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