The Assassin’s Blade is a collection of 5 prequel novellas about the year in Celaena Sardothian’s life that took her from the King of the Assassin’s heir apparent to a prisoner in a salt mine. If you want a better, more comprehensive, review (with gifs!) of each novella, please read kdm’s review.
One of the things I liked best about Celaena in this collection was how teenagery she was. I liked that Maas allowed Celaena to be unlikeable, slappable and a pain in the ass – a teenager. She had all of the unearned confidence and none of the experience with frailty and failure. Over the course of the novellas she gets a long lesson in trust, betrayal and loss.
At the beginning of the first novella, “The Assassin and The Pirate Lord” Celaena is at peak arrogance. I don’t know how many 16 yr olds you’ve spent time with, but they have moments in which they are sure they are the smartest, most capable person in the world. It’s wonderful and infuriating at the same time. Celaena starts off certain in her place in the world and of her ability to change the world. She makes friends and learns to let others in. She also learns that her protected place in the assassins’ world doesn’t protect her from her mentor and father figure, Arobynn Hamel, the self styled King of the Assassins. Her combination of arrogance and naivete are, again, very teenagery. She is smart and has the training to impact in the world in profound way, but her lack of experience and misplaced trust lead her to act without question. Hamel is the dark side of the father figure. He is abusive and uses his position of authority to manipulate and use Celaena. She begins to draw away from him, but has a hard time fully recognizing his evil. She does grow up over the novellas and tries to claim her own future. As we know, because these are prequels, that doesn’t work out for her.
While the characters in the prequels don’t have much of a presence in the first novel, Throne of Glass, the events do impact Celaena’s choices. It will be interesting to see if the King of the Assassins shows up in later novels, or if any of the other surviving characters make an appearance. But if they don’t, that’s fine. If all the novellas are meant to do is show us who Celaena was, that is enough.