The problem with having bookworm friends is that they are constantly recommending new books for me. And I know they have fairly similar taste, which means I’m probably-almost-definitely-positively going to like it. Seems like a good problem, honestly. The catch? I already have a TBR list a mile long. Normally, book recommendations get tacked to the end of this list.
My friend Ali recently recommended yet another book series to me, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. This time, I deviated from my status quo and began reading almost immediately – I simply cannot resist a good fantasy novel. I was not disappointed! These books are really good and I cannot wait to finish the series.
Spoiler disclaimer: At the time of writing, I have read Throne of Glass, and Crown of Midnight. The short-story prequel book Assassin’s Blade plays no role in this discussion, but I will assume that if you continue reading after this point that you have read ToG and CoM. Please do not spoil Heir of Fire for me.
There seems to be a trend in YA literature recently have positioning a strong female protagonist between two male protagonists and forcing her to choose between one of the equally enticing men. This strategy tends to produce groups of fans who favor one or the other of the love interests, usually resulting in people identifying as Team A or Team B. Generally people are not allowed to be ambivalent but must choose a ship.
I am not a fan of this particular writing strategy. I never have been and I never will be. That is not to say I cannot greatly enjoy books that employ said strategy, but I personally do not like this trend.
Just a handful of chapters into ToG and I saw the beginnings of this unfolding. The spoiled prince Dorian who is used to having anything and anyone he wants, and the solid, responsible captain of the guard Chaol whose greatest ambition in life is to protect the prince – who also happens to be his best friend.
My friend Ali wasted no time in letting me know that she is most definitely Team Chaol. Eventually, once I had read enough of the book to have an opinion, she asked me who I wanted Celeana to be with. My answer? Neither. I don’t particularly want her to be with either of them. Not because I dislike them or think they’re unworthy or beneath her or anything like that. I don’t want her to be with either of them because I’m Team You-Don’t-Need-A-Boy and Team Be-Your-Own-Person.
This is not me wishing Celeana a life of loneliness. This is not me hating on men. This is not me saying that a woman can’t be a happy, whole person and be in a relationship with a man. This is also not me making a larger statement about feminism.
This is me saying I don’t think Celeana is in a place right now where she’s ready to be in a relationship. I think she is still really messed up about Sam being killed and everything that happened around that time. Her heart is not whole; how can she give it to another when it isn’t even hers?
I also think that she subconsciously seeks to find redemption in men. Celeana does not believe herself to be a good person. She’s a murderer and she knows it. I think she seeks to find some type of redemption by being with Dorian and Chaol, both of whom are very good men. If such a good man is willing to be with her, maybe she is not as despicable as she inwardly believes herself to be. In this sense, she is using them to make herself feel better. That’s no way to begin a relationship. She may seem to have reconciled the assassin’s life that was thrust upon her, but inside she is still the frightened princess.
Celeana needs to finish her grieving and healing from Sam, and then she needs to face the darkness within herself. Once she has come to terms with who she is and is at peace with herself, then, then I will consider shipping her with someone.