Throne of Glass Chapter Summary
Chapter by chapter summary (and commentary) for Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, written as I read along with my amazing book club!
We begin with Celaena Sardothien, prisoner of Endovier, finding her freedom after a year in the salt mines. The notorious prison camp houses magic users, rebels, and random citizens of kingdoms defeated by Adarlan. Her dubious rescuer is Captain Chaol Westfall of the Royal Guard, who is conveniently young and handsome with a giant stick up his butt. He tries to disorient her by winding around the corridors of the overseers' complex, finally exiting into an opulent hall where waits the Crown Prince of Adarlan.
Celaena decides to defy the Prince by not bowing, and another jerkwad, Duke Perrington, physically forces her into a kneeling position. Prince Dorian flips him shit about it and shows that he's not as vacuous as he is trying to make everyone believe. He's also stupidly hot, and Celaena has obviously not had anything pretty to look at in a long time. There's some more repartee between Adarlan's Assassin and its Prince, and Celaena tells Dorian about her attempted escape and Dorian asks about her scars, saying they could be covered, of all things, dresses. Dorian has a proposition for the assassin, and she is willing to hear him out, if only to seek an opportunity for escape.
Turns out Dorian wants Celaena to compete for the role of the King's Champion - which is basically a nice way of saying she will kill on demand for the King. After 6 years, she would earn her freedom. Dorian will sponsor her in the competition against 22 other hopefuls, and wants her to compete under an alias because no one knows that the notorious Adarlan's Assassin was just a young girl. Negotiating down to 4 years of servitude, Celaena agrees to the terms, willing to do just about anything to earn her freedom and return home.
Celaena awakens to sun for the first time in a year, clean and given fine clothes. Apparently, she's a total girly girl who loves clothes and fine things. Meanwhile, as she enjoys her improved station, she feels guilt when looking out at those still imprisoned within Endovier. And mocking her brief respite, Chaol chains her to his saddle to prevent her from bolting off on the ride. Chaol is surly and reticent and refuses to engage Celaena in conversation even as she tries to get under his skin. He's kind of a tool at this point.
Lunch break! Celaena observes from body language that Dorian is not a big fan of Duke Perrington. We get a peek into Celaena's past - she is originally from Terrasen and she was fleeing when she was rescued by Arobynn Hammel, who trained her to be an assassin. Celaena contributes to a conversation about the Oakwald Forest, calling it Brannon's Forest. Fear of all things faerie and magical is pervasive in Adarlan, and this is another example of that fear-based hatred coming forth. To the point that the King of Adarlan had banned magic across the land, and magic had completely disappeared from the continent. We also learn that Celaena herself once had magical gifts that had been lost when magic vanished. Sore and tired, she doesn't even contemplate escape as she is shackled to a guard when she goes to her tent to sleep. When she awakens, she finds a posy of small white flowers surrounded by tiny footprints at the end of her cot, the evidence of which she hastily wipes away before they can be discovered by the guards.
The traveling continues for 2 more weeks, and Celaena is basically just whining the entire time. Nearing Rifthold, Dorian entreats Chaol, and by extension Celaena, to come view the city lit by the sunset from a large hill. The ugly glass castle that sits upon the original stone structure is disdained by Celaena and Dorian alike. They decide to camp one more day before descending into the city. Chaol shows a modicum of humanity, asking Celaena about her time in Endovier and how it feels to be returning to Rifthold. She shares that she believes that one of the fellow members of the Assassin's Guild set her up to be captured and taken to the prison, and while she has her suspicions, she doesn't share any more with Chaol. Dorian tries to talk himself out of being attracted to Celaena, and fails to keep her face from his dreams.
The group arrives in Rifthold to much pomp and Celaena mocks the crowds by flirting openly with Dorian's back. Chaol finds this very irritating which only encourages Celaena's behavior. Once again we are presented with the dichotomy of the royal procession and the slaves working the docks. Celaena aches to deny her place in the parade and reach out to the slaves, to tell them she had once freed many such from a pirate lord, to try to empathize with their plight. But she is ushered on into the castle's fortifications and Dorian has decided to be charming before heading off to meet with his father. Thankfully, Celaena was given rooms in the stone castle, instead of the glass, and she immediately assessed its escape possibilities and potential weapons. After a quick nap, visit with a tailor, and pampering by servants, Celaena meets Phillipa, her personal servant. It doesn't take long for us to see that Phillipa is going to be good for Celaena, who is pretty obnoxious at this point with that chip on her shoulder.
