Crown of Midnight ~ Sarah J Maas
After a taste of the first book in the series, Throne of Glass, I was very reluctant to buy this sequel. As fate would have it, I happened to receive some book vouchers for a good job being the crazy person last year who did 6 A Levels. Browsing through my favourite fantasy section, I saw Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire. There was the moment of me looking back and forth between my vouchers and the two books, in the end shrugging a ‘wainaut’ and picking up the two books since…they kinda counted as free? Either way – I don’t think I would have bought these if it wasn’t ‘free’. I was also reluctant to read it even though it sat staring at me from the shelf for a month. In the end, I gave in to temptation and was I surprised by what I discovered in Crown of Midnight!
The Story: 4/5 stars
Maas was still trying to get rid of her habit on commenting too much on the clothes, I noticed. There was the phase where in the first pages I kept rolling my eyes at how for the nth time Maas told me what colour his or her eyes were. I was immensely relieved when I found that there are very few scenes with the pretty, sparkly dresses which Maas bombarded us with in the last book.
The whole mood of the novel was more serious, something that piqued my fantasy radars as well as improvement receptors. It was surprising by how, as though Maas finally understood that she was treading the dark waters of high fantasy, changed the tone and events of the story. It was as though she had read all the complaints and praise about the last book and has constructed a masterpiece in the second book. This fast maturity has left me quite pleased (so…..I do apologise for my comment last time that she should get out of the industry…I was quite enraged by the first book…). The story’s pace never slowed down and just kept speeding up, with the tensions and stakes rising as new things were revealed. Unlike in the last book, all events in this contributed one way or another to the plot, be it character development, world building or the overall picture. This was what kept me glued to the book until 4am (I should sleep more…but then again – I am a student; I still had to stop and go to sleep and finish the next day though…).
Plot twists. Everybody loves plot twists. For me it depended on which ones since half of them were predictable while the other half smacked you in the face in the light of…night (since that was when I was reading). Maas just kept you guessing who the main perpetrator was and you couldn’t guess until the very end, when it was revealed (well I couldn’t, although I did have a slight hunch that the main villain was somehow related but…I didn’t think it was the main villain!).
The feels were real this time, people. The feels were real. There may have been many deaths and tragedies but this was far from overdoing it. Maas somehow managed to pull it off and make it effective. Of course it was about time that this story became more violent with that cover!
The Characters: 5/5 stars
Maas even managed to write a book this time without me wanting to stab most of them!
Celaena: Or whatever her name is anymore. Eh, I didn’t even care about that part, but Nehemia’s random nickname for her was weird. Right…Celaena. This time we saw some action from her. It wasn’t just all talk like before, but she actually proved that she was the good assassin she was. Her motives for faking the assassinations (this isn’t that big of a spoiler since it pretty much says this in the synopsis) left me a bit torn: was Celaena reluctant to kill because of morals (which is unlikely by how brutally she killed others) or because she didn’t want to be a puppet (which is more likely)? If she didn’t want to be a puppet…surely faking the deaths would have instead dug her own grave , which she wouldn’t want if she was so selfish? The slight problem with Maas making this story better is by how much Celaena changes. She is not the same character she was and her being a shopaholic is weird (it had to be said). The justification of her subsided selfishness in the second part is more understandable as the event was pretty traumatic. I have no complaints about the toning down of Celaena’s annoy-ness (is that even a word) but it does make me wonder how fans of the first book would react (alas, there were some). This character growth, in my opinion, is justly done and helps the reader stop wanting to strangle her.
Dorian: Whoa, this fella got axed (not literally). He had few appearances for the first half of the book to the point that I nearly forgot his existence. I actually felt sorry for the poor guy after being dumped by Celaena like that. My fear from this was however: 1. He would be a rival for Chaol and try to intervene in the relationship of Chaol and Celaena and 2. He would become a boring filler with a useless no-role. These 2 fears however were thankfully diminished by his newly discovered magic which really starts the events going into the chaotic direction, keeping in mind that magic is punishable by death. The explanation for how this is possible (how Dorian has magic while it disappeared years ago) was brilliant (but I will not mention it as…it is a spoiler).
Chaol: He’s still good ‘ol Charcoal to me… Ahem… Let me just say what must be said – this guy is adorable.
He is still a lovable character and the voice of reason. I still can’t get over the fact how he hardly killed anyone yet is the captain of the guard… If I were to compare him to something (other than charcoal), it would be a dog (it’s not as bad as it sounds). He’s loyal and paranoid but he means well.
The Romance: This time we get the CelaenaxChaol pairing, which I must say is quite successful but…given the events – may be impossible. I stand by with this opinion:
The Others: Nehemia was a nice surprise…well the one relating to her secret doings, not her…er…fate. I was also a bit disappointed that Archer didn’t get as much cameo time as he deserved. I mean – a manwhore? Classic! But well…at least the main ‘bad guy’ aka the king was more present this time.
Writers Technique: 4/5 stars
Massive fulcrum point for Maas here. Her writing here improved so much and she has shown that she does know how to keep up suspense. Thank the doritos there weren’t so many exclamation marks like last time. A form of repetition was still present, only this time in the embodiment of triplets (eg “down, down, down”). Now…at times they were very effective to reflect the state of mind Celaena was in but at other times…I found them unnecessary. Why do you need triplets to say she was going “down, down, down” some stairs? No, really. Why? Maas is a fledgling writer and it is noticeable through things like this. She is experimenting with techniques and at times she is successful while at other times not so much. I’ll give her credit for being brave but…is it really practice time in a published novel?
Despite my usual nagging, Maas did write well for most of the book, hence the 4 stars. The action scenes were my favourites and there were so many of them! By how Maas avoided them previously, I had doubts she was able to pull them off but I stand (technically sit) corrected.
Overall: 5/5 stars
Why? Because I say so and it’s my blog (I’m terrible sometimes, honestly…and that grammar error of ‘because’ as a sentence starter is killing me…). Well the official reason is that this book is actually very good. The story is interesting, it lives up to the synopsis and goes beyond, has lovable characters and many action scenes. It is a real page turner, and that coming from me says something.
Let us see what my reactions were through this roller-coaster, shall we?
This is a pretty good fantasy read with a sprinkle of YA. The amount of gore may disturb some younglings though. This is also in a way a mystery and a series of plot twists. So basically – it’ll pass a good few hours.
Well that’s all, folks! Thanks for reading!
You can find me on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/RitaArthurs
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