The Assassin's Blade - Sarah J. Maas
Year Published: 2014 - by Bloomsbury Childrens.
Genre: Young adult / romance / epic/high fantasy /
Pages: 448.
Source: Library.

Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan's most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin's Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas - together in one edition for the first time - Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn's orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free?

(This is going to be a mini-review, since the majority of what I think of Maas's writing and Celaena's world has already been said in my previous reviews of the rest of the Throne of Glass series).

What I Liked: 

- The world-building was excellent, as can be expected. The descriptions are vivid, vibrant, and wholly three-dimensional. The dialogue's witty, rich with subtext, and showcases the characters' individual personalities expertly.

- Maas gets inside Celaena's head so thoroughly that the narrative was effortlessly told and strongly characterised by Celaena's own vivid personality.

- A lot of what was left vague, unexplained, or in subtext in Throne of Glass was explained here, and I came away with a much deeper understanding of the world and the characters. I highly recommend reading this book before Throne of Glass, as it will allow you to appreciate what's to come in a much more thorough sense.  I personally enjoyed this book more than TOG, and I thought the writing was miles better. Maybe that's because - since they're novellas and they have to be short and concise and to the point - the plot didn't drag or get boring, as I found was the case with some of the TOG books. In The Assassin's Blade, it wasn't just Celaena who was at the top of her game, it was Maas. And I thought this collection of novellas showcased her exquisite talent to its utmost potential.

- The romance was the best thing about these novellas. The relationship between Celaena and Sam was absolutely excellent, and the banter between them was brilliant. I loved their conversations - overflowing with subtext - and to see their romantic arc develop was incredible. I loved watching them fall in love with each other, and when they finally kissed it was so much more than a kiss: it was them, two equals, two friends, accepting each other and confronting their long-suppressed feelings. It was what had been building for the last 100 pages or so, and it couldn't have come at a more perfect time or in a more perfect way.  I loved the side of Celaena that Sam brought out, and that's probably the closest I've come to liking her.  I also really loved how they were so equal and capable, and yet were still so protective of each other and could rescue each other.     
Their romance so realistic and so gorgeously slow-burning, and it completely overwhelmed my heart. Yes, I love Dorian and Chaol, but Sam was amazing too. Maas had me swooning and then sobbing, and I will always ship Celaena with Sam.
Which brings me to......
- That ending. I knew it was coming and I knew it would break me, but a silly part of me was hoping it wouldn't happen; that there would somehow be a happy ending for Celaena and Sam. My heart was literally aching the whole of the book as I anticipated what was coming, and when it did I was sobbing so much I contemplated not finishing the book. It's such a hopeless ending, such a heartbreaking one, that I almost need to read TOG again just to know there's happiness ahead - or some degree of happiness - for Celaena. I felt so broken for her, and it literally sucked the life out of me to see how she ended up at the end of the book.
- The last novella - The Assassin and the Underworld - was the best of the collection, I thought. It played out like a movie in my mind, and apart from having *insert swoon* more Sam and more romance, it was the most gripping of the novellas and was the perfect climax to everything that had been building from the start.  

What I Didn't Like: 

- Why does Maas always make her guy nip at the girl's ear and growl as he kisses her? SERIOUSLY?! It's creepy, and comes across like he wants to eat her. Not romantic at all.

- Some descriptive phrases were very overused.

The Assassin's Blade was Maas at her best: vivid characters and descriptions, excellent dialogue, pounding dark action, and of course, a beautiful ship that has to go down.    
Sam and Celaena's relationship was the best part of the book, and I've already re-read their first kiss more than three times ;)