Previously on Throne of Glass, Celaena learns a ton about Wyrdgates, but fails to deduce how that info might apply to the murders (which might, she thinks, possibly perhaps be ritualistic in nature, maybe).
Note: all direct quotes are either in bold or block-quotes. If something’s in quotation marks but not bold, it’s paraphrased snark.
After a fruitless day learning nothing at all about Wyrdmarks that might help her figure out what’s going on with those murders—hold on, my eye’s twitching again—Celaena relaxes with a game of pool. She’s horrible at it, which must be a new experience for her.
And wow, does she react badly to failing:
A shriek of rage ripped from her throat, and Celaena ran over to the pocket. She first screamed at the ball, then took the cue in her hands and bit down upon the shaft, still screaming through her clamped teeth. Finally the assassin stopped and slapped the three ball into the pocket.
I know the last chapter tried (and failed) to convince me that Celaena’s dangerously rageful, so it’s not a surprise that this chapter would open with Celaena in a state of rage. But seriously, this doesn’t read to me as “powerful deadly assassin has anger issues that make her wild and dangerous.” This reads as “troubled girl has unrealistic expectations of perfection and fucking appalling behavioral issues.”
It’s never been so clear that Celaena lacks the patience, self-discipline, and clear-thinking under pressure required to become the world’s most notorious assassin.
POV hop! Dorian’s got his popcorn out, watching her meltdown (once again she didn’t hear him come in, despite her Squeaky Hinge Alarm), and he very gently voices my own opinion:
“For the world’s greatest assassin, this is pathetic,” said Dorian, stepping from the doorway.
She tells him to shove a pool cue up his ass, shouts at him for mocking her, and then—after he continues to mock her—she . . . calms down and laughs? Wow, that was an abrupt mood shift there.
Dorian offers her advice on how to hold the cue, and when his hand touches her, lo, his cheeks do flush, his body awakes. Celaena’s blushing too, so I guess this is what sexual tension looks like.
Time skip! Four hours later they’re eating dessert, and we’re told that (a) she lost every game, and (b) she was a bundle of unquenchable fury the entire time: “even the fires of Hell couldn’t compare to the rage that burst from her mouth. He couldn’t remember a time when he’d laughed so hard.”
I’m glad he finds her fucking awful behavior amusing, I guess?
And in case we started to like Dorian better than Celaena (no one’s allowed to like anyone better than Celaena), the book hastily reminds us that Dorian’s a misogynistic ass. Remember, he privately loathes court ladies because they’re all, in his opinion, blithering idiots who can think of nothing but clothes and the social hierarchy. Keep that in mind while you read his summation of their conversation.
[T]hey spoke of the books they’d both read, and as she jabbered on and on, he felt as if she hadn’t spoken a word in years and was afraid she’d suddenly go mute again. She was frighteningly smart. She understood him when he spoke of history, or of politics—though she claimed to loathe the subject—and even had a great deal to say about the theater.
Dorian, kindly remember that:
- it’s belittling and condescending to describe a woman talking (about books or any other subject) as “jabber[ing] on and on,”
- there shouldn’t be anything frightening about a smart woman,
- it shouldn’t come as a shock when a women understands a man’s discussion of history or politics,
- and yeah, women can have thoughts and opinions about art, too.
Having thus assured us that Dorian and Celaena are well on their way to a meaningful relationship (I guess?), the book changes course and heads straight back toward its real plot: the murders.
She let her head drop onto the arm of the chair. “Do you think Xavier and the other Champion murders were intentional?”
“Perhaps. Does it make a difference?”
I really must stop being surprised every time Dorian proves how inept a prince he is. Yes, Dorian, it does make a difference.
And apparently that’s all the conversation they’re going to have about the murders, which is both unsurprising (why waste space talking about the murders when there’s romancing to do?) and so frustrating. Why even bring the murders up, except to raise and then gleefully crush my hopes for plot-advancement?
Having successfully prevented a useful conversation, Celaena falls asleep, leaving Dorian to fondle her sleeping form with his eyes and wonder about her mysterious past. “He wanted to know everything about her,” the narrator states unconvincingly.
He wakes her up long enough to maneuver her from the chair to the bed (trying not to think impure thoughts in the process), notes her weird new necklace (which is “familiar somehow, like he’d seen it before”), and leaves, wondering:
If she became his father’s Champion, and later gained her freedom, would she remain the same? Or was this all a facade to get what she wanted? But he couldn’t imagine she was pretending. Didn’t want to imagine that she was pretending.
I honestly don’t know what kind of person Dorian thinks Celaena is, or how he thinks she might change. Her personality has been all over the map in this book (HARDCORE STONECOLD BADASS, narcissistic malicious beauty, enraged two-year-old, lazy flirtatious girl next door, etc., etc.), and the only thing we know about Dorian’s perception of her is that she’s potentially fuckable and sometimes beautifully sad.
What does he think she wants, and how does he think her (possible) façade helps her get it? What kind of person is he afraid she’ll turn into?
This would be a really neat conflict, if the characters (and their relationship) were fleshed out consistently enough to be believable.
We’re told Celaena’s A Total Badass: 2
Celaena proves she’s A Total Badass: 0
These characters alarm me: 4
There are so many little kernels of potential buried in this story; it’s a shame nothing’s been done with any of them so far.