It’s rare that a second book is as good as the first, but Sarah J. Maas has more than accomplished this. I read Throne of Glass last year and completely fell in love with the characters, the plot, the style… everything that contributed to making that book the masterpiece that it was. It’s pretty much accepted that the second book in the series is just a filler, just something to build up the tension until we can read the finale, but not so here. Crown of Midnight is an unbelievable story that only adds to what was begun in Throne of Glass.
Plot summary: Eighteen-year-old Celaena Sardothien is bold, daring and beautiful – the perfect seductress and the greatest assassin her world has ever known. But though she won the King’s contest and became his champion, Celaena has been granted neither her liberty nor the freedom to follow her heart. The slavery of the suffocating salt mines of Endovier that scarred her past is nothing compared to a life bound to her darkest enemy, a king whose rule is so dark and evil it is near impossible to defy. Celaena faces a choice that is tearing her heart to pieces: kill in cold blood for a man she hates, or risk sentencing those she loves to death. Celaena must decide what she will fight for: survival, love or the future of a kingdom. Because an assassin cannot have it all . . . And trying to may just destroy her.
Sarah J. Maas is an excellent author. By this, I don’t just mean that Crown of Midnight has an okay concept or that her characters are mildy acceptable… instead, every part of both of her books has been pretty much perfect. I don’t give praise like this lightly (I’m a natural criticiser, if I’m honest), but it really can’t be avoided in this case.
The story is is unique and attention-grabbing, the characters are loveable but believable and even the prose itself is beautiful. Sometimes YA books can have a slightly childish, stilted tone, but this flows as well as any adult novel. It takes skill to pull you back in to a story you left eight months ago, but I was hooked again by the second page.
Part of what I enjoyed about Throne of Glass was that the romantic sub-plot was very, very minor. I loved that the focus was on the action and Celaena herself. Here, the attention has shifted slightly to bring the romance forward and to utilise a lot more magic than was present in the first book. Obviously the previous installment involved magic, but here it’s a lot more prevalent. It changes the tone of the book slightly, but not in a bad way – it’s just more fantasy-esque than before.
The romance… argh. Other authors should learn from Sarah J. Maas. Because the romance was so minuscule in the first book, I ended up caring so much more and was actually grateful when it was brought up again in Crown of Midnight. It’s perfect. So gradual and lovely. Events That Shall Not Be Mentioned almost broke my heart though – I put the book down and it took me a long time to pick it back up again, just because I didn’t want to believe what had just happened. I could have slapped Celaena for some of the decisions she makes.
I think that’s the essence of what I’m trying to say here really, other than fanatic ravings. I truly cared what happened in this because because it’s written well enough to make my imagination believe that this story is really happening. There are certain… things that need to be fixed, and I swear I’m not going to sleep until I’ve read the third book and I know everything is okay. I need that.
The only aspect that didn’t completely click with me was Nehemia, who I felt was a little too preachy to be likeable. Now that I think about it, perhaps her friendship with Celaena was a little rushed as well. I would have liked to see their frienship develop gradually, instead of instantly becoming besties (first and last time I’ve ever used that word, I swear).
There’s a big twist in the end that I didn’t like exactly, but I didn’t see it coming and it does fit the story, so I don’t resent it too much. Again, it’s rare that I like that particular… topic (for want of a better word), so it really must have been amazing for me to accept and enjoy it.
Everyone, this book genuinely couldn’t be any better. It’s perfect for fans of all genres of all ages with all tastes. This is an astounding sequel to Throne of Glass and I’m already desperate for the third installment.