Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Book Review: CROWN OF MIDNIGHT by Sarah J. Maas

Crown of Midnight 
by Sarah J. Maas
(Throne of Glass #2)

Published: 2013, Bloomsbury USA

Genre: YA / Fantasy

For the sake of not spoiling anything, I'll try to focus on my reactions. As the sequel to Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight has a much more satisfying story with a less-contrived plot. The competition structure of the story with its intriguing subplots in the first book had felt contrived - there's none of that here. Crown of Midnight is filled with plot twists, betrayals, and mysteries that keep me with the story.. 

But I had to take an two-month-long hiatus when I hit the middle of the book.

Why, you ask? 

I wish I could tell without blathering out all the spoilers, because this novel is a spoiler's gold mine. Hell, you could go on over to Goodreads and tap into a spoiler-rich review if you want spoilers. 

But the plot change that occurred shifted the earth right below my feet in a spot that I had thought was stable. Sure, I had suspicions, but when it came to the full-frontal assault, I never saw it coming. It's like having a flotation device ripped out from under me in the ocean. 

Even the book blurb hints at this. But I just....I just never thought it would happen that way
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 willing to fight for?
I had the reader's version of PTSD. While Celaena was having her (our?) world rocked, I detached myself from the world of Erilea and did what I could to stay busy. I knew I had to return at some point, though.

Last night, I finally did, and it was worth it, even though it was hard to go back and face the new circumstances. Like Celaena, I thirsted for justice and vengeance for what had happened. 

It was worth it, and it was satisfying. 

Geez, you must be thinking. Ellen sure is melodramatic today.

*takes breath* I will step down from the podium now. 

Character Development

For Celaena, Prince Dorian, and Chaol, there is a lot of character building in this book. I was quite pleased to learn more about their secret sides and how they become entwined in each other's problems. It is quite clear that they are merely small players in something that is much bigger than they are. Celaena sets out to find out just what these secrets are, that control the world they live in, and comes away feeling smaller than ever. 

No one tells her what's really happening, and she has to find out the little details and put them together for herself, so that she could see the big picture of what's really happening in Erilea. 

Meanwhile, Dorian discovers something horrible about himself that could put him in danger when it comes to his father. Chaol is pressured to take on responsibility and go back with his father to Anielle, but his loyalties are in Adarlan. However, the love triangle between is putting a strain in the life-long bromance between Chaol and Dorian. It's definitely altering the dynamics in their relationship. For the longest time, Chaol's fierce loyalty to the throne and to his friendship with Dorian made it so that he was willing to be in the background as Dorian shone. Celaena's entrance into the castle has changed that dynamic. Now, finally, Dorian feels threatened - he's pushed to the background while Chaol gets to become a bigger player in the events of the story. 

In Throne of Glass, it wasn't very obvious who to pick, but I think Chaol is quickly becoming a winner in this one. Or maybe it's me and I'm a sucker for guys like Chaol. Dorian comes across as an insecure, spoiled prick in his interactions with his former best bud. But he has redeeming qualities, so I can't hate him. 

I feel like I'm too old to be doing this, but... *waves Team Chaol flag*  

World Building

Now the scope of events is expanding beyond the castle. The world's fate is even more ominous than I thought it was... I can't wait for things to escalate in the next book.

Conclusion

I liked this book a lot more than its predecessor. Maas has blown me away this time. The pace is engaging and the characters are interesting. What really propels the story forward are the mysteries of the castle and the secrets that permeate everything. This reads very much like a mystery novel, with Celaena playing detective while continuing her assassination duties as a day job. Each character is a walking bundle of secrets. Be prepared to have your world rocked, because nothing is what it seems. 

The next book in the series will be Heir of Fire, and nooooo!!! I'll have to wait until September 2 before it's released!

My rating:


Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

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