Dorian meets with his father, blah blah blah, the King is a dick, blah blah blah, Dorian is a manwhore, blah blah blah, don't court Celaena. Which basically guarantees he gonna do just that.
Celaena convinces Chaol to give her a tour of the castle so she can scout out escape routes, although she refuses to enter the glass addition. We learn a little more about Dorian's younger brother, Hallan, who is basically a dangerous psychopath who enjoys torture. Celaena is repulsed by the black clock tower in the courtyard, and she notices a strange mark on the paved path. Chaol brushes her off and when they return indoors, they pass giant doors which Chaol reveals to be the library. Celaena is entirely enchanted and has a bibliophile's reaction to the million or more volumes contained within. Chaol asks if Celaena ever visited the great library at Orynth in her home of Terrasen and while she had, she hadn't been allowed to explore. Chaol then ushers her away, saying she isn't allowed to take books out without permission from the prince or king, and sends her back to her rooms to eat and be isolated for the rest of the evening. Wishing for something to read while stuck in her rooms, she decides to prevail upon Dorian for permission to use the library at her will. Dorian's response is to send her seven books from his personal library so she can read them and they can discuss them. D'awwww.
Celaena awakens the next day at noon, wondering where everyone is and why she wasn't forced to some kind of first-day-of-the-competition something or another. Wandering the gardens, she eavesdrops on some court ladies, one of whom is overly confident that she will snare the prince but soon. She also speculates on the identity of the woman Dorian brought into Rifthold yesterday, a conversation that evidently had been held multiple times before. Apparently Dorian's cover story that Celaena is one of his lovers is well circulated by now, and Celaena predictably takes umbrage at being called the "prince's harlot" and throws a flower pot at the group of ladies.
Celaena gets (over)dressed and hides her hairpin dagger in the waist of her dress. Phillipa dismisses Celaena's distress at the gossip surrounding her and Dorian. Chaol, who apparently can't keep track of a schedule, shows up to drag Celaena to meet the King. Definitely not dressed to impress as an assassin and with her fear and hatred of the King, Celaena is having a serious freak out on the trip there. Chaol tries to reassure her and is almost nice for like half a second.
Celaena gets a chance to scope out the competition, and she regrets her clothing choices. We talk a lot about clothes with Celaena. We get the outline of the contest, which basically consist of a weekly elimination competition. The week after Yulemas, there is to be a final duel to determine the winner. Dorian leaves early, just to be disrespectful it seems, since he just waited outside for Chaol and Celaena to come out. Flirting, flirting, blah blah blah, and a discussion of Celaena's alias during the competition. We also meet Lady Kaltain Rompier, the very one who was gossiping about Celaena in the garden earlier that day.
As the competition begins the next day, Celaena's bad attitude is only exacerbated by the early hour. Chaol decides that he and Celaena will start with sword play. Chaol wins with an unsportsmanlike move. Just as they were about to spar with knives, the training is interrupted.
Brullo, the judge of the competition introduces himself and the rest of the competitors. Celaena's ego can't handle her cover story or the strategy to undersell her skills. I have to keep reminding myself that she's only 18 and we should probably expect her to be this obnoxious. Chaol is able to convince her of the obvious merits of the plan, and she agrees to stick to the plan. The competitors then go for a run, and we find that Endovier hasn't done much to improve Celaena's endurance.
Chaol joins Celaena for lunch and they have a passably civil conversation. She was free to spend her afternoon as she liked, so she read for awhile then exercised on her own. She was in the middle of pull ups when Chaol returned and he clearly approves of her pastime. When Chaol and Celaena go for a walk, they encounter Kaltain and Nehemia Ytger, the princess of Eyllwe. Celaena and Nehemia speak together in Nehemia's native language, and form an instant bond. Nehemia asks Celaena to be her companion while she is in Rifthold and Celaena agrees. Chaol and Celaena have lunch again, and we get a short look into Chaol's internal monologue. He's about as conflicted and tiresome internally as he is out loud.
