Title: Crown of Midnight (2013)
Series: Throne of Glass – Book 2
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Extent: 418 pages
Crowned by Evil. Bound by Duty. Divided by Love.
Celaena Sardothien, royal assassin, is the King of Adarlan’s deadliest weapon. She must win her freedom through his enemies’ blood – but she cannot bear to kill for the crown. And every death Celaena fakes, every lie she tells, put those she loves at risk.
Torn between her two protectors – a captain and a prince – and battling a dark force far greater than the king, Celaena must decide what she will fight for: her liberty, her heart or the fate of a kingdom…
Before I start, I should mention that I gave Throne of Glass a one-star rating mainly because Celaena annoyed me to death. I found her extremely unbelievable as an assassin and utterly vain, and the romance (apparently one of the main selling points for most people) rather lacking as neither of the love interest, well, interested me. I picked up Crown of Midnight because other bloggers told me it’s much better.
And hoopla, they were right: it is better. Celaena was less vain and annoying, the romance was further developed, the intrigue better written, the characters more complex and engaging. I have to hand it to Maas; she really took some risks and didn’t hesitate to turn Celaena’s world upside down. If she coddled Celaena in the first book, not so in this one. 😛
Crown of Midnight’s strongest point is definitely its plot. The action scenes were well-written, the pacing appropriate and generally consistent, and the fantasy element more developed. There were several plot twists that made the story quite an emotional ride–at least if you were wholly invested in the characters, which admittedly I wasn’t, not really.
I still found Celaena largely unbelievable as an assassin: brash, hotheaded, irresponsible, selfish, arrogant, and dare I say it, entitled. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that she’s supposedly the world’s greatest assassin. She was also still too perfect—my biggest pet peeve with Throne of Glass—and she had adopted even more characteristics of a Mary Sue.
Case in point: we still get people ruminating about how beautiful she is and lines upon lines on her appearance:
Her lovely dresses and ornate clothes were gone, replaced by an unforgiving, close-cut black tunic and pants, her hair pulled back in a long braid that fell into the folds of that dark cloak she was always wearing. She was a beautiful wraith—and when she looked at him, it was like she didn’t even know who he was. — Chapter 2
Philippa had managed to find her a delicate white gown, made up of layers of chiffon and silk patterned like overlapping feathers. A matching mask obscured the upper half of her face, and ivory feathers and pearls had been woven into her hair. — Chapter 12
The dress was pale blue, almost white, and encrusted with crystal beading that made the fabric look like the shimmering surface of the sea. Perhaps it was a bit much, but she’d told Chaol to dress well, so hopefully he’d be wearing something nice enough to make her feel less self-conscious. — Chapter 22
And while we’re on that note, the ending that revealed who Celaena truly is was predictable and made me groan out loud because, well, you don’t get more Mary-Suey than this, I swear. All of this made the writing feel very wish fulfilment-y for me, and that is not a good thing.
The romance is more palatable, but perhaps that’s because I found [highlight to read spoiler] Chaol [/end spoiler] more interesting a character than [highlight to read spoiler] Dorian [/end spoiler] and cheered with the development in this book. On the other hand, it also made Celaena come across as more irresponsible and even irrational to me, so it’s kind of a double-edged sword.
Crown of Midnight may not lack flaws, but it’s a more engaging and well-developed story than its predecessor. The characters are more complex, the plot more fun, and the writing is generally better.