Sorry for the delay! Things got rather overwhelming for a bit.
The d after the three up there was a typo, but I couldn’t convince myself to get rid of it.
Last time in Throne of Glass, the chapter ended in the middle of a conversation in what seemed to be a very bad attempt at drawing out tension.
This time in Throne of Glass: the conversation continues from the exact point where it left off!
Seriously why couldn’t this have been one chapter.
The prince’s “proposition,” we learn, after he stupidly sends most of his guards away, could possibly result in Celaena being freed. Naturally, she finds this appealing. And naturally, there is a catch- she would have to serve as the king’s Champion first, which is a post that involves killing people for him rather than fighting a duel whenever he’s insulted. Now Celaena hates the king, partly because of, you know, the imprisonment and slavery, and partly because of all the conquering and subjugating he’s been doing. But freedom after 6 years, and not working in salt mines, makes it pretty appealing. (There’s even a salary.)
But there’s a catch to the catch! Because everything needs a bit of the Hunger Games in it these days*, she has to win a competition first! The members of the king’s council are each putting forward a candidate
to represent their district. So it’s the Hunger Games with assassins. So hardcore, man.
And there’s a catch to the catch’s catch! Celaena can’t compete under her own name, because the fact that the infamous assassin Celaena Annoyingnameien is a teenage girl has been hushed up.
“‘No one knows that Celaena Sardothien is just a young woman—they all thought you were far older.’
‘What?’ she asked again, her face flushing. ‘How is that possible?’ She should be proud that she’d kept it hidden from most of the world, but . . .”
This part is a real problem for me. Pointing out the unbelievable things the your narrative is doing is fine when you’re writing, say, Community, because you’re writing a comedy and even the lampshading is meant to be part of the fun. Admitting in your Serious Fantasy that, in fact, no one sensible would ever accept the idea of your teenager who is the most awesome assassin ever just pulls me right out of suspending disbelief. It feels less like laughing with the audience, as it does in a comedy, and more like laughing at the audience.
I mean, I couldn’t make myself buy into the teenage super-assassin anyway. But if I had, I’d have a harder time after this.
Celaena thinks the whole competition angle is pointless. There’s no way that her reputation could turn out to be partly undeserved, or she’s lost most of her skills after this long as a slave, or they just want a while to watch her and see if they want this known criminal in the admittedly corrupt government.
“‘As I just said, you must prove yourself worthy.’
She put a hand on her hip, and her chains rattled loudly through the room. ‘Well, I think being Adarlan’s Assassin exceeds any sort of proof you might need.'”
Now, the prince has indicated he might bargain with her over the amount of years she has to serve, but this part about the competition reads like her posturing and trying her luck. When you’re doing this with the man who is offering your only chance not to die a slave, that doesn’t seem tough and cool. It seems dumb.
After this particular bit of telling us how great Celaena is, she accepts the offer. Because she’s not that dumb, and also otherwise there would be no book.
If she loses, she’ll be sent back to the mines. She’s certain she’ll win, so she’s taking her eventual freedom as a given. She feels like singing, but there’s a rare moment of psychological awareness.
“She tried to think of music, tried to think of a celebratory tune, but could only recall a solitary line from the mournful bellowing of the Eyllwe work songs, deep and slow like honey poured from a jar: ‘And go home at last...'”
Eyllwe is one of the countries the king conquered- prisoners of war and rebels were enslaved.
Despite talking about how awful the mines are, this is the only passage in the chapter that actually illustrates the effect being there has had on her.
The chapter ends with her thinking about how determined she is to win her freedom. And is actually a logical breaking point, since it’s clear that the narrative will be transitioning into leaving the mines. And is not a lazy way of trying to create tension. In the middle of a conversation.
*See: Divergent (Hunger Games with a city of Hogwarts houses), The Maze Runner (Hunger Games with Lord of the Flies and Lost), and The Selection (the Bachelor as the Hunger Games). All of these sell very well. So does Throne of Glass.