Throne of Glass: Chapter 41


Previously on Throne of Glass, Celaena names her new puppy. Meanwhile, Beloved Lady Kaltain and Evil Fingers Perrington plot a plot to kill Celaena off at last.

Note: all direct quotes are either in bold or block-quotes. If something’s in quotation marks but not bold, it’s paraphrased snark.


Chapter Index

CHAPTER 41

It’s ten p.m., and Celaena is—wait for it—frowning, perplexed, over a book about Wyrdmarks.

Again.

For the, like, ninth month running.

But hey, at least she’s showing, um, patience and persistence in the face of repeated failure? That’s . . . something.

The question on her mind right now: “how could [the Wyrdmarks’] power possibly still work when magic itself was gone?”

This is where I remind you that the king of Adarlan outlawed magic ten years ago, and magic obediently made itself scarce. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to a detailed explanation of how that worked.

We’re told Celaena hasn’t seen Nehemia since the ball, that she feels guilty for suspecting Nehemia, she’s decided Nehemia is definitely “one of the good ones” (don’t make me guess what unspecified group she’s referring to; none of my options are pleasant), and she hasn’t had the nerve to inform Chaol of what she suspects about the Wyrdmarks. Nothing new there.

And then holy crap, you guys, she finally learns something:

There, looking up at her, were the symbols she’d seen near the bodies. And in the margin, written by someone centuries ago, was the explanation: For sacrifices to the ridderak: using the victim’s blood, mark the area around it accordingly. Once the creature has been summoned, these marks guide the exchange: for the flesh of the sacrifice, the beast will grant you the victim’s strength.

Of COURSE some rando several centuries ago had the foresight to scrawl an explanation, in Celaena’s language, along the margin beside the Wyrdmark she’d been looking for. Of COURSE.

Thanks, rando. Watching Celaena spend months flipping pages through library books only to come across your concise explanation is so much more engaging and exciting than, oh I don’t know, watching Celaena sleuthing around the castle and witnessing one of the deaths/summonings from a secret passage that (conveniently for the plot) didn’t give her a view of WHO was doing the summoning. Or any other possible combination of action + spying + adventure. Yeah, I’d take endless research to boring ol’ terrifying, gruesome, potentially life-and-death situations any day.

At least Celaena’s figured it out now: the bad guy’s summoning the creature through the Wyrdgates. Good job, Celaena, I knew you’d get there.

It was impossible, because magic was gone, but the texts said Wyrdmarks existed outside of magic. What if their power still worked?

I mean . . . yeah. If something exists/functions outside of magic, then the absence of magic shouldn’t prevent that thing from existing/functioning. Where’s your hangup?

But . . . but Nehemia? How could her friend do such a thing? Why did she need the Champions’ strength? And how could she keep everything hidden so well?

Oh good lord. You were just telling me how innocent Nehemia clearly is. Do you or do you not think she’s behind the murders? Make up your mind.

Like the toddler she apparently is, Celaena grabs at a couple of the plot’s puzzle pieces and starts bashing them together, and comes up with this genius idea:

Unless Nehemia was here to start something bigger—unless she didn’t want to make sure the king spared Eyllwe at all. Unless she wanted what few dared whisper: rebellion. And not rebellion as it was now, with rebel groups hiding out in the wilderness, but rather rebellion in the sense of entire kingdoms rising up against Adarlan—as it should have been from the start,

Oh, finally. I’ve been slowly polishing my glasses over here, waiting for an opportunity to  explain my opinion on the word “rebel” as it’s been used in this book so far. Let me just put on my elbow-patched cardigan and we can jump right in.

Ahem.

We’ve been told nothing specific about what the rebels do, other than hide out in the wilderness and try to avoid the Adarlan army. That in mind, “refugee” seems to be a better term for them—seeing as how they’re seeking refuge from the atrocities of the Adarlan conquest.

Sure, I can certainly imagine an Adarlan noble viewing these refugees as rebels, in the sense that they’re not obediently accepting the Adarlan king as their king’s lord. But the Eyllwe refugees (and their sympathizers) are referring to themselves as rebels, and in my opinion, that’s a whole different animal in this pre-Nationalist context.

The word “rebel” implies (a) an acknowledged subjugation to an oppressor, and (b) that they’re rising and acting against that oppressor. As far as I can tell, neither of those conditions are met. The refugees just said, “Fuck this, we’re out of here,” and headed off to make a new life elsewhere—which doesn’t acknowledge subjugation, and certainly isn’t rising and acting against their oppressor.

I suspect it more likely that the refugees would’ve called themselves refugees, or something else that indicates they are survivors of a violent war. Maaaybe they’d call themselves loyalists, or a similar term that marks them as supporters of their Eyllwe king—but their king is technically still in power (though he has to bow to Adarlan’s king), so this feels a bit squishy. Any medieval scholars out there care to weigh in?

In any case, I actually snorted out loud at the whole “not rebellion as it was now, with rebel groups hiding out in the wilderness, but rather rebellion in the sense of entire kingdoms rising up against Adarlan” thing—because the book just openly admitted that it’d been using “rebel” inappropriately this entire time.

