Glass Sword (Red Queen #2) by Victoria Aveyard (2016)
YA Fiction | Fantasy
“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?
The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.”
Book One: RED QUEEN
pooled ink Review:
I will begin by admitting that somewhere between the first time I read Red Queen and the time I read Glass Sword I fell disenchanted with this series and didn’t technically finish reading this one…well I sort of did as in I read the beginning and then skimmed the rest because I just couldn’t dedicate the hours to a book that was failing to keep my interest… I think Red Queen was a really good book and this whole series is built around an interesting concept but Red Queen suffered from some predictability and Glass Sword is no different. I was truly intrigued to see where this series would go but after reading Glass Sword I find myself feeling a touch bored. Last I heard they decided to change the series from a trilogy to a four-book saga and I fear that was a mistake.
Red Queen held several similarities to other books I’ve been reading and Glass Sword is the same. I was particularly reminded of The Young Elites series by Marie Lu. True these two fantasy series are overall pretty different but they both feature a female who didn’t know she had powers until she discovers them just in time to spare her from death and it turns out she’s very powerful and she falls in love with a guy who helps hone her powers but ultimately will betray her and then that same female protagonist sets out to find and save more of her kind despite having dark enemies trying to hunt down and kill them first as well as frenemies who have turned against her.
Look, is it even possible to write a wholly original story anymore? I’m not trying to be critical, just curious. After over a millennia of literature is it even possible to write anything without borrowing, even unknowingly, from a pervious work? I mean the same question has been posed about music and it’s true how if you pay attention you can hear little chord progressions or snippets of melody to be found in something as old as an orchestral piece by Beethoven and as new as a hit playing on the radio. We’re just really good at dressing it up and disguising it with sprinkles of our own individuality and unique creativity. So I’m not overly bothered by the similarities between books because they’re inevitable, especially when you read so many books back to back. A good book is a good book.
Back to Glass Sword. I think the concept is great, I think the author is talented, I think there remains a continually loyal fan base for the Scarlet Guard, but I know that this is likely where I’ll step off the train. I’ve enjoyed the ride but I will not be continuing.
Um okay, if you wanted more book specific thoughts then here goes:
The plot begins rather slow honestly but it picks up for the most part. Plenty of action and strategic planning. No shortage of betrayal and surprising alliances. Plus there’s a sprinkle of romantic tension throughout. I also found it pretty cool how Aveyard chose to zoom way out in the geographical scope of this book. Not only do we travel all over the place and meet people from foreign countries but the whole revolution expands to a massive level. This isn’t just an isolated rebellion, it’s a grand-scale revolution. A hundred years is a long time for a stalemated war to wage on, long enough to turn friends into foes and enemies into allies.
It’s apparent to me that Aveyard has a clear picture of this fantasy realm in her head. But I’m pretty surprised that there is no map included, particularly for Glass Sword seeing as we travel all over the place in it. It just makes sense to me to have a map included in each book because who can really remember where the heck anything is? Then again, who really cares?
My biggest issue besides the dull predictable plot is the characters. Overall I think the author is trying too hard, between the riveting plot and the light-bearing characters, to make this fantasy series something memorable and earth-shattering and filled with moral revelations to affect generations to come when it’s really not very different from hundreds of other fantasy books filling in the same plot outline. Relax, let it be a fantasy series, embrace that station in life.
But let’s focus for a minute on the protagonist of this series: Mare. I do not like Mare.
As much as Mare has changed she really hasn’t changed at all. It’s okay for a character to be flawed and make mistakes but when they continuously make the same mistakes over and over and over and over…Yeah that’s annoying.
The issue is that Mare charges into this sequel thinking that she has lived through so much and knows better than others now because of all she has experienced. Well it’s true that she has indeed endured much that has most certainly changed and shaped her from the poor girl she once was, but she’s wrong thinking that she knows anything. She insists that she has learned her lesson on trusting people and yet she continues to make the same mistakes. Too many people keep secrets and are playing games (both in the short term and the long term) for her to ever truly have much of an advantage. And yet we see her barrel into situations believing she has figured them out and is ten steps ahead only to realize too late that she’s twenty steps behind only to realize that he is a foe and she is a friend, or wait is it the other way around? Etcetera etcetera. What the author has intended as plot twists really just come across as making Mare look like an idiot who still can’t get it right when it comes to guessing the truth and who to trust. It comes across like everyone around her is playing some massive intricate game and while she darts around trying to save the world she’s really just stumbling blindly while the others watch and manipulate her. I feel like that wasn’t at all what was intended but that’s how it felt.
I did love getting to spend time with Shade, her brother, in this book. He’s awesome.
Cal was great to spend time with as well but let’s face it, we want him and Mare to be together and this book is the definition of a slow burn romance. I suppose there is still Kilorn as a contender though… That aside, it was interesting to watch how Cal has changed since Red Queen. He is still healing from his loss and the betrayal but he is a soldier at the core so despite any confusion or shock he may still be processing he knows how to put one foot in front of the other. I definitely felt like his character reflected more change from the concluding events in Red Queen than Mare.
Maven is there but not always there. This actually made me think about the Darkling in Siege & Storm (book two in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy) where the Darkling, or in this case Maven, is hardly ever there physically in the story yet he’s haunting every page. He comes up in many a conversation, he influences their choices and decisions, he is their motivation and their deterrent. Even in his absence, Maven is everywhere.
Farley gets to step up to the forefront more in this book as she and Kilorn leave the shadows to fight with Mare and Cal on their quest to hunt down the other half-bloods. She’s pretty cool. We also get to meet plenty more characters in this book which is always exciting.
You know what? No. Everyone annoyed me. The plot annoyed me and the characters annoyed me from page one. Red Queen wasn’t the best book in the world but it had me excited and hoping for an equally cool or perhaps an even better sequel but that was not the case.
Overall I feel that this story would be better translated as a movie than it did as a book. It’s not on the same level as Hunger Games at all on a morally-ethically-ambiguous-but-really-not-ambiguous-it’s-just-shocking-and-omg-it’s-terrible-but-I-love-it-and-is-that-wrong level, but it’s definitely got a decent score for the entertainment and action level, plus I think it would appeal to a similar audience. I’d probably be down to go see these books as movies. I’m just not really interested in further investing in the books.
Glass Sword is an intense continuation of the Red Queen series that zooms out to encompass an impossibly broader scope of a world rising red as the dawn. Fans will be clawing at the shelves to find out what happens next, who will be found and who will be lost?
Purchase here: Glass Sword
Check out the rest of the series: Red Queen (Red Queen #1)