Previously on Throne of Glass, Noble Celaena uncharacteristically prioritizes Handsome Thief Nox’s life over successfully completing the second Test, and flings herself off the castle walls to save him from plummeting to his death.
Note: all direct quotes are either in bold or block-quotes. If something’s in quotation marks but not bold, it’s paraphrased snark.
Oh, god. So she saves Nox, of course.
Wind tore at her, but Celaena kept her focus on Nox, falling so fast, so far from her outstretched hands.
People shouted below, and the light bouncing off the glass castle blinded her. But there he was, just a hand’s breadth from her fingers, his gray eyes wide, his arms swinging as if he could turn them into wings.
In a heartbeat, her arms were around his middle, and she slammed into him so hard that the breath was knocked from her chest.
So . . . maybe she did instinctively used her latent magic powers to accelerate her fall (and also project her the remaining distance between them)? Can it please be magic?
Celaena and Nox hit the end of her rope and slam into the wall (at least the book got that right), and are dangling a mere thirty feet off the ground, while sixty feet above them, Cain grabs the golden flag and beats his chest in triumph. But this isn’t your high school gym class Capture-the-Flag, and the Test isn’t over; all the losers still have to touch the spot where the flag was, including Celaena and Nox.
And—scene change! It’s lunchtime, and Celaena came in second-to-last place, with Nox in last. AND WHO DO YOU THINK IS BITTER ABOUT THIS INSULT TO HER AWESOMENESS, YOU GET TWO GUESSES:
“Cheer up,” Chaol said, drinking from his glass of water. “Eighteenth place [out of nineteen] is fine. At least Nox placed behind you.”
[ . . . ] She glared at him. “Well, I still lost.”
Who’s surprised Celaena only cares about her reputation as #1 Badass, and can’t be content with knowing she did the right thing? Nobody, that’s who. Fucking nobody.
Chaol’s brown eyes shone golden in the midday sun. “Wasn’t learning to lose gracefully part of your training?”
“No,” she said sourly. “Arobynn told me that second place was just a nice title for the first loser.”
Then why did you sabotage your easy victory by saving this guy, if you were just going to grump and bitch about losing afterward?
I’ll briefly point out that, once again, Celaena has failed to keep secret her awe-inspiring assassin skills, both by taking the black diamond XTREME SPORT route to the flag and by miraculously saving Nox. Chaol and I both take a moment to facepalm.
I’ll also point out that nobody seems to think there was anything magical about her daring rescue. So I guess her magical Fae magic didn’t awaken; she’s just that awesome. Great.
Celaena’s mention of Arobynn Hamel, King of the Assassins (which will never stop being funny), segues into a conversation about Celaena’s assassin-training. Hilariously, it starts with Celaena asking, “You know he was my master, don’t you?” and Chaol 100% seriously replying, “I’d forgotten.”
Sweet Jesus, Chaol, I know you suck at your job, but surely you’re capable of remembering that the World’s Best Assassin, who (somehow?) kept the royal family in a state of pants-shitting terror for years, whose name “people still whisper,” who is a living legend across the continent, was trained by the literal King of the Assassins? Isn’t it your job to remember exactly how dangerous she is? WHY ARE YOU SO BAD AT THIS.
Celaena awkwardly infodumps to Chaol that:
- Arobynn trained her personally,
- He summoned tutors from all over the continent to train her,
- He sent her all over the continent to train,
- He belatedly told her, “Oh, yeah, all this expensive training? You’ll have to pay me back for it,”
- And she did pay him back, because she’s a badass and got tons of cushy assassin jobs, I guess.
Celaena cuts the interview short by demanding to know when Chaol plans to grovel for grounding her the night before. He says “Never,” and they play-fight/play footsie through the remainder of lunch.
Oh, and the Champion who hadn’t shown up to the Test that morning? He was “found dead in a servant’s stairwell, brutally mauled and disemboweled.” This bums everyone out a little, but the next two weeks pass (in a couple paragraphs) without a hitch. Celaena breezes through two more Tests, which we’re told involved “stealth and tracking,” but the book has stopped pretending that the contest is anything more than a plot device to get Celaena into the palace, so we don’t get any details.
Also during those two weeks:
No other Champions were murdered, thankfully, but Celaena still found herself looking over her shoulder constantly, even though Chaol seemed to consider the two murders to be just unfortunate accidents.
I can kind of accept that Dorian would shy away from thinking about gruesome murders—after all, he’s an incompetent idiot, squeamish, and doesn’t like the stress of responsibility—but Chaol had spent days studying the first corpse. Which, remember, had been missing its intestines and its brain, as well as being generally exploded into bits. And this second body was, I quote, “brutally mauled and disemboweled.” These deaths are clearly not “just unfortunate accidents.”
So what the fuck, Chaol?
But this chapter is told from Celaena’s point of view, so maybe Chaol’s just playing it cool with her so she can focus on the Tests? Maybe, when we switch over to Chaol’s point of view, we’ll see that he’s actually taking the murders as seriously as they should be? Please?
BUT THEN CELAENA DOES THE SAME THING. After that single breezy sentence about “looking over her shoulder constantly,” the narrator plows straight into another topic entirely:
Every day, she got better at running, going farther and faster, and managed to keep from killing Cain when he taunted her at training.
First: Celaena, wake up. An assassin of your reputation and experience should be on red-fucking-alert after hearing about these murders. One quick mention of looking over your shoulder doesn’t cut it. WHY ARE YOU SO BAD AT THIS.
Second: Good job not murdering people who don’t deserve murdering, I’m so proud of you.
Just in case the segue from “I’m mildly concerned about these gruesome murders” to “my marathon training’s going well” isn’t weird enough, the book immediately jumps back to the romance: during those weeks, she only saw Dorian during the Tests, but the sight of him “made her feel ridiculously tingly and warm.”
WHY, THOUGH. TELL ME WHY HE GIVES YOU THE TINGLES. All I’ve seen is him (1) being an arrogant and mean-spirited asshole, and (2) barging into her room and wanting to touch her without her permission. Oh, and (3) be a stupid and incompetent prince. And (4) mope about how alone and misunderstood he is.
Oh yes, he’s totally sexy, I see it now.
The chapter concludes with an acknowledgement that some of her competitors are “doing well enough” that Celaena’s starting to worry that she might not win after all:
She’d always been so sure she’d make it [to the final duel]. But, if she were honest with herself, Celaena wasn’t so sure anymore.
But why isn’t she so sure anymore? The only thing she seems to be struggling with is running—but she’s improving every day, and she was never in danger of actually failing her running-test in the first place.
Seriously, wouldn’t it be nice if the book actually showed us which Champions are making her doubt herself, other than Cain?
Wouldn’t it be awesome if we got to see those Champions succeed where Celaena failed?
Wouldn’t it be awesome to see Celaena fail, period?
And wouldn’t it be amazing if the book itself believed Celaena’s victory wasn’t a given, so we could experience tension and uncertainty about how the contest will end?
But clearly tension and uncertainty and fallible protagonists and genuinely threatening rivals aren’t cool enough for this book!
We’re told Celaena’s A Total Badass: 2
Celaena proves she’s A Total Badass: 0
Someone’s dumb plan succeeded when it should’ve failed: 1
I regretted this whole read-along thing: 2
But really, guys, this book is so boring: (1) Celaena’s perfect, so there’s no chance she’ll lose the competition, and (2) nobody really cares about the gruesome murders, and we’re only hearing tidbits about them after the fact. Dull.
It doesn’t help that I despise all these characters (except you, Lady Kaltain!), and I’m quietly rooting for their deaths.
But if Lady Kaltain dies, I’ll be pissed.