Previously on Throne of Glass, Gorgeously Gorgeous Celaena attends the masked Yulemas ball, where nothing happens.
Note: all direct quotes are either in bold or block-quotes. If something’s in quotation marks but not bold, it’s paraphrased snark.
Oh good, we’re still at the ball. We’re in Dorian’s POV, and he’s waxing romantic about the ecstasy of dancing with Celaena:
He was lost—lost in a world of which he’d always dreamed.
What world is that, pray tell? According to you, women are boring wastes of space after you’ve boned them a few times, so don’t try to convince me that you’ve “always dreamed” of this moment.
She didn’t falter a single step, nor did she seem to care about the many angry female faces that watched as dance after dance passed and they didn’t switch partners.
I will never get over how terrible a prince you are.
They chat about nothing remotely interesting while I break my jaw yawning, and Dorian’s POV concludes:
He felt the urge to kiss her—hard—upon the mouth. But this—what he felt, it could never be real. Because once the ball was over, she would go back to being an assassin, and he would still be a prince.
There’s actually a bit more, but I’ll spare you the eye-rolling.
POV hop! Chaol’s wearing his pouty pants, watching Celaena and Dorian from (what I’m assuming is) his darkened corner of jealousy and despair. But he consoles himself as any self-respecting toddler would:
He wouldn’t have danced with her, anyway. And he was glad he hadn’t worked up the nerve to ask her, not after seeing the color that Duke Perrington’s face turned upon discovering the pair.
I’m still waiting to hear why Perrington’s disapproval of Celaena’s dancing should matter.
Some courtier dude named Otho pops up and digs for info about Celaena and Nehemia, because dude’s a horndog. Wait, no: he’s there because Chaol’s not angsty enough about Celaena, so the book asked him to stab a fork into Chaol’s crusty wound. Otho obliges, and tells Chaol that Dorian’s clearly in love with her.
AND BEHOLD, CHAOL IS IN ANGUISH. He then does what any reasonable Captain of the Royal Guard would do at a major public function in which the royal family is surrounded by an excited, bemasked crowd: he leaves. Guess he has the night off, then?
POV hop! Ah, my beloved Kaltain, it’s a pleasure to see you.
Kaltain’s upset that Dorian’s been monopolized by Celaena (whom she calls “the conniving harlot,” thus losing herself a few points in my book). She also fears that drunk Duke Perrington might try to get physical with her, which she 100% does not want.
She would have to think of a way out as soon as possible. But she was no closer to Dorian than she’d been in early autumn, and would certainly make no progress with Lillian in the way.
A precipice opened before her. Her head gave a brief, faint throb of pain. There were no other options now. Lillian had to be eliminated.
Hold on. This half-page scene is basically a bland recap of Kaltain’s scene in chapter thirty-three; we’re shown, again, Kaltain’s desperation to have Dorian, and her decision to do whatever it takes to eliminate Lillian/Celaena.
So what have you been doing in the intervening weeks, Kaltain? Nothing? Really? I expected so much better of you.
POV hop! The party’s over, and Celaena slips out without waving Dorian a goodbye. Blushing guard Ress is awaiting her, and they nonsensically opt to traverse the creepiest and most murder-filled hallways in the castle (the servants’ passages, you’ll remember, are where at least some of the bodies were found) on their way to her suite. Great job there, Celaena, way to be thinking critically about your surroundings.
But she makes it back to her rooms without incident (damn it), only to find Dorian awaiting her. Guess he wasn’t too pleased about her disappearing before he was done with her.
Celaena’s heart begins to pitter-patter at the sight of him, but she feigns nonchalance when he follows her in and pins her between the wall and his body, the number one technique of sexy romantic heroes everywhere.
He then (kind of out of nowhere) assures her he’s not interested in court ladies, and they kiss a kiss that melts time and resolve and Celaena’s panties.
They’re well on their way to Make-Out Town when Celaena remembers oh yeah, she’s supposed to hate this guy and his kingdom. She yanks the emergency brake and—gently touches his mouth and says it’s her bedtime. That’s less angsty than I expected, but I’m not complaining.
Dorian pulls a quick dick move, just to make sure she really means it: he pulls her fingers off his mouth and tries to kiss her, and she has to dodge his incoming face then slip into the safety of her bedroom “before he could stop her.” That’s romantic.
They do share one last (consensual) smooch, and Celaena’s at last left alone to pose statuesquely on her balcony, overcome by the giddy stirrings of love.
POV hop! Dorian’s boner can wait no longer:
Consequences be damned. He’d find a way to make it work; he’d find a way to be with her. He had to.
POV hop! Chaol’s in the garden below Celaena’s suite (I’m sure he’s there entirely by accident, and not at all because he’s a fucking creep), watching Celaena waltz alone on her balcony like an eight year old.
Chaol wallows in his inner torment for a few more lines before the chapter drops the curtain on him.
We’re told Celaena’s A Total Badass: 0!
Celaena proves she’s A Total Badass: 0
Someone experiences Inner Torment: 8
Celaena does absolutely anything to advance the plot: 0
I regret complaining about all those chapters that tried to convince me Celaena’s a fiery bundle of murder. That’d be preferable to this unconvincing love triangle melodrama we’re currently wading through.