Previously on Throne of Glass, Celaena finds a secret escape route from the palace and opts not to use it because to hell with logic, this book has a “plot” to follow. Later, Fucking Awful Guys Dorian and Chaol tussle over who gets to watch her sleep without her permission.
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 great. Look how chapter twenty-five starts.
Let’s see if it’s . . . yep, the dream is five pages long, and takes up most of this chapter. Great.
In it, a long-dead Fae queen named Elena comes to Celaena and tells her:
- those creepy gargoyles on the clock tower guard a portal between two (of possibly many?) worlds,
- Elena slipped through the portal to visit Celaena,
- there’s no such thing as coincidence or chance,
- there’s something super-evil living in the castle and Celaena has to stop it before it can rip open the portal wide open,
- the continent needs her to win the competition and become the King’s Champion because she understands “the people’s plight.”
Elena gives her a little protective thing to wear, then panics because the gargoyles know Elena slipped through the portal, and are hunting her down. If Celaena’s caught by the gargoyles, “all will be lost.” Boy, I would’ve loved to know what “all” is in this case, but I guess clear stakes are for losers.
Never a loser, Celaena doesn’t need to hear the specifics; she’s off running, and just barely escapes the gargoyles (hold on, why are they hunting Celaena? Shouldn’t they be chasing Elena?) before waking up in bed.
Okay, hold on, gotta relocate from my Irritated Reader/Fainting Couch to my Super Serious Writer Desk for some intense headdesking, because this book is doing everything wrong.
Celaena has literally done nothing in this book, and I’m mere pages away from the halfway point. She’s just said “Sure, okay” to everyone—from Dorian asking her to be his Champion in the contest to become King’s Champion, to Chaol’s abusive physical training, to Nehemia’s demands for a language tutor. The only thing Celaena’s done of her own volition is find the secret passage, and then she made up some lame, unrealistic reasons not to use it.
And now, instead of proactively getting herself involved in solving the gruesome murders, instead of snooping around (out of an innate sense of curiosity or concern or fear) to discover what the deal is with the gargoyles and the Wyrdmarks, some dead woman invades her dreams and drops the plot in Celaena’s lap.
Not only is Celaena not the badass this book thinks she is, she’s one of the least active/most passive heroines I’ve read in recent memory. She’s even worse than Kestrel. How the hell does an infamous magical assassin princess manage that?
It’s also a nightmare that only now, at the halfway point, do we arrive at the book’s real plot: unspecified evil’s about to open an unspecified portal and, uh, that’d be bad because evil, I guess.
Before you ask: no, I don’t count three brief, offhand references to a mutilated dog and a couple disemboweled criminals as sufficient build-up to this moment—especially because no one, including our cunning heroine and Captain of the Royal Guard Chaol, found the murders at all alarming.
And if Elena was going to magic herself into Celaena’s dreams to tell her about the gargoyles, the portal, the evil, and that Celaena really must win the competition, how could she neglect to mention what’s at stake if the evil succeeds in its evil plan? That is literally the most important piece of information Elena could’ve given her. Why couldn’t she have said, “There’s a great evil seeking entrance to your world, and you must stop it before it turns every living thing into puppies and destroys civilization as you know it, ooOOoo,” then poofed her ghost-self away and let Celaena figure out everything else on her own?
And why should Celaena and/or I care if the portal rips open, anyway? As far as we know, all that’d happen is more friendly dead Fae queens might come a-visiting from the other world.
If you want anyone (reader and protagonist alike) invested in the plot, we need to have some idea of what’ll happen if the protagonist fails. But nope. Here’s hoping Celaena figures the stakes out on her own in the next couple chapters, I guess.
Okay. We’re finishing the chapter. I can do this.
Celaena wakes up to find she’s holding “a coin-size gold amulet on a delicate chain,” Elena’s protection charm; upon seeing it, Celaena “fought the urge to scream.” For probably the first time ever, she’s feeling and acting on a totally reasonable and understandable emotion.
Celaena belatedly realizes the creepy passage door is ajar, and runs to shut it—seeing only then that the pretty woman in the tapestry is Elena. Which seems kind of weird; if I’d been sharing a bedroom with a life-size tapestry woman for a couple months, I’d probably recognize her if I saw her in a dream. Shouldn’t “keen observation skills” be high on a famous assassin’s repertoire of abilities?
She jumps back in bed, appropriately terrified (hallelujah), and mulls over how unexpected and potentially alarming it is to be a heroine in a book with an actual plot.
Something evil dwells in this castle . . . Destroy it . . .
Didn’t she have enough to worry about right now? She was going to fulfill Elena’s second command [to win the competition]—but the first . . . that might lead her into trouble. It wasn’t like she could go poking around the castle whenever and wherever she pleased, either!
Says the WORLD RENOWNED ASSASSIN who (supposedly) laughs in the face of danger and difficulty, and who in fact spent the evening leisurely traipsing through the castle via its secret passages which are available to her from the secret door in her own goddamn bedroom.
Yes, being a real heroine might be too tough for you, Celaena. Maybe it’s time to call in Lady Kaltain.
But—if there was a threat like that, then not only her life was at risk. And while she’d be more than happy if some dark force somehow destroyed Cain, Perrington, the king, and Kaltain Rompier, if Nehemia, or even Chaol and Dorian, were somehow harmed . . .
Oh my god, Celaena, Kaltain’s done nothing to you but snub you a little because she though you were Dorian’s latest friend-with-benefits. Cain’s just been a hulk of a competitor in the competition, with a touch of attitude. And sure, Perrington made you bow to the king that one time, but what else has he done to you?
But hey, readers just can’t resist a heroine who’s salivating at the chance feed the people she doesn’t particularly like to a physical manifestations of pure evil, right?
Having decided she could at least poke around “for some clues” for the sake of the only three people worthy of living—i.e. the people who lavish her with the attention and admiration she so rightly deserves—Celaena ends the chapter. Praise the lord.
I AM APPALLED: 100+
I just. Guys.
You know what? No. I can help myself.
I’m going to take a break, just for a week. I’ve been immersed in Throne of Glass for almost two months, and I just spent three weeks slogging through The Winner’s Kiss, which was awful. I need to read something good for a change. The five-to-six-posts-per-week thing has been difficult on my hands anyway, and they need a break.
So recaps will resume on Monday, May 9th; in the meantime, I’ll be recuperating under a pile of my favorite comfort-reads. Keep me in your thoughts and/or prayers.