Previously on Throne of Glass, Magical Assassin Celaena travels through the forest while info-dumping her childhood trauma and the disappearance (ha!) of magic from the land.
Note: all direct quotes are either in bold or block-quotes. If something’s in quotation marks but not bold, it’s paraphrased snark.
We skim over two weeks of traveling, thank god, which can be summarized thusly: the weather sucked, and Celaena wanted to kill both herself and Chaol.
Prince Dorian’s “bouncing” hair and flapping cape pull up alongside them one evening, and with a flourish, he reveals a breathtaking view: the “gargantuan” glass castle of Rifthold, which is all towers and bridges and domes and whatever else giant castles are. I guess this isn’t a country that experiences extreme weather. Or earthquakes. Or bird droppings.
Or, you know, warfare.
Please let the castle have been built and maintained by magic. That’s all I’m asking.
Celaena and Chaol then bumble into a Deeply Emotional conversation consisting almost entirely of non sequiturs. The book clearly needed to (a) dump some info, and (b) push these assholes in a less-murderous/more-smoochy direction, and decided to do so in the most unrealistic way possible. Great job, well done.
During this wreck of a conversation, Celaena admits she doesn’t know how she got captured a year ago (though she might’ve been betrayed by a crybaby assassin who was jealous of her gloriousness), and Chaol gently asks how horrible the salt mines were.
Finally, after five and a half chapters, we learn the terrible depths of her trauma. Behold: her hair was cut short, she wore rags, no one taught her how to use her pickax, and she was whipped.
“But the overseers had been instructed to treat me with extra care, and took the liberty of rubbing salt into my wounds—salt I mined—and whipped me often enough so that some of the gashes never really closed. It was through the kindness of a few prisoners from Eyllwe that my wounds didn’t become infected. Every night, one of them stayed up the hours it took to clean my back.”
Oh, boy. Okay.
First: Fashion Guru Prince Dorian had previously inspected her body and saw only “three large scars—and perhaps some smaller ones.” I’m more inclined to trust Dorian’s observation than Miss Self-Absorbed Hardcore Assassin’s recounting.
Second: This is the second time she’s mentioned wounds on her back; the first was when those “brutish” servants bathed and bandaged her. Did she bitch about the wounds during the subsequent weeks of hard travel? No. What did she bitch about? Riding her horse through cold rain, and “the agony of wet shoes.” Seriously? If you’d been so terribly and regularly whipped for the last year, riding in wet shoes wouldn’t be a blip on your agony radar.
Third: If the king demanded she be kept alive as long as possible, shouldn’t the overseers have taken steps to prevent infection? So which is it: they were willing to torture her to a quick death, or she was supposed to be kept alive to suffer? (And could someone who actually knows what they’re talking about tell me whether or not straight-up salt dug from a mine would infect or disinfect an open wound?)
Fourth: Other prisoners sacrificed their precious hours of sleep to clean Celaena’s wounds, and this is the first we’re hearing about it? Are you kidding me? She’s had plenty of opportunity to be grateful to those people, to worry about them, to wish she could help them. But nooo. She can hardly be bothered to acknowledge anyone other than herself—even when those people literally shortened their own life expectancy to extend hers, for no apparent fucking reason.
- Inhumanly badass (allegedly)
- Casually arrogant
- 99% fearless
- Pale and beautiful
- Hates the Adarlan royal family
- Painfully dumb
- Dreams of freedom
- Eternally irritated
- INFURIATINGLY UNGRATEFUL
Hold on—I need to breathe.
That night, our charming heroine stares at the distant city and considers her future:
She’d win [the competition], and serve the king, and then vanish into nothing, and think no more of castles or kings or assassins. She didn’t wish to reign over this city again. Magic was dead, the Fae were banished or executed, and she would never again have anything to do with the rise and fall of kingdoms.
She wasn’t fated for anything. Not anymore.
For the sake of my blood pressure, I’ll ignore the heavy-handed “she’s so special” stuff and go straight into: uh, wow, “serve the king” is a nonchalant brush-off of the prospect of spending four years as the obedient minion/weapon of your sworn enemy. Couldn’t we at least see some internal struggle regarding it? Mixed feelings? Any feelings at all? No?
Meanwhile, Prince Dorian watches her watch the city, and muses about how “sad” and “beautiful” she is, how there’s something incomprehensibly attractive “in the way that her eyes sparked when she looked at something lovely in the landscape,” and how the very stars “gazed down at her” in her solitary loveliness. Dorian, as my husband put it, has a very poetic boner.
And the chapter ends there, praise the lord.
We’re told Celaena’s A Total Badass: 2
Celaena proves she’s A Total Badass: 0
Celaena fantasizes about murder: 1
Celaena murders someone: 0
I wanted to murder someone: 5
This is horrible and I hate it.