Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Fantasy, Faeries, YA
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Source: eARC from the publisher via NetGalley
Synopsis: An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt.
But her heart never wavers.
After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king’s contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.
Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king’s bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she’s given a task that could jeopardize everything she’s come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon — forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.
Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?
4/5 stars – Well-paced and so much fun except for that one twist
Throne of Glass was an undeniably fun read, but I also can’t deny how happy it made me to see the tournament end in that book and watch Celaena take her hard-won place as the King’s Champion. It meant we’d be able to move on and enjoy more adventures and assassin shenanigans, after all! Crown of Midnight is a sound second installment that is going to punch just about everyone in the gut unless the reader has the hardest of hearts.
The first half moves slowly and is a bit dull at times. There are a lot of longing looks, thoughts of letting go, and Celaena being a sneaky little devil right under the king’s nose. It lulls us into thinking everything is going to be smooth sailing and we know which guy Celaena decided she wanted to give romance a shot with. Nehemia has things up her sleeve, we learn a little more about magic and its rule in their world, and all that good stuff is going on.
But then we hit the end of that first half and everything from Part I gets thrown out the window with glee. What we thought we knew is suddenly turned upside down if it’s still left after Maas cleans house while fueled by readers’ tears.
The event itself that leads to such a massive attack on the feels isn’t that powerful on its own; it’s the aftermath and how it changes the playing field so quickly that really gets you. Just like that, everything gets darker. The body count goes way, way up–most of the deaths wrought by Celaena’s own hand, which will surely appease everyone who wanted our favorite assassin to kill more people–and it forces Dorian, Celaena, and Chaol to undergo some serious character development.
And you know what? It’s great character development. Dorian has his own problems to deal with suddenly, we see exactly how much of a gap there is between our twenty-something Captain of the Guard and our teenage assassin and Celaena,… Oh wow. She’s still the girly, material-goods-loving assassin I liked in Throne of Glass (I think I’m one of five people who has no problem with her being both girly and a killer), but after the pivot point of the novel, who she is almost feels like an echo of who she’s becoming. Moreso than anyone else, she’s hurting. She’s not afraid to spread the pain around to those who deserve it.
Now, the twist. I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but I’d like to think I’m sharp enough. What Maas has planned for Celaena’s identity is so obvious from so early on (I’d had it figured out by 84 out of over 400 pages) that its reveal on the very last pages of the novel is anticlimactic enough to border on being book-killing. Every hint at the truth and them some are thrown at us or dropped on our heads like an anvil. I’d hoped the author’s improvement in plotting since her overly predictable novellas (which I read before ToG) would stick, but it seems not.
All I enjoy about that twist is how it results in Chaol being kicked swiftly in the rear end by karma. Something tells me karma will continue to do so for a while until her learns one very important lesson: don’t make decisions for Celaena or trap her into doing anything because you will inevitably screw yourself over by doing so. I’m not over-the-top in love with this series like my friends are yet, but I can happily call myself a fan of Maas’s series and take my place in the long, long line of people waiting for book three.