Previously on Throne of Glass, Celaena FINALLY fights someone (passing another Test with ease), and Kaltain psychs herself up to wrangle a marriage proposal from Prince Dorian.
Note: all direct quotes are either in bold or block-quotes. If something’s in quotation marks but not bold, it’s paraphrased snark.
Clearly concerned that the reader needs actual proof of Celaena’s badassness, the book opens chapter thirty with a pointless scene in which Chaol’s all, “Bet you can’t hit that archery target all the way over there,” and Celaena smirks her smirkiest smirk, replies, “Suck on this,” and hits the target without actually looking at it.
And I sigh, and close my eyes, and rest my head against the wall, because I am so tired of her attitude and the constant overdone reminders of how inhumanly awesome she is. Hitting a target from a great distance takes skill, sure, but badassery requires something more.
Oh, and P.S., the book mentions in passing that it’s been three weeks since Random Champion Xavier was murdered, and two more Champions have gotten themselves slaughtered in the meantime.
[ . . . ] Chaol hadn’t yet discovered who might be targeting the Champions one by one. The who didn’t matter as much to her as the how—how was the killer selecting them? There was no pattern; five were dead, and they had no connection to each other, aside from the competition.
“[T]hey had no connection to each other, aside from the competition” has to be among the top ten most hilarious lines of this whole book. Surely we’re not supposed to take the line seriously, right? Because it’s so painfully dumb.
- They’re adult men.
- They’re criminals, mostly of the I Will Kill You In Cold Blood variety.
- They’re living in the lowest areas of the castle.
- They don’t really associate or make buds with each other, so they’re presumably usually fairly isolated—unlike, presumably, everyone else in the castle, who’d therefore be harder to kill.
- The court doesn’t know they’re there, so the only people who will notice they’re missing is (1) their guards, (2) their noble sponsors, and (3) their competitors—and none of those people will raise a fuss about their deaths.
Celaena somehow failed to stumble her way onto either of the newest murder scenes, so she doesn’t know if any Wyrdmarks had been finger-painted around the corpses in blood.
Speaking of Wyrdmarks: so, Celaena, it’s been three weeks, there’ve been two more murders, and you still haven’t talked to Chaol about the Wyrdmarks why?
But her chance might be nigh: a guard comes running into the archery room, panting about a new corpse corpsing it up “[i]n the servant’s passages,” wherever that is. All right, Chaol, Celaena. Show us what you’ve got.
Chaol’s eyes were unfocused. Thinking—he was figuring out what to do. He straightened. “You want to prove how good you are?” he asked her.
She put her hands on her hips. “Do I even need to?”
He motioned the guards to lead the way. “Come with me,” he said to her over his shoulder, and—despite the body—she smiled a bit and followed him.
- Prove how good she is at what?
- How does she think she’s already proven herself good at this unspecified thing?
- Chaol, what exactly is your reason for inviting some bratty assassin to come ogle the murder scene?
- And, Celaena, can you please maybe take these murders seriously enough to not smile “despite the body” every time someone’s just been brutally murdered? This isn’t the first time we’ve seen almost that exact line. Your inability to be appropriately concerned about these murders is, frankly, concerning.
But hey, at least she neatly ties up one plot thread: she finally tells Chaol that Cain figured out who she really is, and Chaol just shrugs. “No big deal, whatevs,” he says, while I stare at him, astonished. After all the hours he spent hissing at her to hide her identity, I was hoping there would be some kind of, oh I don’t know, consequence to her inability to be discreet.
Unconcerned with something so silly as consequence, they scurry off to investigate a murder. Which, as you might’ve guessed, was gruesome.
She didn’t know where to look first. At the body, with the gaping chest cavity and missing brain and face, at the claw marks gouged into the ground, or at the two Wyrdmarks, drawn on either side of the body in chalk. Her blood went cold. There was no denying their connection now.
Were you trying to deny the connection before? You know, when the Wyrdmarks were drawn in blood right next to the corpse? How was she hoping they’d gotten there—some sick kids having a laugh?
Well, maybe Chaol will notice the Wyrdmarks this time.
The victim is Oily Thief Verin, he who earned Celaena’s wrath a few weeks ago by, uh, informing Cain that she wanted to beat Cain in the competition. Okay, okay, he also made a couple dumb jokes at her expense, so clearly he deserved to die.
And apparently “Verin had been at the head of the pack since this competition started,” which is news to me. I thought Cain was the head, and everyone else was just in a muddle; the book certainly never bothered to show us how anyone was doing in the Tests aside from Celaena, Cain, and sometimes Handsome Thief Nox. But Verin was apparently badass enough that Celaena’s extra impressed someone managed to murder him so hard.
Celaena plays CSI while Chaol gapes on; she determines (maybe by skimming ahead to the end of the book? Makes more sense than her deductions) that a human must’ve disabled Verin, then summoned some monster to finish him off. And at last, Celaena’s lone light bulb flicks on:
And, as Chaol’s face paled, Celaena realized with a jolt that perhaps the Champions’ killer and Elena’s mysterious evil force might be one and the same.
Glad you finally caught up to the rest of us, Celaena.
Scene change! Late that night (I guess?), her attempt at Wyrdmark research is interrupted by Dorian’s unexpected arrival. Celaena, Adarlan’s Assassin, Number One Killer, “jumped from her seat” when he announces his presence. Remind me again, how is she not dead yet?
Dorian asks what she’s up to, and once again she opts for, “Uh, nothing, just some light reading,” instead of bringing up the Wyrdmarks around the corpses.
