Author: Sarah J. Maas
Narrator: Elizabeth Evans
Audiobook Length: 12 hours 52 minutes
Celaena 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 listeners a deeper look into the history of this cunning assassin and her enthralling—and deadly—world.
There are many suggested reading orders for this series as some say to read them in order of number, others say to read these five novellas after Throne of Glass (#1), and even some saying to read this after the second, Crown of Midnight. While I do like those readers can read in any order based on their preference, it is a little frustrating as a first-time reader of the series since I want to read it in the way it was intended. Since there was no full consensus that cemented the reading order, I just went in chronological and started with this novella collection before beginning the first full-length novel. For me, the first novellas worked well as they introduce Celaena, one of the main characters in the first novel. There are other characters that seem like they will be important throughout the series in some of the novellas and may have been more useful if read later on, however, I have faith that this order will work for me, however, I would suggest you search around for an order that will fit you as it seems that everyone has their own preferences.
This collection begins with 16-years-old Celeana Sardothien, who is a feared assassin in the Assassin’s Guild under her master, Arobynn Hamel, in the land of Adarlan. The collection follows her on five missions that take her to places like the capitol of Adarlan, Skull’s Bay, Rifthold, and the Red Desert.
The first story, The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, Celaena and her fellow assassin, Sam, free the slaves from the Pirate Lord instead of giving them to the King of Assassins. This story introduces Celaena as an assassin, a character, and her relationship with Sam. As the two of them start as rivals, it was enjoyable to see their relationship starting to grow.
The second story is The Assassin and the Healer where Celaena helps the Healer Yrene achieve her dream. After the events with the Pirate Lord, Celaena is sent on a journey to the Red Desert. Along the way, she stops in a small town where she meets barmaid Yrene where the two of them bond as Celaena teaches Yrene to fight. I am assuming that Yrene plays a role in the main part of the series as I could not really figure out a point for it otherwise. This story was a really blink and you miss it moment in the collection, so I’ll have to wait until the main series to see how this one was relevant.
The third story, The Assassin and the Desert, takes place when Celaena arrives in the Red Desert for her punishment with the Mute Master where she learns some new skills. It was nice to see her brush up on her skills as there were not a lot of them demonstrated in the first few novellas. For me, I was expected a lot more killing so far. There were some, so I’m hoping these new skills will come in handy during the later stories. Here the reader also seems some further development in her relationship with Sam and Ansel, who I have heard plays some type of role in the main series.
The fourth novella, The Assassin and the Underworld, follows Celaena on a mission to assassinate someone who is trying to start slavery. Her mission has many secrets with everything not being as it seems, which means Celaena needs to figure out how to get herself out of bind. In this story, Celaena and Sam’s relationship continues to grow where they begin to explore a relationship. This part was nice, but I do wish that there was a bit more to it.
In the final novella, The Assassin and the Empire, Celaena and Sam are trying to break away from the Assassin’s Guild. Obviously, this is easier said than done. Since I have at least read the blurb for Throne of Glass, the reader knows the ending of this novel before beginning as Celaena ends up at Endovier where the main story begins. The reader also knows how Sam’s story goes, which was an interesting mindset to experience this story. In a way I enjoyed knowing the ending before beginning, but it was still more emotional. I did wish there was a bit more to this story as there was a lot packed in and not enough time to properly explore everything.
Overall, I still think my choice for reading this first was the right one as I liked knowing a bit about the ending of all five novels from just the blub for the first novel without knowing more details. The mystery of how these stories will play into the main series is also nice, but this may not be for everyone. The five novellas had a nice flow as the events from one lead into the next; however, it is apparent they are separate as there is a lot of intros at the start of each. The writing itself in the five novellas are not the best, so I don’t think it’s enough to make someone eager to read more from the author. I will definitely continue because I am curious about the main series, but, again, this is not the best introduction to SJM as a writer.