Technically, The Assassin’s Blade are prequel novellas to the Throne of Glass series, but I would say they are absolutely necessary to your understanding (and enjoyment) of the series, since they contain crucial information about Celaena’s life before Endovier. The book contains five prequel novellas: The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, The Assassin and the Healer, The Assassin and the Desert, The Assassin and the Underworld and The Assassin and the Empire.
The novellas are about how Celaena, Adarlan’s most feared assassin and Arobynn Hamel’s chosen heir, betrays her master by freeing the hundred slaves that Arobynn wanted to trade and sell, with the help of her fellow assassin Sam Cortland. When Arobynn learns about this, he beats both of them up and sends Celaena to train with the Silent Assassins in the Red Desert as punishment. There she befriends Ansel, but Ansel betrays her and Celaena has to beat her in order to save the assassins’ (and the Mute Master’s) lives. The Mute Master gives her money to pay off Arobynn. She then returns to Rifthold, where Arobynn apologizes (hmm) and gives her the assignment to kill Benzo Doneval, who is supposedly arranging to destroy slaves’ safehouses and hand them over to the king. She does, but then finds out that Arobynn has betrayed her, because it was actually Doneval’s ex-wife, Leighfer Bardingale, who planned to hand over slaves. Celaena then pays off Arobynn (and also pays Sam’s debts) and they move out together (BTW THEY ARE MADLY IN LOVE). In the final novella, Sam and Celaena are planning to free Rifthold but have to take one more assignment to earn money to be able to leave, but it turns out the assignment was a trap and Sam gets slaughtered (sobs forever) and Celaena gets captured. At the end, we find out that it’s fucking Arobynn who betrayed them, and Celaena is sent to Endovier by the king of Adarlan. Fuck everything.
What went down
The Assassin and the Pirate Lord
- We start at the Assassin’s Keep where Arobynn Hamel’s six most important assassins are gathered in the middle of the night to find out that another assassin has been caught, and that Ben, Arobynn’s second in command, has been killed. Celaena and Sam Cortland fight, because that’s what they do, and Celaena goes to retrieve Ben’s body because she’s better than all of them combined.
- Two months later, Celaena and Sam are in Skull’s Bay, one of the Dead Islands east of Fenharrow, where they have to deliver a letter to Captain Rolfe, the Pirate Lord. Then they find out that Arobynn sent them there to trade slaves, and bring a hundred slaves back to Rifthold.
- Celaena is disgusted, and starts planning to free the slaves. She tells Rolfe that she wants to inspect the slaves to make sure they are good enough, though actually she wants to check out the surroundings. First, Rolfe takes them to see another group of hundred slaves to show how inspection goes. Afterwards, Celaena gets so angry that she attacks Sam, and even though they kind of hate each other, she tells him her plan and he decides to help.
- The next day, they go on a ship to see “their” slaves, and at night, row towards both ships to free the slaves. They unlock their chains and tell them that they have to flee themselves. At sunrise, Celaena and Sam will have caused a distraction in the town and destroyed the chain by the entrance of the port that could destroy ships when they flee, and at sunrise, the slaves will have to start rowing to get out.
- Then Celaena and Sam go to the biggest bar and (fake) buy free booze for all the pirates in town, and everyone comes. C and S don’t actually drink, but they do make everyone else drunk, and then Celaena starts a brawl and everyone starts fighting because pirates. Then they slip away to destroy the chain.
- However, Rolfe is onto them and hunts them down. Celaena distracts him by showing him her face (she had been wearing a mask because Adarlan’s Assassin’s identity has to remain secret) and allows Sam to flee for the tower with the chain. Celaena fights Rolfe, Sam fixes the chain, and they all live happily ever after. Well, until the next novella.
The Assassin and the Healer
- This is a short novella about Yrene Towers, a barmaid from Innish in Melisande, a small port town that’s basically a hell hole. Yrene used to be a healer from Fenharrow, and her mother was killed them magic was banished eight years ago. Ever since, Yrene has wanted to go to the Southern Continent to study healing properly, but she ran out of money in Innish and has been stuck ever since.
- Celaena passes through Innish on her way to the Red Desert, as punishment for ruining the slave trade, and she’s pretty much bored out of her mind waiting for her boat. The town is a shithole, like I said, and everyone is trying to rob/kill everyone else.
- When Yrene is trapped by some assholes in the middle of the night, Celaena arrives to kill them/chase them off/protect Yrene, and teaches the girl some self defense, because she’s awesome. Then more assholes arrive and Celaena lets Yrene beat them up and it’s glorious.
