Review of The Assassin’s Blade, by Sarah J. Maas

The Assassin’s Blade

by Sarah J. Maas
read by Elizabeth Evans

Bloomsbury Publishing, 2021. 12 hours, 52 minutes.
Review written April 25, 2024, from a library eaudiobook.

I select youth and children’s materials for a large public library system, and by far the most popular author of all the books I purchase is Sarah J. Maas. All of her books consistently have long waiting lists. Since I love fantasy novels, I decided to see what the fuss was about. Now, it’s not clear that I picked the correct order. It turns out that this book I picked up was written as a prequel – so the events happen before the first book written. Anyway, Overdrive had it listed as number one in the series, so this is the one I’ve started with.

It turns out that The Assassin’s Blade is a collection of five novellas, all of them about Celaena Sardothien, at sixteen years old her kingdom’s most notorious assassin. I enjoyed the fact that each part was a contained story. Each novella had a sort of heist scene. Each novella has a complete storyline and a satisfying resolution (or, well, at least a resolution). Each novella happened directly after the one before, but I liked the way the action moved into each story as its own entity.

And the stories were compelling. Each one had a big challenge for Celaena. I definitely did not like the way it all ended, though I’m sure if I had read the books in publication order, I would have known where Celaena would end up. She’s a character worth following – forced to train as an assassin, she became the best. But when the king of the assassins wants her to facilitate a deal with pirates to get into the slave trade, she decides to free the slaves.

I got the flavor of a brutal world, with a ruthless king who has banished magic from the kingdom, but assassins and pirates and crime lords all doing their own thing. Celaena finds love in these stories and dreams of leaving the assassin’s guild and the continent altogether. The fantasy world where she lives is dark and sinister – but I enjoyed Celaena’s character, learning to shine in a difficult world.

I wasn’t completely hooked on this world, but I was hooked enough to put the next (first?) book on hold.

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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