I got these as a present from my sister for my birthday last year. It was super cute because I was at work and I got an email saying I’d been given them on my kindle with a link to download! She’s a big fan of the series as well and we read them around the same time. I don’t think she’s read these yet though!
Overall, I didn’t find these as gripping as the three novels. This is perhaps due to the novella structure, but it makes a good filler if you’ve finished the books but you’re not ready to let go of the story world just yet.
The healer’s perspective was my favourite out of the five novellas contained in this volume. I liked the character and I liked the way she interacted with Celaena and I felt like I could read more of her story. My next favourite was the Red Desert story and how the spider silk and witches are tied into the story world’s past.
Celaena is a tricky character because we’re not allowed to see too far beyond the character she wants everyone to believe she is (this will make more sense if you’ve read the other books). This means that it can be hard to connect with her. What I really enjoyed though was the way you can see Maas foreshadowing and leaving clues about her past.
Her relationship with Sam was very different to what I had expected based on the novels and the way she reflects on it. It is much more tumultuous and there is less suggestion of them being each other’s ‘true love’. They have so little trust between them and so much they need to work through for their relationship to work.
One of my criticisms of the novellas is that Celaena’s upbringing as an assassin doesn’t always gel. I get the dance training because it would help her to be coordinated and light on her feet, but then playing the piano? Unless she was being trained to fit into noble society, which is a possibility I suppose. We also don’t really get any information on how she becomes the notorious Adarlan’s Assassin. There’s a lot of other backstories but also a lot of gaps in her overall story. I wonder if there is more that will be revealed as the series is completed.
I’d be really interested in hearing from anyone who has read these before reading the main three books (because chronologically that would make sense). Did you like Celaena? Did she annoy you? Were you wanting her and Sam to work out?
If you have read the other three but not the novellas I definitely recommend them. Or if you haven’t read the series at all, they’d be an interesting place to start! I gave Assassin’s Blade a 4/5 when I first read them and I think that probably still holds. They made me really want to reread the other novels and if you’re planning to do a read or a reread of this series I’d start here because they give so much more insight into the characters, particularly Celaena.
Note on the photo: I took this from our hotel window in Vietnam, and pictured are my new glasses!