assassins Blade. So I’m going to do a plot break down for each story, and then rate the book as a whole. As always, after the publishers description of the book, you’ll have spoilers when I do plot breakdowns. GO READ THE BOOK! Then come back and hang out! ONWARD!
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.
The Assassin and the Pirate Lord
Celaena Sardothien is the most feared assassin in the Kingdom of Adarlan. Having fought her way through the ranks of Arobynn Hamel’s guild of assassins. She is sent, with her fiercest competition in the assassins guild, Sam Cortland to Skull’s Bay. They are informed that they’re going to exact retribution from Captain Rolfe, the Lord of Pirates. He allegedly has killed three of his assassins.
Once they’d arrived in Skull’s Bay, Celaena and Sam meet with Captain Rolfe, and find out that they aren’t actually there to get revenge for dead assassins. Instead, they are there to finish the negotiations of a slave trade agreements. Celaena is furious and convinces Rolfe to take her and Sam to view their slaves. Upon seeing the conditions that the people are living in, and horrified that they are bartering for slaves at all, Celaena and Sam organize a plan to set the slaves free.
Celaena starts a bar fight that eventually consumes the whole city. She and Sam move to destroy the ship-breaking chain in the Bay, to allow the slaves to flee on ships. They are confronted by Rolfe, who Celaena distracts by taking off her mask. She duels with him in order for Sam to escape. Celaena eventually watches as Sam takes out the chain and destroys the watch tower, burying himself underneath the rubble. Celaena believes him dead and watches the slaves sail to freedom.
She eventually finds Sam, who is virtually unharmed. They find Rolfe and Celaena threatens him into signing an agreement that he will never trade slaves again, and instead allow Skulls Bay to become a haven for escaped slaves. Sam and Celaena sail home to Rifthold, no longer enemies but slowly and surely becoming friends.
I loved this opening story. I read this collection of novellas after reading Heir of Fire. Obviously, I loved reading about Celaena’s blossoming friendship with Sam and her strange relationship with Arobynn Hamel. Now after having read the whole series, I absolutely loved the role Captain Rolfe played in this story and how his character came to play a larger role in Empire of Storms.
The Assassin and the Healer
We find Celaena after the events of The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, having been beaten horribly by Arobynn Hamel. He’s punishing her by sending her to train with The Silent Assassins in the Red Desert. While waiting for a ship to carry her to the southern part of Erilea, Celaena stays in a ramshackle inn in the port town of Innish in Melisandre. It’s full of the worst kinds of people. It’s also where she meets Yrene Towers.
Celaena, looking for a fight, finds four mercenaries attacking Yrene. Killing three of the men, Celaena has a clipped conversation with Yrene about how she needs to learn self defense. She starts to teach her, when the fourth man returns with backup. They attack the girls, who end up killing the men. Celaena reveals she used the attack for Yrene’s training.
In the morning when readying to leave, Celaena leaves a pouch of money and jewelry for Yrene. She hopes that Yrene will use the money to go to the Southern Continent and train to be a healer, like her mother.
This story is really interesting to me. As I’ve now read the entirety of what’s been released in this series so far (up to Empire of Storms) I feel like Sarah is setting it up for all of these characters to come back. I’m wondering in what capacity Yrene will come back. Maybe it will be to heal Chaol, perhaps it will be to pledge herself to Aelin’s cause in Book 7, and she will heal Aelin when she’s (hopefully) released from the iron coffin.
The Assassin and the Desert
Celaena arrives in the Red Desert to begin training with The Silent Assassins, the “final” portion of her punishment by her master, Arobynn Hamel. She only has a month to train with them, and to gain the approval of the Mute Master, head of the Silent Assassins. She trains with the rest of the group, and befriends Ansel of Briarcliff.
Celaena, used to being the center of attention, grows frustrated with the Mute Master. She hasn’t met him personally and he isn’t training her himself. Due to boredom, Celaena decides to go to Xandria with Ansel, who is attempting to forge a treaty with the ruler. When negotiations go south, Ansel steals an Asterion Horse, the most prized possession of the Lord. In order to keep up, Celaena is forced to steal a horse as well. The Mute Master confronts the girls about their theft and escapade in Xandria, which Celaena takes the fall for. She doesn’t want to see Ansel ostracized by the group. The Mute Master sees through the lie and begins to train Celaena himself, which causes a rift between Ansel and herself.
Ansel drugs Celaena and leaves her in the middle of the desert. When she comes to, she realizes that something is horribly wrong and quickly makes her way back to the keep. Once back, she finds herself in the midst of an all-out-battle, with many of her new friends dead or injured. Celaena realizes that it must mean an attempt on the Mute Masters life, so she runs to his aid, only to find Ansel preparing to kill him. Celaena attacks her and tells Ansel to leave before she kills her. Celaena earns the Mute Masters approval, and is sent back to Rifthold with a pile of gold to pay back the life debt now owed by the Mute Master.
I loved how adventurous this story was when I first read it. Now that I understand it in the larger context of the series plot, I’m very happy with Ansel of Briarcliff and the Silent Assassins. Hopefully, Ansel and Manon can find a way to work with each other, because I honestly think they would be a lethal duo. This was probably my second favourite novella in the entire collection, because of how hilarious it all seems now.
