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 Nehemia, 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 Nehemia 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 Nehemia, 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 Nehemia and Chaol) in the garden. After managing to insult Celaena's dress and butcher Nehemia'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, Nehemia 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 Nehemia what she thinks it is. She names it a Wyrdmark, and they find several more around the courtyard. Nehemia 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.
The next day, Celaena is spending time with Nehemia and pondering the significance of the clock tower and the wyrdmarks, both in relation to Elena's tomb and the murders of the champions. Once again, Nehmia tries to ward Celaena off looking into the wyrdmarks and denies knowing anything about them. They are interrupted by Cain, who insinuates to Celaena that he knows about her cover story, who she really is, and that she is pretending to be less competent in the competition than she truly is. Later, Chaol, thinking to scare Dorian away from Celaena, takes him to watch her practice her deadly skills. Clearly Chaol knows nothing about how hot a deadly woman is (or he does, obvs, but for some reason thinks Dorian will see it differently?) and when Dorian sees Celaena being friendly with Nox and helping him, the green monster of jealousy comes out a bit. Great plan, Chaol!
A few days later, Chaol is chaperoning Celaena in the library, a duty which he apparently pulls rarely, while she researches wyrdmarks (finally). He's very short tempered with her and keeps asking when she will want to leave, which obviously just makes her want to stay longer. When she gets audibly frustrated with her search, Chaol asks her what she's reading and she shares a little about her research, although she doesn't tell him about the connection to the latest murder scene. When she reaches for the next book, The Walking Dead, she gets a sinister feeling. She hadn't chosen this book from the shelves. Opening the book, which apparently also smells like death, she finds a description of a horrible dead thing. Chaol teases her by making a scraping noise with his dagger out of sight, which startles her and angers her into packing up to leave.
So, Celaena sucks at pool. Dorian shows up, flirt flirt flirt, he's going to show her how to play, flirty flirty, duh. They played and talked until 2am, and when she fell asleep in a chair, he put her to bed.
The next challenge is sparring, with the winner gaining immunity for the challenge, the loser facing the judgement of Brullo. Celaena is set to match Varen, and after he taunts her before their bout, she decides not to hold back. She quickly knocks him out of the ring, immediately disqualifying him. Chaol didn't even reprimand her for her pique.
Trapped inside the castle and her rooms, Celaena examines the tapestry of Elena. Although Elena became Queen of Adarlan, she was still a child of Terrasen, the nation founded by her father Brannon. Like Celaena herself, she was a transplant to Adarlan, even as its ruler.
On the other side of the castle, Kaltain is attending the Queen at a performance of a troupe of acrobats. She is suffering from a headache, much as she has been for the last few weeks. She attempts manipulation of the Queen, which doesn't take much (but she's such a good judge of character!) and tries to get more intel on Dorian and worm her way into his mother's good graces. Clearly she has no idea that Dorian cares even less about his mother's opinion of his love life than he does for Kaltain herself.
Chaol continues to flirt with Celaena by berating her in training. Celaena tells Chaol that Cain knows who she is, that Perrington told him. While Chaol is surprised and a bit dismayed, he still believes that Celaena can beak Cain. They are interrupted by two guards rushing in to announce another champion had been murdered. Chaol decides to bring Celaena along on the investigation.
Again, the body had been eviscerated and wyrdmarks drawn on the wall in chalk. There were also claw marks on the floor next to the body, who turned out to be Varen. They discover that Varen was disabled before he was killed, and Celaena speculates that whoever murdered him summoned some kind of creature who killed him.
Celaena goes back to her room to continue to investigate wyrdmarks in the books she had taken from the library. Dorian comes in around midnight, flirt flirt, blah blah blah, and Dorian asks Celaena to play the piano for him. They decide to exchange questions - he asks about her love for music, she asks why he isn't married yet. Then she mocks him for his romantic notions, which was pretty rude to be honest. As he grabs her hand, he notices the ring that Chaol gave her and asks her where she got it. She instinctively evades his question and challenges him to another game of billiards.
Chaol finds himself watching the strange and sinister Duke Perrington during dinner, from which Dorian is conspicuously absent. Perrington keeps staring at his black stone ring, and his eyes go strange and dark. While he is curious and disconcerted, he allows other, more pressing concerns to take precedence as he drives thoughts of Perrington from his mind.
