Previously on Throne of Glass, Religious-But-Not-That-Religious Celaena opts out of the Samhuinn service, Prince Dorian once again fails at princing, and BFFs Celaena and Nehemia agree to exchange foreign language tutoring services.
Note: all direct quotes are either in bold or block-quotes. If something’s in quotation marks but not bold, it’s paraphrased snark.
Our assassin lounges in bed that night, thinking about the night and being an assassin: “She didn’t fear the night, [ . . . ] the time when she slept, the time when she stalked and killed,” the narrator narrates, while I hastily flip back through the book to see if I’d missed any stalking and killing action. Answer: nope.
Her musing’s interrupted by the subtle flapping of the giant tapestry covering one stone wall; this tapestry, we’re told, depicts a forest and a “life-size and remarkably beautiful” woman, who clearly isn’t a villain because Celaena doesn’t deem her beauty unfair.
But hold on, there’s been a life-size portrait of a woman standing in the corner of Celaena’s bedroom all this time, and she’s never once mentioned it? If I was Celaena, I’d (1) mildly freak out every time I woke up or walked into the bedroom, because I’d think she was real, and (2) give her a name and start talking to her. What I wouldn’t do: forget to tell the reader there’s a life-size tapestry woman skulking about in the corner.
Celaena peels back the tapestry, and after careful analysis of the stone wall—behold, a secret door! She gives it the old heave-ho, and yep. Dark gaping passage, just as ordered.
Proving herself smarter than your average Gothic Romance Heroine, Celaena gathers some supplies (but, I’ll note, she doesn’t change out of her dress into something more sensible) before plunging into the depths, and holy crap, you guys. Celaena’s taking the initiative and doing something. We’re on page 172, almost halfway through the book, and she’s finally doing something! Quick, someone fetch the champagne.
She descends a long staircase, there’s dust and mysterious doors and fungus and the sound of slow-running water, and hey, check it out, she’s found the sewer.
The sewer’s layout is vaguely and confusingly described (including an “open gate that led to a wide stream,” and an “iron fence that hovered over the surface”), and judging from the lack of guards and the half-rotten boats docked to either bank, Celaena guesses this is a forgotten royal escape route. Hers now, suckas!
It would be so easy to raise the gate. She felt reckless—reckless and wild. What was she doing in a palace? Why was she–Adarlan’s Assassin!—participating in some absurd competition to prove that she was the best? She was the best!
FINALLY, YES PLEASE. GIVE ME THE BEST.
They were undoubtedly drunk now, all of them. She could take one of the less-ancient boats and disappear into the night. Celaena began to climb back over [the gate]. She needed her cloak. Oh, they were fools for thinking that they could tame her!
YES, DO IT, SHOW THOSE FOOLS WHAT’S WHAT. You’re finally doing something other than what people have been telling you to do; take this opportunity, this newfound ability to act of your own volition, and get out of there.
She knew that she could easily escape, and that it would be foolish to do so. The king would find her, somehow. And Chaol would be disgraced and relieved of his position. And Princess Nehemia would be left alone with moronic company, and, well . . .
Celaena straightened, her chin rising. She would not run from them as a common criminal. She would face them—face the king—and earn her freedom the honorable way. And why not take advantage of the free food and training for a while longer? Not to mention she’d need to stock up on provisions for her escape, and that could take weeks. Why rush any of it?
What the fuck is this I can’t even—
- You don’t actually care about Chaol (who already deserves to be stripped of his position),
- Nehemia will survive boredom,
- The king invaded your country and killed your people and your family. He sentenced you to super-slow-torturous-death in the salt mines. Why the fuck do you care about “earning [your] freedom the honorable way”?
- Do you really prioritize “free food and training” over your freedom, REALLY?
- Girl, just steal provisions from random houses and shops on your way out of the city. You’re a badass assassin; surely you’re up for a bit of breaking and entering. This is your freedom we’re talking about. Hasn’t freedom been your sole goal and motivation this entire book?
For all the times I’ve complained about characters making stupid, unbelievable decisions just because the plot needs them to, this could be the worst offender. Celaena’s literally two seconds from freedom, the only thing she’s ever cared about or wanted, and the book wants me to believe she’d actually give it up because Chaol would lose his job and Nehemia would be bored and she—the most feared assassin in the universe—has an upstanding reputation to maintain?
The fuck, this book.
She’d win. And after she won, if she ever wanted to escape her servitude to the king . . . well, now she had a way out.
What happened to her boiling fury at the idea of serving the king who destroyed her kingdom, murdered her family, and ruined her life? Why is she saying she’s found an escape route to use only IF she decides she doesn’t want to serve the king?
It was the right thing to do.
NO, IT’S NOT.
And I thought this chapter was going so well.
While I’m repeatedly slamming my face on my desk, some creepy
Halloween Samhuinn wind tries to guide Celaena down a blatantly haunted passage, but she’s too cool/superstitious for that shit. She follows the less ominous route, which dead-ends at a convenient little grate overlooking the Samhuinn feast loudly underway in the Great Hall.
