Throne of Glass #2
Sarah J. Maas
Source: BEA 2013
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul 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.
Crown of Midnight is a story that manages to escape all the pitfalls so common in second installments, improving upon the very best elements of Throne of Glass and completely doing away with the aspects that were perhaps more of a struggle for those (like myself) who didn’t have the benefit of Celaena's history as outlined in the prequel novellas. Ms. Maas gives us Celaena at her finest in this sequel, her brutality as much a focus as her vulnerability; the two a swirling combination of character perfection that has her stealing a part of our hearts and forever locking it away in the pages of her story.
Where the Celaena of Throne of Glass seemed to be a young woman who bought a bit too much into her own press, touting her accomplishments and her abilities to any and all who would listen, the Celaena of Crown of Midnight is closer to the woman found in the pages of the prequel novellas, her mind every bit as sharp as her blades and her heart surprisingly open despite all that’s happened to her. Previously, we couldn’t help but grimace at her arrogance, but in this newest book we do nothing but smile at her confidence and pity all those who continue to underestimate her in terms of both her lethality as well as her humanity.
Celaena is a beautiful tapestry of scars–physical and emotional–and they are on display in all their painful glory in Crown of Midnight. Our hearts ache for her as past and present collide, history delivering a brutal sucker punch of repetition to send her reeling once again, but though she staggers with every blow she’s dealt, she never once stays down. Despite the villainous king she serves and the court of liars and social climbers surrounding her, she stays true to who she is–good and bad; blackest pieces and brightest facets–always seeking to help those around her even when they question her motivations and judge her actions. She doesn’t play games with Chaol or Dorian, following her heart even as memories of the love she let herself have once before plague her, and doing so in such a way as to mitigate the damage done to the one whose affection she cannot fully return.
With the love triangle safely put to bed with minimal angst and drama, and the over-the-top ego of Throne of Glass reduced to a charmingly inflated sense of self, the best parts of Ms. Maas’s ability to tell a story are able to shine through, making us immeasurably happy and devastating us in turn until we’re nothing but an emotional mess staring dumbly at the last page wishing futilely for more. Crown of Midnight is gritty and glorious, giving us a protagonist who is a hero in the end but often a villain in the means used to achieve it, and there’s absolutely nothing more satisfying than walking side by side with her as she journeys through every shade of gray.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.