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

Monday, March 10, 2014
Why I chose this book:
As an avid fan of Sarah J. Maas’ work, there was no way I wouldn’t pick up this book. I went to Barnes & Noble the Tuesday it came out and bought it. I had actually been putting off reading the novellas so I could buy the hardback and read them for the first times -since they were originally ebooks. I couldn't get the ebooks only to have the physical copies. My OCD would have a hay day. I just have so many feelings for this series, and I will happily read every single thing Sarah comes out with. This review spans all five novellas: The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, The Assassin and the Healer, The Assassin and the Desert, The Assassin and the Underworld, and The Assassin and the Empire.


Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publish Date: March 4, 2014
Format: Hardback 
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Action and Adventure
Buy: B&N || Amazon || Indiebound
Synopsis:
Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan's most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin's Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas - together in one edition for the first time - Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn's orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out. (Goodreads)
3 things you need to know about this book:

1. Women, men, and sex.
So sex is a pretty prevalent issue in this book. It’s never talked about explicitly, but it comes in the forms of prostitutes, brothels, and sex in exchange for power. In one of the novellas, The Assassin and the Desert, it talks about how differently women and men are treated after having sex. It’s very similar to today’s treatment as well. Men are congratulated and exalted for having a “conquest”; whereas, women are teased and made fun of, and possibly even persecuted for their actions. 

As a person, I found this idea unnerving, and as a woman, I found it disgusting. Maas does such an excellent job presenting relevant topics in her writing such as this. This is what happens in real life, and it is not right. Slut-shaming is not okay, and I love how Celaena’s reaction was just as appalled. 

2. Ansel and how emotions shape a person.
This is also part of the novella, The Assassin and the Desert (obviously, it was one of my favorites). Ansel’s character is very complex and interesting to me. She came off as a person who was trying to make a name for herself and was too aloof in certain areas of her life, but as the story goes on, you realize just how her emotions and past experiences have shaped who she is. She has a very painful background that makes your heart go out to her, and the Mute Master says something that explains not only her character but also the characters of people you meet in real life. He says that pain shapes you as a person. Sometimes that pain can affect you in a negative way and leave behind bitterness and hate, and other times, it can be positive and give the person a drive to live and strive for better. Either way, you walk away changed (Maas 223).

3. Gore galore.
For those of you who have read her other books, you will notice that this is actually a PG rated book in comparison with her other books. However, this book has a lot of violence in and of itself, maybe just only slightly less than Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight. As a person who has grown up reading violent fantasy novels, gore and blood has no real affect on me (thank you Game of Thrones!), but for those of you whose stomachs churn easily, this may be a little difficult to swallow. The Assassin and the Underworld, and The Assassin and the Empire are especially prevalent with violence. Even though I am not easily affected by gore, there were a few times I winced reading this novel, which says quite a bit on its own. 

I will say that Maas does an excellent job! There is no doubt in my mind that she presents the life of a fantasy assassin extremely well. She is a very good writer, and presents her life and vocation in a way that does not sugar coat her situation. 

Final Thoughts:
I loved this book so much. It gave a deeper look into Celaena Sardothien’s life pre-Throne of Glass. I fell in love with Sam just as I knew I would (though not to the extent of how hard I fell for Chaol). I understood more of Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight. I really wanted to reread the series again after reading these novellas, but I have a huge TBR pile waiting for me. 

I gave this book 5 stars on my Goodreads.

*Check out reviews over Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight.

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