I’m writing my review a few months after I read this and just realised I haven’t read the second novella. Celaena’s aim in this story is to make her way into a vaguely Middle Eastern desert and get a letter of recommendation from the leader of the Silent Assassins. The Silent Assassins seem to borrow very heavy from George R. R. Martin’s Faceless Men, and it’s almost funny how closely this story arc mirrors Arya’s training under Jaqen H’ghar.
I thought I started to understand Celaena’s character in the first novella, but now I’m back to being confused. She’s supposed to be the best of the best, doesn’t actually do much that’s badass. She does very little assassinating for a series with ‘assassin’ in the title of every novella. How does killing people of adultery weigh more than killing people who are essentially selling into prostitution (per pirate lord)? She should have killed Rolfe, but she didn’t. And when Ansel betrays her in this book, because of course she does, Celaena doesn’t even kill her. She lets her get away with betraying all the people who took her in. She even manages to get herself drugged/poisoned by quaffing food that’s put in front of her.
I know I’m complaining a lot, but the scenery descriptions are much better here than the other prequel novella I’ve read, and all of the side characters are interesting. The way Ansel is treated in this book is basically identical to Nehemia: Maas seems so reluctant to portray healthy female friendships and it’s becoming a pattern. Nehemia was the best part about books one and two, and we all know how that went down.