Monday, October 13, 2014

Review: The Assassin's Blade - Sarah J. Maas

The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #0.1
Genre: YA, fantasy
Published on March 4, 2014
Published by Bloomsbury
Pages: 435
Read From: 9.6.14 - 9.14.14

Celaena Sardothien is her kingdom's most feared assassin. Though she works for the powerful and ruthless Assassins' Guild, she 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. . . .


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? As much as I still don't really like the character impersonator (not how I picture Celaena, though after Crown of Midnight, it makes more sense), I do love the color scheme and the general style.

Characters: Horror of horrors, I actually kind of liked Celaena in this one! Yes, I actually did! It was short-lived, of course, but for the first three novellas, I didn't mind her so much. In #1, she was pretty typical cocky and arrogant. In #2 and #3, though, she got down to more assassin-ish business. Less flirting and pouting and simpering; more killing and grimness. I like the grim Celaena. I hate the arrogant Celaena. And once the romance really took hold, I remembered why I didn't like her. Pouty, jealous, emotional - yeah, it was all coming back to me. What about Sam, you ask? Well, I didn't mind Sam. Sam was pretty cool. Except he loved Celaena for no really good reason, and he had some jealousy issues as well, having constantly lived in her shadow as Arobynn Hamel's favorite. Not that I couldn't sympathize with the guy, but when it came to the romance, it got annoying. I have to admit, though, Arobynn Hamel was my favorite. He was done very well. He was manipulative, dark, intimidating, not at all someone you want to cross. In that last story, I was starting to have my doubts about how horrible he was. But then it's revealed what he did to Celaena - and why - and it totally put him up there with several of my favorite villains.

The Romance: I really didn't care for it. Given how Celaena and Sam's relationship was portrayed in Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight, I expected a much, much deeper attachment; one that was formed over years and countless missions and understanding. Sam has loved Celaena all his life; I felt that his affection was sincere. Celaena, though, hates him and then attaches super quick. And I just. . . .I don't know, I didn't feel like their relationship was as big or as epic as it was portrayed to be in the novels.

Plot: There are five novellas in The Assassin's Blade, but also a bigger underlying plot that connects them all together. The Assassin's Blade essentially tells the backstory of the events leading up to Celaena being sent to the salt mines. She faces down the Pirate Lord, teaches a girl (I am hoping we'll later meet in future novels) how to defend herself, trains with the Silent Assassins, takes down a ring of slave traders, and eventually faces the challenge that ultimately leads to her imprisonment. #1 was good in the fact that I actually really liked the Author's pirates; they were convincing. #2 was awesome because it was mostly told from another character's perspective, and I wasn't stuck in Celaena's head (finally!). #3 was really cool because of the Silent Assassins. Loved those guys! #4 had a good plot, but got heavy on the romance, so I didn't like it nearly as much. And #5? Probably my least favorite because, again, heavy on the romance and also Celaena pouting and being angry at Sam all the time. The Crime Lord was super cool, but that's about all I enjoyed in that one. I really liked how the Author built on the bigger plot with each novella; it kept things interesting and connected everything else, and just gave the whole collection a thought-out feel. Always a nice thing. And as always, the world building was amazing.

Believability: Like I said, the pirates were actually pretty awesome.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. I wish there had been more switching of character perspective, because I just get tired of being with Celaena. But with novellas, I suppose that isn't as possible as in lengthier novels. I have no real complaints about the style; I just don't like Celaena.

Content: 5 s-words.

Conclusion: Anyone who has read the novels will know what's coming. This is the story of Celaena and Sam, after all, and how Celaena ended up in the salt mines. So the climax comes as no surprise, which is probably why it's even more crucial that it has an emotional reaction. Because I didn't feel like Celaena and Sam's relationship was really all that deep - pretty typical teen romance - I didn't find that ending all that emotional or sad. However, the part with Arobynn Hamel - that was good. That made me approve of the whole collection. I still really don't like Celaena, and I'm not sure I ever will. She alone often keeps me from liking other characters because she sours my mood so badly that I just want to stop reading. But Arobynn Hamel and the world building did make this one worth reading. And it also explains a few more things for the novels.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, eighteen-and-up, fans of fantasy.

Others in This Series:
0.1)The Assassin's Blade
1)Throne of Glass
2)Crown of Midnight
3)Heir of Fire


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