The Assassin’s Blade is a collection of novella’s set before the events of the main series. They feature events the Celeana references throughout the first three novels explaining the details of the events.
The first story tells how Celeana and Sam Cortland freed 300 slaves from the Pirate Lord Rolfe. The second, how Celeana helps a healer. The third, details her time in the Red Desert including how she stole an Asterion horse and earned enough money to pay her debt to Arobyn. The fourth details one of Celeana’s missions and how she and Sam got together. The final story details Sam’s death and Celeana’s downfall.
While it was nice to get the details of these events, especially how she stole the horse, I found most of it unnecessary to the main plot. The gist of how Celeana was betrayed and captured is told in Crown of Midnight and the added detail of who betrayed I had already guessed, since it was kind of obvious.
My favorite story, and I think the best one, was The Assassin and the Healer. I really liked Celeana helping out another young woman follow her dreams. I’m really hoping we see Yrene again after she completes her training. I’ve seen a little speculation that she might be Sorcha, but I seriously doubt it only takes two years to study to become a healer, and I’m sure the two would have recognized each other again. While the two healers are both from Fenharrow, both mention completely different backstories.
Overall I give this one Three Lightsabers. Again, I don’t know what it is about these books, but they just don’t grab me and impress me as much as I was hoping, especially considering all the hype I hear about them. I think it’s Maas’s writing style. I enjoy the characters and the concept of the story, not to mention the interesting world building. I mean you have the characters dressed in what I’m assuming is medieval dress with all the cloaks and tunics they wear and swords they carry, yet carrying pocket watches which are very Victorian, and then Celeana goes to a salon to have her hair and nails done, which is very 20th century (1920s at least, but definitely leaning towards more modern for the type of grooming she mentions). So maybe it’s a bit of the writing style and a bit of the world building being all over the place? I honestly don’t know. However, I’m into it now, so I have to see how it all ends. Queen of Shadows is up next, but I think I’ll be waiting to read A Court of Thorns and Roses.