Happy Kingdom of Ash month everyone! I have been reading the Throne of Glass series for a little over the past month and have been gathering my thoughts on the matter so I could do well-rounded posts and share them with you all. I am so excited for the release of Kingdom of Ash I can’t even describe it!
The pre-story of the series is called The Assassin’s Blade and it’s split into four separate sections in which we familiarize ourselves with the sixteen year old notorious assassin Celaena Sardothien who is off to do Arobynn Hamel, the King of Assassin’s bidding. The story sections are called The Assassin and The Pirate Lord, The Assassin and the Healer, The Assassin and the Desert, The Assassin and The Underworld and The Assassin and the Empire and each of these stories hold key moments and characters for the whole series. Personally, I read this book after reading everything up to Tower of Dawn as I couldn’t really get into it prior to reading Throne of Glass.
PS. This review contains potential spoilers for the entire series as well as my opinion.
The Assassin and the Pirate Lord
In this first section of the book, sixteen year old Celaena and her fellow assassin Sam Cortland are sent off to Skull’s Bay on a mission assigned to them by their master Arobynn. Celaena is portrayed as very arrogant but also notorious even at the fragile age of sixteen. The two assassin are sent to complete a mission regarding trade and when they find the true nature of the mission (which is slave trading), they do everything in their power to sabotage it which works interestingly as it makes Celaena a bit braver (not that she hasn’t been brave before, but this deed pushes her to rethink where she stands and what she does and while she is still not ready to face the music and the truth, she reconsiders what is right and what is wrong). While Sam and Celaena’s relationship has always been strained as they have been pinned against each other for Arobynn’s favor their whole lives, they find a way to work together and protect each other while knowing full well that they will have to face the consequences of sabotaging this deal.
This section of the book introduces us to the Pirate Lord Captain Rolfe who we meet once more in Empire of Storms and becomes a frenemy to Celaena. Later on in Empire of Storms we learn more about his background and his story and he personally grew on me as a character.
The Assassin and the Healer
This section is told from two points of view – the first one being Celaena’s and the second being Yrene Towers’. Now, if you’ve read Tower of Dawn, you are familiar with who Yrene is and what role she plays later on in the series. As I mentioned, I hadn’t read The Assassin’s Blade prior to the series, but when Yrene mentioned in Tower of Dawn a girl who’d helped her, I suspected that that was Celaena.
The story of The Assassin and the Healer takes us to the aftermath of the freeing of the slaves and on Celaena’s journey to the Red Desert. On the way there, whilst travelling through Innish in Melisande, Celaena stays at a disgusting Inn where she spots a young girl who doesn’t fit in the pitiful picture. Yrene is three years older than Celaena and the two girls are from seemingly very different worlds yet there is something tying them together – the understanding of what it means to be under the rule of the King of Adarlan and what his conquest cost them.
In my opinion, this is one of the best stories in the book and if you would read anything from this book, read this story. You won’t regret it.
The Assassin and the Desert
Celaena finally makes it to the Silent Assassin where she has to convince the Mute Master to train her and write her a recommendation letter to Arobynn. This story is one of the best written in the book and it gave me very mixed feelings regarding the characters and it broke my heart for Celaena.
In The Assassin and the Desert, Celaena meets Ansel of Briarcliff who is assigned to be her roommate and in the month that Celaena stays with the assassins, she realizes the great difference between the two assassin guilds. She arrives still carrying the traces of Arobynn’s beating, Arobynn who had always claimed to love her and never really clarified his role in her life, Arobynn who had helped save her but also taken away her innocence by forcing her to kill, and then she sees the dynamic in the Silent Assassin’s Temple and she makes the decision of taking her life back in her hands.
I refuse to spoil anything else from this section because it is a key moment in Celaena’s character development.
This section also contains key characters for Empire of Storms and is really important (in my opinion) to the general understanding of the series.
The Assassin and the Underworld
Celaena makes it back to Rifthold and is determined to take back her life. She is relieved to be reunited with Sam and starts to get a grip of her feelings. Once again, this is an important section of the book and for the understanding of the series so I will spare you the spoilers and say that in this section Celaena takes a step back and someone else, more important takes a step forward.
This section also is where Celaena meets Dorian (the Crown Prince) for the first time. This is also the place where Celaena confesses her feelings for Sam, takes her fate in her hands and takes the first step to facing the truth of her life (in my opinion).
This section is complex, at times difficult to read, thrilling and again important.
The Assassin and the Empire
Is it a true SJM book if there is no heartbreak? This section takes the last of Celaena’s innocence, breaking her heart for the first time and sending her to the depth of hell, personally created for people like her. The rug is swept from under her feet and she loses everything in a matter of moments, something no one should have to live through once, let alone multiple times (as it has happened to her).
This section left me screaming at the book, crying and frankly making me not want to pick up a book again in the near future even though I anticipated the ending it still left me full of heartbreak and sadness. Always worth the read.
My final thoughts: This is one of the most interesting prequels that I’ve ever read. I have conflicting emotions about some of the parts, but upon first reread, I realize how many key characters and moments this book contains to the overall story and character development in the series. My first time reading it, I went ahead and dove into it after finishing Tower of Dawn which is okay, as it made a lot more sense having already met the key characters from each of the sections, but it’s perfectly fine in my opinion to read it even before you start the series (which is what I did on my first reread).
Have you read The Assassin’s Blade? What did you think of it?