Previously on Throne of Glass, Dickwad Dorian and Squeamish Boy Chaol tag-team annoy/patronize Celaena, who’s suffering horrible menstrual cramps.
Note: all direct quotes are either in bold or block-quotes. If something’s in quotation marks but not bold, it’s paraphrased snark.
“Woe unto me,” Chaol murmurs to himself, watching from afar as Celaena and Dorian hang out in a winter-dead garden. “How gruesome Celaena’s past; how terrible her murder-skills; how intense my need to smooch her fingertips.” Guess he’s been keeping up with my Chapter Tallies and decided someone needed to step in ASAP to remind us all (at length) how badass and amazing Celaena is. Thanks, guy.
POV hop! Celaena’s for some reason super pleased to be walking through the garden with Dorian, and wonders if the freezing cold is a good enough excuse to loop her arm through his. Celaena, did you not read the last chapter? Let me recap it for you: Dorian is a misogynistic ass.
It had been over three weeks since her last encounter with Elena, and she hadn’t seen or heard her at all, despite the three Tests she’d had, the most exciting of which being an obstacle course, which she passed with only a few minor scratches and bruises. Unfortunately, Pelor hadn’t done so well, and had been sent home at long last.
Of course Pelor was unceremoniously given the boot; he’d fulfilled his only purposes in the book: (a) give Celaena someone to sneer at, and (b) help Celaena cheat on a Test she’d have otherwise struggled with. Who’s surprised he disappears entirely, without even a farewell scene? Nobody, that’s who.
But hey, at least he wasn’t “mutilated beyond recognition” like the three Champions who bit the dust during this three-week time skip. No, we don’t hear any details about the murders, other than that all the bodies were “found in forgotten hallways,” which sounds like a clue someone needs to be following up on. Looking at you, Chaol. (Side-eyeing you, Celaena.)
There are now six competitors left: Celaena, Cain, Grave, Nox, an unnamed soldier, and Renault (who, the narrator informs us belatedly, is a mercenary, and who’s recently taken to antagonizing Celaena).
Having hand-waved the three latest murders into vague existence, Celaena plows ahead to more important things:
She shoved thoughts of the murders aside as they strode past a fountain and she caught Dorian giving her an admiring glance from the corner of his eye. Of course, she hadn’t been thinking of Dorian when she chose such a fine lavender gown to wear tonight, or when she made sure her hair was so carefully arranged, or that her white gloves were spotless.
Again, I’m cool with an assassin heroine who cares about her appearance, and who wants to look her best around the people she’s attracted to. HOWEVER.
- Three more of her peers have been “mutilated beyond recognition,” and only six people (including herself!) are left in line to be murdered, but she care barely spare three seconds to think about that fact.
- Celaena’s apparently taken no steps toward solving the murders or hunting down the Lurking Evil; as far as we know, she spent that time planning her outfits while waiting for Elena to pop in with more info.
- The narrator deems the Tests and murders ultimately insignificant, and decides to spend fewer words describing them than detailing the care Celaena put into her clothes and hair. I’m glad you’re pleased with your appearance, Celaena, but I am here for gruesome violent magical deaths, give them to me.
While I’m over here thirsting for the blood of the murdered, Dorian has decided it’s his turn to murmur some woes of his own. He blinks sadly at Celaena’s necklace and asks if it, like her amethyst ring, was a gift (from Chaol). As he asks this, “the spark died from his eyes.” Poor baby.
Celaena denies that it was a gift, but our sad little man can’t be cheered. Instead, he points out that the necklace looks suspiciously like the legendary amulet of Elena, First Queen of Adarlan. Apparently, Elena and her human husband Gavin (First King of Adarlan, FYI), engaged in a wicked scary battle with some Dark Lord. The Dark Lord was about to kill them when a spirit deux-ex-machinaed in to give Elena the necklace; she put it on, and immediately “saw the Dark Lord for what he was and called him by his true name,” which startled him long enough for Gavin to kill him.
I swear to god, if that’s how this book ends, I am going to be pissed.
Celaena nervously laughs off the implication that she’s wearing Elena’s magical amulet, then moves the conversation to a less dangerous topic. The scene ends with her renewed suspicions regarding Elena’s motives:
Elena had to have known someone would recognize her amulet—and if this was the real thing . . . The king could kill her on the spot for wearing not only an heirloom of his house, but something of power.