She does bring up the murders, though, and points out that all these unsolved body-explosions in his hallways must reflect very poorly on the King, and maybe Dorian might want to consider hiring
Buffy Sam and Dean Winchester literally anyone other than Chaol to actually solve the mystery. He pooh-poohs this legitimately great idea, and now they’re having some kind of weird sexual tension.
Celaena heroically “pushed claw marks and brainless corpses from her thoughts” to better focus on Dorian’s sex life, which leads to a conversation about how well she plays the pianoforte, which drops the entire book into melodrama about The Great Tragedy of Celaena’s Hidden Past, etc. Dorian asks if her music reminds her of her parents, then:
Celaena stood suddenly. “Don’t ask such stupid questions.”
“I’m sorry if I pried.”
She didn’t respond. The door in her mind that she kept locked at all times had been cracked open by the question, and now she tried frantically to close it. Seeing his face, seeing him so near to her . . . The door shut and she turned the key.
“It’s just,” he said, oblivious to the battle that had just occurred, “it’s just that I don’t know anything about you.”
So now it’s Dorian’s turn at angst (“Is it so wrong of me to want to know every nook and cranny of your mind and soul and sexxxy body??”), and when Celaena lets him ask one personal question, he thinks for a while and lands on, “Why do you like music so much?”
This is just a guess, but: because she’s a human, and the vast majority of humans like music? And she’s living in roughly the middle ages, so video games and bar-crawls aren’t a thing yet? Seriously bad choice of question, dude—unless your intention was to let her angst even further, in which case: excellent question, well chosen.
Celaena broods, and explains why humans enjoy music, then asks her own question:
“Why aren’t you married yet?”
“Married? I’m nineteen!”
“Yes, but you’re the Crown Prince.”
Exactly. Thank you.
He looked at the window and the snow that swirled beyond. “I’m not married,” he said softly, “because I can’t stomach the idea of marrying a woman inferior to me in mind and spirit. It would mean the death of my soul.”
Excuse me while I laugh myself to death, because what?
Amazingly, Celaena continues to be the voice of reason in their following argument; Crown Princes don’t have the luxury of marrying for love, she says, to which he replies: “They totally do, political marriages are a myth, alliances suck anyway.”
The argument puts Dorian into a sulk, which Celaena calls him out on. His reply:
“You’ve attempted to ruin my dreams and ideals. I get enough from my mother as it is. You’re just being cruel.”
Dorian’s Patronus is a six-year-old whose only response to someone’s totally reasonable point is “You’re a meanie.”
Celaena then makes some totally-out-of-the-blue comment in favor of democracy, and then Dorian’s touching her hand and complimenting her inhumanly beautiful eyes, thus raising the Sexual Tension meter from 2 to 3. But oops, he asks about her giant amethyst ring, which clams her up for a moment (she doesn’t tell him Chaol gave it to her, because even though she wouldn’t mind him knowing, “she knew Chaol wouldn’t want Dorian to know”).
And then things really start heating up:
The way the collar of his black jacket lay across his neck made her unable to sit still.
Unable to control the frenzy of her desire, Celaena bolts for the billiard table, offering a game—but on the inside she’s realizing “[s]he very much wanted to stand close to him and have her skin warm under his breath,” which sounds kind of clammy and gross. Also, “[w]orse than that, she realized, she liked him.”
Hearing my exasperation, she pauses to finally explain what she finds attractive about him, which includes—
Ha ha, just kidding. Scene change! Chaol’s in the dining hall, glowering at the surviving Champions’ sponsors, thinking to himself that, “[i]f Celaena was actually right about it, then whoever was responsible for killing the Champions could be among them. But which of the members of the king’s council would be so desperate to win that he’d do such a thing?”
Remember back in chapter three, when I pointed out how useful it could be for a council member to have the King’s Champion in their own pocket? Yeah. The answer to your question, Chaol, is possibly all of them.
But only Duke Perrington is on Chaol’s radar, because (1) he’s heavyset and has a red face, (2) he wants to hold Nehemia hostage to end the war against the Eyllwe rebels, and (3) every now and then, Perrington gets this weird look on his face, “as if he saw everything in the world for what it was and found no joy or amusement in it.” Yep, must be evil.
Oh, and Perrington gets that look on his face when he looks down at his black ring, which is probably twinsies with Cain’s black ring.
Interestingly, Kaltain’s also watching Perrington, and when his face goes all dark-and-brooding, her own shrewd expression “became shallow, as if she were more interested in how his jacket might complement her dress,” which we readers know is bad news; she’s sharp as a tack, and only cares about her appearance if she can use it as a weapon. This should set alarm bells off in the reader’s head, but not Chaol’s—unless Chaol knows Kaltain better than I think he does.
The chapter ends with Chaol leaving the dining hall, trying to convince himself that Perrington’s not evil. Shouldn’t be too hard, seeing as how he has zero reason to assume Perrington’s evil, but nope. He’s convinced. Perhaps Chaol, like Celaena, has already read spoilers for the book?
We’re told Celaena’s A Total Badass: 2
Celaena proves she’s A Total Badass: 0
Days it took me to make it through this 12-page chapter: 3
I’d like to point out that we still don’t know why Chaol invited Celaena to the newest murder scene. What was he expecting of her? She’d never told him she wants to/is trying to solve the murders, and up ’til now he’s been trying to keep her as far away from the mystery as possible. So what gives, Chaol?