Actual Rating: 1.49 stars
The Assassin and the Underworld was my least favorite of the four Throne of Glass prequels, mostly due to the introduction of Lysandra, the typical mean-girl slut (in this case she is literally a whore) who hates the protagonist for no discernible reason except perhaps jealousy. There is a lot of slut-shaming in this story, and once again female promiscuity is linked to mean/negative behavior. Throughout the novella, Lysandra's profession is given as a reason for why Caelena hates her, or why she is not as good as Caelena. It boggles my mind that Caelena could feel morally superior to Lysandra because she sells sex for money, when she herself is killing people for money, people who have done nothing more than cheat on their spouses as revealed in The Assassin and the Pirate Lord.
This novella also solidified my dislike for the names Maas has chosen for both places and people. In addition to Caelena, a name that is difficult to pronounce and read, there is a woman with the name Leighfer, which looks and sounds ridiculous and strikes me as masculine. Also, many of the place names including Ardlan and Melisanda sound like names of people to me. Naming is, of course, highly subjective but so is my review and the names were distracting enough to affect my reading experience.
The only positive thing I have to say about this novella was that there was a vast improvement in the writing from the first two novellas. I wonder if there was a significant passage of time between when the first two were written and the second two. The prose in this one flowed much better and there were far fewer awkward sentences. That said, the writing continues to be very juvenile, and the dialogue was very cheesy, but it was no worse than the other novellas.