Previously on Throne of Glass, Celaena and Nehemia bond over puppies, and Hulking Brute Cain conveniently pantomimes that he’s probably involved with the Lurking Evil.
Note: all direct quotes are either in bold or block-quotes. If something’s in quotation marks but not bold, it’s paraphrased snark.
Why hello again, Lady Kaltain. It’s a genuine pleasure to see you again. Will you be narrating this entire chapter for us? (Please oh please.)
Our favorite should-be heroine is quickly masking the signs of her opium-smoking—changing her clothes, allowing her servants to mist her with perfume, etc.—because Duke Perrington is paying her an unexpected visit, and nothing destroys your ambitious schemes as decisively as the revelation of your opium addiction.
Kaltain meets Perrington, who’s gross and possibly exuding some sort of evil magic that makes her sense of the world slip away a touch. Or maybe that’s just the opium?
“I hope I didn’t disturb you,” he said, releasing her hand. The walls of the room appeared, and then the floor and the ceiling, and she had the distinct feeling that she was trapped in a box, a lovely cage filled with tapestries and cushions.
Perrington’s ostensibly here to check on her, since she missed dinner—but he’s really there because we’re nearly two-thirds of the way through the book, and not much has happened, plot-wise. It’s time to bump Kaltain’s anxiety level up from Quietly But Determinedly Scheming to the more entertaining GOTTA DROP CELAENA IN A LAKE AND MARRY THE PRINCE POSTHASTE.
Perrington informs her that Celaena’s been hanging out with Dorian, and right on time, Kaltain catches the plot train. But she can’t actually drop Celaena in a lake, so Kaltain opts for the more reasonable route: damaging Celaena’s reputation.
(I’ll note that Kaltain’s plan is to make Perrington think Celaena isn’t a noblewoman, so Perrington’s noble pride might get offended at the idea of a lowborn girl marrying his future king. But, book, Celaena’s posing as Lillian Gordaina, the daughter of a merchant from a fishing town, remember? We’ve already discussed this; a merchant’s daughter isn’t a lady.)
But back to Kaltain:
“It’s hard to believe someone as disreputable as the Lady Lillian won the heart of the prince. [ . . . ] Perhaps it would do some good if someone spoke to His Highness.”
Perrington stiffens and demands to know what Kaltain’s heard about Celaena/Lillian’s reputation, but Kaltain dodges the question. The scene ends (damn it) with Kaltain’s inner battle cry. She is going to take Celaena down.
Scene and POV change! Celaena’s poring over yet another Wyrdmark textbook when “the door creaked open, the hinges squealing loud enough to wake the dead.” I guess we’re to assume she’s in her suite of rooms, then.
Her heart skipped a beat, and she tried to appear as casual as possible. But it was not Dorian Havilliard who entered, nor was it a ferocious creature.
Why are you putting in the effort to appear casual when someone (most likely an asshole who doesn’t respect your privacy, or a monster come to kill you) has just barged into your rooms without permission? If ever there is a time for you to be shouting obscenities and gnawing on pool cues in your rage, this is it.
But it’s Nehemia, visibly in shock and holding back her sobs. She’s just received news that Adarlan’s army (which, remember, has been stomping around Nehemia’s homeland of Eyllwe in an attempt to subdue its last pockets of rebels) found and slaughtered a group of five hundred rebels/families hiding in the wilderness.
Celaena’s horrified, but nothing beats Nehemia’s internal struggle:
“What is the point in being a princess of Eyllwe if I cannot help my people?” Nehemia said. “How can I call myself their princess, when such things happen?”
I like what the book is (presumably) going for here: a parallel between Celaena and Nehemia that throws light on Celaena’s current failings as a heroine:
- Nehemia’s marched herself into the heart of her enemy’s territory for the sake of her people, and is (presumably) willing to do whatever it takes to protect them.
- Celaena’s also in the heart of her enemy’s territory, but she’s there for selfish reasons (to regain her freedom without damaging her precious and blemish-free reputation), and she’s solidly avoided doing anything serious about the whole “The fate of the world rests in your hands” bomb Elena dropped on her.
Will this comparison spur Celaena to get off her ass, lace up her heroine boots, and do something? God, I hope so.
The chapter ends with Celaena silently holding the weeping Nehemia—making this the second kind thing she’s done in the entire book. Keep it up, Celaena; there’s hope for your likability rating yet.
We’re told Celaena’s A Total Badass: 0!
Celaena proves she’s A Total Badass: 0
I cringed, groaned, or rolled my eyes: 0!
I dislike the symmetry between the two scenes in this chapter: Perrington arrived unexpectedly with news that spurred Kaltain to further action; Nehemia arrived unexpectedly with news that (presumably) will spur Celaena to further action.
The chapter is so short, and the symmetry so obvious, that it feels formulaic and boring. Surely there are more interesting ways (and timings) to present these girls with the catalyst needed to push the plot forward?
But hey, better their catalysts be identical and simultaneous than never happen at all.