The Assassin and the Underworld
Celaena returns from the Red Desert, to Rifthold. Coming back into the Assassins Keep, Celaena finds herself as the center of Arobynn’s attention once more. He commands her to kill Doneval, a man from Melisandre. He implies that the death is imperative, as he needs Celaena to get documents related to a slave trade agreement that he wants to shut down. She finds Sam in the keep, who looks as though Arobynn hasn’t punished him at all. Celaena now questions her trust in him, after what occurred in the red desert with Ansel. Sam reveals that Arobynn made him watch as he beat her, before she departed to the Red Desert.
Celaena is angered when it’s revealed that Sam has been spending time iwth Lysandra, a courtesan owned by a madam in Rifthold, who Celaena has known since they were children. She leaves, angry at Sam, to plan her attempt at killing Doneval.
The next day, Arobynn gifts Celaena a black fighting suit. With blades built into the suit itself, Celaena is now training how to weild it with her body. Celaena has a patch of spidersilk woven into Sam’s suit. She sees Sam and they fight about how he wasn’t punished this summer. Sam states that his price of forgiveness from Arobynn was his promise to never touch her without permission again. Celaena leaves. She goes to the orchestra to drown out her own thoughts.
Later that night, Sam is waiting for her in the hallway outside of the room housing the piano in the Assassins Keep. He alludes to her that he loves her, and she offers to let him help with Doneval. Celaena breaks into Doneval’s house, and is caught sneaking through the window. After being interrogated, she is thrown into the sewer and tied down. After breaking her shackles, she tries to flee, swimming to a different exit. Sam finds her, but with the water rising past her head, she becomes unconscious. Sam revives her.
The next day, Celaena takes the money from the Mute Master and gives it to Arobynn. Now that she’s paid off the debt for him raising and training her, she is considered a free woman. Sam reveals that he’s planning on running away to Ellwye, and never coming back. He reveals that he loves her, and that he couldn’t stand her choosing Arobynn over him. Celaena returns his feelings. They go to assassinate Doneval.
They return to the Assassins Keep where Arobynn reveals that Doneval had actually been building a network of safe houses and roads to protect and free slaves from Adarlan. Arobynn reveals that this is the real punishment for what happened in Skulls Bay. He also reveals that he spent all of Celaena’s debt money on purchasing Lysandra at her bidding. Once she’s left the office, she runs into Lysandra who brags about being bid on. Celaena throws a dagger at her head, just missing by an inch. Sam and Celaena go to their new apartment and bask in the glory of their new freedom.
This was probably my least favourite of all the novellas in this book. It was entirely a transition piece, meant to get the reader from one novella to the next; a building block to understanding. I’m not a huge fan of transition pieces, but either way this novella was well written and entertaining.
The Assassin and the Empire
Celaena and Sam are now living in their own home, away from the Assassin’s Keep. However, they are struggling, due to their falling out with their ex-master, Arobynn Hamel. Sam has resorted to fighting in the pits, as they haven’t had a single contract since leaving the Keep and paying their life debts. They know that they won’t be free of Arobynn unless they leave Rifthold, which Sam is anxious to do.
Sam finally gets a contract for himself and Celaena that could get them the money to leave: the assassination of Ioan Jayne and his second in command, Rourke Farran. The biggest crime boss in Rifthold. They start planning their attack.
Celaena returns to the apartment after spending a day out in the city, only to find Arobynn Hamel sitting on her couch. He tells her that he loves her, and begs her not to leave Rifthold. She kicks him out of the house. She and Sam have a heart-to-heart and decide to leave for the Southern Continent.
The next day, Celaena can’t find Sam. She goes looking for him, only to go home and find Arobynn in the apartment again. He says that Sam was ambushed, and when Celaena demands to see the body, he denies her. Eventually she gets her way, and falls asleep on Sam’s corpse. Later than evening, Celaena wakes up in her old room at the Keep, locked in. She goes to escape when one of Arobynn’s henchmen, Wesley, tries to tell her to stay. He tries to tell her that it’s a trap, that she’s being set up by Arobynn, but she’s so angry she attacks him. She runs to Farran’s house and kills Jayne on sight. But she is caught – someone betrayed her. Beaten, Celaena is handed to the Royal Guard. The novella ends with her mourning Sam and wondering who betrayed her, while in the cart to Endovier.
This was my favourite of all the novellas because it explains who Celaena is and has become when we meet her in Throne of Glass. I loved that we saw Arobynn betray her, even though she doesn’t fully see it yet. And that Sam dying was the catalyst to the eventual events of the first three books in the series.
Overall, I really liked how this series of novellas was used to tie all of the plot holes together for the Throne of Glass series. I loved learning about Celaena’s relationship with Arobynn, and her run-in’s with Captain Rolfe, Yrene Towers, the Silent Assassins and Ansel of Briarcliff. It helped explain who these people were to her when I finally got to Empire of Storms.
But the best part of this novel was hands down watching her relationship with Sam blossom. I’m a full Rowan/Aelin shipper, but this was so cute and lovely. The fact that she loved him and lost him in such a cruel betrayal, it makes sense now that she was unkind and broken when we met her in Throne of Glass. I loved this novella series, and am so looking forward to picking up with Chaol when I get home from work today for Tower of Dawn!