Friday, 14 September 2018

Throne of Glass re-read: The Assassins Blade

Publication Date: March 13th 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 430 pages

Celaena Sardothien owes her reputation to Arobynn Hamel. He gave her a home at the Assassins' Guild and taught her the skills she needed to survive.
Arobynn's enemies stretch far and wide - from Adarlan's rooftops and its filthy dens, to remote islands and hostile deserts. Celaena is duty-bound to hunt them down. But behind her assignments lies a dark truth that will seal her fate - and cut her heart in two forever...
Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine and find out how the legend begins in the five page-turning prequel novellas to the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series.

With the upcoming release of the final book in the Throne of Glass series on October 23rd, it seemed like an excellent excuse to go back for a full re-read of the series, partly because who really needs an excuse? And partly because this is such a complex, well plotted series, that I really need a bit of a refresher before diving into the final behemoth. (over 900 pages!)

I haven't touched the prequel novellas since they were first released as individual e-books, mostly because Celaena at 16 is a spoilt and irritating brat. I found her incredibly difficult to deal with at that age. This highlights a) what a good writer Maas is to fully capture the arrogance and insistence of being an adult that can come at that age (I remember that well for myself...) and b) the incredible character development that Maas puts her through over the course of the series. Because that character development is a masterpiece, and should be praised as such.

So going in on my re-read I was prepared for annoying!Celaena, which helped, because the first time I really, really wasn't and I struggled to enjoy the stories as a result. It's fascinating to get these glimpses into life pre-Endovier, and it's really lovely to see some of the characters and story threads get set up so early, to then have such a pay off in later books. It's a master class in the long game of plotting and storytelling.

Some people question whether the books are necessary to read, and what order you should read them in. Firstly, they're not necessary, you can get by perfectly well without having the information conveyed in these stories, because Maas fills you in on the really important bits when they become relevant. But it's really lovely to see these stories and threads and then watch them play out their repercussions over the series.
Secondly, I wouldn't recommend reading these first when approaching the series. Yes chronologically they are, but I think if you are faced with sixteen year old Celaena straight off, I think a lot of people would find that off putting and wouldn't continue the series. Start with Throne of Glass, and come back to this book at a later date when you've already fallen in love with the series - you'll appreciate it much more at that point.

I've also found it fascinating to go back and re-read my original review and see that a lot of my initial feelings still stand, but that the furthering of the series has mellowed a lot of my feelings, and proven that Maas is truly a writing force to be reckoned with.

Check back later for my re-read review of Throne of Glass!

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