This post contains spoilers for the entire Glass Series. If you don’t like spoilers this post is not likely for you. However, I think this post contains some important topics that need to be discussed. It’s up to you.
DISCLAIMER: This post will discuss triggering content including rape, kidnapping and torture. If you are triggered by this sort of content I won’t be offended if you stop reading and would recommend that you don’t read this series.
I have mentioned that I didn’t like the end of book three in this series but I was glad to have read this book anyway and I will stand by this. None of these books were innocent in avoiding these themes.
There are two main topics I want to discuss: the over abundant use of kidnapping within this series (and other works by Snyder) and Opal’s choice of Devlan as a life partner.
Over abundant use of kidnapping
I have read six books by Maria V Sndyer. In all 6 of them the main character, and often times side characters, were kidnapped during the course of the book. Every. Single. Book. Not only this, but often times it occurred more then once during the course of the book. I thought that the last book in the series was going to do away with this trope, but alas in the last quarter of the book it happened again.
Additionally, the large majority of the kidnappings the victim is the main character and thus a woman. This mixed with the fact that there is a lot of torture that comes hand-in-hand with the kidnapping and threats of rape or off-page rape, these books have a lot of violence against woman in them. It’s not to say that there isn’t violence against man, just that it occurs much less frequently in Snyder’s works. Also the narrative never does anything to make it seem as if this is an ok thing to do, however the mere over abundance of violence against woman that is not matched with violence against men has a desensitisation effect that is not good. It is partially due to the nature of the book, having a female main character that needs to go through the struggles. However, that is really not a good enough excuse for the amount of kidnapping and violence that occurs.
It’s to the point where it’s lazy writing. If the only way you can move the plot forward is using kidnapping and/or other types of violence against woman, it’s lazy. Flex those brain muscles and think of some other way to push the plot!
Devlen as marriage material
Here is the rough scenario for those that don’t know. In the Study series Opal, who is about 14, is kidnapped (what a surprise!) and tortured by a man in a mask in order to get her to do something for the allies of the torturer (against the main character of the Study series).
Masked man guy is revealed in the first book to be Devlen, a swordsman and magician that is also addicted to blood magic who tries to kidnap Opal, now 20, for her blood. In the second book he switches souls with her love interest Ulrick to successfully kidnap her for her blood. But not before he seduces her as Ulrick and they sleep together multiple times. At the end of the second book Opal ‘steals’ Devlen’s magic in such a way that it is gone forever, thus removing the addiction of blood magic. In the third book, Devlen is ‘suddenly’ in love with Opal (there is a bit of a build up to this, but it’s creepy and basically built on the fact that she withstood more torture then your average person and thus he respects her for that, yeah, I know, gross) and free from the addiction of blood magic, he tries to make amends with his past. At the very end of the third book after Devlen helps with the final conflict, Opal marries him.
That’s the messy cliffnotes version of his character. Now, I honestly liked Devlan as a character. He had an interesting story and an interesting role to play in Opal’s story. I also understand the role he’s meant to play in the story: forgiveness, overcoming your past, being able to and open to change, making amends, etc.
However, I do have several problems with Opal ultimately choosing Devlen as a life partner and ultimately found the entire thing vile, gross, creepy and disgusting (etc). It’s the reason why Spy Glass dropped from a 4 star to a 2 star read. I was also even considering dropping it lower.
The other men that were possibilities are Kade, a Stormdancer magician, who was not the right choice for Opal as they didn’t have too much in common and wanted different things, and Ulrick, another one-trick glass magician who had a lot in common with Opal but always wanted more, was too restless and had a weird protectiveness about Opal that I didn’t like.
So essentially I thought none of the available options were good for her, but least of all Devlen.
First of all, they have a long, storied history of abuse and violence. In the end Opal forgave Devlen and all of his misdeeds. However, the list of misdeeds just against her person is so large I don’t understand how she could end up loving him. Forgive him, perhaps, as he did have character growth and development, but not love him. There was torture, kidnapping, lies, and even rape. Is that the type of person you want to commit to? As Jilly on Goodreads succinctly said:
“If you happen to get kidnapped and abused by a heroin addict when you are 14 yrs old, and then run into him when you are 20, only to have him abuse you again. Then, he kicks his heroin addiction, yet still abuses you just a couple of more times, only to later reveal that he didn’t enjoy it as much because he now loves you. That’s totally fine. You should totally marry that guy because he’s sorry.”
All of Devlen’s faults were blamed on the addiction of blood magic, and since Opal took away his magic and addiction, all was fine. Even the Soulsearcher, a person who can read souls which tell no lies, was brought around to assure Opal she had looked at Devlen and found him to be sorry. I guess it’s nice we have assurances, but I think that hill is too much of a mountain to climb.
Secondly, Opal was raped by Devlen. Now there is some contention here about that description for what happened between them and Opal through the narrative has said it was not rape since she consented to sex. However, I will present this in defence of my claim: Opal agreed to have sex with Ulrick, but ended up having sex with Devlen in Ulrick’s body. She consented to Ulrick not to Devlen and in this way it is rape. In real life if someone consents to sex but only with the condition that condoms are used and the other person does not use one, that is rape because the conditions for consent are not met. If someone agreed/consented to have sex with Twin #1 but actually had sex with Twin #2 pretending to be Twin #1, that is rape.
Sure the narrative of the story tried to downplay and justify the situation, but in the end it was rape.
As I said, I understand why his character exists in the story, I liked the role he had to play and the themes he brought to the story, I didn’t like how Opal picked him. But she did pick him. She. Did. He didn’t force her to, though there was some ‘I’ll wait for you’s said. For that I am grateful that Opal had the agency in that part of the relationship and I did like the person Devlen became in the end, if still a bit sceptical because it was a big change in a short time. If I ignore the everything he did in the first two books of the series and just think about the character he was in the third book (where there was no abuse present in their relationship) I would actually like the two of them together. I can’t reconcile the past with the present, though, and perhaps that makes me less of a person then Opal.