Previously on Throne of Glass, a third Champion is mutilated to death, Chaol and Dorian wonder if three identical mutilations make a pattern that someone should be concerned about, and Heroine Celaena decides she’s not up for being this book’s heroine after all.
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’s staring at the gargoyles on the creepy clock tower, remembering that the Fae queen Elena had referred to them as the Guardians. “But Guardians to what?” she asks herself, forgetting that Elena also told her they guarded the portal between the worlds. Maybe I should be this book’s heroine.
Not that Celaena was considering looking for [the Lurking Evil] right now—not when it could get her into trouble. And somehow wind up killing her before she could even become the King’s Champion.
Come on, Celaena. We’re halfway through the book, and the plot is finally standing on your front step, pounding on your door. How long are you going to willfully ignore it?
Celaena and Nehemia—wait, where did Nehemia come from?—agree that the gargoyles were a poor exterior design decision, as were the twelve Wyrdmarks carved into a circle o’ doom around the base of the clock tower. “She hadn’t the faintest idea what any of it meant,” the narrator tells us, as if this is a surprise, considering Celaena hasn’t done a single damn thing to find out. She’d rather just complain about how unhelpful Elena was when dishing out the plot details earlier:
Still, why did Elena have to be so oblique about everything?
Hold on, I’m not done sighing.
Oh wait, I was wrong to claim Celaena hadn’t done anything to decipher the Wyrdmarks: she had previously asked if Nehemia could read them (the answer: “Nope, and you leave them alone or horrible things will happen to you because Old Religion = dangerous for unknown reasons”). And because the best detectives always double-check their facts, Celaena asks Nehemia again now:
“So, you truly can’t read these?” she asked her friend.
“No,” Nehemia said curtly, and headed toward the hedges that bordered the courtyard. “And you shouldn’t try to discover what they say,” she added over her shoulder. “Nothing good will come of it.”
I’m so glad the book wasted half a page to reconfirm what we (and the characters) already know.
The girls chatter about the most recent murder until Big Bad Cain (who’s looking even more hulked-out than usual, uh oh) and Oily Thief Verin interrupt with some middle-school taunts. And, uh oh, Celaena realizes Cain’s figured out that behind her Lillian Gordaina mask, she’s actually Celaena Sardothien, World Famous Assassin. Stifling her desire to punch both men out, Celaena tells Cain to “shove it up [his] ass,” and the girls walks peacefully away.
Scene and POV change! Chaol’s deeply concerned about Dorian’s desire to spend time alone with Celaena, thereby putting himself at risk of being murdered and/or screwed by our fair assassin. Chaol has invited Dorian to watch Celaena pummel a dummy to death in the training room, hoping “[p]erhaps Dorian would now see why she was such a threat to him. To everyone.”
Uh, shouldn’t the common knowledge that “[s]he’s the most deadly and feared assassin in the world” be convincing enough? Seriously, what good will this little show do, if Dorian’s still on the fence about her assassin-danger-level?
Dorian asks if she can beat Cain in a one-on-one duel, and Chaol replies:
“I think if she doesn’t get too riled and keeps a cool head when they duel, she might. But she’s . . . wild. And unpredictable. She needs to learn to control her feelings—especially that impossible anger.”
He should’ve seen the confrontation with Cain and Verin a couple hours ago; she held in her “impossible anger” quite easily there.
But the book’s desperate to convince me Celaena’s off the chain:
Chaol didn’t know if it was because of Endovier, or just being an assassin; whatever the cause of that unyielding rage, she could never entirely leash herself.
Are we talking about the same girl? I mean, yeah, Celaena started out full of rage and murder, but she’s softened to mere smirks and the occasional prickliness by this point. Even her fantasized-death-count has dropped to nothing.
Handsome Thief Nox enters the training room, and Celaena shows him some boxing moves while Dorian demands to know why Chaol doesn’t prevent her from helping her competition. (Great question, Dorian!)
Chaol hid his glower at Dorian’s tone. “If you want me to put an end to it, I will.”
Such restraint our werewolf has, successfully smothering his anger when his prince and therefore boss voices surprise and consternation at his poor decision-making skills.
Dorian watched them for another moment. “No. Let her train with him. The other Champions are brutes—she could use an ally.”
“That she could.”
You can’t have it both ways, guys. She’s either:
- the best assassin ever, and therefore it’s okay for her to help her competitors out, because they don’t have a chance of beating her anyway, or
- on fairly even footing with her fellow competitors, so she would benefit from having an ally—but she risks losing the competition by teaching her ally how to beat her.
Alas, the sight of Celaena bonding with Handsome Thief Nox is too much for our delicate prince; Dorian casts her one last glance and slumps away, “his red cape billowing behind him” like a hero. Chaol and I both facepalm at Dorian’s evident jealousy, then:
His feet heavy, Chaol followed after the prince, hoping Dorian wasn’t about to drag them all into serious trouble.
Ahahaha, hold on, wait. You’re calling some silly angsty love triangle “serious trouble”? Really?
Allow me to gently remind you that there’s a growing pile of rotting meat-sludge that used to be human beings waiting for you to investigate their gruesome sludgening.
At least the book’s being transparent about its priorities, I guess? That’s . . . good?
Scene and POV change! A few days have passed, and Celaena is—are you ready?—in the king’s library, doing research to decipher the Wyrdmarks. (It only took, oh, 205 pages for someone to finally start doing something.)
Though I’m a bit confused as to how she managed to find so many books about Wyrdmarks and magic and stuff; the King of Adarlan went on an anti-magic rampage ten years ago, resulting in (a) the outlawing of magic, and (b) the public destruction of all magic-related books and documents (and people) across multiple kingdoms. So what’s he doing with all these nifty old magicky tomes neatly shelved in his own library? And why doesn’t Celaena think this is weird?
