Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #2) / ★★ 1/2
One sentence summary: King’s Champion Assassin Celaena Sardothian is sent to kill the king’s adversaries while she questions loyalties, deals with relationships, and discovers more secrets of forbidden magic.
“Enough! We have enough enemies as it is! There are worse things out there to face!”
Celaena slowly turned to him, her face splattered with blood and eyes blazing bright. “No, there aren’t,” she said. “Because I’m here now.”
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Crown of Midnight definitely shows improvement over it’s predecessor, Throne of Glass, which, you may recall, I had many bones to pick with. I found Crown of Midnight to be faster paced, more entertaining, and filled with action that isn’t nearly as overshadowed by romance. I think the main improvement lies with the detail. Whereas Throne of Glass is a whole lot of telling, Crown of Midnight is much more showing. I was happy to be in the action of the book, rather than told most of it through summarization. It made the plot more engaging and more interesting, and most of the book was not spent in Celaena’s room(!), like the last book. I also liked the magic plot line a lot, and thought it was much stronger in this book.
[Rant warning] I do, however, think this is the end of my foray with this series. Many of the faults I found in Throne of Glass still remain, and I’m just not interested enough to go on. My main gripe with this book was the inconsistent and overdramatic emotional responses to certain events within the story. Celaena does kill people in this book, unlike in Throne of Glass, but it’s not very “world class assassin,” i.e. smooth and stealthy, but loud, bloody, and based on uncontrollable rage. When she’s not full of savage rage, she’s strangely merciful, going out of her way not to kill people even when it’s clear she should- but we are given no reason as to why she should act so merciful. We learn more about her terrible past, but it only serves to fill her with inconsolable sadness and anger, and is often the reason for her savagery, and any kindness she shows never lasts for long before she’s thrown into another emotional overhaul, often over something or someone that does not call for such overwhelming dramatics. Like the romance (*rolls eyes for ten years*).
Because of these emotional upheavals, I often got lost in the trains of logic that led to the actions taken by characters. Because of this, their actions often felt flimsy, and because of that, I felt that the main events of the plot could have so easily been avoided. When major plot points feel avoidable…well, the whole book could have been avoidable. And I still have not forgotten when Celaena found an unguarded passage out of the castle in the first book, which could have made all of this avoidable.
This book was more entertaining than Throne of Glass, and I did feel more engaged, but where it counted I was bored, and often rolling my eyes by how overdramatic all the characters were.
I just don’t care. About any of the characters. I just. Don’t. Their personalities are a bit more solidified in this book than they are in Throne of Glass, but I still have a stone cold heart toward all of them. I was not convinced of the emotional bonds they’d built with each other, mainly because we’re told so much of it in the first book, and they’re very “all in or all out” when it comes to one another. One moment, they’re “soul bonded” and the next they’re worst enemies.
Other than Celaena, Chaol drove me absolutely insane. If Celaena is the drama queen of emotional responses, he is the drama king. And why, please tell me, do the Captain of the Guard and the King’s assassin have so much time to go off frolicking with one another? If I was the king, I’d fire them and find some actual professionals. I don’t care how many times the narration tells me “Chaol’s eyes were always extremely alert at all times always.” I’ve yet to see it.
Dorian, I admit, did intrigue me, and I liked his plot line in this book. His character seemed to have toned down since Throne of Glass, and he wasn’t as wildly emotional as the Celaena and Chaol. I was surprised by the storyline his character took in this book, and it was probably one of my favorite aspects of Crown of Midnight.
I also wish we got to see more of Kaltain- her appearances were quite interesting and far too brief.
I found the writing to be much improved from the last book, mainly because there was more showing and less telling. It made the way I imagined the story more detailed and colorful, more 3D and less flat. And there were less instances of flowery descriptions of things I didn’t care for descriptions of, which plagued Throne of Glass.
There was, however, a strange…informality to some of the prose. Instead of something like, “Celaena did it.” it might it instead say, “Oh, Celaena did it!” It struck me at times as narration written in first person, but had all the pronouns changed to third. And again, the contradicting trains of thought and introspection were where I lost so much of my patience. The introspection could definitely be cleared and cleaned up for a smoother reading experience.
Was I satisfied?
I left this book far less annoyed than I did the first book, and I liked it much better than Throne of Glass. Still, it was not quite good enough. I did like the twist at the end, but unfortunately it does not intrigue me enough to go on. This is where I must part from the Throne of Glass series. Farewell, Celaena, and good luck in your future assassin endeavors.