Chaol and Celaena begin their regular training regimen, which consists of running and weapons training, lunch and training with the rest of the competitors under the eye of Brullo. The day before the first elimination challenge, something is wrong. As the champions gather, Paylor tells Celaena and Nox that a champion was murdered the night before. This explains why Chaol and Brullo failed to appear that day. Chaol comes back to visit Celaena that evening, and they talk about books, Chaol's friendship with Dorian, and Chaol's home in Annielle, where his father is Lord. Celanea is less forthcoming, but she does reveal a story about Arobynn forcing her to break her right hand in a door. Chaol leaves shortly thereafter and Celaena is left to rest the night before the first contest.
As the first task begins, no one knows what to expect. Behind a curtain, the test is revealed to be an archery competition, five shots at five targets. He with the worst aim goes home. Celaena naturally wants to prove herself and struggles to stay in the middle of the pack. Despite his poor showing, the young assassin Paylor is not eliminated after all.
Training resumes the next day and Celaena is determined to work harder to not lose to the brawny and not-as-worthless-as-he-seems Cain. During a run that sends her vomiting once again, Chaol notices Celaena's scars on her back. She tells him the story of how she was whipped on her first day, and one friendly prisoner helped her to survive the deep gashes that could have killed her from infection or bleeding out. The kind woman who helped her was raped and murdered for her trouble. Chaol doesn't have much to contribute.
Later during group training, a champion attacked a guard in an attempt to escape and was cut down in front of them all. Nox reveals that his sponsor offered him immunity even if he doesn't win.
Dorian is attending court with his mother, contemplating the competition and recent murder of one of the champions and the one who was killed in his escape attempt that day. The Queen nags Dorian about getting married, he is already 19 after all! Speculation includes Nehemiah, Kaltain, some other random girls, and all of it bores Dorian. The Queen literally has a list of potential brides for him. Like Celaena, Dorian is immature and while his complaints aren't entirely baseless, we can only hope he grows up and soon.
Dorian wanders to the stables looking for his hounds, but instead finds Celaena sparring with some guards while Nehemiah joins in. Dorian tries to escort the princess back to her rooms, which doesn't go well for him.
As Dorian capitulates and allows himself to spar with Nehemiah, she shows him up pretty darn quickly. Chaol shows up and breaks up the party, being a jerk while Celaena acts like a petulant child.
Oh Kaltain, no one cares about you (yet). Basic mean girl, selling herself to Duke Perrington unless she can finagle a better offer. Kaltain baits the Duke for information and enjoys his response to goading him about Celaena (Lillian).
Chaol and Dorian have dinner together, and Chaol tries to warn the prince off of Celaena. They also discuss the murder of the Eye Eater, who was relieved of his internal organs, even his brain. Yuck.
Celaena, on her own while the boys have dinner, finishes a book and feels bad about being mean to Chaol. Bored and restless she decides to try to play the piano in her room. Arobynn forced her to learn during her assassin training, and she had once been quite good. As she played she fell into the music and didn't notice when Dorian came to visit and was transfixed by her. Flirt, flirt, blah blah blah, music, books, talk about Chaol, petulant children, blah. As Dorian is leaving, we learn that Sam, Celaena's former lover, was killed just before she was sent to Endovier.
The second test comes the next day. The champions are set to capture a flag at the top of the castle's ramparts, forcing the competitors to climb the castle wall. The most direct and easy path was choked by champions, and Celaena picks a more difficult and unused path. A champion falls to his death, causing very little ado. Nox gets into a fight with another competitor, pushes him off his perch and attempts to cut his rope. Celaena dithers as to whether to help her friend and ultimately goes to his aid.
As Celaena jumps from her tether, she catches Nox as he fell and while they're violently thrown against the stones, the rope held them both. They both begin to climb again, eager not to be the last to arrive. By saving Nox, she became the second to last, but Nox avoided elimination due to the death of the competitor who fell. At dinner with Chaol, she reveals more about her youth and training with Arobynn.
