Previously on Throne of Glass, Angry Two-Year-Old Celaena and Misogynistic Prince Dorian bond over a game of pool.
Note: all direct quotes are either in bold or block-quotes. If something’s in quotation marks but not bold, it’s paraphrased snark.
It’s the next afternoon, the next Test is underway, and Celaena’s all a-glower, thinking, “Cain knew who she was; all of her simpering and pretending and holding back had been for nothing. It had amused him.”
Wait, what simpering and pretending and holding back has she been doing around the Champions?
- I’ve repeatedly pointed out that she refuses to hide her Greatest Assassin in the Land skills.
- The only simpering I recall was around (a) her mirror, and (b) admiring men (excluding Champions).
- When she’s with the Champions, she’s mostly been sullen, snide, and competitive—none of which require any pretending on her part.
Also: who cares if he was amused by your attempt to hide your identity? Let him be amused, then beat the crap out of him (and everyone else) in the final duel.
Ha ha, never mind, of course I shouldn’t expect Celaena to shrug it off when someone views her with anything other than awe and respect. She’s still a teen, though; hopefully one day she’ll learn not to care so much about other people’s opinions of her.
The current Test involves sparring with swords, and Cain’s doing so well in his match that Celaena, watching, “clenched her hands into fists, pushing them hard against her ribs,” and “struggled to control her breathing.” I guess she’s . . . mad? Because . . . Cain’s skilled?
Oily Thief Verin jokingly warns Cain that Celaena hates Cain, and for some reason (I have no idea) Handsome Thief Nox deems it necessary to jump in and warn Verin to watch his mouth. Verin points out how quick Nox is to defend her, and asks, “Is that the bargain? She opens her legs, and you keep an eye on her during practice?”
Celaena, naturally, goes all berserk-face and threatens to rip Verin’s tongue out.
So now Celaena’s appropriately enraged for her Test, which involves a sparring session with Oily Thief Verin.
“Enough of the pretending and the meekness,” she thinks (while I’m over here still trying to recall a time when she pretended to be meek). “Enough of Cain,” she adds (while I’m still trying to figure out what Cain ever did to warrant her murderous fury, other than have the audacity to be a skilled fighter and make a couple dumb jokes at her).
She enters the ring to fight, and let me just repeat that, because she’s entering the ring to fight. We’re 217 pages in, and finally we get to see Celaena show us her murder-abilities. Hold on, let me get the popcorn.
And . . . holy crap, yes. Verin comes running at her with sword raised, and she disarms him and eliminates him from from the bout with two punches and a kick, no sword necessary. I don’t know how physically realistic this is (any martial artists out care to weigh in?), and I know Verin’s a squirrelly little guy with exceedingly poor fighting form, but I am excited nonetheless. This is the Celaena I’ve been waiting for.
(If Verin had been a great swordsman, this would’ve even earned her a Badass point!)
“Mock me again,” she spat at Verin, “and I’ll do that with my sword next time.”
I just about cheered.
Celaena badasses around a little more (Cain alone seems unimpressed; everyone else is in awe), and the scene ends with me genuinely disappointed that she doesn’t have to fight anyone else.
Back in her rooms later, Celaena ruins the mood by remembering, Oh yeah, I’m supposed to be missing Sam. “She would give anything—anything in the world—to have him with her still,” the narrator tells us, after who knows how many chapters during which she never once thought of Sam.
Then she looks at the giant tapestry (which, you’ll remember, depicts a life-size dead Fae queen Elena in one corner) and, apparently for the first time, notices that “[i]n the center stood a stag, magnificent and virile, gazing sideways at Elena.”
The stag is the symbol of the royal house of Terrasen, Celaena’s home country; there have been a few blatant hints here and there that she’s Terrasen royalty, so it seems oh so slightly odd that she’s never mentioned the stag before now. But hey, she failed to mention the creepy life-size tapestry-woman watching her sleep every night for weeks/months, so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.
Anyway, Elena’s father Brannon founded the Terrasen royal house in the days of yore, so Elena is Celaena’s, uh, great^20 aunt? Or something? Whatever their connection, the narrator awkwardly informs us that Celaena’s deeply and truly comforted by the fact that both she and Elena are inexorably bound to Terrasen.
sloppy attempt to dump important historical and emotional info brief scene concludes with Celaena looking serious and musing, “Find the evil in the castle . . . But the only truly evil thing in this world is the man ruling it.”
Someone needs to actually tell me why the King of Adarlan is evil, because other than his pretty standard-for-a-king desire to expand his kingdom, I don’t see it.
Scene and POV change! Oh, awesome, it’s Kaltain! Our favorite should-be-heroine claps as a troupe of acrobats completes their hours-long performance for the queen; she’s politely hiding the fact that she was bored out of her mind the whole time. Good job being a decent human being, Kaltain. I approve.
She thinks briefly about her ambitions (she could marry Duke Perrington, but why do that when Prince Dorian is still single?) and ominously references the pounding headache and subsequent nightmares she’s had for the last week. Is she somehow connected or sensitive to the Lurking Evil? I’m intrigued!
She ignores the pain and her boredom, and politely engages in a light conversation with the queen, whose smile seems to induce “a bolt of pain [in Kaltain’s head] so strong she clenched her fists, hiding them in the folds of her tangerine-colored gown.”
Once again, I find myself immediately admiring Kaltain’s decency and strength. Can we keep her, please?
And sure, she immediately launches into a small lie (of the “Dorian trusts me and therefore told me X” variety), which she seems to hope will make the queen think she’s more intimate with Dorian than she actually is, but a little lie here and there won’t stop me from loving her.
The queen’s unimpressed with her lie, unfortunately. Disappointed, Kaltain privately notes that her head hurts and “[s]he wished for her pipe, but hours remained of this court session,” and wait a second, her pipe? Is the headache a sign of withdrawal? Kaltain just became 100% more interesting, which I didn’t think possible.
The queen whispers that there’s a rumor Dorian’s found a lady-love, then states wistfully that it’s such a shame Kaltain’s already engaged to Duke Perrington, because she would’ve made such a good match for Dorian. “HELL YES I WILL,” Kaltain thinks while graciously and serenely thanking the queen for her compliment. The chapter ends with Kaltain’s rising excitement:
The music began. Kaltain didn’t hear it.
Perrington had given her the shoes. Now was her time to dance.
I’ve got my pom-poms out and ready, Kaltain. Let’s do this.
We’re told Celaena’s A Total Badass: 2
Celaena proves she’s A Total Badass: 0
I was pleasantly surprised: 2
Can anyone point me to some high quality Kaltain-centric fanfic? If so, I might ditch this book and go read that. I need more Kaltain in my life.