Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The Assassin's Blade - S. J. Maas

The beauty of this collection of Novellas is that you don't need to have read Throne of Glass, or Crown of Midnight to have an inkling of what on earth is going as is often needed with companion/prequel novellas, usually because the author assumes some level of pre existing knowledge on behalf the reader.

This book however could easily stand as the first book in the series and has all the flair, wit and panache of the main series. Its also a master piece in character devolution. Going back to a Celaena before Endovier we are introduced to an arrogant, stroppy teenager with the world at her feet and an indestructibility complex.
Over the course of the 5 stories we see her evolve and develop a conscience, admittedly one that can still justify killing for money, but grow into the young woman whose shards we see at start of TOG in Endovier.

I got my hands on these shortly after posting the first post about this amazing series. It's taken me this long to recover from the end of this, the realisation of just HOW Celaena ended up in Endovier, to write this review.

Blade's novella's introduce us to The Assasin's Guild, we finally meet the much referenced Arobynn Hamel, Sam Cortland and even meet some characters that I suspect will return and be instrumental in the chaos and undoubted carnage that will occur in the next three books as Celaena realises her destiny and rattles the stars as Nehemia always said she would.

The novellas themselves are rip-roaring yarns of pirates, ninjas, treachery, backstabbing, love and betrayal.

Oddly though my favourite is the one not told from Celaena's perspective but rather from one of the character's that I'm very convinced we'll seen again. (Update: in the time since I wrote this, Queen of Shadows came out, if we don't see this character in Empire of Storms I will be VERY surprised.) It's a quiet but determined story and it's a nice interlude from the brutality, both physical and upon the reader's emotions, of the main storyline.

Personally, in terms of when to read this, I agree with the publisher's decision of putting it out between Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire. Reading this book first would tear a lot of the heart and and a lot of the mystery of the first two books (Update: it's almost essential to have read it to understand things that happen in Queen of Shadows.)

Overall The Assassin's blade is an excellent addition to Celaena's world and gives us a chance to see more of Erilea, and gives us tantalising hints of things to come, adversaries in the making and takes us behind the curtain, giving us an understanding of Sardothien's fury.

This Celaena before Aelin, this is Adarlan's assassin at her very best, this is the genesis of the character that blew you away in Throne of Glass and an must read for any fan of the series.


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