Title: Crown of Midnight
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Fantasy, young adult
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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 could not have been more pleasantly surprised. Talk about an emotional roller coaster!
When I began this book, I had both skeptical eyebrows firmly raised. After all the Sarah J Maas hype, I was a bit disappointed with the novellas and Throne of Glass. I thought Celaena was an arrogant, vain assassin who did a lot more swaggering than actual killing. I also felt like the magic in the world took a backseat to the drama of romance. Crown of Midnight took all my reservations about first two books and smashed them to pieces!
Celaena grew tremendously in this book, and I was glad to see both her acting on her dark side and her new commitment to doing what she believed was right. After one of the characters...pulls a Kelsier...Celaena is forced to confront her real beliefs about what is right and wrong instead of hiding behind following orders. Dorian also developed quite a bit. I really didn't like him in book 1, but here he's grown a spine and has quite a bit going on in terms of his unexpected new responsibilities. Chaol continues to be a solid, loyal captain of the guard and friend, but I loved how the author took all of his strengths and somehow managed to make them his weaknesses at the same time. And Nehemia...she's still my favorite character. Fierce, strong, and willing to do truly anything for the good of her oppressed people, but still not without weakness. No one is truly evil in this series, except maybe the king himself, but clearly no one is innocent either. I adore morally ambiguous characters!
The magic system also was explored far more in this book than the previous ones. We learn the difference between magic and Wyrd marks, and a bit of the history of each. Not only were the magic systems explained better, they were also delightfully complex and mysterious. Just when you think you've figured out a deep dark secret about the world, everything gets turned on its head and you don't really know what's happening anymore.
Oh, and remember how much I hated how often Celaena and other characters mentioned how utterly gorgeous she was? Turns out there's a reason, and it's a good one too, so I take all my complaints back!
I never thought I'd be this emotionally invested in a series after feeling lukewarm about the first book, but I absolutely loved this one. I cried, I smiled like an idiot at the open pages of my book, I wanted to punch things...basically everything. I was racing through this book:
If you enjoy character-driven fantasy, I highly highly recommend this one! It was so much better than I could have ever expected, and I cannot wait to read more!