- When Celaena’s boat arrives the next morning, she leaves most of her money for Yrene to use to get the hell out of Innish, and it’s all very sweet.
The Assassin and the Desert
- Celaena arrives in the Red Desert, where Arobynn has sent her as punishment after he beat up her and Sam because he’s the fucking worst. She is supposed to train with the Silent Assassins for a month and receive the Mute Master’s approval before she’s allowed to go back to Rifthold.
- When she arrives in the middle of the desert in the summer heat, she has to fight off some assassins as a test, and is soon allowed to train with them. During her stay, she rooms with Ansel, a girl from Braircliff in the Western Waste, who says her father sent her to train but actually, her family was butchered.
- She also meets Mikhail, Ansel’s bf, and Ilias, the Mute Master’s son, and she finds out that this dude Lord Berick, who rules the city of Xandra, keeps trying and failing to take over the Red Desert.
- Training with the Silent Assassins includes running for six miles across the desert with two buckets of water on your shoulders. I would actually die trying this, but Celaena makes it, because she’s a queen. She is annoyed that the Mute Master is not training her personally, though, but when she asks him, he tells her to have patience. NO ONE HAS PATIENCE, DUDE.
- Lord Berick tries to attack the fortress, and Celaena helps the assassins beat his pathetic army. The next day, Ansel is sent to Xandria to talk to Berick, and she asks Celaena to come along, and C is like HELL YES, so they go.
- Ansel tells Celaena about the Ironteeth witches, who overthrew the Crochan witches and have since terrorized the Western Wastes. THIS IS IMPORTANT FOR HEIR OF FIRE. Kind of.
- They arrive in Xandra and Ansel goes off to talk to Berick. Celaena wanders around and stumbles upon this merchant who sells Spidersilk, silk made by the horse-sized stygian spiders in the woods of the Ruhnn Mountains. The merchant tells her he traded twenty years of his life for it, which he can only get back if that particular spider is killed. Celaena says that one day she might be able to do that (I THINK THIS MIGHT BE IMPORTANT LATER IN THE SERIES?) and he gives her six square inches of Spidersilk as a reminder that everything has a prize.
- Then she meets up with Ansel, who is currently hurrying to get out of the city, but instead of just walking, is planning to steal Berick’s Asterion horses (basically Fae horses), so they do and all but fly out of the city. Of course there are guards chasing them, but no one messes with Asterion horses.
- When they arrive back at the fortress, the Mute Master is very angry with them, but he calms down when Celaena takes the blame (even though it was all Ansel and he knows it). They get stable duty as punishment. Then the Mute Master decides to train Celaena.
- In their training sessions, he teaches her how to move like all kinds of animals, which helps her own movements.
- At the Midsummer Eve festival, Ilias is clearly obsessed with Celaena, and they almost kiss until she’s like nah. The next morning, Ansel says how the other assassins slut shame her, and she is angry, and they get in a fight.
- Celaena tells the Mute Master about Arobynn’s punishment, and the Mute Master is like nah not cool, even though he doesn’t speak but whatever, it’s very clear.
- Then Ansel pretends to apologize to Celaena, but instead, she drugs her and leaves her in the desert with the instructions to leave, but Celaena’s like nah and goes back.
- Then it turns out that Lord Berick’s men have attacked the fortress and killed many assassins, including Mikhail (well, that was on Ansel) and almost Ilias. The Mute Master isn’t dead yet, and Celaena finds out Ansel has betrayed them all, and has been working with Lord Berick because he promised her an army to take back Briarcliff. HDU ANSEL I WAS ROOTING FOR YOU WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU.
- Celaena beats Ansel, of course, and she basically saves everyone. She tells Ansel she will kill her if she isn’t gone by twenty minutes, but she actually doesn’t shoot at her until after twenty-one minutes, because she’s nice.
- The Mute Master then gives her money to pay off her debts to Arobynn, because he’s precious and because Celaena’s flawless, and she returns back home.
The Assassin and the Underworld
- Celaena returns to Rifthold and Arobynn welcomes her back with a bazillion gifts and tells her he’s so very sorry for beating her up and sending her off. Hmmm.
- He also gives her a new mission especially for her: to kill Benzo Doneval from Melisande, who apparently came to Rifthold to convince the king to build a road between Adarlan and Melisande to improve Melisande trades, by giving him a list of slave safe houses and traitors to the crown. The order came from Leighfer Bardingale, his ex-wife. Doneval is supposed to have a trade agreement in a few days, and Celaena has to kill both men.