Don’t worry, I have answers to those questions:
- He’s obviously an evil magic user, and
- Celaena needs her thoughts and ideas handed to her from an outside source. (Maybe Elena will come tonight in a dream and tell her it’s weird that the king has so many books on magic?)
But back to her research!
The more she knew about what this killer wanted—why and how he was killing—the better. That was the real threat to be dealing with, not some mysterious, inexplicable evil Elena had mentioned.
I mean . . . okay. You’re halfway there, which is better than nothing.
She’s having no luck in her research, which is actually a relief; I’d half-expected her magical Fae magic to kick in and guide her to exactly the book she needs to decipher the Wyrdmarks and defeat the evil. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong in my life.
Sensing my happiness and determined to shut that shit down, the book offhandedly states that Celaena’s decided not to inform Chaol (who’s hanging out with her in the library) of “the possible murder connection to the Wyrdmarks.” Uh, possible connection? To the Wyrdmarks written in the victim’s blood, on the wall near the body? Are you telling me that you believe Chaol just didn’t notice them there? Also: why aren’t you going to tell him? I need a legitimate reason.
Chaol makes a dumb little joke about how her reputation as a Champion would be ruined if her competitors knew she liked to read (why would they care?), then:
She stared at him for a moment, wondering if he’d stop laughing at her if he knew what she was researching. How it might help him, too.
SO TELL HIM. You’re huffing and moaning about being the heroine of the book; your burden would be greatly reduced if you just FUCKING TOLD HIM.
Instead, she rubs at a bruise on her leg (“it was from an intentional blow of Chaol’s wooden staff”) and glares at him, offended that he—her physical trainer, who’s working this world-famous assassin into top fighting form so she doesn’t get killed in a duel—dared hit her with anything other than a pool noodle.
He did seem a bit sorry for hitting her leg so hard. Celaena supposed she liked him.
The despair I’m feeling is so real.
- What is he doing that implies he feels some remorse for bruising you? I don’t see remorse in his behavior, and he hasn’t mentioned your training or the bruise.
- Celaena, do you realize how awful you sound, saying that you suppose you like a guy because he maybe seems sorry for something he has no reason to feel sorry about? You’re coming across as narcissistic and shallow. If you’re trying to be cute and/or funny, you’re failing hard.
- Book, stop trying to convince me there’s romantic potential for these characters. It’s just painful to read.
Frustrated that she’s not being spoon-fed every answer she needs, Celaena slams her ancient-and-fragile tome shut, earning herself a hard glare from myself and probably every bookworm, librarian, and archivist everywhere.
Chaol asks what she’s reading, and Celaena offers him a half-truth:
“It’s just—just about Wyrdmarks—those sundial-things by the clock tower. I was interested, so I started learning about them.”
Celaena pouts out loud about how inconsistent the books are on the subject of Wyrdmarks, helpfully adding that “[s]ome books claim the Wyrd is the force that holds together and governs Erilea—and not just Erilea! Countless other worlds, too.” That doesn’t sound likely or significant after Elena’s warnings about the clock tower’s gargoyles guarding a portal between the worlds that the Lurking Evil hopes to tear open, nope.
They then have an awkwardly info-dumpy conversation about Wyrd, “an old term for Fate—or Destiny” that isn’t an aspect of any religion in their part of the continent. Celaena helpfully adds that “some theories suggest the Mother Goddess [ . . . ] strayed through something called a Wyrdgate and found Erilea,” which doesn’t sound likely or significant after Elena’s warnings about the clock tower’s gargoyles guarding the portal between the worlds that the Lurking Evil hopes to tear open, nope.
And speaking of info-dumping:
But she went on, needing to dump the contents of her mind in case all the pieces somehow assembled by speaking them aloud.
I find it hilarious that the narrator literally tells us that Celaena is info-dumping. Don’t worry, narrator, I already noticed.
Alas, babbling awkwardly at length about Important Plot-Related Facts doesn’t help Celaena put two and two together.
Chaol advises her to find another hobby, then gets back to his own book. Celaena pauses to consider him:
Usually, guards watched her in the library for hours on end, day after day. What was he doing here? She smiled—her heart skipping a beat—and then looked at the books on the table.
I’ll ignore the feeble attempt at convincing me their relationship has romantic potential, and go straight into: Yeah, what are you doing in the library, Chaol? You’ve got lumpy mounds of human rot awaiting legitimate investigation, remember?
More info-dumping about Wyrdgates:
- They’re invisible,
- They’re “summoned and accessed using the Wyrdmarks,”
- They open into other realms of questionable good/evilness,
- Things can pass through them, which explains some of the unnamed weird creatures in Erilea.
Wish we knew more about those unnamed weird creatures roaming the continent, but nope. This book knows its strong suits, and world-building isn’t one of them.
Chaol then pulls a dumb and physically impossible prank to scare Celaena (no, I’m not going to describe it, it’s pointless, don’t ask). She snarls at him, collects her books, and stalks off. Good for you, Celaena, not tolerating his dickishness. I’d high-five you, but I’m still double-facepalming in despair over your inept sleuthing.
We’re told Celaena’s A Total Badass: 2
Celaena proves she’s A Total Badass: 0
I wanted to shake some smarts into somebody: 10
But hey, at least we’re starting to make some progress on the plot. That’s something.
Oh, and there’s a chance I won’t put Chapter 28 up tomorrow; I’m going out of town for a couple days, and might be having too much fun to deal with Celaena’s mess. If that’s the case, I’ll put Chapters 28 and 29 up together on Thursday night!