Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #2)
Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard is the second installment in the Red Queen series. Last week, I reviewed book one and gave a brief description of a handful of main characters: Mare Barrow, Cal, Maven, and Farley. I also examined a few of the themes that are woven into the series. Definitely check out that post if you haven’t already because I go into the major conflicts and challenges that exist in the Red Queen world. Specifically, in the kingdom of Norta.
But in case you’re new to the Red Queen series, here’s a list of the novels, which I’ve linked to different online shops:
Now, let’s crack open book two.
Glass Sword summary (spoilers!)
Book one ended with Mare and Cal fleeing Norta by undertrain with the Scarlet Guard’s help. Prior to this, they had been sentenced to die in the arena together, their powers suppressed during the fights as an attempted guarantee of their deaths. But with Cal’s upbringing of combat and war strategy, and Mare’s recent training to hone her newblood lightning abilities, Maven and Elara—well, everyone—underestimated them.
Glass Sword picks up where Red Queen ended. Mare, Kilorn, Cal, and Shade are riding away on the undertrain to a ruined city called Naercey, an underground Scarlet Guard haven. But as we’ve learned of the newly kinged Maven, he will stop at nothing to get Mare back. It isn’t long at all until Maven sends an army of Red slaves, shackled at the ankles on the frontlines, marching into Naercey to attack.
Missiles fly. Mayhem ensues. Mare and team narrowly escape the invasion by jumping into a Scarlet Guard submarine. It eventually takes them to an island called Tuck, which is occupied by the enemy of Norta—the Lakelands. The Scarlet Guard unit occupying the island is led by Diana Farley’s father, the Colonel. Mare’s family is also in Tuck; they were evacuated from the Stilts so they wouldn’t be taken by Maven and used as leverage against her.
Glass Sword is nonstop bloodshed as Mare resolves to not be captured by either Maven or members of the Scarlet Guard who she doesn’t trust (like Farley’s father). In fact, she and a handful of the others hijack one of the planes and spend most of the second book searching for newbloods and recruiting them to stand against Maven.
Red Queen #2 gets really dark, really fast
This is when the plot starts to get much darker. Maven knows that Mare is trying to reach the newbloods before he can kill them off. But for every person Mare successfully finds and recruits, it seems Maven has slaughtered another—family included. Even babies. Those scenes will destroy you.
To make things even more hopeless for Mare, Maven drops the conscription age from 18 down to 15. This means thousands of Red children will die on the frontlines unless she gives herself up. This has become a sick game to Maven, and this weighs more and more heavily on Mare’s conscience.
This is one of the major themes of the second book.
If I am a sword, I am a sword made of glass, and I feel myself beginning to shatter.
A major incident happens later when Mare, Cal, Shade, and other newbloods invade Carros Prison to free the numerous newbloods and Silvers being imprisoned there for defying Maven and Elara. After a hard-earned fight with Elara and her guards, Mare succeeds in killing her, but the victory is short-lived. In a heartbreaking turn of events, Shade is using his power to go to Mare and whisk her away to safety, but as he reaches her, he takes a sword straight through the heart.
Farley is distraught. Kilorn is upset. Everyone is deeply affected by his death. But Mare is in a state of disconnected shock. It’s like she isn’t able to process what happened, and instead, uses his body as a chess piece to garner more Scarlet Guard and newblood support in the uprising against Maven.
Glass Sword ending
Glass Sword is a look at how Maven’s ongoing war and Shade’s tragic death changes Mare Barrow. She becomes cold and singularly determined to do everything it takes to stop Maven, no matter the cost. This creates friction between Mare and most of the other characters in the series.
By the end of the book, Maven captures Mare. The final scene is our lightning girl kneeling at his feet, a golden collar around her neck as her capture is broadcasted across the kingdom.
Book review: Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen series #2)
I gave Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard five stars on Goodreads.
The writing was just as visceral and beautiful as the first, and the stakes were even higher. Really terrible things happen in the second book, and you can’t help but get swept up in the chaos and bloodshed, hoping something good will happen. But apart from saving a few innocents, nothing really does. It’s brutal.
This second book is heavy on military strategy and action, so definitely give it a read if that interests you. There is some romance that blossoms between Mare and Cal, but it is always haunted by Maven. Plus, Mare’s turn toward the darkness also causes a rift in her relationship with Cal. Even with all the dastardly events that happen in Glass Sword, I still found myself wanting Maven to somehow redeem himself, for Mare to get through to him.
But that’s left to be seen.
I’ll leave you with a few quotes I highlighted while reading book two. Like the quotes I previously shared, many of these capture the same bleakness and overwhelming loss that emerged from Red Queen.
Hopelessness and self-blaming, unexpected tragedy, violence, systemic oppression… these themes are recurring in the Red Queen series.
Glass Sword quotes
- But still, somehow, I feel a pull to him. I remember the burdened boy who gave me a silver coin when I was nothing. With that one gesture he changed my future, and destroyed his own.
- It’s cold, with the chill of autumn, the season of change and death.
- I don’t need to leach power from anything now. I make my own.
- What a world that will be, with a monster for its king, and his mother holding his leash.
- I see you as you could become, no longer the lightning, but the storm. The storm that will swallow the world entire.
- I am afraid of waking up to emptiness, to a place where my friends and family are gone and I am nothing but a single bolt of lightning in the blackness of a lonely storm.
- Bedding a princeling doesn’t make you queen of the heap.
- A hundred years from now a newblood king will sit the throne you built him on the skulls of children.
- This laughing boy with wandering hands and hopeless eyes? Who is he?
- But I am only one person, one little girl who can no longer smile.
Check back next week for my review of book three in the Red Queen series, King’s Cage.