Celeana Sardothien is Adarlan's most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin's Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celeana listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. These novellas see Celeana embark on five daring missions, taking her from remote islands to hostile descents, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tryannous. But she is acting against Arobynn's orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celeana ever truly be free? (from Goodreads).
If you haven't read the Throne of Glass series, you should. Celeana is our badass heroine, who is anything but perfect, as she tries to make a new life for herself after being released from Endovier, a prison camp and mine, to serve as an assassin for the King. The first book in the series, Throne of Glass, follows the story after Celeana has been at Endovier a year. These novellas explain how she wound up there.
This book is made up of five novellas, and are all connected. The five are entitled: The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, The Assassin and the Healer, The Assassin and the Desert, The Assassin and the Underworld and finally The Assassin and the Empire. Each story has a different, but related, focus and each time we peel a layer back of our heroine, Celeana, and learn something more about her.
Celeana has always been a character I've enjoyed, as she's stubborn and brave and does whatever the fuck she wants. But she wasn't always like that, and before her time in Endovier, she wasn't quite as hardened to the world. Sure, she was an assassin, but she still dreamed of a better life.
The Assassin and the Pirate Lord is our first introduction to Sam as a character, because he isn't present in Throne of Glass, and is only mentioned afterwards. His influence on Celeana's character and coldness is evident, and it's so good to learn about the first boy she ever gave her heart to. This novella also shows us the mistake Celeana makes that sets about the events that landed her in Endovier, though she had no idea it would ever spiral out of control the way it does.
The Assassin and the Pirate Lord shows us Celeana, despite coming across as a harsh, heartless young woman, she does feel for the plight of the innocent. With the slaves in this story, and then the girl she meets in The Assassin and the Healer, Celeana can't stand to see people taken advantage of and does what she can to empower them.
The Assassin and the Desert shows Celeana's loneliness, and the call to be the reckless teenager she should be. She always has to come across like she knows what she's doing, but to have a friend near her own age, a girl, shows she craves a friend. She learns how much Sam means to her when they are separated. So when they are brought back together in The Assassin and the Underworld, things have changed between them and they're ready to take a chance being together. A chance The Assassin and the Empire cruelly takes away from them, and neither of them quite realised what they were getting themselves into freeing those slaves all the way back in The Assassin and the Pirate Lord.
There's a nice flow between the novellas, and as novellas they're not too long. I wish Sam had been more of a focus, perhaps even had a novella from his view point rather than Celeana's. I really would have liked to have seen things through Sam's eyes. Perhaps even Lysandra's, as they would both have a very different view of Celeana than Celeana herself.
But in general, the novellas were quite good. My two favourites were Pirate Lord and Healer. It was interesting to have an insight into Celeana's world and her upbringing, her influences, her interactions with Arobynn before they were true enemies. I suppose it could have been more interesting, from time to time, but that was down to them being novellas. There was no room to expand on things, as the plot needed to move quickly. It has made me want to read Throne of Glass all over again, and I only just finished reading Queen of Shadows (book 4 in the series) again. I would seriously recommend reading this series, and this one is a nice addition to the mix.