Previously on Throne of Glass, some Eyllwe rebels are slaughtered off-screen, and Lady Kaltain decides to take Celaena down (for real this time).
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 a few hours after Nehemia’s surprise visit, and Celaena’s alone again, musing equally over (a) the Eyllwe rebels’ deaths, and (b) how much menstrual cramps suck. Her trusty old servant Philippa pops in with a hot cup of tea for her cramps, reminding us that hey, Celaena has servants and we haven’t seen a hint of them for the majority of the book. Would’ve been neat to see Celaena forge a realistic relationship with Philippa, but oh well.
Celaena’s diving headfirst into yet another woe-fest about her unworthiness as a heroine and the evil nature of the world (“How could Elena expect her to defeat some evil in this castle, when there was so much of it out there? What was any of this compared to what was occurring in other kingdoms?”) when in barges Chaol, straight into her bedroom, at 11:00 p.m.
“What are you—isn’t it late for you to be here?” she asked, pulling the blankets tight.
Please don’t tell me that the return of her menstrual cycle has somehow transformed our rageful assassin into a blushing Victorian lass.
Chaol’s here because, uh, he wants to whisper moodily about how horrifying the slaughter of the Eyllwe rebels is? I guess?
Celaena informs him that she feels like death and would like to be miserable in peace, but Chaol’s an idiot and blunders on ahead, pacing the room and talking about how he empathizes with Nehemia and how if he was in her place, he’d do anything it takes to win his people’s freedom back. That’s great, dude. Get out of her room.
But nope. He natters on while Celaena coils into a ball of menstrual agony, barely containing her growing nausea—until she can’t anymore, and fountains vomit everywhere.
Chaol pauses mid-sentence, surveys Celaena and her mess, and decides, “Are you—by the Wyrd, you’re really sick, aren’t you?” Keen observation. Get out of her room.
“I, uh . . .” Her face was so hot she thought it would melt onto the floor. Oh, you idiot! “My monthly cycles finally came back.”
His face suddenly matched hers and he stepped away, dragging a hand through his short brown hair. “I—if . . . Then I’ll take my leave,” he stammered, and bowed. Celaena raised an eyebrow, and then, despite herself, smiled as he left the room as quickly as his feet could go without running, tripping slightly in the doorway as he staggered into the rooms beyond.
I can understand a young man in a medieval-ish culture being horrified when confronted with the realities of menstruation, but Chaol’s bumbling display of revulsion is hilarious. In a Three Stooges this-is-so-dumb way, I mean.
But, serious question: is Chaol’s revulsion an indication of (1) Adarlan’s cultural attitudes toward women’s bodies, (2) the book’s juvenile misconception that this the standard male response to periods, or (3) Chaol unique squeamishness? If the latter: get a grip, Chaol. You’re the Captain of the Royal Guard, and have lately been investigating a string of violent murders; surely you can handle acknowledging the existence of a little period blood?
Celaena clambers back into bed and is just starting to relax when Dorian bursts in (GET OUT OF HER ROOM) and says almost exactly what I just wrote:
“I intercepted Chaol, and he informed me of your ‘condition.’ You’d think a man in his position wouldn’t be so squeamish, especially after examining all of those corpses.”
So I take it that Chaol’s horror isn’t a cultural attitude? He’s just childish and misogynistic all by himself? Great.
Dorian is absolutely no better, though:
Celaena opened an eye and frowned as Dorian sat on her bed. “I’m in a state of absolute agony and I can’t be bothered.”
“It can’t be that bad,” he said, fishing a deck of cards from his jacket. “Want to play?”
“I already told you that I don’t feel well.”
“You look fine to me.” He skillfully shuffled the deck. “Just one game.”
GET. OUT. OF. HER. ROOM.
But even when she straight-up tells him to leave, he doesn’t. How do readers like this guy?
I’m absolutely furious. This scene showcases some key misogynistic beliefs:
- Men know better than women about everything, including what’s happening within the woman’s own body.
- Men have the right to decide what a woman’s body is and isn’t physically capable of doing.
- Men’s desires are more important than a woman’s desires.
- Men do not need to respect a woman’s privacy.
Am I missing a few points? I bet I am.
Celaena tells him to leave and that she feels like she’s dying. Prince Dickwad jokes that he’ll read her a story to ease her passing.
“What story would you like?”
She snatched her hand back. “How about the story of the idiotic prince who wouldn’t leave the assassin alone?”
“Oh! I love that story! It has such a happy ending, too—why, the assassin was really feigning her illness in order to get the prince’s attention! Who would have guessed it? Such a clever girl. And the bedroom scene is so lovely—it’s worth reading through all of their ceaseless banter!”
Fuck this guy.
“Out! Out! Out! Leave me be and go womanize someone else!” She grabbed a book and chucked it at him. He caught it before it broke his nose, and her eyes widened. “I didn’t mean—that wasn’t an attack! It was a joke—I didn’t mean to actually hurt you, Your Highness,” she said in a jumble.
