Krispy's Reviews > The Assassin and the Underworld

The Assassin and the Underworld by Sarah J. Maas
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's review
Jun 19, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: novella, ya, fantasy
Read from May 02 to 03, 2012 — I own a copy

I was disappointed with this one, and it was my least favorite of the novellas, because it left me feeling very unsatisfied. I understand that the ending is meant to be a hard lesson learned by our heroine, but it just really felt like she lost out on this one - and a lot of it was her own fault. The way things went, it turned every advantage, every offensive action, that she finally had upon returning to Rifthold into something she had to use defensively. Non-spoilery analogy: it's like if you lost a war, but you say "Well, I still sacked your one big city! So there!" That's how I felt things went for Celaena by the end of this novella. So that was the biggest thing.

On the character side, Celaena seemed to regress a little in her development, but this was okay. I actually appreciated that while she learned and grew from her time in the desert, she isn't instantly some brand new person. When she returns to her old haunts, her old habits come creeping back in, which is extremely realistic. On top of that, she's grappling with new feelings towards both her mentor and Sam. So I liked the push and pull of her character here. I also enjoyed the return of Sam and liked seeing them work together.

On the world-building side, I liked finally seeing Rifthold. It had the feel of a big city, and I appreciated the feeling of living in an urban sprawl that was present at times in this novella. It was a very different setting compared to the quiet, simpleness of the Red Desert.

The part that didn't work for me with Celaena's character also tied into the once again predictable plot. Celaena is supposed to be the best assassin in Adarlan, and we're constantly reminded of this, especially by Celaena. I know this is partly to do with her pesky arrogant streak, but the opinion of her world seems to agree with this assessment. Unfortunately, I keep feeling like Celaena doesn't live up to her own hype because of the situations she gets in. On the one hand, I understand that we have to see her struggle in these novellas to make it interesting, but we don't ever see her in a situation where she isn't struggling, so we're never SHOWN that she's The Best; we're just told.

And that is problematic given a plot like this one where it was obvious, even to me (and I tend to read with blinders on), that something was fishy with the entire set-up. Like I felt like given the events of the previous novellas, Celaena should have known better than to trust, should have known to question, should have thought about all of this at least a little bit critically. But she didn't.

That said, I'm still looking forward to reading Throne of Glass and finding out how she ended up in the salt mines. I do wonder what I would've thought of Celaena had I met her in the novel first and then come back to these novellas.
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Reading Progress

50.0% "I have a feeling about where this plot is going..."
76.0% "Finally! :D"
87.0% "Oh good, for a second there I thought it was going to be overly straightforward."
02/17 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Emily (last edited Jul 08, 2012 12:05AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Emily Cheng I must say, I think your review and your observations are spot on. As well as your last bit of "What if" :)

Krispy Emily wrote: "I must say, I think you're review and Your observations are spot on. As well as your last bit of "What if" :)"

Thank you! I'm actually someone who doesn't mind unhappy or bittersweet endings, so it took me a while to pinpoint what it was about this story that bothered me so much. Glad someone else understands where my frustration comes from!

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