*gross ugly sobbing* Holy crap this was one of the best books I’ve read all year. Each novella, separate and bound together, gave such a rich background into the story of Celaena Sardothien. I felt such utter joy and complete sadness while reading about what made Celaena the person she is throughout the main series, and I am forever grateful to Sarah for gifting us with this incomparable insight. So many emotions right now. I definitely think it was wise to read this after books 1 & 2, and before 3, but of course I’m going back to reread them now that I have this information. I hope everyone who has read and loved Throne of Glass decides to take the time to enjoy this collection.
~ Now included: individual reviews of each novella!~
The Assassin and the Pirate Lord: It was a wonderful and touching experience to be able to see Sam as a character so clearly, and equally rewarding to have context behind Arobynn as well. Both of these characters are mentioned past-tense in Throne of Glass, but having them fully fleshed out in even a short story gives a solid (and heartbreaking) background to Celaena’s story – and to Celaena as a character as well! She was spoiled in the Assassins’ Keep, just relentlessly arrogant, conceited, blunt, and completely unrestrained. She had orders and manners on top of it, for sure, but she was absolutely the kind of person who did what she wants and everyone else could go suck it for all she cared. Arguably, she is still like that by the time Throne of Glass rolls around, but it’s not nearly to the same extent. My favorite part about seeing her like this is that she feels so much more like a child here than in any of the other novellas or the main book, and that is saddening in of itself. Reading this was like looking back at a photo of me at 13, still playing with my favorite Barbie dolls and fooling around with my youngest sister, barely a month before an experience at school made me decide that it was time to grow up and I threw all of my old things away. It feels like you can see the loss of innocence spread out in front of us in these small stories, knowing that we had no idea it was even there until it was gone, and cursing ourselves for our vulnerabilities years later. Still – this novella had me on the edge, turning page after page in one sitting to see what happened next and if Celaena and Sam’s plans would really work out the way they expected it to. Ending on a happy note (albeit full of dark foreshadowing), I thoroughly enjoyed this glimpse back in time into Celaena’s past.
The Assassin and the Healer: This one was cute, but honestly unremarkable as far as novellas go. We got to find out what happened after the events of The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, and meet the soft-spoked, pretty hopeless healer-turned-barmaid Yrene while Celaena makes her way to the Red Desert. I loved the feminist outlook this story had: you fight for what you have, learn to defend yourself, let your hopelessness and rage and grief turn themselves into useful tools of confidence and strength. But the story was slow, and neither character really did much in the way of development or foreshadowing or even more than a somewhat compelling series of brutal fights. Maybe if Yrene had popped up somewhere else in the series, I would care more about her background, but when I was listing off the novellas included in the book after I finished it, I had almost completely forgotten about this one. That’s how little of an impact it had on me or the rest of Celaena’s character.
The Assassin and the Desert: BY FAR my favorite story in this book. It’s much more subdued than the first story, but the lessons Celaena learned, especially in the beginning of the story, were fraught with the kind of humility she needed to learn before she could even begin to grow more as a character. And I think she learned quite a bit that would be useful to her later, notably when it comes to managing her temper in the later books and enduring Endovier in the time between The Assassin’s Blade and Throne of Glass. Also:FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS ARE SO IMPORTANT. Celaena has had a rough time with female friends, including Ansel (and Lysandra and Nehemia), but I loved seeing her find comfort and joy in companionship for once, without the need to prove herself as being better than everyone else. The Master himself is also just a stand up guy. Offering Celaena sanctuary, support, and his own personal backhand-slap for Arobynn? I sincerely hope he comes up again in a later book, because I just want to jump through the book and hug him and then bow at his feet. So much respect and admiration for him and all he has done out of the kindness of his heart – something Arobynn has never done for her, and I hope she never forgets.
The Assassin and the Underworld: Part of me was worried, after the beginning, that Celaena would go back to being her old self – dutiful and spiteful to the end, as she was before she left. But every time Arobynn did anything, said anything, it was just another chip off the chains that bound her to him. I wish desperately that they could have broken, and she could truly walk away from him and his monstrous shadow she was forced to live in, but he is always there. This story made me care about Celaena on a deeper level than I had initially, and I think that really played a huge part in how I looked at the main books when I reread them after finishing this. The biggest reason I think this book as a whole needs to be read before Heir of Fire is because it provides rich and emotional context into why Celaena keeps her biggest fears and grief and shame bottled up inside, locked away, behind a wall of ice and stone. It’s the only way she could survive.
The Assassin and the Empire: AKA The Assassin and the Crushing of Diana’s Heart and Soul Forever, in this book we finally learn what happened to Sam, and it is just destroying. I mean, this story wrecked me. I really understand why she’s always like “I saw red / I just lost control / I could rip his face off / etc.” because I was internally like Arobynn I will rip you into pieces after tearing apart everything you love if you loved anything at all ever you soulless bastard. My heart just broke in half reading about her suffering, and knowing just how long it plagued her afterwards makes it so hard to bear. Sarah J. Maas is an absolutely phenomenal writer for being able to make me care about these characters so much, and hate others so ruthlessly. It was truly a gift to end this book with a heavy heart, and start the series over again knowing more about Celaena than she knew about herself when Throne of Glass begun. If this book changed how I felt about the series, it only made me love it twice as much.
Super special shoutout to my dad for purchasing this for me this Christmas. You’re welcome for being the easiest person to shop for. ❤
Read December 25th, 2015.