Previously on Throne of Glass, three more Tests and three more murders have been accomplished over a few weeks that pass entirely off-screen. On-screen, Celaena finds Wyrdmarks under her bed, and decides Nehemia’s a better candidate for evil than Cain.
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 start of a new chapter; let the headdesking commence.
Days passed without seeing Nehemia, and Celaena kept her mouth shut about the incident to Chaol or Dorian or anyone who visited her chambers. She couldn’t confront Nehemia—not without more concrete proof, not without ruining everything. So she spent her spare time researching the Wyrdmarks, desperate for a way to decipher them, to find those symbols, to learn what it all meant, and how it connected to the killer and the killer’s beast.
Just to give you all a refresher on this truly compelling plot, let me summarize the events of the book thus far:
- #1 Assassin Celaena’s dragged from the salt mines to the royal castle to win her freedom by participating in some asinine competition.
- A bunch of competitors are killed off-screen.
- Celaena easily passes a bunch of tests, mostly off-screen.
- A dead queen dumps a boatload of important plot information in Celaena’s lap.
- Celaena spends literally months fruitlessly reading library books for further info.
- Celaena inexplicably withholds important evidence from Chaol, who’s in charge of the investigation.
- Meanwhile, tons more competitors are killed and tests are passed, almost all of them off-screen.
- Celaena and the two handsome dudes play countless melodramatic, infuriating, and unconvincing games of footsie.
- Two people start acting suspiciously, inspiring Celaena to return to the useless library of uselessness (off-screen).
Oh, and “[a]midst her worrying, another Test passed without incident or embarrassment,” and no, we’re not told what it entailed.
There are now five competitors remaining; the last Test is in three days, and the final There Can Be Only One bloodshed-fest is in five days. Strap in, everyone; it’s time for shit to go down.
Ha ha, tricked you. It’s Yulemas morning, and Celaena’s lazing in bed, enjoying the sight of snow drifting down outside her windows. “She wouldn’t ruin it with thoughts of Nehemia, or of the duel, or of the ball she wasn’t allowed to attend tonight. No, it was Yulemas morning, and she would be happy.”
Notice that “thoughts of the ten-or-more rotting Champion corpses found sludging up the castle halls” doesn’t even rank in her top three things that’d ruin her mood this morning.
Someone apparently sneaked into her room while she was sleeping (not like that’s hard) and left a not-remotely-suspicious unmarked bag of candy on her pillow beside her snoring face.
With a shrug and glowing eyes, Celaena pulled out a handful of sweets. Oh, how she adored candy!
Celaena issued a jolly laugh and crammed some of the candy into her mouth.
This book’s writing style can be so hilariously weird. What is she, some horror-movie Santa Claus?
Done gorging on not-at-all-suspicious candy, she dumps the remainder all over her bed like a slob, and briefly wonders if Dorian or Handsome Thief Nox was the one to give it to her—never even pausing to be alarmed that someone very clearly could’ve filleted her in her sleep, and she’d have never woken up to notice.
Philippa enters to do the stereotypical Matronly Servant thing: warning Celaena that she’ll be sick from eating so much candy, and bustling her off to get ready for “temple attendance.”
When Celaena emerges from the dressing room freshly beautified, guess who’s chilling in her bedroom, uninvited? (It’s Dorian.)
There’s a touch of mindless sexual banter, followed by an interaction carefully and concisely crafted to piss me the fuck off. It starts when Dorian sees Celaena’s candy-stained teeth:
“Are your teeth red?”
She clamped her mouth shut, shaking her head in violent protestation.
He grabbed her nose and pinched it closed, and try as she might, she could not dislodge his fingers. She opened her mouth, and he burst into laughter. “Been eating candies, have you?”
First: get your fucking hands off her face, Dorian.
Second: “try as she might, she could not dislodge his fingers”? You don’t expect me to believe that, right? Surely our assassin knows where to put a fist, elbow, or knee to make some flimsy asshat let go of her nose. Surely.