- Celaena then runs into Sam, and they share an awkward moment together. When Arobynn beat them both up, Sam threatened to kill him for hurting her (BECAUSE HE’S IN LOVE WITH HER). Then it turns out Sam has been forced to hang out with Lysandra, another one of Arobynn’s protegées, but of the courtesan kind. Celaena hates Lysandra and her madam, Clarisse. Turns out it’s Lysandra’s Bidding soon.
- Celaena goes to get pretty after three months traveling and in the desert, and when she gets back, Arobynn gets her a new special assassin suit/armor with built-in blades made by a very talented Melisande tinkerer. She gives him her Spidersilk to put in one of the suits, but in Sam’s rather than her own (though we don’t find this out until later).
- C goes to the theatre to check out Doneval with Arobynn, Sam and Lysandra in tow, but also because she loves music. After that night, she tries to play the same music, but it’s impossible. She then asks Sam to help her with her mission.
- They go spying on Doneval and his bodyguard, but nothing happens. They also follow the bodyguard for a bit, but he does nothing important.
- THEN Sam gives Celaena the sheet music from the concert because she’s obsessed with it and it’s the sweetest thing ever.
- Arobynn, Celaena and Sam are invited to Leighfer Bardingale’s party, and he introduces her as his niece, Dianna (THIS IS IMPORTANT) and she goes off to talk to Doneval, with the excuse of being a wealthy merchant’s niece, and learns the time of his meeting. Then she and Sam dance, and she also dances with Dorian Haviliard for a bit (though he’s hidden behind a mask and it’s really not obvious until you read Throne of Glass).
- Celaena goes off the apartment she bought ages ago, which is on top of a warehouse somewhere, and wonders whether she should move out.
- The next day, Celaena talks to Sam about their mission and their plan to break into Doneval’s house, but Sam has to help Lysandra with pre-Bidding stuff, so she goes by herself. She manages to break in and find the upstairs study that apparently Doneval does his business stuff in, but then she gets knocked out.
- She wakes up in the sewer below the house, and Doneval’s bodyguard, Philip, has tied her to a chair. He plans to leave her there until it floods, but Celaena is smart as fuck, and manages to break free. She still can’t really get out, and the only grate to the street won’t open. Luckily, Sam comes to her help, because he went looking for her, and he frees her from almost drowning.
- She then tells Sam of everything that happened in the Red Desert, which convinces her to pay off her debt. Arobynn is sad, but actually also super angry because he’s an asshole. She doesn’t tell him she’s moving out yet.
- SAM AND CELAENA HAVE A MOMENT WHERE SHE TELLS HIM SHE’S PAID OFF AROBYNN AND HE TELLS HER HE MIGHT MOVE BECAUSE HE DOESN’T HAVE ANY REASON TO STAY WHEN SHE LEAVES BECAUSE HE’S BEEN IN LOVE WITH HER FOR AGES BUT SHE WOULD ALWAYS CHOOSE AROBYNN BUT THEN CELAENA TELLS HIM HE’S AN IDIOT AND KISSES HIM. IN THE SEWERS.
- After that brilliant moment that ripped my heart out, they go back to Doneval’s house and break in through the sewers. Celaena slips into the study and steals the documents, and then kills Doneval, his bodyguard Philip, and almost Doneval’s companion, but he kills himself before she can get to him. Weird.
- Someone tries to shoot Sam but the Spidersilk saved him. This is too much.
- Celaena gives the documents to Arobynn, but that asshole then tells her that Doneval was the good guy and that it was Leighfer who wanted to hand over the slaves. Celaena gets so angry she tells him she sold her Asterion horse (which she used to travel back from the desert) to Leighfer and uses the money to pay off Sam’s debts, and then tells him she’s moving out. Asshole Arobynn then tells her he used all her money to win Lysandra’s Bidding because he’s a perv and an asshole and I HATE HIM SO FUCKING MUCH.
The Assassin and the Empire
- Are you ready because this novella is the fucking worst and it’s going to kill you.
- IT STARTS WITH CELAENA IN A PRISON WAGON. Then it goes back to eleven days earlier. Fuck my life.
- Celaena and Sam have moved out and when Celaena goes off to listen to a concert (from the roof, because she no longer has the money/status to sit inside and Arobynn hates her), Sam goes off to fight in the Vaults, the city’s underworld, to earn money for them.
- Celaena yells at Sam because it’s dangerous, and he then asks her to leave Rifthold with him. She considers it, and then decides they at least need money if/when they leave, because right now, they have none. Also, if/when they leave, they have to pay off even more money from the Assassin’s Guild, because they’re still tied.