Hold the fuck on.
Since when is Celaena afraid of Dorian?
Why on earth is she falling over herself to apologize for almost whapping him in the face with a book, when he brought it on himself?
Why is the most powerful assassin in the world cowering in acknowledgment of this incompetent princelet’s station?
From the very moment Chaol came storming into her rooms, Celaena’s been acting like a self-conscious weakling—clutching her bedding close and feebly asking the intruding men to leave, and now cringing submissively to Dorian’s royal title. Who the hell is this person? Just a few chapters ago, the book and everyone in it was bending over backward to convince me that Celaena’s a volatile bundle of rage; where’d that person go? Bring her back.
Oh, I get it; her abrupt personality swap is for the sake of a “romantic moment.” I’ll just leave this here:
“It’s Dorian, by the way. Not ‘Your Highness.'”
“Say my name. Say, ‘Very well, Dorian.'”
There are five more pages of this, guys.
Dorian flips through the book she’d chucked at him, and it turns out to be a raunchy romance. She challenges him to read it when she’s done, and he accepts.
Dorian didn’t realize he’d been transfixed by her until she straightened and demanded, “What are you staring at?”
“You’re beautiful,” Dorian said before he could think.
Four more pages.
Dorian’s boner is getting out of control, and the narrator helpfully informs us that the week of Yulemas was culturally associated with “the carnal pleasures that kept one warm on a winter’s night.” Naturally, it’s Dorian’s favorite week of the year.
But whoa, plot twist: this year his libido’s wrecked; “[h]ow could he celebrate when word had just arrived of what his father’s soldiers had done to those Eyllwe rebels?”
I really wasn’t expecting this scene to take such an abrupt turn toward anguish.
Dorian’s erection continues to deflate as he remembers that Celaena’s own country had been the first to fall to his father’s army, and therefore she probably won’t ever touch him in the pants.
“You must hate me,” he murmured. “Hate me and my court for our frivolity and mindlessness when so many horrible things are going on outside this city. I heard about those butchered rebels, and I—I’m ashamed,” he said, leaning his head against the window.
Medieval warfare could be absolutely monstrous; the types of casualties that have been described so far wouldn’t have been uncommon in this situation. How did Dorian develop his sensibilities, exactly?
He sniffles and whispers about how different he is from his father, and how he won’t be a man until he can stop his father’s awful reign. It’s a world ruled by his evil dad, and they all suffer for it.
“This is the world where I only picked you to be my Champion because I knew it would annoy my father. [ . . . ] But if I had refused to sponsor a Champion, my father would have seen it as a sign of dissent, and I’m not yet enough of a man to stand against him like that. So I chose Adarlan’s Assassin to be my Champion, because the choice of my Champion was the only choice I had.”
I won’t lie: I was still holding out hope that Dorian had chosen Celaena for something other than this specific moronic reason.
Also: how is Celaena not pissed to find out that Dorian merely chose her in a childish attempt to piss off his dad? That should be a blow to her ego, and you know how well she handles those.
But Celaena’s lost her backbone, apparently. Instead, the two touch gently and confide that they like (but not like-like) each other despite how awful King Dad is. Then Dorian moans that she can’t accompany him to the masked Yulemas ball, which lets Celaena practice her pouty-face, and then it’s midnight/Dorian’s bedtime. He kisses her cheek (without warning and without her permission, might I add) on his way out.
POV hop! Celaena’s all fuck yeah, masked Yulemas ball, super romantic, and decides that maybe Chaol had actually come to her rooms earlier to ask her to the dance.
No. The last thing he’d ever do would be to invite her to a royal ball. Besides, both of them had more important things to worry about. Like whoever was killing the Champions.
OH YEAH, THAT.
Perhaps she should have sent word to him about Cain’s strange behavior earlier that afternoon.
YOU DON’T SAY.
But instead of hopping up and penning a quick letter to Chaol, she nestles deeper into her bed and gleefully imagines Cain as the next murder victim. So I guess she hasn’t yet started wondering if Cain’s involved in the murders?
The chapter concludes:
Still, as the clock marked the passing hours, Celaena kept her vigil—waiting, wondering what truly lurked in the castle, and unable to stop thinking of those five hundred dead Eyllwe rebels, buried in some unmarked grave.
Okay, but will you please do something already?
We’re told Celaena’s A Total Badass: 1
Celaena proves she’s A Total Badass: 0
I wanted to throttle someone: 15
I’d really thought the previous chapter would’ve launched Celaena into action, or at least into significant revelations about herself as a person that would lead to action. It’s about time to see the pace start quickening as the plot veers toward its climax, and I am beyond ready for it.
What I didn’t expect: an entire chapter devoted to an infuriating and irrelevant mess of relationship-building. Absolutely nothing of significance happened in this chapter; the plot has effectively come to a screeching halt. This is completely the opposite of what I’d expected, and exactly the method necessary to start me tossing the book around the room.