Dorian claims credit for the unmarked candy, and says he’s come to present her with his second present of the day:
The assassin flipped back the lid of the basket. The nose [that had been protruding from the basket] instantly shot inward, and Celaena found the strange golden-haired pup quivering in a corner with a red bow around her neck.
Apparently Dorian couldn’t find a home for The Most Gorgeous, Aloof, and Bad-Tempered of All the Puppies. He remembered that the dog had responded positively to Celaena, and that she just has a knack with animals in general (wait, what?), so the dog’s hers if she wants it.
Celaena’s pretty okay with the idea—especially as she notes that the dog’s giant paws “hinted that she might someday grow large—and swift.”
Don’t get me wrong; I absolutely love human/animal bonded pairs in my fantasy novels. However. On a scale of Boy And Dog to Badass Telepathic Dragon, Celaena and her hairy-Celaena-clone hover right around I Am Falling Asleep As I Type This.
Celaena agrees to accept the dog, on the condition that the dog immediately enters puppy boot camp in the kennels. She then launches into an internal monologue about how kind and compassionate and different from everyone else Dorian is, and gives him an awkward kiss on the cheek that apparently turns him (the sleek, proud, lady’s-man Prince) into Chaol: that is, a babbling, blushing idiot who almost crashes into furniture in his haste to escape her rooms. Celaena finds this charming.
Once alone, Celaena kick-starts her thinking process (it’s a bit rusty takes a few tries, I imagine), musing over something Dorian let slip: Nehemia will be at the masked Yulemas ball tonight. If Nehemia’s responsible for the Lurking Evil, Celaena decides, what better place to do some slaughter than at the ball?
Fine, she wouldn’t mind if Kaltain and Perrington met horrible deaths, but Dorian would be there. And Chaol.
And hundreds of other innocent people, might I remind you, I whisper-shout as I sink deeper into my chair, a bespectacled puddle of incredulity and outrage. I don’t care if Dorian and Chaol are her primary motivating factors; I just want her to at least acknowledge that more is at stake than the well-being of two assholes.
Hey, at least we get a smidge of interesting background into Celaena’s suspicious nature:
Oh, she shouldn’t even be thinking [Nehemia was capable of] this. But she’d seen friends do terrible things before, and it had become safer for her to believe the worst. She’d witnessed firsthand how far a need for revenge could drive someone.
But rather than stoop to throw us starving readers any tasty tidbits about Celaena’s past and the events that made her who she is today, the book gives us a disdainful sneer and keeps walking.
After some hard thought, Celaena decides it’s best to infiltrate the ball, just in case we readers are wrong and Nehemia’s got EVIL tattooed on herself somewhere. Better to risk Chaol’s wrath by attending the ball than risk not being there if things get murdery:
Because somehow, the thought of [Chaol] getting hurt—or worse—made her willing to risk just about anything.
Oh look, my favorite word: somehow.
Scene change! Celaena and Chaol are heading toward the temple, and alas, she’s unable to tease him into joking around with her the way Dorian does.
Perhaps he truly didn’t find her attractive. The possibility of it stung more than she would have liked.
Chaol asks why she’s not grumping about not being allowed to go to the ball tonight, and Celaena—on alert now, in case he’s figured out her secret plans—goes on the offensive and snaps at him about not trusting her.
At least the Crown Prince never made her feel stupid or rotten. Chaol just provoked her . . . though he had his good side, too. And she had no idea when she’d stopped loathing him so much.
You guys don’t need me to write out exactly why this is so dumb, right? Good.
The chapter ends with her keeping her fingers crossed that when Chaol inevitably spots her at the ball tonight, he doesn’t “punish her too severely.”
You know what? If it means Celaena can’t spend the next several days or weeks or months grumbling over library books, I hope he does lay into her with the full force of his Royal Guard law. Bring it, Chaol. Make something happen.
Anything at all, I’m begging you.
We’re told Celaena’s A Total Badass: 1
Celaena proves she’s A Total Badass: 0
Celaena did absolutely anything to further the plot: 0
Have I mentioned recently how boring this book is?