Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
Book Two of the Red Queen series
Publication Date: February 9, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC gifted by a friend
Summary (from Goodreads):
Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.
The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.
Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.
But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.
Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?
What I Liked:
Despite enjoying Red Queen, I wasn't sure if I would enjoy this book. This series is full of death and high stakes and cat-and-mouse chases (even after only one book, you can tell), and I'm not always in the mood for such, in fantasy. Glass Sword has death, narrow escapes, pain, suffering, grief, betrayal, guilt, and so much more. If there is something that you can expect from Aveyard's books, it is that nothing ever comes easy.
Mare Barrow has escaped from King Maven, and she's on the run with Cal, who is nothing short of a prisoner in the hands of the Scarlet Guard. The Guard wants to use Mare, but they do not like Cal. So it is with the help of several close friends that Mare and Cal run from even the Scarlet Guard. Mare cannot put her trust in anyone, so she, Cal, and the small group set out on a different mission - find newbloods (Reds with Silver abilities, like Mare), to help stop Maven. But is history repeating itself, with a new but familiar civil war? How much is Mare willing to turn down and give up, to save herself and the rebellion?
The first thing I will say - I seriously commend Aveyard, in breaking down Mare. Mare is completely deconstructed in this book, broken down, whittled into something different and unpredictable and slightly scary. Some of the characters are scared of her, by the end. Mare has been through unspeakable horrors, seen terrible things, done even worse. Her mental and emotional states kind of reflect this. Mare is bent on revenge, and saving newbloods, destroying this new Maven. But she's becoming a wild and dangerous person, and she can barely control herself. Aveyard is kind of making her a villainous heroine, which is twisted and kind of cool.
I like Mare, even in this new and scary way. She is so human, something that Aveyard does not let us forget. Yes, she is the lightning girl, and there are ridiculously crazy expectations on her. But she's also a teenage girl that has seen too much, been through enough, and can barely hold it together. She has to make difficult decisions, especially when it comes to the lives of others. You might want to look at Mare as a terrible and selfish person, but then, you might also want to think of what you would do if you were in her shoes.
The first 100-200 pages were a bit on the slower side for me. This half of the book dealt more with the Scarlet Guard, which I wasn't all that crazy about. I didn't like seeing Cal treated like a prisoner and less than human - it's terrible when the tables are turned, so I guess I can see why Aveyard made this a big deal. The animosity between Red bloods and Silver bloods is so real and so powerful in this book. We see it over and over, how newbloods and Red bloods immediately get angry at the sight of Cal. Which is so sad, because he is a good guy and generally a pacifist!
Oh, Cal. This book is as much his as it is Mare's. I just said he's a pacifist (generally), but the events at the end of Red Queen lit his flame. He's out for blood (his stepmother's and Maven's, specifically), and he is eventually on board with Mare's crazy revolution plans. He was a prisoner under the Scarlet Guard in the first third to half of the book, but he refuses to be a prisoner anymore. The soldier and general in him becomes very useful in training the newbloods that they find throughout the book.
I have no doubt that Cal will play an enormous role in the next two books, and I think that a lot of what will happen will rest on his shoulders. His character development and change are just as important as Mare's. It's too bad this book isn't written in alternating POVs!
The secondary characters are very important in this book! Mare's older brother Shade is one of the bigger players of the chessboard, and Captain Farley, and Mare's best friend from the Stilts, Kilorn (don't worry, he is literally only a best friend!). Despite misgivings about a few of them (*cough* Kilorn *cough*), I liked them all, especially as the book went on.
Overall the story had me hooked, even if I thought the first half was a bit slow. Not boring, but slow. I had an increasingly bad feeling as I read more and more, and it turns out, I had every reason to be. The ending was something I kind of saw coming, but at the same time, I found it WAY too early in the series to reach this cliffhanger. This book ended in a way that book two of a TRILOGY would end, not book two of a four-book series. Strange!
I'll say a smidgen about the romance - no more triangle! No love triangle on any account. Cal and Mare share one or two sweet moments in this book, but this book is very non-romance focused. The romance is not important in this book. In fact, early in the book, Cal and Mare both agree that they shouldn't risk anything more by continuing what they have. But we all know that this isn't possible! So I'm pretty pleased with the romance; it's linear and it progresses a bit in this book. I can't see the love triangle making a reappearance EVER.
What I might be more worried about is a HEA in general - this series seems to be going down a martyr-like road. But I'll say no more. On to books three and four!
What I Did Not Like:
Like I said above, there is a cliffhanger, which is fine, I expected it. Sort of. It's so early in the series for a cliffhanger?! This book ended like it's the second book of a trilogy, not the second book of a four-book series. So I'm a little confused about the placement of this cliffhanger. It's a pretty scary one too!
Ahem, more from our lead pair in the next books, please? Yes.
And I personally thought the first half of the book dragged just a bit, but that could just be me! Not a huge deal, because it wasn't difficult to finish this book at all.
Would I Recommend It:
If you liked Red Queen, then it's worth your time to read this book. I will say that if you have NOT read Red Queen, then don't bother starting the series (yet). It's a four-book series with a cliffhanger to end book two. I can't imagine what the ending of book three will bring! Don't start this series just yet; I'm sure it will shape up to be an amazing and best-selling series overall, but I think binge-reading this series is the way to go, if you can help it!
4 stars. I liked this book! I think I surprised myself, because I was slightly dreading this book (it's just one of those fantasy books that screams TONS OF DEATH AND HEARTBREAK). Despite the cliffhanger ending, this book was a satisfying read, definitely worth the time.
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