Glass Sword is the much-awaited sequel to Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen. Taking place immediately after the events of the first book, we follow the struggle of red-blooded Mare Barrow. She is gifted with silver blood abilities and hunted on both sides because of her abnormality.
Before I even opened the book, the first word that came to mind was “stressful.” Thinking I would get ahead of my book-buying curve this year, I used a holiday gift card to pre-order Glass Sword. After hitting confirm, I sat back and happily awaited the arrival of February 9th. However, through some twist of fate, my package arrived three days late — well after the wave of excited readers ran to the bookstore to scoop up copies of the sequel to Red Queen. I stayed off certain social media for as long as possible, but one fact slipped through my wall: the cliffhanger at the end was just as severe as the first.
*Spoilers from this point on*
I think many would agree when I say that Red Queen packed quite a punch with the plot twists. It left half the readers screaming in physical pain from Maven’s betrayal and the other half declaring to no one in particular that they had known it all along. I myself remember staring at the page in shock. Victoria Aveyard has a wonderful knack for flipping the entire story on its head in one sentence, and the sequel is no exception.
The second book takes place right after the events of the first, leaving both Mare and Cal (former crown prince of Norta) in a state of extreme duress and vulnerability. It soon becomes clear that the entire plot of the second novel revolves around the list of individuals like Mare — red blood but silver abilities. The term “newblood” is adopted, and Mare makes it her job to find and train the newbloods before Maven can get ahold of them. It leads her to make some dark decisions, and she is accused of putting the newbloods’ freedom above everything else.
We meet quite a few new characters in Glass Sword — most with never-before-heard-of abilities. My favorite is an old woman who can change her appearance at will. Think of X-Men’s Mystique as a sassy grandmother figure. We also learn a lot about the original characters — such as Shade Barrow, presumed dead brother to our heroine Mare, and Farley, the steely captain of the Scarlet Guard. Essentially every character is scrambling to come out on top after the murder in the last book. Who will it be: silver, red, or newblood?
There is some speculation around this series in regards to originality and clichés. Yes, I will be the first to admit that Glass Sword is a story of “the chosen one,” special and set apart, overcoming some obstacle. The story is certainly not new, yet clichés become so for a reason. Something about that specific dynamic draws us to the story. For example, the love triangle between Mare, Cal, and Maven (though not as prevalent in the second book) is indeed a cliché. However, the three characters are unique enough to make us overlook it.
As a character, Mare grows a lot darker then we first anticipate, to the point where she tortures a group of silver bloods simply because they were in her way. From the beginning, Cal wasn’t the perfect prince we often see in stories; he and Mare butted heads on more than one occasion and continue to do so. Maven is of course the villain you hate to love. It is up to the unique quality of the characters to make up for the clichés they embody.
Overall, I would have to say that Glass Sword is a strong sequel. There is purpose and character development in each page, though I would have liked to see more, and the world of Norta is also expanded to encompass more of the surrounding countries and landscapes. The detail and heartbreak that went into the final scene of this sequel left me pining for the next book and what Victoria Aveyard has in store for the in-depth characters we have grown to know and love. One thing is for sure: Instead of “Kneel or Bleed,” the book caption should have been “Kneel and Bleed.”