Glass Sword is the second book in Victoria Aveyard’s wildly popular Red Queen series. In this young adult high fantasy, the world is divided by blood type: red versus silver. The Silvers maintain control with their varying paranormal abilities while the Reds, normal humans, serve and die underneath them. But a rebellion is growing with the revelation that some Reds have powers even stronger than the Silver, possessing a blood type combination of Red and Silver. HarperTeen | February, 2016 | Hardcover | 444 pp
In Red Queen, Mare Barrow escaped the danger of forced conscription only to be thrown into an even more dangerous situation. She was born and raised a Red until it was publicly revealed that she had the power to control electricity, something only a Silver should have. Mare left her world and entered that of the Silvers, dressed up as Silver nobility and betrothed to the young prince as a rouse. Surreptitiously, she worked with the rebel Red group to bring down the nobility and give freedom to the Reds, but she was betrayed by Maven and his mother. Cal, the older prince and heir, was also betrayed and at the end, Mare and Cal escape a botched execution.
Glass Sword picks up right where Red Queen left off. Mare and Cal are in the hands of the rebel Scarlet Guard and are brought to a secret island base filled with rebel Reds, Red refugees, and Lakelanders, the country’s sworn enemies. Because Cal is a noble Silver, even though exiled, he is imprisoned despite Mare’s objections. And Mare’s plans to round up others like her are shot down. Not willing to trade one tyrant for another, Mare, her brothers, and other Scarlet Guard members break Cal out of prison and escape to begin a new quest.
Using a list that had been provided by Julian, Cal’s uncle, they fly on a twice-stolen jet from secret runway to secret runway to track down those with the Red blood mutation, now called newbloods. These red-blooded brethren have powers like Mare and they are even more powerful than Silvers. They begin rounding them up, trying to get to them before Maven can, and recruit them for the cause. Their different powers are revealed, honed by the characters and trained for upcoming battles. It’s sort of an X-men style recruitment.
Maven has a similar quest. At the end of Red Queen, the young prince killed three birds with one stone: he betrayed the Scarlet Guard after feigning a close relationship with Mare, he framed his older brother for the death of their father, and he became king. Maven wants to squash any rumors that some Reds might have powers, and so he is also looking for the newbloods, having them killed before Mare can find them.
Mare’s army grows strong and her plans shift after meeting a newblood with the power of foresight. They aim to ransack a highly fortified prison where newbloods are being held and studied and where Silver turncoats are also being kept, including Cal’s uncle Julian. They are also made aware of Maven’s revenge: an army of five thousand Red children being marched to the front lines where they are likely to be slaughtered. Mare wants to save them all – but what will the cost be?
Glass Sword swayed precariously close to the brink of middle-book syndrome, but then turned around to shatter typical YA expectations. Thank God. Once we get past the ‘find ’em and train ’em’ stage and Mare goes for the epic prison break, you’ll be hooting and hollering all over the place because that’s where the real fun in this Red and Silver world begins. Powers are matched up between newbloods and Silvers within a building that is is structurally manipulated by the Silvers, containing rooms specifically built to remove powers with silent stone. The entire scene had a jigsaw quality about it, a maze that needed to be figured out – like those “escape rooms” that are hot at the moment – but ultimately dangerous. There is bittersweet revenge, numbing loss, and tons of action.
Like X-Men and the Shatter Me series, there is a ‘Rogue’ individual with the power of death’s touch. Do you remember Rogue? She had to wear gloves because her touch would suck the life out of people. The main character in the Shatter Me series had this ability and hated it – just like Rogue, and there is a small child with this same ability revealed in Glass Sword – but thankfully, it isn’t dwelt upon. I say thankfully because I’m really sick of the overuse of this ”Rogue’ power. Unlike the Shatter Me series, however, this series is actually good.
I enjoy the characters so far: Mare is strong and independent and Maven is a great brand of evil. But I want more on Cal. My heart goes out to him after what happened at the end of Red Queen and I want to explore his emotional state. He went through a horrific event and should be traumatized, yet Mare and others don’t seem to dwell on his state of mind at all. With Mare – it’s all about Mare. I hope we get more from Cal in the third book and that is where I am headed now!
by Victoria Aveyard