I was teetering between 4 stars and 5 stars, but 5 won out when I thought about how this was just a novella, but the characters were so wonderfully done is such a short time span!
Celaena (I am not sure quite how to pronounce this name which is never good, but once I decided on how I wanted to pronounce it, the reading went smoothly) is an assassin and to hear her say it, she is the best. She is Adarlan's Assassin. We are introduced to her at the age of 16 and at first there is nothing loveable about her. She is arrogant, sometimes mean, and short tempered. Through this short novella we see her character grow. Celaena is thrown into a mission with Sam. Sam is another assassin, just slightly older than Celaena and we learn very early on that Celaena doesn't think much of Sam.
We find out very quickly that they were sent on a mission under false pretenses. Arobynn, the King of the Assassins has sent them to Skull Island under the pretense of getting retribution for the assassins that a group of pirates killed. Although it seems somewhat unbelievable that a group of pirates dispatched trained assassins, but it is briefly touched on that they were outnumbered.
Celaena and Sam are informed rather unceremoniously that they are in fact in contact with the Pirate Lord in order to set up a slave trade for Arobynn. Neither Celaena nor Sam are ok with this turn of events. The rest of the novella is how Celaena and Sam come together and devise a plan to help the slaves escape.
The Pirate Lord is at times likeable, and it seems that it is left open for him to come back as an enemy/ally later. He was a gentleman and also an enemy (a gent-emy?). He was a bit of an enigma but it is clear they are not on the same side here.
I can't wait to read the next one and see how Celaena progresses. I am not sure if I am supposed to but I am rooting for Sam right now.