Elena visits Celaena in her room, awakening her from sleep. Her message, to win the competition, was redundant, and her cryptic warning to "watch her right" was unhelpful. More competitions come to pass, and another champion is murdered. During a competition to evaluate and sort poisons, Paylor helps her with the odorless, tasteless poison that is stumping her. Paylor, on her right, is the guidance that Celaena needed, as the water-looking poison was bloodbane, and nearly instantly fatal.
Celaena and Nehemia have another lesson in the common tongue. Nehemia invites Celaena to join her at another performance for the Queen, but Celaena has to decline, due to her house arrest in the evenings. Nehemia led Celaena to the kennels, where they meet up with Dorian sitting with a group of puppies, the mutts Dorian told her of the last evening they spent together. He says one of the puppies has a foul disposition, and if it won't respond to humans it will have to be killed. Celaena becomes outraged and claims the dog for herself. Seeing how upset Celaena is, Dorian promises not to kill the dog. Walking back with Nehemia, Celaena vehemently denies her attraction to Dorian. Standing in the hall gazing out a window, Cain comes up behind her, gasping and grasping at his throat. As though he were trying to speak and couldn't, he stared at Celaena, at his obsidian ring, back at Celaena, before taring off down the hall. Celaena sends messages to Nox and Paylor, telling them to stay in their chambers for the night, without any explanation of why.
Oh joy, more Kaltain. Perrington comes to visit her in her room, while she was smoking opium to relieve her headaches. Perrington taunts her with news of Dorian and the "Lady Lillian" and Kaltain bluffs saying she heard the lady wasn't as pure as she should be. Perrington, fearing Kaltain knows Celaena's true identity, pushes, but Kaltain doesn't truly know anything.
Nehemia joins Celaena in her room, having left the play early after receiving bad news. Five hundred captives from Eyllwe were massacred en route to the slave labor camp Calaculla (twin to Endovier) for trying to escape. Some of the rebels who were detained tried to escape and as punishment, all of the captives, including women and children, were slaughtered. Knowing Nehemia's purported association with the rebels, and as leader of those who were captured, Celaena's heart went out to the princess who just suffered a devastating loss.
Apparently, even assassins get menstrual cramps, at least well fed ones. It's some mighty inconvenient timing. Chaol stops by, trying to be supportive about the massacre at Calaculla, he doesn't quite get the hint that she's having some womanly discomfort. Although, he is rather sweet about empathizing with the rebels and it seems like he might actually ask her if she wants to spend some time with him. After she threw up on him and he tries to get her off to bed, she finally bluntly tells him she's on her period and he was a total dude about it and fled.
Dorian comes by later and is not nearly so squeamish. He won't leave her alone to her misery and flirts with her and tries to cheer her up. Eventually Dorian opens up about how he feels about the massacre of the Eyllwe rebels, and his candor and empathy touch Celaena. Dorian brings up that he's disappointed that Celaena can't come to the Yulemas ball with him (does he not remember how spun up she was about Samhain?) and when he leaves he kisses her on the cheek. Yeah, Celaena is definitely going to be pissy about the ball.
The next day, Chaol is basically spying on Celaena and Dorian walking in the garden. He ruminates on how he is letting his guard down with her, how she was sent to a death camp at the age of 17 but is still able to find joy and laughter. In the past three weeks, and three tasks come and gone, Celaena's ally Paylor had been sent home, and three more champions had been murdered and left in the castle's hallways. Only six champions remain, which means only two remain before the final duels at Yulemas.
Dorian questions Celaena about the necklace she wears, the amulet that Elena had given her for protection. He calls her on it, saying it resembles the Eye of Elena, a magical amulet that protected Elena during a battle with the dark lord Erawan. She deflects but is surprised that he had figured it out.
Celaena, back in her room and reading, is thinking about Elena's plans for her. Phillipa comes in and startles her, causing her to drop her book under the bed. Looking underneath with a candle, she sees something drawn on the floor below her bed. Pushing it aside, she sees a wyrdmark drawn in chalk. She hastens to wipe it away with water from her bathroom, and rushes off to the library to continue her research. She finds Nehemia within, reading a dense and difficult book in the common tongue. Apparently she had been hiding her skill, as she responds to Celaena's questions in perfect, accentless speech. As Nehemia walked off, a scrap piece of paper falls from the table, as scrap with a wyrdmark written on it. Feeling apprehensive and betrayed, Celaena tries to suss out the princess's true motives and intentions, speculating on why someone she counted a friend would deceive her this way, and wondering if Nehemia were somehow involved in the spate of murders of the champions.
