Title: Crown Of Midnight
Author: Sarah J Maas
Review: 18-year-old Celaena Sardothien, one of the most feared assassins in Andover, spent one year of hard labor in the dreaded salt mines of Endovier until she won a contest securing her right to act as the King’s Champion. Though now known as the King’s royal assassin, she is far from loyal to the crown.
Lies and deception are constant companions to Celaena as she struggles to do the King’s bidding while working her own agenda. When the King commands her to perform a series of executions against those thought to be traitors to the crown, she finds her choices becoming more limited. Dangerous forces are gathering, threatening those Celaena has come to care for. Celaena will have to chose her side soon before the choice is made for her.
Crown Of Midnight is the second book in Maas’s YA fantasy series- Throne Of Glass. Loosely crafted along the same lines as George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice and Fireseries, this storyline is filled with nail biting suspense, delicious betrayal, and dangerous antagonists. Well-plotted with a cast with characters that are strong and personable, this fascinating series continues to engage me from start to finish. Instead of being overburdened by rigid interpretation and world building at the sacrifice of story, or being heavy on story but leaving the world largely undefined, Crown of Midnight continues the adventures of Celanea Sardothien, creating a perfect balance between both. The world building is a wonderful blend of heartbreaking romance, violent action, deceptive characters, and epic betrayal from all sides. No one and nothing is what it seems. Fast pacing creates a satisfying arc of development for the main characters and further advances the storyline; leaving readers reeling with the implications of what’s to come. I want to add that I believe the YA aspect is slowly merging into adult territory as the heroine is 18 years old and the other characters are also older.
Our heroine, Celaena Sardothian, faces a much darker path in this installment. The dresses and frivolity are gone and a dark entity has risen from the glitter and ash in it’s place.
Her lovely dresses and ornate clothes were gone, replaced with 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 wrath …
As the King’s champion, she has shed the mask that she wore during the contest and effectively reveals to all what has made her the greatest assassin at such a young age. Though only eighteen, she has already lived a lifetime that is reflected in her attitude and skills. The characterization of Celaena is outstanding. Maas creates the perfect balance of strength, intelligence and wit with a strong vein of vulnerability within her. Calaena carries herself tightly contained. Control over her thoughts and actions is what kept her sane while in the salt mines. That famed control is broken in here and the fallout unleashes a chain reaction that changes everything. Celaena faces both the joy of love and the pain of loss and is unable to handle the onslaught of emotion that converges on her. Effectively a pawn in a much larger end game, we learn some much needed information concerning Celaena’s past and clues to her future.
The romance is more pronounced in here as Celaena seems to have made her choice- Chaol Westfall, Captain of the Guard.
“The kiss obliterated her. It was like coming home or being born or suddenly finding an entire half of herself that had been missing.”
I loved that Chaol plays a much larger role in this installment. By utilizing Chaol’s POV, we are able to learn the true extent of his feelings for Celaena and the depths he will go to keep her safe. Depths that may end up destroying them all. Though I like both Choal and Dorain, the Crown Prince, I feel Choal is a much better romantic interest for Celaena. He’s quiet strength, inherent goodness, and warrior status makes for a wonderful grounding agent against Celaena’s more interchangeable nature. Celaena needs someone as strong as she is to stand beside her but also someone who loves her for herself and not for what she can do.
“When you go away “ he said, the distant torchlight illuminating the rugged plains of his face, “I have no idea what’s happening to you. I don’t know if you’re hurt or if you’re rotting in a gutter somewhere…”
Dorian Havilliard, the Crown Prince of Ardalan, though also in love with Celaena, is developing more into a lifeline for her. His friendship also helps to ground her when Celanea finds herself betrayed by those she has come to view as allies. Dorian is also experiencing some growing pains of his own that in a sense, mirror the changes Celaena is experiencing. He is becoming quite a strong figure who will be a forced to reckon with in the future. I liked the changes I saw in their love triangle in here. Celaena, in book one, was her pragmatic in her look at life. While she honestly liked both Dorian and Chaol, her life and freedom meant more to her. In here, those feelings change and she begins to make decisions that put her own life in danger in order to protect Chaol and Dorian. The change shows a growth in Celaena. She no longer focuses on just herself anymore. Both men continue to be strong solid presences in the story, united in their quest to save Celaena from all danger…including herself.
The secondary characters are dynamic building blocks in this unfolding story as each one has a secret waiting to be revealed, adding suspense and tension to the story. No one is as they seem and we find ourselves on constant guard as each betrayal and deception is revealed. An engaging plot line and multiple sub plots feed upon one another as each revelation brings us closer to the end. Maas digs deeper beneath the surface in this installment, answering questions from Throne Of Glass and setting Celaena on a course that will change her life and those around her. I look forward to watching Celaena’s journey continue to reveal itself as the series continues.
Crown Of Midnight is a captivating fantasy that will appeal to both young and adult readers who love a strong female protagonist, non stop action, and tense plotlines that leaves you astounded with each delicious clue. An altogether satisfying read that ensures Sarah J. Maas is an author to continue watching. I look forward to the third installment, title and release date to be announced. Those who want to know more about Celaene, there are four novellas currently available that sheds light on Celaena’s life as an assassin and what leads to her imprisonment and two novellas between books one and two.
Buy it here:
Kindle Edition: www.amazon.com
Also see: Throne of Glass