The fourth book in this series is currently the number one YA bestseller.
There are much worse things that are bestsellers, but that’s not really a comfort.
Anyway, let’s get on with chapter 6.
“For the next two weeks, they traveled down through the continent, the nights becoming colder, the days shorter.“
Wait a second.
Waaaaaaiiiiiiit a second.
We’re just skipping through two weeks? During which Celaena just goes along resenting being a prisoner but not doing anything about it? You’re saying there’s no escape attempt? You’re saying this super assassin can’t figure out a way to at least try to pick the locks of her chains? You’re saying she never tries to use her chains as a weapon and then make a run for it? You’re saying she never tries to poison everyone?
Maas, you tell the reader that Celaena is a badass desperate for freedom. But you sure as hell don’t show it. I know you want to get Celaena to your Hunger Games ripoff. But an escape attempt doesn’t have to work. It just has to demonstrate that your protagonist actually has the priorities and skills you say she does.
“Everything was wet and half-frozen, and while she could bear sodden hair, she couldn’t withstand the agony of wet shoes.“
This temporary streak of bad weather is apparently the only notable thing to happen in those two weeks. I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure that someone who was just a slave in a mine for a year wouldn’t be so occupied with wet shoes. Yeah, they suck. She’s dealt with worse.
“Celaena was half-asleep on her horse when the Crown Prince pulled out of line and came trotting toward them, his dark hair bouncing. His red cape rose and fell in a crimson wave. Above his unadorned white shirt was a fine cobalt-blue jerkin trimmed with gold. She would have snorted, but he did look rather good in his knee-high brown boots. And his leather belt did go nicely—even though the hunting knife seemed a bit too bejeweled.“
Did you know the prince is hot because he’s totally hot it’s important to remind you that the prince is hot and also rich.
The prince wants to show Chaol something, and Celaena can come along because why not.
“Atop the hill, Celaena stared at the crowning achievement of Adarlan. The glass castle of Rifthold.
It was gargantuan, a vertical city of shimmering, crystalline towers and bridges, chambers and turrets, domed ballrooms and long, endless hallways. It had been built above the original stone castle, and cost a kingdom’s wealth to construct.“
Now look, I’ll admit, this is a pretty cool image for your fantasy novel. But I actually used to work part-time at a school of glass. I am easily distracted by the logistics here. First off, yeah, that is going to be the kind of expensive that causes civil unrest. I’m going to assume this is cast glass, because that’s the only method you could use to create blocks large enough for construction. So we’re not just talking about about needing a huge supply of glass here. You need a huge supply of kilns to cast the glass in, a huge supply of ceramics to form the molds, a huge supply of coating so that you can get the blocks out of the molds, an enormous amount of fuel, and tons of labor. How are they holding it together- casting the blocks to interlock and fortifying it with cement, maybe?
What’s going to happen to this country’s economy when they stop building and adding on to this?
Not to mention the structural instability. In the unlikely event that no one takes a siege engine to it and there’s no earthquake or other sufficiently violent natural disaster, they’ll have to contend with the fact that they’ve built with a liquid. It’s a liquid that takes decades to notably move at normal temperatures, but it does still flow down.
(If it turns out to have been built with magic and the king is a hypocrite who banned magic but is using it for things like extravagant displays of wealth, I’ll probably be okay with that. I’m not sure at this point whether the king will be played straight or if we’ll see that incredibly overused “twist.”)
Everyone comes to admire the view, Celaena thinks about how she first saw the castle when she was ten and how she’d killed a man before that, and the prince decides they’ll camp and actually head into the city tomorrow.
Seeing the castle and the rest of the city makes Celaena feel intimidated, a fact which Chaol notices. Celaena comments that she still doesn’t know how exactly she was captured (which was the last time she was here). She assumes another assassin gave her up because they were jealous of how super special awesome she was and how she was getting all the best jobs because of it.
“And the one that seemed most likely was a truth she wasn’t yet ready to face—not now, not ever.”
Yeah it was totally her mentor, the King of Assassins.
Chaol comments that being a slave in salt mines probably sucked, because he’s sympathetic like that. Celaena explains that being a slave in a mine does indeed suck, and it sucked even more for her because the overseers had instructions to treat her especially badly. Chaol has no comment, probably because he’s part of the system that turns people into mine slaves. (Celaena may be a murderer, but most of the slaves aren’t criminals.)
That night, Celaena has one of her recurring nightmares about being buried alive in one of the mine’s mass graves. The description isn’t anything special, but just the idea of being buried alive under corpses is pretty effectively disturbing. And again, I’m relieved to see some effect the mines had on Celaena.
She looks at the nighttime castle as she’s trying to calm herself, and it looks sinister and evil.
“There was something greenish about it, and it seemed to pulse.“
I will give Maas this- light from glass that thick would be greenish, not clear. At least she knows that? The pulsing could be magic, or just the castle being evil.
Meanwhile, Dorian is secretly watching Celaena watch the city. She looks sad! And hey, did you know she’s hot? Celaena’s totally hot.
“Through a clearing in the swirling mass, a cluster of stars could be seen. He couldn’t help thinking that they gazed down at her.“
But he must remember that she is an assassin! She is ruthless! She is his tool and nothing more!
Could we at least have waited until further in the book to really start the obligatory badly-executed romance? Please?
No. No we couldn’t.