Crown of Midnight – Sarah J. Maas

Title: Crown of Midnight
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #2
Genre: YA, Fantasy
 August 27th, 2013 (Bloomsbury USA Children’s)

“A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached. It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend.”
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. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.
Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

I know, I’m horribly late with this review considering I re-read it more than two months ago, but it’s been a busy start to the year with so many new releases to keep up with! On my first read of this series, Crown of Midnight is probably the book I paid least attention to with regards to the smaller details and I remembered little more than the basic plot of the story – so really, it was like reading it for the first time all over again! Minor spoilers ahead.

“But death was her curse and her gift, and death had
been her good friend these long, long years.”

Celaena Sardothien, Adarlan’s Assassin, now the King’s Champion after winning the tournament, has been more or less threatened by the King into toeing the line with her friends’ lives at stake. Being the King’s Champion mostly consists of assassinating whomever she’s ordered to. But Celaena figures out that these are actually the good guys and starts faking the killings instead of actually going through with it. When she is given her next target, Archer Finn, who is an old acquaintance, Celaena discovers a rebel group trying to trace Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, the lost, presumed-dead, Princess of Terrasen, who, if she lives, can be a true challenge to Adarlan.

The best thing about Crown of Midnight is that it is such a huge step up from Throne of Glass. As a whole, there is a much more sophisticated feel to the storytelling: more character development, no love triangle, all the action, and the first glimpses of just how complex this series is about to get. The ending of this book always has me laughing in glee, because it’s such an amazing reveal that personally, I did not see coming at all.

Now Celaena and Chaol – it was sweet while it lasted, but as a pairing, they never made complete sense to me, especially given Chaol’s fierce loyalty to Dorian and his strong sense of duty. Besides, my vote is strongly with Maas’ endgame pairing for Celaena. It’s so hard not to spoil things right now! As for Dorian, while I love his character, he was just there in the background for the most part, moping over Celaena more often than not until his own startling discovery. And then things get a lot more interesting on that front.

All right, so nothing bad happened until well past the halfway point of the book, but there was just that feeling of dread building up, that something really bad is coming (because everyone was far too happy and that’s never a good sign) – and oh boy, did it. Even now, a couple of rereads later, I always need to take a break at that certain point in the book because it’s just too much. Crown of Midnight is way more intense and dark – Sarah J. Maas is definitely not afraid to have her characters hit rock bottom to make them grow and make tough choices. I’ll say it again – the character development, Celaena’s in particular is one of the best parts of this book. Until now, she always felt like a very perfect character, but it is here that her real character arc begins and we start to get a glimpse at the true Celaena behind the masks.

Overall, if you have second thoughts about this series after reading Throne of Glass, give it another chance – it’s worth the read. Well written and fast paced, Crown of Midnight is an excellent, game-changing sequel that will leave you reaching for the next book at once.

Other reviews in this series:

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