My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 1/2
Series: Throne of Glass (Book 2)
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
“From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.
Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer…more”
“But death was her curse and her gift, and death had been her good friend these long, long years.”
Crown of Midnight is such a vast improvement over the first book, it’s near unbelievable. For those of you who haven’t read my review on Throne of Glass, the best way I could sum up my opinion of it is to say that I had more than a few issues with the book, yet I still enjoyed it for the most part. The writing of ToG was so evidently green that I had a hard time ignoring the juvenile manner in which Maas wrote and detailed her story.
However, I did NOT have the same issue with Crown of Midnight. In fact, I enjoyed it. Immensely.
I read this book after reading Maas’s ACOMAF, a book I consider a YA masterpiece. And so, I know deep down that Maas is a master storyteller, and all master storytellers need to begin, even if their beginning is not as strong as expected. And I was not wrong. In this installment, Maas proves that she is an author who has a story in mind, one that is complex and sophisticated, and completely worth giving a second chance. ToG was just a warm-up. Crown of Midnight, however, is the beginning of (what I believe will be) a fantastic journey of magic and adventure.
Crown of Midnight is riddled with improvements in character development and story structure. I was not impressed with Celaena Sardothien in ToG. I believed her to be spoiled, self-important for no apparent reason, and weak. Also, she was not the “assassin” I had been hoping for. In this book, however, Sardothien became the character I expected her to be: a bada** warrioress who specializes in wetwork and is the best at what she does.
We are finally given episodes in which Celaena proves her merit as an assassin as she constantly demonstrates her skills during missions and other moments that require her expertise. She is cold, she is deadly, she is cunning, she is resourceful. But she is also caring, and funny, and good-hearted. She is all these things and more. Never have I seen such a character comeback as I have for Celaena Sardothien.
“If they wanted Adarlan’s Assassin, they’d get her. And Wyrd help them when she arrived.”
Both Chaol and Dorian are also developed further as they are given greater significance in the plot as a whole. Both men slowly become multi-dimensional characters whose wants and needs are made clear. Chaol’s presence outshines that of Dorian, but for different purposes. Previously dull and two-dimensional, Chaol becomes vibrant and filled with color in this installment as he plays a larger role in both Celeana’s life and in the schemes of the court. His relationship with Celaena transforms throughout the book and the growth of his character most certainly becomes one of the most enjoyable aspects of the story.
Dorian, on the other hand, feels a bit separate from everyone else. His relationship with Celeana has evolved into something else and, in some ways, he feels like a plot piece that advances the magical aspect of the story. This is partly a negative, but I also thought it was a good move on Maas’s part as it gives Dorian more agency. He becomes something more than the quintessential playboy who chases after the heroine.
I thought the world-building was still a bit lacking but much more refined than the previous book. The boundaries of Celaena’s world expands and the culture shines through just a tiny bit more. Even so, I’d still love to see more of this world in which the King is attempting to conquer.
“Then Celaena and the King of Adarlan smiled at each other, and it was the most terrifying thing Dorian had ever seen.”
As for the King, I thought his role still needs some work. He is painted as the Big Bad, the man to be feared, yet he lacks a presence. He is always mentioned but rarely does he make an actual apppearance. Right now, he seems like the Boogeyman, an entity to be feared simply because of here-say and rumors, not because his heinous actions are directly seen.
My biggest qualm with this book is the shocking death of an important character. This death bothers me to no end, mostly due to its abruptness and its obvious role as a plot device. It becomes far too apparent that this death acts as a catalyst, one that spurs Celaena into action. I felt this character was underutilized even though they had so much potential. And because of this, I felt the death was unnecessary, especially in the way the character passes away.
Also, one of the big mysteries that began in ToG (and is solvable by the end of ToG) is revealed by the end of this book, and the “secret” is ridiculously predictable since the author dropped one hint too many. At least now that other characters are in the know, the story has become so much more exciting than before.
Despite my (albeit small) issues with this book, I really enjoyed it. I love the direction the plot is taking as it includes more suspense and action as well as a much more focused romance. The political intrigue has intensified to the point where many more factions are appearing and several more characters (and questions) are introduced. I’m excited to see what comes next and how Celaena, Chaol, and Dorian will react to their new situations! This book is a winner, and I am more than ready to continue on to Heir of Fire!