Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas

Crown of Midnight
Sarah J Maas

Bloombury
I received an e-ARC of this book from the publishers in return for an honest review.
Releases August 27, 2013
432 pages
YA / Fantasy / Adventure

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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?

While I enjoyed Throne of Glass, I didn't become a huge cheerleader for the series, mostly because I went in with all the Game of Thrones comparisons in my head and they didn’t fit with what I ended up reading. Despite that I really enjoyed the characters of Celaena and Chaol enough to go with them on another chapter of their adventure together. I’m really glad I did as Crown of Midnight takes what worked in Throne of Glass and skips all the slower boring parts to create something that really puts down some roots towards building an epic world.

SPOILERS FOR THRONE OF GLASS FOLLOW

The story picks up several months after Celaena won the tournament to be the king’s Champion (also known as the king’s chosen assassin of every random person he has a whim to kill). She is traveling across the country killing nobles and lords that may or may not be true enemies of the king. Or at least that’s what Celaena is making it look like. Being an assassin with a heart of gold is a difficult thing, especially when you’re working for the one man you want dead most in the world. So Celaena is playing a tricky game with the king, a game that the king hasn’t quite figured out he’s playing just yet.

Her newest assignment is a former “friend” who trained with the assassin guild when Celaena was younger. Archer is a dandy of a male courtesan with his fingers in everyone’s business and a really great poker face. He’s a male Celaena except he uses sex and flirtation to get what he wants and doesn’t go around murdering people. In other words Archer comes across as a worthy adversary even though his position in an insurgency seems unlikely. It was a nice to get a character who is painted in shades of grey similar to the protagonist.

Another awesome thing about this book compared to Throne of Glass is the lack of a love triangle. Prince Dorian forsakes whatever imaginary claim he has on Caleana from nearly the beginning, recognizing that she and Chaol have a thing for each other that they are desperately trying to ignore. It’s an honorable move and one that led me to like the character of Dorian a lot more. Though he isn’t featured as often as Chaol, he fit nicely into the role of a dependable friend and started really separating himself from his evil father.

And then there is Chaol. He is my favorite. He isn’t as awkward in this one, but how deeply he cares about Celaena’s well-being comes through without becoming too sloppy and distracting. He’s dependable, but doesn’t try to tie her down – all characteristics I can sincerely appreciate. He needs Celaena to rescue him as often as she needs him to rescue her, which is always my favorite type of fantasy/adventure relationships.

The mythology Maas is building into her world starts creeping in further with more rumblings about Wyrdmarks and Wyrdgates and Wyrdwhatsawhosits. More elfishness sneaks in past the NO MAGIC ALLOW guards and some surprising revelations start falling from the sky. Ghosts and shades of elves and humans complicate things as they always do, but the mythology never overwhelmed the story and instead created a much large palette to be utilized down the road. Monsters appear, magic is misused, evil nips at their heels, and a talking door knocker supplies a healthy dose of snark.

Yes, a talking door knocker. You read that correctly. And he is awesome.

There is a lot of drama, action and suspense which left me not wanting to put this down. The relationships are slowly being developed while some seriously dramatic events go down to push characters in directions they might not have gone down. This series is starting to really grow on me. It’s no Game of Thrones, but to be honest, GOT gets tedious and convoluted. I think I may prefer this ride better.

 

I received an electronic ARC of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. Thank you, Bloombury!