This is going to be a very hard book for me to review. First of all, it took me 12 days to read it, something very unheard of for me! Secondly, I really wanted to enjoy it, but it was almost overdetailed in places, while others weren't detailed enough for my tastes.
It introduces Celaena Sardothien, who rose from a street orphan to be the most feared assassin in Adarlan’s empire, and the King of Assassin's chosen successor. It's second purpose was to introduce the world in which her story takes place. However, there wasn't enough details about that world for me at all. How did the evil King of Adarlan come to power? Where did he come from? Why did he wish to conquer her entire continent? These were questions I really wanted to have answered!
In The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, Celaena and her rival Sam are sent to cut a deal with an infamous pirate lord with whom Arobynn, the King of Assassins has made an agreement. However, the deal reveals itself to be repugnant to Celaena, who then enlists Sam's help to derail it. I did not like this story much, as I felt Celaena was a spoiled brat whose arrogance threatened both her life and Sam’s. It did show Celaena to have a conscience, so we do see another facet of her other than the assassin. 2 stars
With The Assassin and the Healer, Celaena is stopped in a small village called Innish to begin her journey to the place where she will submit to the second part of her punishment for the events of the first story. While there she meets a downtrodden young barmaid who has lost everything. Celaena trains her to defend herself in one night, and the story details their conversations and training session. This story was really short, but good. It showed more of Celaena's softer side and that she wasn't as selfish as she seemed...that she truly cared about others. 3 stars
In The Assassin and the Desert, Celaena finally reaches the fortress of the Silent Assassins, where she had been sent for punishment and begins her training under the Mute Master. This story had a lot of character development for Celaena, but it was very long and dragged a lot for me. While Celaena learns a lot through the events of this story, only the fight at the end felt relevant to me. 2 stars
The Assassin and the Underworld has Celaena returning to Rifthold, capital city of Adarlan’s empire, and continuing her service to Arobynn Hamel, King of Assassins, though the final events of the previous story ensures her freedom. I didn't like Celaena in this one. She knows herself so well, and yet can't deal with feelings of love, yet she craves the declaration of love most of all. It made her weaker to me, and I didn't think it meshed well with what we had seen of her before this. 1.5 stars
The final story, The Assassin and the Empire, shows Celaena and Sam are trying to move out of Rifthold to start a new life somewhere else, after they discovered/declared that they loved one another. To do that, they need lots of money to pay "severance fees" and have a cushion when they settle down in their new locale, before they get established for new work. A mysterious contract arrives with the promise of making them both rich. The only thing they need to do is to kill the most powerful crime lord in the city along with his right-hand man. This is the pivotal story that leads into Throne of Glass, but it shows just how much Celaena is pampered, yet also shows the depth of her love for Sam. There is an extremely interesting plot twist here and it made me eager to start the Main Series! 2.5 stars
Each of the short stories has its own characters, locations and plot twists, but as a whole they tell one single tale of Celaena Sardothien and her life prior to the events described in Throne of Glass. All things considered, this book was a bit on the boring side, but essential to read before the events of Throne of Glass. Compared to other assassin novels I have tried, this one was better than most of them.