Also appears on The YA Kitten!Now that's better.While reading the first three novellas, I found myself liking each one less than the one before until I outright hated the third one. With The Assassin and the Empire, it makes improvements in leaps and bounds and creates the set-up for Maas's hyped-up debut novel.Celaena realizing exactly how spoiled and entitled she is after she loses access to the endless supply of money she had while still under Arobynn's command was great, and I liked how the struggles she and Sam had to endure now that they were free were portrayed. I originally disliked they became lovers, but after seeing the imperfect yet likable way they worked together as a couple, I finally got won over by it. The twisted, abusive relationship between Celaena and her father figure/mentor Arobynn also showed that a relationship doesn't have to be romantic for it to be abusive and/or unhealthy. Well-written, that part was.In a problem that has occurred multiple times throughout the novellas, there is a mystery that is no mystery at all because it's too easy to figure out. The big reveal of whodunnit is supposed to have some kind of impact, but when we see it coming a mile away, it loses that punch. Speaking of thing that lack punch, the most important event of the novella (which I can't detail because it spoils too much) that leads Celaena to make the decisions that seal her fate and put her in the Endovier salt mines she is plucked out of at the beginning of Throne of Glass left me surprisingly disinterested. It certainly impacts Celaena, but it doesn't make me feel anything at all.I'm thinking I should give this three stars, but I'm feeling generous right now because this was such an improvement on the other novellas (and also on some of my recent reads, but that's another story altogether) that I'll round it up.