The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThe Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThe Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

Over the past few years I’ve been reading Sarah J. Maas‘s THRONE OF GLASS series, though thanks to my dislike of e-books, never got around to reading the five novellas that explored some of the early years in Celaena Sardothien’s career.

Celaena is a famous assassin in the employ of Arobynn Hamel, the ruthless master of the Assassin’s Guild. Though few have seen her face, Celaena already has a fearsome reputation despite her youth, and is recognized as Arobynn’s protégé among the other recruits.

The five stories within The Assassin’s Blade (2014) involve separate but connected adventures that are mentioned throughout the THRONE OF GLASS books, and shed insight as to how Celaena ended up where she is at the start of the first book in the series.

As such, they’re best read as what they were written as: prequels. Though it’s tempting to read the series in chronological order, a lot of the information here is deliberately kept secret in the series itself, all the better to reveal it in climactic revelations. I’d recommend reading (let’s say) the first four or so books in series before coming back to The Assassin’s Blade.

Initially released separately as e-books, the stories are called: “The Assassin and the Pirate Lord” (in which Celaena disobeys Arobynn in favour of her conscience), “The Assassin and the Healer” (the most superfluous of the collection, though it does introduce a character that’ll pop up much later down the track), “The Assassin and the Desert” (the best of the lot, in which Celaena travels to another cabal of assassins to hone her craft), “The Assassin and the Underworld” (focusing on the relationship between Celaena and fellow assassin Sam Cortland) and “The Assassin and the Empire” (which details the terrible betrayal that takes Celaena right up to the beginning of Throne of Glass).

As ever, the stories are quick and fun to read, with an emphasis on Celaena as an unabashed wish-fulfilment character for young readers. It makes next to no sense that an assassin would be a staggeringly gorgeous beauty with striking white hair, or that she would be a stone-cold killer by the time she’s seventeen, but this on-going story has never been about logic or reason. It’s the grand spectacle of a girl pitting herself against an empire, and it’s here that we read about her origins for the first time.

At the time of this review, I’ve already started the second-to-last book in the series (Tower of Dawn) and I have to admit that the whole story has gotten under my skin. Despite some obvious flaws, I’ll be sad to see it end.

Published in 2014.0Celaena Sardothien is her kingdom’s most feared assassin. Though she works for the powerful and ruthless Assassin’s Guild, Celaena yields to 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 makes friends and enemies alike, and discovers that she feels far more for Sam than just friendship. But by defying Arobynn’s orders, Celaena risks 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


  • Rebecca Fisher

    REBECCA FISHER, with us since January 2008, earned a Masters degree in literature at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Her thesis included a comparison of how C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman each use the idea of mankind’s Fall from Grace to structure the worldviews presented in their fantasy series. Rebecca is a firm believer that fantasy books written for children can be just as meaningful, well-written and enjoyable as those for adults, and in some cases, even more so. Rebecca lives in New Zealand. She is the winner of the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best SFF Fan Writer.

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