Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. MaasCrown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Amazon|The Book Depository
Pages: 418
Series: Throne of Glass #2
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on August 27th 2013

"A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.
It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend."

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.
Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.
Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie... and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

I read a lot of other reviews proclaiming just how spectacular and great Crown of Midnight was but I remain on the fence. The improvements between Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight were small and not enough to sway me into a love affair with these characters. As in my previous review, spoilers have not been hidden or marked – so read at your own risk.

Celaena. Celaena remains a huge dead weight in this series for me. I don’t like her. I can’t stand scenes where she drones on and on about her assassin skills and her missions as the King’s Champion. There isn’t enough credible information in this book for me to believe she was the greatest assassin Ardlan has ever seen. Why does she suddenly have a problem with killing people? If we are to believe her history, she should have no qualms about killing someone, innocent or not.

Another thing that got me was the virginity thing. I really couldn’t even wrap my head around it. Her previous relationship with Sam didn’t quite make sense if she loved Sam so much, then why wasn’t he her first? I just didn’t understand the whole aspect of that history. The whole purpose of Sam – seeking revenge eventually for his death – is no longer believable.

Romance. Ugh. WHY spend all that time with the love triangle and then the Chaol/Celaena relationship (wasting pages and pages where world building could occur) to then destroy it so quickly. Maas could have killed Nehemia and left the whole “Chaol’s fault” out of it. You just let the relationship be built up over two books, and let it amount to nothing. Their relationship does nothing to impact or push Celaena forward, or give her any growth. It’s a distraction, but a terrible one.

The writing has gotten better over the course of this book. Maas has mastered suspense, but now she has to master pacing of the long-game for this series. Nehemia’s death was almost a saving point for this book (and Heir of Fire), as it sparks something in Celaena that will propel her story forward in this series. Dorian’s magic was a good subplot, and allowed him some development on his own. Finally this kid has a purpose other than a failed love interest.

It’s almost weird reading Maas’ work backwards. A Court of Thorns and Roses series really blew me away with its complexity and characters that it is strange to go back and read her earlier work and see that she wasn’t always at that level. But it’s also encouraging to see where she started and know where she ends up. I’m still not thrilled with this series, but it is getting better. The writing, for one, has improved immensely from first to second book. The characters are developing, in a romantic way, but developing none the less. The story has definitely expanded and I can now see why there are six books (and as I write this I am about 1/8th the way through Empire of Storms). What has disappointed me the most is the lack of realism when it comes to the characters backgrounds.

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