Synopsis: 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?
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Previous books in the series:
UNAVOIDABLE SPOILERS FROM RED QUEEN!
“And that is?”
“To rise. And rise alone.”
As I sat wallowing in self-pity, speechless, angry at this cruel world, I had a revelation -- Victoria Aveyard enjoys being an evil mastermind. She enjoys making me laugh, fall in love with countless characters at the same time and then drown into an endless puddle of my own tears. And she does it with such glorious creativity that, even though my heart is breaking into shards of glass, I cannot help but applaud her every time her writing mojo blows away my mind. She's done it twice already. First, with Red Queen. And now, with a sequel worthy of its predecessor -- Glass Sword.
Glass Sword is unputdownable. If it weren't for Christmas chores and drooping eyes, I would've read it back to back, because from the beginning you're caught in a whirlwind of action, intrigue and betrayal and you cannot shut the damned book. The fast pace sets the tone, but some profound, haunting psychological echoes reframe a darker atmosphere.
This sequel brings the story of Red Queen to a whole other level, exploiting the divide between Reds and Silvers in a realistic manner -- new allegiances are made, old enemies gamble their power, queens and kings fall to their knees and some of them kneel with bleeding hearts. The hunt for newbloods is on and Mare has to save as many as she can while trying to patch up the deep scars Maven carved into her soul.
And this is where the main big difference between these installments lays. Mare. The time spent with the Silvers molded her into something entirely unique -- Red and Silver alike, not just her blood and abilities, but her mentality as well. Mare, at her core, remains the heroine we've been introduced to in the first book. She's strong. She's badass. She's selfish around the edges. She's brave and she's cunning. But she's shackled by guilt. She's haunted by memories. She's weaving webs of lies and she's loosing herself into an abyss of heartache and, not surprisingly, fear. Who wouldn't after such treacherous events? Not to mention her trust issues that, even if they resemble paranoia sometimes, are good reasoned.
However, I adored her. I had a bit of a trouble supporting her in the prequel thanks to her double faced demeanor, but now she had my unwavering respect and admiration. I know some readers will feel conflicted about her occasional stumble into merciless, ruthless, vindictive and Silver-like behavior, but I felt it justified, although sad. And for the love of gods, she tries so hard and so much in this book to keep everyone safe, to concoct moves and countermoves, to get rid of her emotional instability, to escape Maven's shadow and to change the world a little bit. To make a difference. The little lightning girl is not so little anymore and I could not help but love her, because even though she loses a lot of fights with inner and outer demons, Mare always had the courage to battle for her beliefs.
“I see you as you could become, no longer the lightning, but the storm. The storm that will swallow the world entire.”
Cal is also a great difference. He reminded me of Celaena in so many ways. Gone is the prince in his overwhelming intensity; a boy with nightmares, a thirst for revenge and endless loneliness remains. I think he's even more lost than Mare is, because his home, his people, his whole goddamn country want him dead and he's running away from people he used to care deeply for. That kind of messes with his head and it triggers subtle changes in his personality and behavior, but still -- I. Loved. Him. To. Bits. He's tough. Loyal. Kickass. And quite swoony -- a scene with him and a child had me dying of FEELS.
Now on to the most interesting character of them all -- Maven. He was exactly like The Darkling in Siege & Storm -- not there but for a few sparse pages, but always there. You get it or I'm talking nonsense? His presence was almost palpable for he is constant in our main characters' thoughts and whenever he does make an appearance, he only instates his wicked, power-hungry, cruel ways, making it even harder for the rest to escape his mental grasp. He's strong, cold and calculated and a wonderfully nuanced complex villain -- I'm anxious and enthusiastic at the same time for what it's to come.
“No heart can ever be truly understood. Not even your own.”
