Monday, May 6, 2013

Review: The Assassin and the Empire by Sarah J. Maas

The Assassin and the Empire (Throne of Glass #0.4)
By: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens


Following Arobynn's last betrayal, Celaena uses her hard-earned savings to pay her and Sam's debts to the King of the Assassins, and leaving the Assassin's Keep that served as her home and the source of her renown, she and Sam determine to make their own way in the world. But as assassins lacking the blessing of Arobynn, no matter their fame or skill set, work proves hard to come by, and their savings quickly dwindle, threatening to bring an end to their grand bid for freedom. Then Sam is approached with a commission, a job that, if their are successful, will secure their future as independent agents. Someone wants Jayne, the Rifthold's infamous crime lord, and his sadistic second Farron dead. Against her better judgement Celaena acquiesces to Sam's wish that they accept the job, desperately certain that they cannot fail. But a plot is afoot to destroy Celaena and all she holds dear, an unseen enemy who knows her every move. And when they strike a devastating blow, Celaena is forced to confront her deepest fears and face the ashes of life and loss that threaten to consume her.

People, I love this novella SO MUCH. The fourth and final novella prequel to Maas's full-length debut is the best yet, and taken as a whole the novella project is a fascinating, compulsively readable introduction to her gloriously realized world. Celaena is a fantastic paradox -- deceptively mature, coldly calculating and efficient, it's easy to forget that she is still in her teens. She's an expert dealer in death in a world rife with political intrigue and peril, successful beyond her wildest dreams. Her fighting prowess belies the fact that she's little more than a girl, unsure of herself and fearing vulnerability, and that is why I love Sam so much -- because he sees the parts of herself that she tries to hide and loves her anyway. 

But pride and youthful naivete blind Celaena to a threat too close to her heart to be detected, and the cost that is meted out against her threatens to destroy her. I knew, having read the summary for Throne of Glass, what had to happen in here, but I didn't expect to be so affected by it. Simply put, over the course of four short novellas Maas has made me extraordinarily invested in Celaena and Sam, and here, when the blow comes, she stole my breath and broke my heart. Maas writes scenes of both high action and heart-rending emotion with a technicolor cinematic sensibility -- this is thoroughly entertaining and emotionally engaging fiction, a heady, addictive mix guaranteed to leave you eager for the next installment.

The Assassin and the Empire is the finest installment of Celaena's adventures yet, an intoxicating mix of fantasy, romance, and pulse-pounding action. Here Maas provides a tantalizing glimpse into the politics of Adarlan, and in a world already so richly textured I eagerly anticipate seeing events unfold as Celaena is drawn ever-deeper into the heart of the kingdom, a treacherous world that threatens to destroy her. I highly recommend reading the novellas in order and as a prequel to Maas's Throne of Glass -- taken as a whole they are one of the richest, most enjoyable e-book supplements I've ever encountered. Highly recommended.

About the book:

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.

This fourth e-novella gives readers an inside look at the characters who appear in the full-length novel THRONE OF GLASS. Don’t miss it!

No comments: