June 28, 2012 by Heidi
Salute Your Shorts is a weekly (ish) feature here at Bunbury in the Stacks highlighting and reviewing short stories and novellas. Everyone is welcome to join at any time, just grab the pic above and shoot me a link in the comments so that I can include your post in a roundup.
Title: The Assassin and the Desert [Amazon|GoodReads]
Author: Sarah J. Maas [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: Second in a series of 4 novella prequels to Throne of Glass, following The Assassin and the Pirate Lord.
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Published: March 30th, 2012 by Bloomsbury Children’s
Format: Kindle edition; 86 pages.
Spoilers!: This review is spoiler free but the novella itself contains very minor spoilers for The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, so go read that first!
“If you can learn to endure pain, you can survive anything. Some people learn to embrace it–to love it. Some endure it through drowning it in sorrow, or by making themselves forget. Others turn it into anger…”
I had thought that by the end of The Assassin and the Pirate Lord I had come to terms with Celaena Sardothien, but I realize now that I had not, and probably will not. This girl and I? We aren’t ever going to be best friends, or even drinking buddies. If there’s something that keeps me coming back for more, it’s the story, and not the assassin.
Celaena bandies about calling herself the world’s greatest assassin in a cast off way that only the cockiest can manage, but Celaena? I’m beginning to think the words ‘world’s greatest assassin’ don’t mean what you think they mean. The Assassin and the Desert opens with our girl Celeana being sent to the desert to train with the sessiz suikast–The Silent Assassins, a legendary order that will (her own master hopes) be able to teach her some obedience and discipline. It would seem that for the ‘world’s greatest assassin’, she has a lot of learning to do before she is up to par. At their fortress in the Red Desert, Celeana works side by side with the Silent Assassins, hoping to catch the individual attention of the Mute Master, whose letter of approval she must procure in only one month’s time.
Celaena shows up to this renowned order expecting to get one-on-one tutelage from the Mute Master, who is essentially the match of her own master in this part of the world. Despite the fact that her roommate and friend, Ansel, has been living there five years and received no private lessons, Celaena throws little hissy fits about how she should be getting more special attention.
Again, she shows her incredible vanity, and while I appreciate that Celaena does think and react with the quick temper of a teen, her short fuse and lack of insight doesn’t really scream to me that she is the world’s greatest assassin. When I think assassin, I think cool, calculating, intelligent, quick, and stealthy…I’m not really sure she’s any of these things. In fact, I’m in Ansel’s court when she tells Celaena, “You’re just a spoiled, selfish bitch.” Celaena is subject to goading, and falls prey easily to the Biff style taunts of “What are you, chicken?” She’s incredibly attractive, but oh poor girl’s never had any suitors, and she has a taste in very expensive and delicate undergarments which is usually something you only read in a marginally trashy romance novel.
Have I made my complete dislike evident enough yet? Okay, okay, back to the story, because that is what keeps me reading (though I swear, if it takes me half of Throne of Glass to overlook Celaena and enjoy the story like it has in these novellas, I don’t know if I’ll make it through). The Silent Assassins are essentially a mercenary set up in the middle of the desert, where they live and train and accept jobs from those who would hire them. Celaena is used to Arobynn’s household, where she has lived and trained since the age of eight. In Arobynn’s world, she was taught to distrust everyone, even allies. Brutality and a cutthroat mentality were encouraged, and friendships have been a rare thing. In the Red Desert, Celaena finds more of a brotherhood (which is also far less sexist and half the assassins are women by the way), a community where real trust and friendships exist, and for a short time she can live in ease with those around her.
The Silent Assassins are not without their own enemies, however, and Celaena soon learns that the nearby Lord Berick seeks to put the Mute Master’s head on a silver platter. Lord Berrick hopes that by eradicating the assassins he can end the embargo placed on the Red Desert by the King of Ardalan for lack of support in a previous battle. It is up to Celaena to insure that this doesn’t happen.
All in all, I enjoyed The Assassin and the Desert as much as The Assassin and the Pirate Lord. I appreciated a fresh cast of characters, a completely altered setting, and an alternative perspective of her world. At this point, however, I sincerely doubt that I’ll be picking up the other novellas as I’m certain I can’t take this shallowness for 2 more novellas and a novel. Here’s hoping I don’t DNF Throne of Glass!
The Assassin and the Pirate Lord (Throne of Glass .1)