Guess adventure time’s over. Time for some angst!
She sees Chaol laughing; “[h]is happiness made her own face flush in response,” but I’m not sure why. More alarming than her unexplained blushing is the fact that the other Champions were allowed to come out to party; “even the pimply-faced Pelor sat near Chaol! A half-rate boy assassin! She bared her teeth. How dare she be denied an invitation to the feast?”
And of course she can’t pass up to let her internalized misogyny shine bright:
She spotted the Crown Prince, dancing and laughing with some blond idiot.
The hell did that woman ever do to you, Celaena?
But Dorian’s hotness gives her a mild case of Internal Conflict; see, she wants to be mad at him for not inviting her to the feast, but she also wanted “just to look at him, to see that unusual grace, and the kindness in his eyes [ . . . ] she still very much wanted to kiss him.”
What unusual grace? What kindness? Why do you want to kiss him, he’s a whiny asshat.
Having seen what the book needed her to see, Celaena hurries back to her rooms to sulk.
New POV! Dorian’s drunk and sneaking into sleeping Celaena’s rooms well past midnight—and wait wait wait, Dorian’s drunk and sneaking into sleeping Celaena’s rooms well past midnight. THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING, DORIAN. THIS IS NOT OKAY.
I know Twilight pulled this creepy stalker shit too, and not nearly enough readers were alarmed about it. So allow me to gently assert my personal opinion that STOP DOING THIS, IT’S AWFUL AND CREEPY AND JUST STOP.
Seriously, if I woke up and saw my husband—the guy I love and am married to because I love him—standing in our darkened bedroom watching me sleep, I would freak out. But it’s even worse in Celaena’s case, because neither Dorian nor Chaol have any right to enter her bedroom without her permission, no matter how badly they want to listen to her snore. They’re prioritizing their selfish, dumb impulses over her right to privacy and her sense of comfort/safety, and no it’s not romantic. It’s awful.
Get. Out. Of. Her. Room.
But I didn’t write this book, so he continues to watch her sleep, pausing to note that she’s a horrible assassin because she didn’t wake up when he entered her rooms. (Guess maintenance took care of her squeaky hinges after all.) This might be the first time I’ve agreed with Dorian on something, and frankly I don’t want to agree with him, because he’s a terrible person.
A terrible person who’s now going all dewy-eyed romantic:
But there was nothing of the assassin in her face. Not a trace of aggression or bloodlust lay across her features.
He knew her somehow. And he knew she wouldn’t harm him. It made little sense.
Damn right it makes little sense. It’s called the book is making you feel things you wouldn’t realistically feel.
Chaol joins the Watch Celaena Sleep party (WHAT THE FUCK, GUYS) and the boys hold a fierce conversation (“What are you doing here?” “What are you doing here?”) in semi-whispers, all while Celaena snores contendedly on. Chaol manhandles Dorian through the door and locks him out.
POV hop! Chaol’s now locked in Celaena’s room and wondering why, exactly, he locked himself in Celaena’s room.
MY, WHAT AN EXCELLENT QUESTION, GET OUT.
He didn’t understand the rage that arose upon seeing Dorian standing in the doorway, didn’t want to understand that sort of anger. It wasn’t jealousy, but something beyond it. Something that transformed his friend into someone else, someone he didn’t know.
Hormonal teen werewolves have this problem sometimes.
He was fairly certain she was a virgin, but did Dorian know it? It probably made him more interested.
Whoa, cool it there, stud. Her virginity and what she does with it having nothing to do with you.
And Dorian: I can only come up with a few reasons why a guy would be more interested in a virgin than a non-virgin, and they are all awful.
Now it’s Chaol’s turn to wax poetic at the sight of her slumbering form—but where Dorian saw “nothing of the assassin in her face,” Chaol notes that “while she looked beautiful, that did nothing to mask the killing potential that lay beneath.” And I actually really like that they view her in such very different ways.
Unfortunately, Chaol lists her physical features (“her strong jaw,” “the slope of her eyebrows,” etc.) as the indicators of her assassinhood. Sorry, but her magic face is just a regular ol’ magic face. Nothing especially assassinly about her nose or whatever.
She wakes up at last, and Chaol panics at being caught staring at her sleeping deadliness. But he’s a brave kid, and manages to not bolt for the door. Instead, he pulls his shirt down a little lower in front and tells her he brought her a present: a silver ring with a “fingernail-sized amethyst embedded in its center.”
I don’t know how big Chaol’s fingernails are, but unless he’s been a baby this whole time, that has to be a fairly huge ring.
Celaena barely manages to thank him before passing out again, and, after taking a mental picture of her drooling face for later personal use, Chaol FINALLY leaves the room.
We’re told Celaena’s A Total Badass: 3
Celaena proves she’s A Total Badass: 0
Celaena fails at life: 4
I AM DEEPLY UPSET: 4
This chapter was crushing to read, because it started off incredibly well, then crashed-and-burned so hard. I can’t even—it’s astonishing how devoted this chapter was to doing absolutely everything wrong. It’s just—wow.