- They kiss. This is very important, because they’re precious.
- The next day, they go ask Arobynn if they can leave, and he tells them they can if they pay a huge amount of money, which not coincidentally is exactly what Celaena still has in her bank account. Celaena agrees, because saying no would get them nowhere.
- Sam and Celaena fight and I cry, and Sam goes off being very angry. Then he returns, and tells Celaena he has found them a client that would give them enough money to be able to leave. Except he doesn’t know who the client is because he wore a mask, but whatever, this is not suspicious at all. The client person wants them to kill Ioan Jayne, the biggest Crime Lord in Rifthold, and his second in command, Rourke Farran. Celaena is like dude are you insane, but she says she’ll think about it.
- Then they kiss again and they almost have sex but Celaena isn’t ready. (SAM CORTLAND WILL NEVER HAVE SEX IN HIS LIFE EXCUSE ME WHILE I SOB.) She does eventually agree to their mission, because money.
- They check out Jayne’s house, which is super well-watched, and follow Farran for a while. They decide to take out Farran first, and Sam wants to do it because he wants to protect Celaena (which is adorable but also pls) and Celaena will take out Jayne.
- When Celaena gets back home, Arobynn Hamel is sitting on her couch like a fucking stalker, because he’s creepy as fuck and also a giant asshole. (This series gets to me okay.) He tells her she’s an idiot for trying to take out Jayne and Farran, which of course he knows because he knows everything that happens. He also tells her that she should tell Sam who she really is and where she really came from (HEIR OF FIRE HMM.)
- SAM AND CELAENA GO OUT FOR DINNER AND THEN SAM TELLS HER HE GETS AFRAID AND THAT WHENEVER HE DOES, HE TELLS HIMSELF “MY NAME IS SAM CORTLAND AND I WILL NOT BE AFRAID” DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS FUCKING SERIES DOES TO ME?!?! (This is important, by the way.)
- They follow Farran around for a bit and see him torturing people and he’s the actual worst.
- They prepare for Sam to go out killing and Sam tells her Arobynn visited him and told him to ask aout her heritage and THEN HE’S LIKE I DON’T CARE WHERE YOU CAME FROM YOU CAN TELL ME WHEN YOU’RE READY. EXCEPT THIS NEVER HAPPENS BECAUSE THIS FUCKING SERIES IS THE WORST. ALSO THE BEST. SAVE ME.
- “‘I LOVE YOU,’ SAM SAID.”
- Celaena is at home waiting forever but Sam doesn’t turn up and she’s getting really worried now and also oh god, this is where I started crying. Then Arobynn of all people comes to her house to tell her that Sam died and FUCK EVERYTHING.
- I refuse.
- She goes with Arobynn to the Assassin’s Keep to see the body (because Farran delivered it there as a message). And he’s actually dead. Fuck everything.
- It gets even better. Celaena wakes up in her room at the Keep and Arobynn and some random assassins are outside her door talking about revenge and that Celaena isn’t allowed to go with them (except they wouldn’t do that outside her door if she wasn’t supposed to hear but Celaena is too angry and sad and is like fuck this shit).
- She breaks out of her room and goes to Jayne’s house, although Arobynn’s bodyguard, Wesley (whom she hates) tries to stop her because he knows it’s a trap, but she won’t listen. She breaks into the house and kills Jayne immediately as well as pretty much every other person in the house because you just can’t stop Celaena fucking Sardothien. Then Farran, that asshole, drugs her with gloriella mist (paralyzing her).
- He wants to kill her but according to his deal with his contact person (ACTUALLY AROBYNN), he has to hand her over to the king. Celaena is terrified because the king is the actual worst.
- She gets locked in the palace dungeons until her trial and she’s pretty much given up on life because Sam is dead and I’m broken save me. Then she goes to her trial with the king, and because she’s the most notorious assassin, he’s there in person. She asks for a quick death, but because he’s the worst asshole, he sentences her to a lifetime in Endovier instead.
How did it end?
Celaena is in the prison wagon to Endovier and she’s given up on life, but then she sees a white stag. When Adarlan invaded Terrasen, all white stags were killed because they were magic/the symbol of Terrasen/a beacon to guide the people of Terrasen back home. AND THEN CELAENA FINDS HOPE AGAIN AND SHE’S LIKE I’M GONNA DEAL WITH THIS. AND WHEN SHE’S AT ENDOVIER, SHE SAYS, “MY NAME IS CELAENA SARDOTHIEN AND I WILL NOT BE AFRAID.”