It does puzzle me that the book somehow made it to print like this, though—because, again, it just admitted it’d been misusing “rebel.” This line should’ve been a clue to somebody involved in the production of this book that hey, maybe they shouldn’t be calling the Eyllwe refugees rebels.

Okay, taking the cardigan back off now.

Having jumped to a weird conclusion (that Nehemia might be behind the murders because she wants to instigate a “real” rebellion against the king of Adarlan), Celaena belatedly remembers she needs a logical foundation from which to build that conclusion:

But why kill the Champions? Why not target royals? The ball would have been perfect for that. Why use Wyrdmarks? She’d seen Nehemia’s rooms; there were no signs of a demon beast lurking about, and nowhere in the castle where she could—

“Oh, shit, the secret tunnels,” Celaena realizes, and—having thus completely forgotten that she still has yet to come up with a valid reason to suspect Nehemia—she decides yep, Nehemia’s guilty.

She also informs us that “[a]ll the murders had occurred within two days of a Test,” which is news to me. That could’ve been nice info to have; and we could’ve had it, if the book wasn’t so keen on skipping over the murders and the Tests entirely. I wonder if Chaol noticed this pattern? (Probably not.)

Celaena pats on her grimmest murder-face and plunges into the tunnels, intent on verifying Nehemia’s evilness and killing her into repentance.

This is the third proactive thing Celaena’s done in this entire book so far, if I’m counting correctly. The other two were (1) casually exploring the secret tunnels that one time, and (2) deciding to research Wyrdmarks in the library—neither of which resulted in any excitement or action. You’ll have to forgive me if I’m not expecting anything truly exciting to come of this little jaunt.

Down she descends into the tunnels, armed only with a lit candle in a candlestick, her weird needle/soap/twine knife-thing, and her devastatingly deadly assassin abilities. The tunnels, by the way, are moist and icky.

[ . . . ] Celaena looked longingly at the middle archway as she approached the crossroads. There was no thought of escape now. What would be the point, when she was so close to winning?

Well, winning means you’ll serve your most hated enemy as his bound killer for four years. Escaping means you’ll be free to do whatever the fuck you want, wherever the fuck you want. But yeah, sure, what would be the point, indeed?

She follows some footprints and echoing manly whispers down a corridor. The book’s going for a seriously creepy vibe here, all “[a] greenish light seeped out” and “the hair on her arms rose” and “[the whispering] grated against her ears, as if it sucked the very warmth from her bones.”

The book is that friend who makes you watch a horror movie they love—and then they spend the entire time staring at you and grinning, waiting for you to jump out of your seat in terror.

Except there’s absolutely no suspense for the reader here; we know exactly (or, at least, approximately) who and what she’s about to see.

And sure enough, the big reveal comes as a surprise to no one except Celaena:

And inside the small chamber, kneeling before a darkness so black that it seemed poised to devour the world, was Cain.

Yes, wow, quite exciting.

CHAPTER TALLIES

We’re told Celaena’s A Total Badass: 1

Celaena proves she’s A Total Badass: 0

Celaena appears to be an idiot: 8

Celaena does absolutely anything to advance the plot: 1!

Okay, book; I highly recommend that you orchestrate some excitement in the next chapter. Maybe Cain notices and attacks her? Maybe she sees he/the monster’s about to murder someone, so she steps in to stop it? I don’t care what you do, just make it good.

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CHAPTER INDEX


20 thoughts on “Throne of Glass: Chapter 41

  1. No, put the cardigan back on, cardigans are good.
    I think this chapter was written just as a final proof that Celaena is acting like a complete idiot. If you can’t see it now, well you are blind.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. haha love your rant about rebels- you’re definitely right about the word being misused but I personally thought there were two reasons for that: 1) cos it would give the refugees strength to identify as rebels- it implies they actually stand a chance of fighting back and is how they overcome their status as victims of circumstance and 2) it’s a way of the King of Adarlan delegitimizing them- if they are refugees they are victims, if they are rebels they are perpetrators (feel like that got me thinking- and polishing my glasses and putting on my cardigan 😉 )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely agree that the king of Adarlan wouldn’t call them refugees, or anything else that would acknowledge them as victims.

      And yeah, I think I can see the refugees garnering strength and hope by mislabeling themselves rebels. But I can also see them wanting to distance themselves from the word, because it just shouts WE’RE BREAKING THE LAW, COME AND FIND US when they’re not actually breaking the law and REALLY don’t want the Adarlan army to come find them.