Nehemia is avoiding Celaena, and the latter has decided she can't come forward with her suspicions without concrete proof. Awakening on Yulemas, Celaena finds a gift of a bag full of candy and proceeds to eat half the three pound bag in one sitting. It's fairly disgusting.
Phillipa gets her ready to go to the temple service, but her mouth is still red from eating all the candy. Dorian is waiting in her sitting room for her, and he makes fun of her for how much candy she had eaten. He had been the gifter, and it turns out he has another present for her. The puppy Celaena picked out is in a basket with a bow, which is an incredibly sweet gift. Celaena gives Dorian a kiss on the cheek and he gets all flustered.
Chaol accompanies Celaena to the Yulemas service, and she wonders why he's never as easy with her as Dorian is. Then he goads her about the ball, and she gets sulky and realizes she don't hate Chaol as much as she used to (DUH).
During the service, none of the other champions are present, and Celaena bristles that she gets to go to temple but not to the ball. C'mon you knew she was going to be sulky about this. Both Celaena and Chaol fall asleep during the service, Celaena's head dropping on Chaol's shoulder and drooling. When they awaken, they are at the point of the ceremony where children impersonating deities wander through the congregation handing out gifts. The girl posing as Diana stops in front of Celaena and gives her the solid gold arrow representing the goddess of the hunt.
In defiance of the boys, Celaena decides to attend the Yulemas ball. Since it's a masque, she decides the risk is worth it to be able to keep an eye on Nehemia. Clad in the most beautiful dress she's ever seen, Celaena sneaks out under the guise of being late to meet the Prince. Even with the mask, Dorian recognized her, but makes no move to make her leave. In fact, he makes no move at all, and before he can get to her, Chaol gets to her first. He is angry that she is there, and she finally has it out with him and corners him into letting her stay. After an hour, Nehemia hadn't left the Queen's side, until she rises to greet Celaena and Chaol on her way out of the party. Celaena starts to feel ashamed of ever suspecting Nehemia. Chaol is scowling and scaring suitors away, and Celaena asks him to dance since everyone else is too scared to approach them. When he declines, he is self deprecating, and she pays him a genuine compliment. Interrupting the moment, Dorian finally comes over and asks her to dance.
Celaena and Dorian danced together for several dances. Chaol once again watches Celaena and Dorian like a creeper. Kaltain watched them with anger. Celaena snuck away in the early hours when Dorian went to get a drink, and when she got back to her room, she found him waiting for her there. Going into her room, he chided her for leaving without saying goodbye, and flirty flirty, then their first kiss. Then Celaena goes to bed, alone.
Dorian came in the next afternoon, after Celaena slept the entire morning away. Dorian took Celaena's puppy out earlier with the other dogs, and asks her what she decided to name her. Celaena decided on Fleetfoot for the puppy. Then he broaches the subject of their kiss, and Celaena is inordinately awkward about it.
Kaltain and Perrington are walking in the garden and Perrington divulges Celaena's true identity. Kaltain thinks to separate Celaena and Dorian by sharing this "secret" with the Prince and King. Perrington suggests that Kaltain eliminate her by poisoning her during the final duel to ensure Cain's victory and Celaena's death.
Celaena stays up late studying and researching the wyrdmarks, but making little progress. Suddenly she stumbles upon the marks she recognized from the murder sites and a summoning spell for an evil monster called a Ridderak. Celaena oscillates between suspicion of Nehemia and exonerating her. She can't think of a motive for her to murder the champions, but she can't seem to think of another perpetrator (seriously?!)
She notices the tapestry fluttering and decides to go explore the tunnels looking for the murderer, wondering if they likewise use the hidden tunnels to navigate the castle. Instead she comes upon a Cain speaking an unknown language and sounding pained.
For some unknown reason, Celaena hasn't suspected Cain until this very moment, but seeing the Ridderak summoned makes it pretty undeniable that he's the perpetrator. She wasn't Cain's intended target, but he discovers her spying on him and locks her in with the Ridderak.
