Celaena reached a gloved hand into the sack and tossed the severed head towards him. No one spoke as it bounced, a vulgar thudding of stiff and rotting flesh on marble.’
Warning: Minor spoilers.
A couple of weeks ago I posted my review of Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass, a novel which I had avoided for a long time for fear it wouldn’t live up to the massive hype around it. Fortunately, it did, and I actually loved the second book in the series even more!
Crown of Midnight begins two months after the end of Throne of Glass, and royal assassin Celaena Sardothien is hard at work completing the various missions set for her by her new employer, the shady King of Adarlan…except that she isn’t. Unwilling to kill the King’s targets, she has been faking their deaths, putting herself and those she cares about at great risk. Alongside this, strange and dark events are yet again beginning to unfold, and Celaena finds herself once again embroiled in the terrible mysteries at the heart of Adarlan.
Yet again I was enchanted by the brilliant and bad-ass Celaena Sardothien, and she is quickly becoming one of my all-time favourite heroines! Whilst her arrogance and vanity seem to have been toned down a bit in this book, she remains a refreshing change from the self-sacrificing, goody-two shoes heroines that have come to dominate a lot of YA fiction.
I also continued to love Dorian and Chaol, and their growing relationships with Celaena. Dorian having been well and truly rejected at the end of Throne of Glass begins to form a really endearing friendship with Celaena despite the fact he still has feelings for her, and is uncomfortable with her job as an assassin. I also liked that his own personal struggles come to the forefront in this book, as he starts to seriously question his father’s rather suspect actions, and discovers a few things about himself that he didn’t know, and that put him in grave danger.
Meanwhile Chaol and Celaena’s romantic relationship seriously heats up (which I was so glad of! I was rooting for Chaol all the way through Throne of Glass!), but hits a fair few bumps in the road along the way. I felt like I got more of an insight into Chaol’s character in this novel, as there were several sections from his perspective, and it was interesting to start meeting his family members towards the end of the book.
Alongside some of the other great characters who return from Throne of Glass (eg. Nehemia, Elena, Kaltain, Duke Perrington), Crown of Midnight also has a fair few newcomers, most notably Archer, Roland, Mort (who despite being a door-knocker had one hell of an attitude!) and the frankly quite terrifying Baba Yellowlegs.
Whilst as a character I didn’t much like Archer, the whole ‘who’s side is he on?’ question kept things interesting, and the revelations about him at the end surprised me. Similarly, I wasn’t sure about Roland. Chaol immediately hating him with a passion makes me think he definitely is a bad guy, but the way he backs up Dorian against his father did make me wonder if he was actually all that bad. I guess it remains to be seen!
Plot-wise, things also picked up in Crown of Midnight. Whilst I had thought Throne of Glass was fairly fast-paced and action packed, Crown of Midnight throws you straight in at the deep end with Celaena on one of her missions as royal assassin, and doesn’t really let up all the way through. With Celaena now free to roam the city and with an important job to do, there’s plenty of running around, attending balls and parties, spying and, of course, fighting. Celaena’s new freedom also means we get to see more of Adarlan, which is an aspect of the story I really enjoyed, and it looks like we’ll get to see even more in Heir of Fire. There’s also a lot more mythology about the Fae, Wyrdmarks and Wyrdkeys revealed, although admittedly, I’m still not quite sure I get what the Wyrdkeys are all about!
Yet again, this was an amazing book! The way it ends has me really excited to read Heir of Fire (which I have just bought!), as I’m dying to know how things will pan out now. When I read Throne of Glass people kept telling me that Crown of Midnight was better, and I’m now being told that Heir of Fire is even better, so I have high hopes!