Review: Crown of Midnight

I received this book for free from BEA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Crown of MidnightCrown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #2
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on August 27, 2013
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: BEA

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?

First Sentence: “The shutters swinging in the storm winds were the only sign of entry”

My love for Throne of Glass is well known, but, after reading some reviews, I started wondering if the book was quite as good as I remembered. There were some fair criticisms, things I’d not even considered. In Crown of Midnight, Maas really hits those elements that were missing from the first, and ups the stakes to an incredible degree. This sequel is a must read for those who loved Throne of Glass and perhaps even for those who were on the fence.

One of the criticisms I’d seen was of Celaena being proclaimed a heartless assassin, but that not really ever being shown. Instead, she’s going to balls and eating candy. Of course, I love that the assassin has a softer side, but I did agree retroactively that it would have been good to see more of her dark side. In Crown of Midnight, you get to see Celaena living up to her reputation, and, when this girl is on a killing spree, it’s a thing of bload-soaked beauty. She may like frilly dresses, but she’s also totally cool with being covered in blood. Being able to see all of the facets of Celaena really adds depths to her character.

The other main criticism of the first book that I agreed with was that the King, clearly the villain, didn’t have much of a role. He just sort of cackled evilly every so often. In Crown of Midnight, we get to see more of him and learn about his plans, still only the very slightest understanding, but it’s enough to make him one intensely creeptastic villain.

The plotting of the story becomes much more complex in Crown of Midnight. Actually, I was really surprised by the direction that the story has gone, very different from the more basic fantasy roots of the first. There are a number of twists, none of which I really saw coming, though I felt really dumb that I missed the biggie, since there were a lot of hints. The plot is full of twists and turns, and full of betrayals. I do have some quibbles with the world building, but they’re minor enough I can’t really draw a line to any one thing.

Of course, there’s also the romance. The age of Dorian is over and now it’s all about Chaol (as it should be). All I can really say about what happens here is that I approve wholeheartedly. This is why I love guys like Chaol, all cool and collected on the outside, but so much passion on the inside. *sighs happily*

Maas impressed me with her willingness to be cruel and heartless to the characters. To be honest, I really didn’t get the impression from Throne of Glass that she would be willing to kill off characters, but I’m thrilled to be wrong. Oh, she’s brutal. Mwahahaha. And, no, I won’t tell you who dies, so have fun sitting on the edge of your seat the whole time. As you may know, I find killing off a beloved main character a mark of good fantasy.

Sarah J. Maas really proves her talent in Crown of Midnight, deftly avoiding any sort of second book syndrome. Instead, she greatly amps up the world building, plot and intensity. In my opinion, this series is a must read for fantasy fans. The third book is poised to be epic and heartbreaking, and I am so excited.

Favorite Quote: (Warning: It’s a bit SPOILERY, so read with caution)

“‘Who said anything about shame?’ She gestured down to her naked body, even though it was covered with the blanket. ‘Honestly, I’m surprised you’re not strutting about, boasting to everyone. I certainly would be if I’d tumbled me.”

15 responses to “Review: Crown of Midnight”

  1. Audra says:

    Ooh, nice! It’s always a relief when the second book doesn’t fail — and in this case, that it amps up the action is awesome.

  2. Hannah says:

    I still really need to read this series! Ugh! Sad thing is … I have both books. *headdesk*

  3. Ah! I can’t wait to read this one! I LOVED Throne of Glass. I am so glad that the sequel doesn’t fall short of the first.

    AHHHHHH! And I just re-read my review and your review of this book and I really want to re-read it. Lol. And I am definitely rooting for Chaol.

  4. I love how we posted our reviews on the same day at the same time :P.

    “She may like frilly dresses, but she’s also totally cool with being covered in blood.” Yep. And plenty of it too. So much darker and more exciting with all the plot twists and reveals.

    “He just sort of cackled evilly every so often.” Too true. Though is there any other way to cackle ;)?

    “I do have some quibbles with the world building, but they’re minor enough I can’t really draw a line to any one thing.” <-- What are your quibbles? I'm curious now :). “The age of Dorian is over and now it’s all about Chaol (as it should be).” Lol. Not necessarily over yet – she might have to get back with him. I’m trying to be vague (& am hoping you know what I mean), but you never know. The love triangle could be brought back again. Lol yes to the favorite quote. I found her arrogance a bit much in ToG but I do love that she was confident about her own sexual prowess and body.

  5. This blew me away, and is what all second books should strive to be. I couldn’t put it down and cannot wait for the next book. Wonderful review, my thoughts will post Monday 🙂

  6. Nemeen says:

    I should not have read this review, now I know someone dies. My husband gets annoyed when I refuse to finish a book if my favourite character dies.

  7. Alessandra says:

    Uhm. I thought I’d skip on this series, since I’ve read so many bad reviews of the first book. And I mean *bad* reviews. But since you like it so much, I might give it a try. Regarding the love triangle, I think read somewhere a comment from someone who had read the whole series when it still was published on the Net and apparently Celaena ends up with the prince (?); of couse, it might have been changed and/or revised for publication.

  8. First of all, if Alessandra’s comment above mine is correct I WILL DIE.


    While reading ToG I really didn’t think that any of the main characters would be killed. I honestly thought it was going to be a main group of characters until the end, so I was quite surprised that Maas did what she did. Of course, it was painfully obvious it was going to happen, but still. I hope you understand what I mean.

    I’m really excited about the direction Ms Maas is taking this series. I thought the plotting in ToG was very simplistic, but it seems to get darker as the series goes along so I hope the third book continues that trend. I can’t wait for it. I CANT.

  9. Molli Moran says:

    You know, I was like you, Christina – I didn’t really think a lot about the issues in TOG, but as COM neared, I was all “oh gosh, was TOG really as good as I remembered?” I do wish I’d had a copy to re-read, but COM did a flawless job of re-familiarizing me with the characters and world.

    Basically? Your review is perfect. I am with you on your feelings on Chaol! Re: world building… I saw you (or someone) commenting on Twitter or on your GR review that the world-building is a bit too busy, and yeah, that’s my only really irksome quibble, too.


  10. GillyB says:

    I agree with every word of this review. I actually thought there was plenty of Celaena being an assassin in the first (and TONS in the novellas), but Maas really ups the ante in CoM. THAT ONE SCENE…!!!!

    Ugh. Chaol. CHAAAAAOL. Happy sighs indeed. Lots of passion inside INDEED.

    I’m with you with the world-building quibbles, of course, but the King became a WAY more effective villain in this one, and the strength of the feels and characters far outweighed my critiques.

  11. I thought Throne of Glass was fairly average, but since you say this is better I’ll have to pick it up sooner than I originally planned. I can’t actually remember much of what happened in ToG though… or who the love interests are. Oops.

    An author who is willing to be cruel to her characters? HELL YEAH. Liz Norris is also brutal, and therefore one of my faves.

    “I find killing off a beloved main character a mark of good fantasy.” A good novel in general, really *nods*

  12. fakesteph says:

    I’m halfway through and I’m LOVING it so far. But… BETRAYAL and DEATH????? I’m freaking out. FREAKING OUT. HOLY CRAP HOLY CRAP HOLY CRAP.

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