I have to warn you beforehand -- the romance is certainly not the focus. Actually, I could say that it barely survived the aftermath of book 1. You can wave the fragile "love triangle" goodbye. With Maven not being physically present for most of the story, that leaves us with Mare and Cal and, um, well, to say that their relationship is complicated would be the understatement of the year. Each of them got burned by the other and they have walls in place to maintain distance. Arghh, and there's tension. And wildness. And desire. Regrets upon regrets. They still use and hurt each other. But, paradoxically, they protect one another despite their past. AND I JUST LOVED THAT. It's no secret I shipped Mare and Cal to the moon and back, so I'll admit I devoured every scene with these two in it, especially those where they just crumble without the other nearby. *happy sigh*
“I must keep my eyes ahead, and away from the fire of a fallen prince. I must freeze my heart to the one person who insists on setting it ablaze.”
To Maven's fans -- don't worry, Mare still clings to him no matter how much she tells herself not to. So you see, we have a confusing, effed up mess, one deliciously agonizing.
Let’s get to what is also known as my new favorite secondary characters. Shade and Kilorn. And even Farley. THEY WERE ASDFGHJKL. Shade especially. I completely fell in love with Shade -- he was a great addition to the cast. He's clever, easy going and just cute, not to mention that his love for his sister was awww worthy.
Kilorn evolved quite much. I mean, I don't hate him anymore. I love him now. He's a central piece to the story and despite his "uselessness" he proves to be a good friend, a brave soldier and an all-around great guy. His friendship with Mare was awesome and my heart ached for his unreturned romantic feelings -- I might bless a possible Kilorn and Mare couple. I might.
And Farley was another kickass chick I was glad we spent more time with. She's just, courageous and determined. Plus, her fate brings a bittersweet smile on my face whenever I think about it (you can't bribe me to spill the beans).
I have to admit there were a few flaws (but not major enough to deflect my boundless love for this book). The newbloods plotline develops and tons of characters are introduced, some of them memorable and some of them not. The world-building is not extraordinary, although we get to venture in new cities (not that it ever was in RQ) and the Red Guard only has a minor role in current events, keeping its enigmatic traits.
The mild reminiscences of Shatter Me linger, but this time they are coupled with Breaking Dawn and The Young Elites deja-vus due to the expansion of the newbloods' power palette. Nonetheless, there are some characters that have managed to amaze me with their original abilities and I had an overall sense of badassery every time their lot became the focus. I do have one slight regret though -- I would have liked to know each one better, because there was a gold mine of awesomeness for side stories.
Expect twists and turns. The jaw-dropping kind. The clever ones. The shit-God-no-I-wanna-go-back kind and also the yeah-you-are-going-down-bitches kind. These twists are part of what makes GS a thrilling sequel -- no one is safe, no newblood, no Red and, for once, no Silver. And I CRIED A LOT THANKS TO THESE TWISTS.
But HOLY GODS THAT FREAKING ENDING. I had tears streaming down my face because I thought the book will most likely end on a sorrowful note, you know, I expected that, but then shit just hit the fan, K-BOOM, pow-pow, things I didn't expect happened in a matter of a few lines and I was left crumbling on a cliffhanger that gutted me. Nooo, the author just couldn't have kept me sane and I AM HERE WONDERING HOW TO FAST-FORWARD MY LIFE TO GET MY HANDS ON THE NEXT BOOK, because while the last few pages killed me, the epilogue pretty much stomped on my grave.
The decision to expand this series into a four-volume saga couldn't have been more right, because there's no way in hell Aveyard could tie up all the loose ends we're left with in just one novel. And even if she would, there are worlds to be explored. Kings to be conquered. Queens to be made. And you don't want that exquisite potential to feel rushed. Regardless, I have a feeling the dynamic will change dramatically in the third book.
Glass Sword was an electrifying sequel (shhh, let my pun be). It was an emotional roller coaster, one careening towards an explosive final, riveting, surprising, vivid and glorious. It made me cry, smile in anticipation and crave more and more of this enthralling universe. Glass Sword is exactly what a sequel should be and I cannot wait to see what the dawn brings for these amazing characters.