News comes of another murdered champion, and we speed through two more challenges. Dorian stays away while Celaena continues to improve her endurance and strength. She begins to doubt whether she will be among the final four.
Celaena had a nightmare of being sent back to Endovier and awakens to Chaol reassuring her. It's Samhain and Chaol had come to cancel training and antagonize her. And to ask her if she is going to the service, but told her she's not invited to the feast that night. Brullo's training was still on for the afternoon, and another test was to take place the next day.
Dorian escapes after the service and runs into Celaena (and Nehemiah and Chaol) in the garden. After managing to insult Celaena's dress and butcher Nehemiah's language, Dorian just spreads awkward all over the place. And once again shuts her down about attending the feast.
The trio leave Dorian, and Celaena is still butthurt about the feast. While Chaol and Celaena verbally spar, Nehemiah insists that Celaena tutor her in the Common Tongue. That settled, they come across Cain who is examining something on the ground. Celaena checks out the spot and asks Nehemiah what she thinks it is. She names it a Wyrdmark, and they find several more around the courtyard. Nehemiah implores Celaena to leave them alone.
Lying in bed, NOT AT THE FEAST, Celaena finds herself staring at a tapestry on the wall. She imagines it moving then realizes it really is moving. Shoving the tapestry aside, she finds a hidden door that leads to a passage downwards. She gathers some exploring provisions and sets off on her adventure. Coming to a fork in the road with three options to proceed, she chooses the option in the middle. She continues to follow the middle path which leads her down and towards running water. She finds that the path leads to a sewer that runs out to the river, with boats and all, seemingly unguarded. She begins to contemplate her escape but ultimately decides to return to her new friends and earn her freedom. She plans to leave her escape plans to a later date, after a chance to accumulate stores for a long journey.
Returning to the original fork in the path, she chooses to explore the left fork. This leads her to a spy tunnel that overlooks the Samhain feast. Evidently other champions were allowed to attend but Celaena wasn't. She notices Dorian dancing with some blonde woman, and then sees Chaol leaving the feast. She rushes back to her chambers in case he comes back to see her, but it's Dorian who visits her. While she pretends to sleep and Dorian looks in, Chaol does indeed come up behind the Prince. The two of them bicker and Chaol throws Dorian out. And then Chaol goes back in against his better sense. He gives her the present he brought her from the feast, a party favor given to the noble ladies who attended - a ring with an amethyst that she put on her finger as she fell back to sleep.
Celaena dreams of the third, righthand passageway, following the scent of roses down to a door with a face for a knocker. A sarcophagus is within with a woman carved into it. A second sarcophagus lay beside it with a man carved on it's lid. The room is covered in Wyrdmarks and riddles. The royal couple interred here are Gavin, the first king of Adarlyn, and his wife, the daughter of Brannon, Elena. Celaena finds the sword of Gavin, Demaris, and the not-quite-ghost of Elena comes to speak with Celaena. Elena speaks in riddles and entreats Celaena to win the competition, and to find and destroy the evil that lays within the castle. When Celaena awakens back in her bed, she finds the amulet that Elena gave her in her hand and the secret door ajar. She slams the door shut and realizes that the tapestry that hides the passageway actually depicts the long-ago queen as a marker.
Chaol bangs into Calaena's room demanding where she was the night before. There's no way Chaol knows about her nighttime wanderings, but he reveals that another champion was murdered the night before, half eaten. Celaena suspects that the creatures who attacked Elena the night before might be to blame. She slips back to the tomb to investigate, but finds no trace of the events of the previous night. When she returns above, she goes to visit the library. On the way they encounter the gruesome murder scene, which appears to have Wyrdmarks written in blood on the wall.
Meanwhile, Dorian and Chaol are sparring, which is apparently their default when they need to have a chat. Chaol embarks once again on scolding the prince about visiting Celaena, and Dorian retorts that Chaol was doing the exact same thing. Leaving not a thing resolved they decide to stop their swordplay and get back to their responsibilities.