Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Assassin and the Underworld by Sarah J. Maas

Title: The Assassin and the Underworld
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Pages: ebook exclusive
How I Got the Book: Bought it.
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Promotional Materials and More: author website | my other Throne of Glass reviews

When the King of the Assassins gives Celaena Sardothien a special assignment that will help fight slavery in the kingdom, she jumps at the chance to strike a blow against an evil practice. The misson is a dark and deadly affair which takes Celaena from the rooftops of the city to the bottom of the sewer—and she doesn’t like what she finds there.


This novella made me wish it were in print so I could throw it across the room without hurting my e-reader. That should be a fine summary of its quality, but reviews are best when detailed and I always try my best when writing reviews. I liked the first novella and cared less for the second one, but this third one offended me a little with how it treated female characters whose names weren't Celaena Sardothien.

There was a little bit of merit to the novella and I will recognize that much. It's well-paced, smoothly written, and largely interesting. Readers can figure out the truth behind Celaena's mission if they pay attention, though. It appears Maas is not skilled at writing mysteries because this problem happened once before too. The build-up with Sam comes to a head and the attention to continuity is something I can respect. I'm sure the events of these novellas will play a part in the novel too.

Now then, what offended me. Throughout these first three novellas, four relevant female characters have been presented to the readers. Two were villains, one was a horribly characterized caricature, and one was Celaena. A large portion of Throne of Glass's hype rests on its strong female heroine, but weakly characterizing or demonizing all other female characters so Celaena will look good is not the way to go. She'll look worse, actually. I sure wouldn't recommend the series to girls if it took that route of characterization, so I'm hoping ToG won't go that way. (Post-reading ToG: It doesn't go that way, thank goodness. I am beyond happy about that.

As it was solely within this novella, the caricature girl, a courtesan named Lysandra, had no effort put into her characterization. The way Celaena looked upon her and the other courtesan girls carries a tone of implied slut shaming as she calls them all insipid. This also makes Celaena a hypocrite, since she uses her beauty to accomplish her goals exactly the way a courtesan might. I think the only courtesan looked kindly upon is Sam's mother and she's dead.

Reading more of this series right now would result in a blown gasket and considering what is going on at this point in time in my life, a blown gasket is not what I need right now. One of my friends absolutely loved Throne of Glass and she is often as sensitive to issues of female representation as I am, so I'm hoping these novellas are a fluke and the novel itself will bring me back and make me fall in love. What can I say? I give things chances even when people say I shouldn't anymore.

1 star!

What am I reading next?: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas


  1. I actually thought this was pretty good, but I guess that's just me. I totally understand your sensitivity, though, even if it doesn't offend me as much.

  2. "A large portion of Throne of Glass's hype rests on its strong female heroine, but weakly characterizing or demonizing all other female characters so Celaena will look good is not the way to go." I quote. Really? That sucks to read. the evil villian and the other characters should be well developed so our heroine has to work hard and look more kickass. This is disappointing to read. I'll probably still read it but in a little while. :D

  3. I really hope the book is better then the novellas that you have reviewed. I have heard really good things about it so I'm hoping your review of the book is a more positive.

  4. Thinking back on it it, I can see your point about the weak characterization of the females in this series, although it didn't really bother me. I'm apparently just really unobservant while reading, so I tend not to pick up on things like that. The novellas have mostly just been kinda meh for me, I've been giving them 3 stars on goodreads because I'm not really too sure how I feel about them. The last one sounds more interesting though, so hopefully that will be better!

  5. I finished ToG and the only other female character that really gets much limelight is the Princess and I have to admit that she definitely did not come across as weak! But, I've practically heard the same thing with all these novellas: not that great. I think it's actually turning a lot of people off from reading ToG, even though I don't think it's half as bad as some of the novella reviews!

  6. Wow, I am a firm believer of a strong Heroine in books, and it seems like its beginning to be a norm lately with some of the female lead books out there. I understand that in order to make a badass heroine she has to go through trails but when the character development is weak in first place where or how does she go from there. Thank you again for sharing this so that people who haven't read them like me to get an inside look. I hope to see more reviews on the others.

  7. Hadn't seen this one coming...

  8. Well,thank God the actual book didn't go that way.

  9. One star? Oh no! I am really looking forward to these novellas and Throne Of Glass! I'm glad you at least liked the book better!


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