Yet again, she could only wonder what Elena’s motives actually were.
Uh, to protect your incompetent ass? That’s just a guess.
If you’re so worried about the amulet being recognized, find a way to hide it. It’s not that difficult. And anyway, why are you wearing it if you’re afraid Elena’s got a sinister plan up her beautifully tailored ghostly sleeve? Sure, the narrator claims “[i]ts presence somehow comforted her in the long hours she sat up, watching her door,” but that’s not a convincing reason.
How is it not convincing, you ask? Because it includes my least favorite word: somehow. That word should only be used in sarcasm or ignorance—neither of which should apply to this narrator in this story. Give me a legitimate reason, narrator, and make it convincing.
Scene change! Celaena’s alone in her room, sprawled in all her assassinly splendor across the bed and rehashing for the fifth or sixth (or seventh?) time everything we already know about her situation: she’s an awful heroine, she can’t figure out the mystery, she’s a badass with a reputation to maintain, and then, my favorite:
And as for finding and defeating the evil in the castle . . . well, now that it seemed tied to who was murdering the Champions, how could she not try to figure out where it was coming from?
Then what have you been doing for the last three weeks? I am fighting the urge to literally pull my hair out. Celaena’s incompetence and refusal to take action is a fucking agony to read.
Her servant Philippa sneaks up on her, scaring the world’s best assassin into flinging her book across the room. The book makes a miraculous U-turn and slides under her bed, because physics don’t apply when there are plot-related discoveries to be made. As she’s on her knees, searching for the book, the soundtrack switches over to a horror-movie violin screech: a budding sidewalk artist has scrawled dozens of Wyrdmarks on the floor under her bed in white chalk.
Quite understandably, Celaena immediately sets about draining every available drop of water in her suite onto the floor for an intense cleaning session, then changes into sensible pants and tunic before bolting into the dark abandoned hallways of the castle late at night.
Um, Celaena, think that’s wise? Sure, your guards are waiting outside your door to escort you, but still: shouldn’t you not be making yourself an easier target for the monster that kills Champions who roam the halls at night?
Off to the library! The guards idle about in the main room while she delves deep into the most remote area of the library alone, like a genius. And hey, check it out: Nehemia’s there, acting cagey and trying to hide the book she was reading.
It’s a book in the common language, which Nehemia’s supposedly not yet master of; when Celaena points out that Nehemia’s reading level is more middle school than university, Nehemia insults Celaena in perfectly accented common language before fleeing.
Already thrown for a complete loop (“My Nehemia’s language skills are mediocre at best, and she’d never be mean to me!”), Celaena’s shoved headlong into a panic when she sees Nehemia left a note behind: a single Wyrdmark drawn on a sheet of paper.
After a few uncertain flickers, Celaena’s cold little light bulb flashes on: it occurs to Celaena that Nehemia has every reason to want to kill any Adarlan citizens she can get her hands on—especially if those citizens are criminals who won’t be missed. (I think a more compelling reason to off the Champions is that they’re world-class killers who’re in line to become the King’s right hand, but hey. At least Celaena’s trying to think critically about the situation at all.)
The prospect of Nehemia’s betrayal of their friendship is a gut-punch; Celaena had thought they’d sworn blood sisterhood and had bonded Deeply and Truly through their contempt for literally everyone else in the world. Why would Nehemia sign her up to be munched on by pure evil? The chapter ends with tears in Celaena’s eyes, and me almost feeling sympathy for her. Almost.
We’re told Celaena’s A Total Badass: 6
Celaena proves she’s A Total Badass: 0
People (other than Celaena) who suspect Nehemia’s the bad guy: 0
Celaena does anything at all to advance the plot: 0
Why is Celaena so much quicker to suspect Nehemia than Cain? Like Celaena said, Nehemia’s her bud. Cain, meanwhile, is practically marinating in evil-juice: (1) he’d benefit from the deaths of the other Champions, (2) he has access to the other Champions, (3) he’s becoming physically more monstrous by the hour, (4) she’s already seen him messing with the Wyrdmarks in the courtyard, (5) she’s already seen him acting like he’s under the power of/in the literal clutches of evil.
It’s a neat idea, throwing suspicion on Nehemia—but not when Celaena’s so infuriatingly blind to the possibility of Cain’s involvement.