Previously on Throne of Glass, a competitor is spectacularly slaughtered, but Assassin Celaena and Captain of the Royal Guard Chaol are too busy
playing footsie to care.
Note: all direct quotes are either in bold or block-quotes. If something’s in quotation marks but not bold, it’s paraphrased snark.
Okay. The previous chapter’s unflagging ridiculousness left me a puddle of exhausted sad, but I’m braced for it this time. I’ve got my K-Pop Favorites playlist going and a bucket of Thai tea and nothing is going to ruin—
Though she’d never admit it, Celaena didn’t really know what to expect at their first Test.
God damn it.
- Celaena, darling, kindly remove your head from your ass long enough to remember nobody knows what to expect at the first Test.
- Also please note that nobody’ll bother to ask if you know what to expect, because they already know you’re as ignorant as they are.
- But wait—you’re telling me that if someone did ask you, you’d lie to them just so they’d be amazed at your omniscience?
- That shouldn’t surprise me. Your conceit and your desperation to be the most awesome person in the room are your two core personality traits.
It’s the day of the first Test, finally. Some poor interior decorator had to spend the previous night rigging up a massive black curtain to bisect the sparring room, thus hiding the instrument(s) of the Champions’ doom.
Handsome Thief Nox takes one look at this ridiculous piece of theater and voices my exact thoughts:
“It’s a bit dramatic, don’t you think?”
How kind (and realistic!) of the king to be concerned about these criminals’ enjoyment of their Test, and to add a dash of suspense and drama to liven the experience up.
Nox’s chumminess with Celaena instantly makes Chaol go all stiff and surly. Celaena notices, and decides Chaol’s “no doubt wondering if she and Nox were formulating some escape plan that would include the deaths of every member of the royal family.”
That sentence is clearly intended to remind the reader that Celaena’s powerful and dangerous and scary, but all it makes me think is wait is there a stable full of royals hidden in this castle and I don’t know about it?
As far as I know, there are exactly four royals, only two of whom are currently in the castle (and therefore available for immediate murdering). I wouldn’t call a mere two people “every member of the royal family.”
It’s kind of embarrassing to watch the book attempt to highlight Celaena’s badassness only to highlight its own flaws instead.
And, oh lord, the embarrassment doesn’t stop there:
She adjusted the thick leather belt slung low across her hips. It was the kind of belt intended to bear the weight of multiple weapons.
Low-slung belts are very sexy, yes, especially when they immediately slide to the floor, taking your weapons and probably your pants and definitely your chances of surviving a battle right down with them. So hot.
And oh hey, the curtain is pulled back with a flourish, and it’s just a basic archery contest. That climactic grand reveal was totally worth the labor and resource costs of hanging the giant freaking curtain in the first place, yep.
Celaena immediately launches into her touchdown celebration, which Chaol rudely interrupts:
[ . . . ] Chaol grasped her shoulder. “Don’t show off,” he warned.
She smiled sweetly and pried his fingers off her. “I’ll try not to,” she purred, and joined the line.
Again I must ask: am I supposed to like this girl?
I suspect most readers insert themselves into Celaena’s place, so they can enjoy being a stone-cold, powerful, sassy heroine who flirts with warriors and princes while picking her teeth with the bones of her enemies. But if they’d just step away from Celaena and look at her as her own separate person, they’d very quickly realize that she is insufferable oh my god.
I’ll just give you the highlights of the Test. “The other competitors did well enough.” Scrawny Assassin Pelor can barely lift his bow, so of course “[t]he other Champions laughed [at him], and Celaena wanted nothing more than to smile with them.” Cain lands all bull’s-eyes, which sends Celaena headlong into an existential crisis:
All she could think about was Cain—Cain getting applauded by [Evil Duke] Perrington, Cain getting clapped on the back by [Weapon’s Master] Brullo, Cain getting all of that praise and attention, not because he was a mountain of muscle, but because he actually deserved it.
Still reeling from the shocking realization that other people deserve attention too, Celaena gives herself a pep talk before firing her five shots:
I am Celaena Sardothien, Adarlan’s Assassin. If these men knew who I was, they’d stop laughing [at me]. I am Celaena Sardothien. I am going to win. I will not be afraid.
And yeah, her mouth is dry, her faith in her ability to win the competition is momentarily shaken by Cain’s skill, and she’s afraid enough to need that pep-talk.
BUT. Every arrow she shoots lands in the exact millimeter she’d be aiming for, and on the longest shot—the one not even Cain had managed to hit quite perfectly—her arrow “hit the absolute center,” shocking everyone into silence.
Because strategically hiding the extent of her godly assassin-abilities is significantly less important than showing off. Good choice, Celaena, well done.
Putting aside my aggravation at her stupidity and vanity: can she please have messed up at least once? Even just a little? Because you can tell me her mouth is dry and her confidence shaken until the cows come home, and it won’t mean anything unless her nervousness affects her performance.
Couldn’t her hands have shaken a little during those first couple shots? Couldn’t she have legitimately messed up, which then tanked her confidence, making her next shots that much harder? See, book, that’s how tension works: by making it progressively harder for the protagonist to succeed.
But no. The book cares more about maintaining Celaena’s badass status than creating and building tension. So Celaena sails cleanly through her first Test, smugly smug about her own abilities.
I, meanwhile, will need to upgrade to a more adult drink if I’m going to make it through the next chapter.
We’re told Celaena’s A Total Badass: 4
Celaena proves she’s A Total Badass: 0
Excess curse words I erased from this post: 6
Hey, at least the chapter was short!