      It’s a tricky question, isn’t it? Hmm.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah I do get that- but then maybe they think “an unjust law is no law at all” and they’re justified in standing up for what’s right- I mean it’s not as if they’d feel bad about breaking the law- not only is it unjust, but it’s also not their laws to begin with (it’s the law of the invader). I get that they would not want to be found, but then why would, say, the French Resistance call themselves the French Resistance if they were so worried about being found? It’s because standing up to the oppressor/invader in even a small rebellion was a way of proving they weren’t beaten. It’s brave and it’s what wins rebellions. If a rebellion is too frightened to call themselves that, they won’t get anywhere. I get that there are reasons why they might call themselves refugees, but I also think it makes sense to call themselves rebels.
        It is! (I’m weird- I love this kind of discussion!)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t think these “rebels” are doing any rebelling, though; they’re just hiding in the forest, trying to start a new life where they won’t be murdered by Adarlan’s army. If they’re doing any actual rebelling, the book hasn’t told me yet, and it totally should! Because that’d be 1000% more interesting. 😀

        The French Revolution is very much part of Nationalism; I’m talking pre-Nationalism identities. People in medieval Europe (and, I’m assuming, its fantasy-land equivalents like this one) had a pretty different sense of identity than more modern Nationalist people.

        But I’m not a medieval scholar, and my understanding of the nuances of medieval identity is shaky. Maybe I should get off my butt and actually read all those history books I like to hoard. Dies

        Liked by 1 person

      3. No, I do agree with you there- I just think it’s a tiny act of rebellion to call themselves rebels.
        Hmm that’s interesting- but the idea of fighting back against an invader goes back wayy before nationalism- I don’t really get that comparison (I have studied history- and just going on my speciality (classics) I can assure you even they had a sense of national identity- eg the Persian wars. Nationalism is not a modern phenomenon) I also wasn’t talking about the French revolution- I was talking about French resistance in WW2. If you want a medieval example, think the invasion of the Holy Land in the crusades- it’s not as if Saladin just rolled over when the Europeans came knocking. Or you could consider Norman the Conquerer- he invaded England and what not many people realise is there was a revolt shortly after he came to power- where all the old elite tried to kick him off the throne again (it didn’t work). I could go into a really lengthy discussion here about the formation of the modern nation state, cos I studied nationalism at one point- but I feel like this could take wayyy too much time. Suffice to say, it’s a very complicated topic.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Oh, awesome! You definitely know more than I do on the subject, then.

        I’m 100% not saying a medieval population wouldn’t defend their country against invasion or anything; that’s obviously absurd.

        My supposition is that the common folk who get displaced in the aftermath of a brutal conquest wouldn’t label themselves “rebels.” The issue I have here is just a matter of what word they’d use to describe themselves.

        As far as I’m aware, “rebel” as we use it today (and as this book is using it) carries a Nationalist connotation that isn’t quite appropriate for this particular setting. If they’re working to end Adarlan’s control over Eyllwe, I think they’d use a different word to describe themselves than “rebels.”

        And anyway, as far as we know, the so-called rebels aren’t actually doing anything to push Adarlan out of Eyllwe; they’re just relocating to the woods, where they hope to live in peace.

        As a historian, do you think there’s a different word they’d use for themselves (both if they are trying to oust Adarlan, and if they aren’t)?

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Hmm that’s an interesting way to put it. I kind of agree and disagree- I’m not sure of the terminology they would’ve used for themselves- I can think of a couple of examples with the Romans off the top of my head (Datians and Judeans)- now I know the Romans would have used derogatory terms to describe them and would have categorised them as something similar to a “rebel”, I’m just trying to recall what they called themselves. They definitely wouldn’t have considered themselves refugees or displaced persons though- that actually would be a modern term. I think the correct term would be in exile- if they were working in mines outside their country that is. And since like you said they’re not doing anything even slightly rebellious, I reckon I agree with you on balance.
        This was a lot of fun to talk about- so thank you for indulging me! (I don’t want to mislead you though, I don’t really consider myself a historian cos I’m too much of a dabbler- I’m more of a classicist)

        Like

      6. Sounds like an issue we’d both take to a professional-ish historian to fact-check, if we were the authors of this book. (This is why I rarely get around to writing my novels; I spend forever in the research phase, because EVERYTHING MUST BE FACT-CHECKED FIRST. I need help.)

        Thank you for indulging me! It’s great to guess at history with someone who also enjoys guessing at history. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  3. “It does puzzle me that the book somehow made it to print like this,” You and me both. I can make allowances for a single person. It’s hard to see our own work critically. But that’s the definition of an editor’s job!

    There is Celaena, and there is rational thought, and never the twain shall meet!

    I suspect that “rebels” is what the King and his folks might call the “rebels.” They probably consider themselves loyalists to their true nationality/cultural identity. That would be pretty consistent with a medieval worldview. After all, to call themselves “rebels” would be tantamount to saying “we are going to overthrow our king” rather than “we are going to liberate ourselves from this foreign invader.” If Adlaran (or however it’s spelled) people turned against their king, that would be a rebellion, and they might consider themselves rebels (though that’s still doubtful, as the positive connotations of the word are fairly modern). But the people of recently annexed nations, not so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! CELAENA: “I’m not saying I’m a critical thinker, but you’ll never see me and critical thinking in the same room.” US: ” . . . ”

      Precisely. It’s not a huge deal–certainly not the biggest problem of the book (by far)–but it’s just weird enough to get under my skin. I’ve been fidgeting about it the entire book, though I don’t remember if I ever complained about it.

      Liked by 1 person

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