Previously on Throne of Glass, our traveling party camps within sight of the king’s glass castle, and Beautifully Sad Celaena reveals the horrors of her life in the mines.
Note: all direct quotes are either in bold or block-quotes. If something’s in quotation marks but not bold, it’s paraphrased snark.
Celaena enters the bustling city in style: well-dressed, unshackled, and sneering.
A gaggle of women wave at Handsome Prince Dorian and cut suspicious looks at Celaena—and how do you think our charmer responded to this totally reasonable and expected reception? By silently noting his popularity? By remaining calm and watchful? By—perhaps, if she’s feeling ungenerous to Prince Dorian—arching a single, perfect eyebrow?
Ha ha ha, no.
She “smiled at [the women], tossed her hair, and batted her eyelashes at the prince’s back.”
To which I can merely say: JESUS CHRIST.
Her arm stung. “What?” she hissed at the Captain of the Guard as he pinched her.
“You look ridiculous,” he said through his teeth, smiling at the crowd.
She mirrored his expression. “They’re ridiculous.”
SERIOUSLY? SERIOUSLY. Can’t we go one single fucking chapter without her pissing me off?
Celaena, darling, how does their waving at the prince and their glances toward you make these women ridiculous? Why are you trying to upset them by implying you’re intimate with the prince? Are you trying to make me hate you? Because you’re succeeding, great job.
Guys, I’m only on page forty.
As they pass through the shopping district, “a ravenous sort of hunger arose in her” at the sight of the gorgeous clothes and jewels, a hunger that’s only forgotten when she sees a slaver-ship disgorging its miserable human contents onto the dock.
Let’s play the guessing-game again, because that was so fun last time. Does our Celaena sympathize with those slaves? Wish she could help them? Actually try to help them?
Ha ha ha, no.
She wanted to leap from her horse and run to them, or to simply scream that she wasn’t a part of this prince’s court, that she had no hand in bringing them here, chained and starved and beaten, that she had worked and bled with them, with their families and friends—she was not like these monsters who destroyed everything. That she had done something, nearly two years ago, when she had freed almost two hundred slaves from the Pirate Lord.
Seriously, “Hey slaves, I was a slave too, I’m not the one beating you right now, I didn’t have anything to do with the whole slavery thing, in fact I freed a bunch of slaves once” is THE MOST SELFISH AND SELF-ABSORBED REACTION YOU COULD POSSIBLY HAVE.
For some reason, Celaena’s now so distressed (don’t ask me why) that she has “difficulty breathing,” but sadly fails to asphyxiate.
Once at the castle, Prince Dorian info-dumps its stats as awkwardly as possible:
“Six hundred rooms, military and servant’s quarters, three gardens, a game park, and stables on either side,” said Dorian, staring at his home. “Who could ever need so much space?”
Prince Dorian’s assigned Celaena a room in the stone castle upon which the glass castle was built, and although she’s glad not to have a glass room, she has to stifle the urge to scowl at him, because “scowling at him wouldn’t be the wisest decision.” No, she doesn’t explain why.
Here’s one of my major complaints about the book so far: I rarely understand (a) what Celaena’s feeling, and (b) what her motivations are for doing/not doing something. Has she decided that scowling at Prince Dorian could exile her back to the mines? How did she reach that conclusion? She had no qualms scowling at him before, and he never punished her for it.
Chaol shows her to her suite, which she scans for emergency exits, guards, and potential makeshift weapons. After a quick nap, she basks in the careful ministrations of some servants, whose skills with hair-trimming, nail-shaping, and callous-removing render Celaena “[u]tterly and completely spectacular.” Of course they do.
She meets her personal servant, Philippa, who calls Celaena “poppet” and pinches her cheek, and generally seems unimpressed by Celaena’s narcissistic bullshit. “Behave like a lady or else, dear child,” Philippa says (I’m paraphrasing here), and Celaena responds, “Go to hell,” which makes Philippa cluck her tongue and say, “That scowl makes you wicked ugly, FYI,” to which Celaena has no retort.
Finally, a character I can relate to.
We then point-of-view hop over to Prince Dorian, just in time for his reunion with his loving father—whose voice, by the way, “was hard, edged with the clash of shields and the scream of arrows,” because that’s a real thing that arrows do and voices can sound like.
Prince Dorian’s all, “Celaena’s not dangerous,” and his dad’s all, “You’re a fucking idiot,” and hey look at that, another character I can relate to.
Apparently, Dorian had selected Celaena as his Champion in part to win a bet (I guess?) and in part to GTFO of the castle and away from father dear.
Is–is that it? That’s the reason you brought the continent’s greatest assassin–who, remember, has a massive grudge against your father and your kingdom–into your castle? Really?
They bicker about the upcoming contest (dad’s betting on Evil Duke Perrington’s Champion, the not-at-all-ominously-named Cain), then the king blusters about how mighty and kingly he is, and warns Dorian not to father any bastards before marrying and producing some decent, legitimate heirs. Apparently he’s quite a ladies’ man, our prince.
Dorian for some reason goes all prophet-of-doom on his dad, warning him against “playing at being a god” in his conquest of the continent, and hold on I’m confused. One minute Dorian’s a cringing little princelet, “mumbl[ing] his apologies” for questioning the necessity of this dumb Champion contest, and the next moment he’s brazenly speaking treason.
I understand Dorian’s emotions and motivations even less than I understand Celaena’s.
The chapter ends with Dorian getting smacked in the face and fleeing his father’s presence, his glorious sapphire eyes sparkly with tears and impotent princelet rage.
We’re told Celaena’s A Total Badass: 1
Celaena proves she’s A Total Badass: 0
Celaena fantasizes about murder: 1
Celaena murders someone: 0
I have no grasp on these characters, and it’s driving me nuts.