Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mini Reviews: The Throne of Glass novellas by Sarah J. Maas



I'm giving away a free copy of Throne of Glass, along with twelve other amazing books, in my Holiday Giveaway! There's only a week left to enter!

Let me compose myself. I don’t know how I’ll be able to write four sensible mini reviews so soon after finishing the last one, since this is currently me:

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Way back when, I was about to read Throne of Glass when my blogging buddy Shelver over at Bookshelvers Anonymous told me about the four prequel novellas. She said they weren't necessary, that I technically could read Throne of Glass without them, but they would add depth. Depth! I love depth. I downloaded them all on my kindle and got started right away. These books tell the story of kickass teenage assassin Celaena Sardothien, who is temperamental, beautiful, and deadly. I expected a lot of this:

 

 And oh, boy, did I get it. Action-wise, these books are awesome. BUT BE WARNED:

This will UNDOUBTEDLY happen to you.

Review: The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, Novella #1
 Rating: Super fun, super fast, super awesome. Also pirates!
On a remote island in a tropical sea, Celaena Sardothien, feared assassin, has come for retribution. She's been sent by the Assassin's Guild to collect on a debt they are owed by the Lord of the Pirates. But when Celaena learns that the agreed payment is not in money, but in slaves, her mission suddenly changes - and she will risk everything to right the wrong she's been sent to bring about.

The best thing about reading a fantasy novella is how fast the plot moves. Maas somehow manages to convey a lot of world-building without sacrificing the breakneck pace. Celaena is the best assassin in all the land, protogee of Arobynn, king of Assassins and SPOILER SPOILER king of douches SPOILER SPOILER. She and Sam Cortland, another of Arobynn's assassins whom she mightily distrusts, are sent to negotiate with the devilishly handsome and eeeevil Rolfe, Pirate Lord. And then SHENANIGANS ENSUE. It was great fun seeing Celaena become a better, more trusting person, and even greater fun to see her wreak havoc on all pirate-kind. This book gives glimpses of the person tough, vicious Celaena can become and introduces you to a really deep fantasy world I want to continue spending time in.

Review: The Assassin and the Desert, Novella #2
Rating: Amazing world-building, serious character development, sad lack of Sam
The Silent Assassins of the Red Desert aren't much for conversation, and Celaena Sardothien wouldn't have it any other way. She's not there to chatter, she's there to hone her craft as the world's most feared killer for hire. When the quiet is shattered by forces who want to destroy the Silent Assassins, Celaena must find a way to stop them, or she'll be lucky to leave the desert alive.

*Mild spoilers for Novella #1* This is the one where I really fell in love with the world Maas has created. The world-building here is incredible. We get hints of magic here, including the awful, creepy makers of spider-silk and the HORRENDOUS Ironteeth, wicked witches with teeth so sharp they can pick your bones clean. Celaena continues to grow in leaps and bounds under the tutelage of the Mute Master, who is basically a jedi master of assassins. She makes friends, learns what betrayal is, and chooses the kind of person she wants to become. And she ruminates about Sam a lot, which makes me happy. I love the character of Celaena. She could so easily be a cliche, but she's got layers. You can see the different personalities inside her, and can see how shaped she is by the way she's been raised. I want more.

LUCKILY there is more!

Review: The Assassin and the Underworld, Novella #3
Rating: SWOON. Action, romance, BETRAYAL, intrigue and an absolutely revolting sewer.
When the King of the Assassins gives Celaena Sardothien a special assignment that will help fight slavery in the kingdom, she jumps at the chance to strike a blow against an evil practice. The mission is a dark and deadly affair which takes Celaena from the rooftops of the city to the bottom of the sewer--and she doesn't like what she finds there.

*Mild spoilers for previous novellas* I just love Celaena as a character. She continues to improve as a person so much, and that is mostly because of Sam, another wonderful character. I suppose the only flaw here is that I saw the twist coming from the instant it was set up. The same was true for all the other novellas, where I see something obvious that Celaena does not, but that doesn't really lessen the enjoyment for me, because OMG. This book. This is one of the most romantic things I've ever read, even when it's full of danger, plotting, and basic bad-assery. This is probably my favorite of the four, for depth of emotion, awesome fighting scenes, and the lurrrrve.

Review: The Assassin and the Empire, Novella #4
Rating: Can't. Speak. Crying. Too. Hard.
 
 Celaena Sardothien is the assassin with everything: a place to call her own, the love of handsome Sam, and, best of all, freedom. But Celaena won't be truly free until she is far away from her old master, Arobynn Hamel - so she and Sam decide to take one last daring assignment that will liberate them forever. And that's how Celaena learns that having everything... means everything can be taken away.

*STRONG spoilers for previous novellas* I don't even know what to say. This one is heartbreaking. If you've read Throne of Glass, or at least know where it starts off, you'll have an inkling about the trajectory of this book. And I did. I had my guesses about what would happen. But guesses don't prepare you for the pain. It's so heartbreaking to see Celaena plan for her future, to try to build a life for herself, when you know how things are going to turn out. I didn't know why she ended up where she did or how, and knowing those things just made it SO MUCH WORSE (but better. Reducing me to a blob of jelly is the sign of great writing and great characters). Celaena's grit, pain, and fierceness become her defining characteristics in this book, and it's heart-breakingly beautiful to see her deal with the ultimate betrayal. I saw it coming when Celaena did not, and that made it all the harder to bear. The twists are not a suprise, but they still managed to punch me right in the gut. It's all I can do right now not to race over to Throne of Glass and open it up, just so I can see that things will eventually be okay for her, at least in the far distant future. OH  HOW COULD YOU SARAH WHY WHY WHY. No. I'm okay. Just had to get the feels out of my system. Read it, you'll be okay too, I promise.