She goads the monster into charging at her while she stands in front of the door, moving at the last moment so it crashes through. She escapes out the opening towards Elena's tomb, with the creature close on her heels. She finds Demaris in the tomb and uses the sword to slay the creature. Disheveled, injured, and trying to come up with a cover story, she makes her way back to her room where she passes out. Nehemia finds her and cares for her, treating the wound from the Ridderak with wyrdmarks, and she passes out again.
Celaena awakens to her wounded hand completely healed, by magic. Nehemia is still at her bedside, waiting to ask her what happened. Celaena tells Nehemia the truth about who she is and why she is at the castle. In return, Nehemia gives her the name Elentiya, Spirit that Could Not Be Broken. The two young women stay up late through the night, Celaena sharing almost everything of her history with her friend.
The next day, Chaol not so subtly asks Celaena if she's in a bad mood because she and Dorian had had a fight. Celaena says she hadn't seen him last night (not for his lack of trying, but Nehemia sent him away when he came to visit Celaena last night). And then he asks if she had fun dancing with Dorian. Reaaaaaal smooth, Chaol. Walking back to her room after training, Chaol and Celaena run into the King who has finally returned.
After leaving Celaena, Chaol has returned to his room to read the report of the king's journey. For some undisclosed reason, everyone on the trip save the king had died.
During group training, Cain is leering at Celaena, not seeming surprised that she is alive. Nox notices Celaena has new scars that look like bite marks. She tells Nox that if he were smart he'd get out of the castle. Nox figures out who Celaena really is, and the stakes of the competition for her. Trusting her, he takes her warning seriously and leaves the castle that night.
Kaltain, Kaltain, you are such a hot mess. High on opium, she sees dark figures surrounding Cain.
Celaena and Dorian spend the evening together, playing chess. He holds her hand across the table and almost kisses her when she blurts out that she ran into his father in the hall. Awkward, thy name is Celaena. And then they made out til like 3 in the morning. Not a bad way to pass the evening while she stressed about Cain coming for her.
Finally, despite herself, Celaena falls asleep. She has a nightmare of memories from her childhood. She awakens at nearly dawn, news of Nox's departure meaning the last challenge is cancelled, and the duels will follow.
Dorian has it bad for Celaena, and he can't quite figure her out. He goes on a hunt to try to get her out of his head.
The duels will be tomorrow and Celaena refused all visitors that night. She's contemplating the wisdom of becoming the King's Champion and wondering if there isn't another, more personal reason why she wants to stay.
On the day of the duel, Kaltain is planning the poisoning of Celaena. The duels we're taking place outside in the courtyard near the clocktower, and it's freezing. Cain is there in the uniform of a royal guard and a fine sword that was surely a gift from Perrington.
Finally it's time to begin, and Celaena watches Cain and Renault duel first. Naturally, Cain wins, and then it's Celaena's turn. Chaol offers her his own sword, but Nehemia then offers her her own staff, which Celaena accepts. Before the duel begins, Celaena thanks Chaol for "making my freedom mean something."
Right away Celaena is kicking Grave's ass. The king calls for wine for the winners, and Kaltain serves it to Cain and Celaena. Unawares, Celaena drinks the wine and the king calls for the final duel to begin, without allowing Celaena a rest. Immediately her vision blurs and she finds herself succumbing to the poison. Cain taunts her, and then she hears Kaltain laughing. Lacking strength and focus, she is struggling in her duel with Cain. Finally, Cain breaks the staff and she falls and dislocates her shoulder.
Dorian, watching the duel, can tell that something is wrong with Celaena. He contemplates trying to stop the duel, as Celaena becomes more and more injured, but he decides that if he tried, they would just declare Cain the winner.
Cain taunts Celaena, asking what her father would think. He says he can see into her memories, and asks about the night Celaena's parents died. Celaena buries her past even from herself, and Cain shouldn't have access to those thoughts. Then Cain kicks Celaena into flight so hard that she rolls over and over until she hits the clock tower. Under the influence of the drug, the evil denizens near the clock tower begin to surround her. Despairing, she notices Chaol's feet as he approaches her and entreats her to get up. He manages to drag her out of her despair, and she finds the strength to get up again. Cain lifts her up and slams her against the clock tower. The drug opens her mind to see evil monsters through the portal of the clock tower, but Celaena knows that what she is seeing is real. When the Eye of Elena falls from around her neck, the evil monsters begin to attack.
