Read This Review & More Like It On Ageless Pages Reviews!I have a hard time rating novellas - of any length - more than three stars. As fun, interesting or detailed they might be, I always find them to lack real depth, emotion or plot.That said, The Assassin and the Empire, the last of the the four prequel novellas, deserves those full four stars. I had read and moderately enjoyed the first full length Celaena Sardothien novel last year. I didn't love it - I wanted more assassinating, less love triangle; more strength and less indecision - but I was curious enough to keep my eye out for the sequel. When Gilly B said the prequels add to the experience of reading Crown of Midnight, I bought all four.And I am glad I listened. These short stories, full of murder and betrayal, and exposition have helped me to like Celaena a lot more than I did at the close of Throne of Glass. I maybe even understand her better. I don't begrudge her her liking for fine things, or her arrogance, because now I can see there is more to the character than that. I can see where she has come from, what she has gone through, and what she has learned in order to become the person she is during the full-length novels.The mystery angle is a bit obvious and predictable, and needs work. It's a consistent problem for Maas to write with subtlety, and it shows in all four novellas and especially in Throne of Glass. That said, these prequels, the last especially, show a marked improvement in Maas's writing ability, both in terms of plot and character. Celaena especially comes across more vibrantly, and the chance to see Sam as real character, rather than a memory, provided real depth and emotion to Celaena's grief for him.I sped through all four ebooks in one day, and it was a great way to get pumped up and excited for Crown of Midnight. There had just be copious amounts of Chaol. That's all I saying.Team Chaol!