Previously on Throne of Glass, Heinous Asshole Celaena befriends Insufferable Asshole Nehemia. Meanwhile, dogs are being mysteriously mutilated, and Chaol crouches in the corner of Celaena’s sitting room, growling insults and masturbating.
Note: all direct quotes are either in bold or block-quotes. If something’s in quotation marks but not bold, it’s paraphrased snark.
Four days of intense training pass largely within the confines of “a private room far from her competitors’ eyes,” and apparently I’m the only person demanding to know why she gets the free training-room upgrade. (“Because she deserves it, you idiot,” the book hisses at me. “Can’t you see she’s special?”)
Somehow Celaena is simultaneously (a) barely keeping up with the physical demands of
training running, and (b) keeping “her head down” during group practice so as not to let anyone glimpse her Godly Skills of Assassinry.
The latter is quite the emotional trial for her, because everyone’s all Cain-this and Cain-that, which means no one is paying attention to her someone call the police.
She’s distracted from her unaccustomed and distressing anonymity when, on the day before the first Test, both Captain Chaol and the Weapons Master Brullo are absent from the training room, which happens to be crawling with extra guards.
Celaena and Handsome Thief Nox discuss this unusual situation, and their conversation is interrupted to provide this rather hilarious observation: “Cain [ . . . ] was in the middle of examining his bulging biceps.” (“Yep, still there.”) “A large ring of black, iridescent stone glimmered on Cain’s finger—strange that he’d wear it to practice.”
Considering how awkwardly this info’s shoved into the narration, I’ll guess it’s significant.
A scrawny assassin named Pelor joins their conversation, and Celaena doesn’t so much jump on the chance to be a hypocritical ass as she does drag it down and maul it, thinking:
Assassin indeed. His voice hasn’t even deepened yet. How did he wind up here?
Pelor gives them the deets: one of their co-competitors, Bill Chastain, was murdered so hard that “[his] body was in ribbons.“ The surviving competitors eye their own bodies warily (“Yep, still there”) and get back to training.
Handsome Thief Nox, fyi, joins Celaena at the throwing-knife station:
He hit the second ring, but never any closer to the center. His skill with knives wasn’t nearly as good as his archery.
Does it never occur to Celaena that hiding one’s abilities is an obvious and intelligent decision, and probably everyone in this room is doing it?
But she has more important things to think about: who murdered Bill Chastain, and will someone else be next?
But wait, no, she has even more important things to think about:
The blackness of the bull’s-eye beckoned, and as she exhaled, she sent the dagger flying.
It sparkled, a shooting star of steel. She smiled grimly as it struck home.
Beside her, Nox swore colorfully when his dagger hit the third ring on his target, and her smile broadened, despite the shredded corpse that lay somewhere in the castle.
Some competitors toss sex jokes at Celaena, but Nox soothes her ruffled feathers by complimenting her, and—having thus proved he’s worth her time—she rewards him by critiquing his knife-throwing stance.
Later, unable to talk his erection down any longer, Chaol surprises Celaena in her rooms, ostensibly to ask how she’s liking her latest book. But oh-so-cunning Celaena isn’t fooled:
“Why are you really here?”
“I had a long day.”
And you elect to go unwind with Celaena? But why? She’s awful.
Chaol, bro, sob as much as you like about how “clever” and “kind” and “charming” she is, but until I actually see any of those traits in her let me wingman you the fuck away.
But wait, the conversation’s not over:
She massaged an ache in her knee. “Because of Bill’s murder?”
“Because the prince dragged me into a council meeting that lasted for three hours,” he said, a muscle in his jaw feathering.
Let’s ignore the weirdness of “a muscle in his jaw feathering” and go straight into you’re more distressed about sitting through a long council meeting than the fact that a heavily-guarded mass-murderer was himself murdered in his bedroom? Under your own guards’ noses? Within the royal palace? REALLY?
But Celaena takes his idiocy and selfishness in stride, and then it’s bonding time, and Celaena asks how long he’s been friends with Prince Dorian.
He paused, and she knew he was contemplating how she might use the information against him, weighing the risk of telling her the truth. She was about to snap at him when he said: “Since we were young.”
And yet again I don’t understand Celaena’s motivation. Why does she almost snap at him? Because she’s offended that he’s wary of her? If so: why does she care? When did she start caring? (Or is she upset because he doesn’t instantly bow to her demand for information? Is she just being an impatient, entitled child? I’d buy that before I’d believe she actually wants him to trust her.)
They spend the remainder of the chapter braiding each other’s hair and reading each other’s diaries, sharing secrets such as Chaol’s abdicated lordhood and Celaena’s unrealistically traumatic childhood:
“When I was twelve, Arobynn Hamel decided I wasn’t nearly as skilled at swordplay with my left hand. So he gave me a choice: either he could break my right hand, or I could do it myself.” The phantom memory of the blinding pain lanced through her hand. “That night, I put my hand against a doorframe, and slammed the door shut on it. I split my hand wide open and broke two bones. It took months to heal—months during which I could only use my left hand.” She gave him a vicious smile.
- Arobynn was raising her to be his Bestest Assassin Ever; unless he was a complete idiot (I’m not ruling the possibility out!) he would never risk her skills by potentially ruining her dominant hand. Seriously broken hands don’t always heal perfectly, especially in Gritty Medieval Fantasy Worlds that lack our medical advancements.
- Even assuming Arobynn was idiot enough to break her dominant hand just to make her practice with the other, surely he wouldn’t be dumb enough to let her break her own hand, right? I mean, he’d want to carefully control which bone is broken and how severely, to minimize the chance of long-term, potentially irreparable damage. RIGHT?
This book has a serious case of HEY THAT SOUNDS BADASS LET’S THROW IT IN. WAIT WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT MAKES NO SENSE IT IS BADASS AND WE ARE THROWING IT IN.
Hearing this ridiculous story kills Chaol’s boner, so he leaves the slumber party early, allowing Celeana to bask in her own beautiful angst in the chapter’s concluding sentence:
She wrapped her arms around herself, a cold wind picking up the skirts of her dress and blowing them behind her.
How it manages that, I couldn’t tell you—she’s sitting in a chair—but who needs physics when one’s wearing a gorgeous billowing dress of sadness, you know?
I’m just glad she didn’t choose this inappropriate time to start gushing over its exquisite pearl beading.
We’re told Celaena’s A Total Badass: 5
Celaena proves she’s A Total Badass: 0
Sighs I sighed while reading: 7
This chapter left me more tired than angry, and I don’t think that’s an improvement.