I have to admit, after finishing Throne of Glass I wasn’t sure if I would be finishing Sarah J. Mass’s incredibly popular series. Celaena Sardothien, the heroine, had seemed incredibly arrogant and narcissistic, and I wasn’t sure if I could stand another three books of her attitude. However, while at Target one day I saw a signed copy of Queen of Shadows, the recently released fourth book. The “signed copy” sticker, as well as the sheer volume of the book called me, and I found myself in the checkout line. When I got home, I said to myself well now you have to read the other two, and promptly ordered them on Amazon…and then devoured both Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire in just two days. Silly Grace for ever thinking this series was overrated. It’s quickly becoming my favorite in fact.
Crown of Midnight picks up where Throne of Glass ended. Celaena is adjusting to her new position as the King’s Assasin, and the pressure that comes with it (if she fails the king, he’ll kill Chaol Westfall). Then, there’s the complicated love triangle between Celaena the assassin, Chaol Westfall who is Captain of the Royal Guard, and the Crown Prince Dorian. Between the three of them, they manage to make their lives quite confusing and miserable at times. Add to that the fact that the king is assigning Celaena to take out the rebels who are fighting for a cause she believes in, and the story gets even trickier.
What I loved so much about Crown of Midnight is that we began to see a new side of Celaena. Instead of being the narcissistic girl who’s competing in a challenge that will either gain her her freedom or cost her her life, while constantly snubbing and looking down on her competitors, we see a girl caught between her beliefs and her need to protect those she loves. The stakes are even higher now, and she seems to sober up a bit and realize this. She begins to show a level of maturity that was lacking in the first book.
I maintain my original opinion on the love triangle with Chaol and Dorian: there isn’t really a love triangle. Celaena never seemed to care for Dorian as deeply as she does for Chaol (sorry Dorian x Celaena shippers). Dorian also can’t empathize with her the way that Chaol can. He doesn’t know the weight of the world that they carry, or why death and destruction is sometimes the only answer. Besides, Dorian has his own rather serious problems to worry about now. With the discovery that he is seemingly able to wield magic, his life becomes endangered, considering it was his own father who banished magic in the first place and annihilated magic users.
Even though Chaol and Celaena seem to be the better match, I still don’t necessarily think they’re the perfect match. It’s too easy for Celaena to keep secrets from Chaol, and only give him half truths. Chaol also seems to be holding back, because he knows full well if the king got wind of their fraternization, both of them would be in some serious trouble.
Luckily for me, the main focus of this book wasn’t on the love triangle. This is good, because the love triangle and romantic aspect of it was pretty weak. Instead, the focus was on the brewing rebellion against the king, and Celeana’s precarious position of a somewhat aid to the rebels…while being tasked to kill key rebel leaders by the king. It was a very action-heavy plot, which I loved. The action and unique world building is what began to draw me to YA fantasy novels in the first place, and Crown of Midnight did not let me down in that department. The action seems to ramp up as I progress further into the series, which excites me. Every now and then the real world gets quite dull, and I need to read about a kickass, sword-wielding assassin as a pick me up. Does that make me weird? Maybe.
I give Crown of Midnight 4/5 stars. I liked it, and enjoyed it much more than the first book, however I still feel there’s room for improvement. I can’t wait to finish the rest of the books in the series, however I am a little nervous and hesitant because we don’t get the fifth book until next year and Sarah J. Mass seems to have an affinity for cliffhangers. Painful cliffhangers that leave you clutching the book to your chest, and suffering from a severe book hangover the following days.