I’ll be gone for a couple days, so I’m posting this twelve hours early. Happy Friday!
Previously on Throne of Glass, Lady Kaltain proves herself a better heroine than Celaena. Meanwhile, Surly Captain Chaol refuses to believe he’s in love with Celaena, and Incompetent Prince Dorian refuses to believe a gruesome creepy murder is cause for concern.
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, grounded for the night for playing with Nehemia when she should’ve been resting before the Test tomorrow, tosses aside her book and asks herself a list of (apparently rhetorical) questions about her argument with Chaol. These questions include:
- “He had more important things to do than guard the world’s most famous criminal, didn’t he?” (YES, HE DOES. Also, I love how she’s upgraded herself from the country’s greatest assassin, to the continent’s greatest assassin, and now the world’s most famous criminal. Give her a few more chapters and she’ll be empress of the universe.)
- “Did he trust her or hate her?” (“Hate” is a little, strong, but she has a fair point. I sure as hell don’t know the answer, and the book doesn’t seem to, either.)
- “Celaena looked at her hands and realized she had wrung them so badly that her fingers were red. How had she gone from the most feared prisoner in Endovier to this sappy mess?” (THANK YOU. That’s exactly what I’ve been wondering. Also: why’d you downgrade yourself? You feeling okay?)
Having managed to ask herself these questions in the first place, she deems the day’s Intelligent Thought Quota reached, and moves right along:
She had greater matters to worry about—like the Test tomorrow. And this dead Champion. She’d already altered the hinges on all her doors so that they squealed loudly any time they opened. If someone entered her room, she’d know well in advance.
At least someone is worried about who’ll be next to wake up in shreds—though I’d be keen to know exactly how she “altered the hinges,” and why she assumes housekeeping won’t put in a maintenance request to fix the squeak when they come to turn her sheets down later.
But, again, she’s already met her daily Intelligent Thought Quota, so no more thinking for this girl. Instead of actually worrying about those so-called “greater matters,” she collapses upon the pianoforte and informs us that, as a child, she’d been quite the budding musician. Color me surprised.
And—oh, look at that. She’s thinking about Sam again, for the third time ever.
[ . . . ] Sam, like her, had been betrayed—and sometimes the absence of him hit her so hard that she forgot how to breathe.
Oh Christ. Are you really trying to tell me—143 pages into the book-–that Celaena’s been grieving Sam’s death this whole time? She’s only mentioned him twice before, in a total of maybe five sentences. The second time, her entire thought was “Sam used to kiss me a lot, but now I wanna suck face with Dorian.”
I absolutely do not believe Celaena loved Sam, and I absolutely do not believe she mourns his death.
The scene closes “as she drifted between pieces, voicing the unspeakable, opening old wounds, playing and playing as the sound forgave and saved her.”
And behold! The Heavenly Instrument of Salvation and Purple Prose doth bathe fair Celaena in its tender glory, thus affirming the profundity of her woe.
Point-of-view hop over to Dorian, who’s eavesdropping on Celaena’s musical angsting, and is, of course, “utterly transfixed”:
He wouldn’t mind listening forever. He had come here with the intention of embarrassing a snide assassin, and had instead found a young woman pouring her secrets into a pianoforte.
Dude, Dorian, we already know you’re a dick. You don’t have to go out of your way to prove it by barging into a woman’s room “with the intention of embarrassing” her.
Am I supposed to like this guy?
Touched by her playing, Dorian puts his Embarrass Celaena plan on hold and plops himself down on the piano bench beside Celaena. Our cunning and bestest assassin doesn’t notice him sitting beside her until he speaks—at which point she jumps like terrified cat and scrabbles for safety on the far side of the room. Yep, those squealing door hinges sure did their job.
Well, okay. I know what it’s like to get sucked into your piano playing and not hear someone enter the room, so I can maybe let the not-hearing-the-hinges thing slide. But how could she not notice him when he sat down beside her?
Celaena glances at the door, and Dorian somehow intuits she’s looking for Chaol, who isn’t with him. He tells as much, and—wait, didn’t Chaol just remind him Celaena’s a murderous murderer and not to be trusted alone with his royal self? I know Dorian had scoffed at the warning, but I’d hoped that, like the splendor of the newborn sun rising at last to illumine the Arctic after nine months of frigid darkness, the wisdom of Chaol’s warning would dawn upon Dorian and he would SMARTEN THE FUCK UP. Apparently not.
He apologizes for interrupting her playing, which makes her blush:
He wondered at her discomfort as she turned red. It seemed far too human an emotion for Adarlan’s Assassin.
I agree. Could we get more of this humanity stuff in her, please?
Apparently it’s Dorian’s turn to flirt and bond with Celaena, since Surly Werewolf Chaol’s had a couple chances to pee on her already.
Their flirting proceeds more or less how you’d expect:
- Dorian finds himself “trying not to get lost in her strange, lovely eyes.”
- They engage in a brief, unrealistic, emotionally vulnerable conversation because the book requires them to open up to each other, regardless of whether or not they’d choose to do so naturally (hint: they wouldn’t).
- Celaena surprises nobody when she pouts, “I’d rather be hated than invisible,” because that’s healthy.
- Dorian continues to have no concept of physical boundaries, and has to fight “against the urge to reach across the space between them to see if her hair was as silky as it looked.”
- The conversation turns abruptly into a fight, in which Celaena’s pissed that she’s still rumored to be Dorian’s lover:
“Would you like me to explain why [I don’t want to be known as your lover], or is it enough for me to say that I don’t take jewels and trinkets as payment for my affection?”
He snarled. “I’m not going to debate morality with an assassin. You kill people for money, you know.”
Her eyes became hard and she pointed to the door. “You may leave now.”
I mean, he’s not wrong.
Back to the bullet points.
- Dorian enjoys flirtatiously pissing Celaena off so much, he doesn’t even mind her attempts to (not-so-flirtatiously) piss him off back.
- In fact, he’s so turned on by how, in her anger, “her cheeks were flushed, making her blue eyes even brighter,” that he decides bedding her might be worth how badly it’d upset his father and Chaol—WHO, REMEMBER, DORIAN BELIEVES IS IN LOVE WITH HER.
WHAT A FRIEND, THIS GUY.
Dorian’s (finally) on his way out the door when he decides not enough of my recap was written in capslock, so he makes a parting joke about Celaena having a secret lover—and lo, her eyes doth darken and her visage shutter, for How Great Her Anguish. “My beloved Sam perished these thirteen months hence, woe unto me,” she whispers, one hand to her chest, as a stirring song swells in the background.
A glimmer of pain flashed across her face, so real and endless that he felt it in his gut. “I’m sorry,” he breathed.
She shrugged, as if it could somehow diminish the grief he still saw in her eyes, shining so bright in the firelight. “So am I,” she whispered, and faced the fire again.
WHY COULDN’T WE HAVE GOTTEN THIS GLIMMERING FLASHING SHINING ENDLESS GRIEF FROM THE FIRST CHAPTER, THAT’S ALL I’M ASKING.
We’re told Celaena’s A Total Badass: 3
Celaena proves she’s A Total Badass: 0
Prince Dorian’s an asshole: 2
I’m pissed off: 5
This book is awful at portraying realistic emotions. You can’t just tell me that oh, by the way, a character’s “real and endless” grief is visible on her face, and expect me to believe she’s been truly and endlessly grieving for the last 150-ish pages. You have to show me her grief in her thoughts, her actions, and yes, her expressions—but more than just once. You have to make her LIVE the grief.
I don’t think I’m asking too much here.