A week later, Cally sits in her room reminiscing over how posh her time recuperating has been. She still doesn’t have her contract from the king (and even though I know contracts have existed forever and ever, that still sounds weird). Chaol shows up, and they do more talking about the plot. Because we’ve got to squeeze out a little more padding, apparently.
Dorian and his father are having a chat. Dorian wants to know what’s going to happen to Chaol for killing Cain.
“I think he killed him to defend Cel—to defend the assassin.”
“You think the life of an assassin is worth more than that of a soldier?”
1) Cain was a disgraced criminal, otherwise he wouldn’t be in the competition. It’s not like he was going to go back and do soldierly things after this. 2) Cally was IN DORIAN’S LAP at the time. Why not argue that Chaol was keeping the criminal with the sharp pointy knife away from the crown prince? 3) Cally had just been declared the king’s personal champion and Cain the looser, so yeah, it’s perfectly normal to assume that her life would take precedent.
Stop ignoring the obvious arguments just for the sake of engineering drama. If there’s a logical explanation and/or counterargument to be had and you ignore it for the sake of the argument that you want to have, then you didn’t set the scene up right.
Once again, we step out of the POV of the person getting the action so we can report on it from the outside. Although, for once, this does kind of help. Cally was pretty out of it when we last left, and Dorian is a lot more lucid as he watches her thrash about on the ground fighting imaginary enemies.
Although, he is just standing there and watching it. At least Nemmy steps up and starts doing covert magic.
Kate ( !!! :D :D :D ) is standing in her position on the day of the duel, thinking very valid complains about how only idiots would go outside in the cold. Frankly, she’ far more restrained than I would be standing out in the cold. At least Kate has the good sense to keep her complaints inside her own head.
The day before the last test, Nox and Cally are having a chat during practice. Nox sees the scars on Cally’s hands and starts putting puzzle pieces together, which make him automatically smarter than every other person in this book. Cally starts telling him it’d be in his best interest to leave the castle and competition, but she’s cagey about why. Because…reasons? It’s not like she can’t tell him “hey, btw, Cain’s summoning monsters to kill off the competition.” Her excuse for the everyone else is that she can’t prove it, but why would Nox need proof?
Cally wakes up in her room to find that she is completely, totally, 100% healed. Because consequences are for other books, and explaining stuff to Chaol would entail explaining stuff to Chaol, which for some reason this book is opposed to.
Next day, Cally is reading more weirdmark books and thinking about Nemmy. She continues to berate herself for daring to think that Nemmy would be less than a saint, all because Nemmy failed to mount a very obvious attack at the worst possible moment one could chose to do that.
This is so lazy. There was little reason for Cally to suspect Nemmy in the first place, but there’s even less reason to let her off the hook. I’m sure if you look at one random hour out of the life of a serial killer, he’d be acting perfectly normal, too. Might even pet a puppy. But that doesn’t make him not a serial killer. Yet this book is bored with suspecting Nemmy, so it has decided to move on, and logic be damned. It’s almost like the author had the idea for that scene first, wrote it, then had to twist the rest of the book around to fit it rather than edit it when it ended up not fitting.
Turns out we’re still stuck at the ball. In Dorians POV as he dances with her, so we can hear about how totally awesome he thinks she is. Then we switch to Chaol so that he can fume on the sidelines and also inform us that they look tots awesome while dancing. A random noble comes up to gossip and then he points out that they look tots awesome, and also Dorian is tots in love with her.
If you have to use some one-off side character to hammer in the fact that your character is in love, you’re overdoing it. We should be able to tell from his actions, and in fact we can, so the extra just feels like bragging.
Today, we get to go see a temple service! Yay! Worldbuilding!
…they sit in a chapel while a choir sings and a pastor gives a sermon. Wow, that’s some really bland worldbuilding. There’s a few details here and there, but they have no meaning. The priestess wears a blue robe and has a star tattoo on her forehead. Because…??? Details like that are kind of visually cool, but if there’s no justification behind them, then they’re just set dressing, not an actual world. Is blue significant in this world? Why? How does that manifest in other ways? Are people not allowed to wear blue except for religious stuff? Does it have any meaning, or did the priestess just like it that day?
This is basically the same kind of tone and structure as you’d get from someone writing a really bad Catholic Mass scene, just with different costumes. Cally even falls asleep in the middle of it; it’s that boring. And in the end, that’s all we know about this aspect of the world: it’s really frikkin boring. Boring does not make me want to learn more about this place.
The chapter opens in Chaol’s POV, as he watches Cally and Dorian take a walk. He muses about how his gut instinct is to keep the dangerous criminal away from the heir to the throne, but…well, gosh darn it, she’s just so cute.
Because of her genuine laugh, because he caught her one afternoon sleeping with her face in the middle of a book, because he knew that she would win.
Chaol, when you get stabbed in the back after being either seduced or bromanced by a real assassin, I won’t be the least bit surprised. A little sad about it, but not surprised.