Upon entering the presence of royalty, the captain removes his hood, so we can learn that he’s an age-appropriate love interest.
“Captain Westfall was not excessively handsome, but she couldn’t help finding the ruggedness of his face and the clarity of his golden-brown eyes rather appealing.“
Aren’t there more pressing matters at hand? Like what the prince is doing here? Or, you know, your possible impending death?
Serana Celaena refuses to bow to the prince because she’s hardcore like that (and still figures she’s probably dead anyway). A “large” duke forces her down, hitting her against the floor, and Celaena thinks about how she’d like to kill the guy. The prince, however, says he doesn’t see the point of forcing someone to bow, and that he thinks Celaena has had enough humiliation. He then sends Duke Perrington on his way.
Well, at least Maas is quick to establish what type of character everyone is, I suppose.
“But she’d been trained to be an assassin since the age of eight, since the day the King of the Assassins found her half-dead on the banks of a frozen river and brought her to his keep.“
Guys, this is not a parody. This is not Discworld. This is meant to be Serious Business.
“She wouldn’t be humiliated by anything, least of all being dirty.“
“She looked at her rags and stained skin, and she couldn’t suppress the twinge of shame. What a miserable state for a girl of former beauty!“
Literally on the same page.
I would be inclined to give Maas credit here and assume she’s showing that some of Celaena’s attitude is bravado, but the super-special-awesome fight skills we’re going to hear about shortly leaves me feeling uncharitable.
The prince is acting somewhat spoiled, but we already know he’s not evil, so it’s not adding any real tension. He is also super-hot and an age-appropriate love interest. As for how attractive a love interest Celaena would be…
“At a passing glance, one might think her eyes blue or gray, perhaps even green, depending on the color of her clothing.“
That’s fair enough, actually. My eyes look differently colored depending on the lighting and what I’m weari-
“Up close, though, these warring hues were offset by the brilliant ring of gold around her pupils.“
Are you kidding me.
She also has long golden hair, of course (when it’s clean). The narration says the rest of her features are fairly average but she knows how to make up to compensate for that. Which I’m okay with, since that seems like an actual infiltration skill.
But the prince seems to imply that he can tell she’s clearly hot through the dirt, so yeah she’s just going to be treated as perfectly gorgeous.
Celaena proceeds to sass the prince as he points out things like the fact that eighteen seems kind of young to be the most infamous assassin in the country or possibly continent. Look, I know you’re fairly convinced you’re going to die, but couldn’t you display some survival instinct by not being a smartass to someone with the literal power of life or death over you?
Since the prince asks if she ever tried to escape, we get to hear about the time Celaena did attempt that. She killed 24 people (including that overseer mentioned before) in the attempt, and got 360 feet farther than the 3 feet that’s the standard distance a slave trying to escape gets.
Let’s just pause a moment to reflect on that sentence.
The prince’s first reaction to this isn’t “oh my god you’re a monster” or “oh my god you’re so awesome,” but one Celaena doesn’t expect- being disturbed by the fact that she was engaging in a suicide attempt. I actually like this. It fits with the fact that we all obviously know he’s not here to kill her, and hints that he definitely wants her to stay alive for some reason. It also shows that the prince is quick to catch the implications of an event. It’s a subtle little way of demonstrating character and hinting at the plot that’s entirely out of keeping with the rest of the chapter.
After a brief and yet too-long exchange of hints from the prince (“your new clothes with cover that”) and “I know you have something planned (in spite of this thought not occurring to me at any point in the narration before)” from Celaena, we get to the point- the prince has a “proposition” for her. Which ends the chapter on a supposed cliffhanger. It seems like Maas wants to end a chapter the minute something “surprising” or “tense” happens, rather than letting her story flow.