Dorian is watching Celaena fight off the monsters that none of them can see, while Cain looks on and attacks her intermittently. Nehemia approaches the edge of the ring and begins surreptitiously mumbling and moving her hands. Elena appears and fights off the demons in the other realms, and then attacking Cain. Finally, Elena cures Celaena of the poison, giving her the edge she needs to win the duel. While still in immense pain from all her injuries, Celaena lifts the broken staff to face Cain again.
A mark burns on Celaena's forehead, visible to even the onlookers. Celaena stabs the broken staff into Cain's side, then the tide of the fight turns. She finally gets him in submission, and the duel is over. The king declares her the victor. Shortly thereafter, Nehemia collapsed and Dorian rushed towards her. Dorian summons a healer for Celaena and is watching Perrington and Kaltain, suspecting them of poisoning Celaena. He missed the look between the king and Cain, and Cain rushed Celaena with a dagger. Chaol noticed the movement though, and intercepted Cain and killed him. Dorian gathers Celaena up and takes her back to her room, damning all the consequences and deciding he loves her.
Kaltain is being obnoxious and worthless, and Perrington pins the poisoning on her. Guards seize her and take her to the dungeon.
Dorian confronts his father the next day to demand that Chaol not be punished for Cain's death. The king assures him that Cain's life is not worth losing a good Captain of the Guard. Dorian next asks what the King plans to do about Celaena. After taunting him about his affection for the assassin, the King says he will send Celaena her contract when he gets around to it. They move on to discussion about Perrington's idea to hold Nehemia hostage to force the rebels to back off. Dorian manages to convince the king that this is not a winning strategy.
Celaena awakens in a LOT of pain, exhausted, and having slept poorly due to nightmares about all that had happened the day before. Nehemia visits her and reveals that she was the one who saved Celaena during the duel, and that she was able to see everything Celaena saw during. Celaena asked Nehemia why she lied about knowing the common tongue, and why she hid knowing about the wyrdmarks. Nehemia explains that it became more and more difficult to conceal her subterfuge from her friend, but she had to pretend to know less than she did to be able to glean more information. She also reveals that the wyrdmarks are magic that work despite the seeming absence of magic in Adarlan.
Nehemia explains that she was able to open a portal and summon Elena to come and help her. She explains she has been going behind Cain and opening a portal to send the Ridderak back every time Cain summoned it. Nehemia asked if she knew what the wyrdmark was that burned on Celaena's forehead, and neither of them know what it means. Before she leaves, Nehemia returns the Eye of Elena amulet to Celaena.
The next day, Dorian comes to visit her. Although Celaena is still healing, Dorian reveals that he hasn't slept since the duel. She tries to get him to explain what is wrong, and he has lost sleep thinking about the beating she took during the duel. He lies down to rest next to her on the bed. He apologizes for not intervening during the duel even after realizing that she had been poisoned. She appeases him, and they snuggle in her bed.
The king speaks to Perrington about Kaltain and asks if he is using "the power" on her. He confirms it and says he decided to sacrifice her because she was beginning to show the effects of its use.
Chaol visits Celaena to check on her a week after the duel, and they're both hella awkward. Celaena thanks Chaol for killing Cain. Chaol asks how Cain knew about her parents, and she denies knowing. They're having a moment hugging, when Dorian walks in interrupts them.
Dorian is the bearer of the news that Celaena's contract is ready. Celaena tells Dorian that she can't be with him, he the crown prince and she the king's minion.
Chaol came back to see Celaena again, not really knowing what he was doing there. Celaena told Chaol that she ended things with Dorian. She invites Chaol to join her in her celebratory dinner.
That night she goes to Elena's tomb in her dreams. We learn a little more about Elena, like that she fought alongside Gavin in the battle against Erawan, and that's when and how they fell in love. The speak of Celaena's fate and destiny, and of celebrating her current victory.
Celaena goes to the council chamber the next day to sign her contract. The king threatens her, that if she refuses any assignments or absconds after one, he will kill Chaol, then Nehemia, then her brothers, and so on. Afterwards, she and Chaol leave the chamber together companionably.