Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

17167166Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #1) by Sarah J. Maas
Published: August 27th 2013 by Bloomsbury USA Children's
Pages: 420

"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 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.
“But death was her curse and her gift, and death had been her good friend these long, long years.”
For what feels like the hundredth time this year, I feel like an alien for not loving a book. In this case, it's Crown of Midnight. After my encounter with the first book in the high fantasy series, Throne of Glass, I would say I had high expectations for its sequel. I was after all in love with the world and the characters. I still am, even after the disappointment I've read. This book had the same flaws as its predecessor, but besides the plot and pace, it were also the characters who were lacking. I'm now what feels like praying in the hope that the third one will be better, because I have not yet lost my faith in this series.

Spoilers for the first three books, so including this one, of the series will be in this review until the very end, so be warned.

My main issue with Crown of Midnight is very similar to the one I've head with Throne of Glass, namely the plot. I can easily split the book into two parts, both containing fifty percent of the book. In the first part, the plot dragged to nowhere. There was nothing happening. If something did happen, it had to do with Celaena being the King's Champion. The competition is over, and honestly I was thrilled to finally see the great assassin doing what's she's been trained for. Because of this it was no surprise that I was extremely disappointed when I learned she has been faking their deaths all along. Celaena Sardothien, out of all assassins, would at least have the brains to know there will be consequences. I understand it completely when it comes to killing Terrasen citizens, but looking at everyone else, I felt like the Maas wanted things to head a certain way, even if it was a stupid decision and completely out of character.

It wasn't the only decision Celaena made in this book which felt completely out of character. The girl I've grown to love in Throne of Glass was barely recognizable in this one. She frustrated me in more ways than I first imagined, and it wasn't because of her arrogance. I guess she was still okay during the first half of the book and was one of the few things I held onto to get through it. With the loss of her best friend Nehemia, her emotions were all over the place. It felt like she didn't even knew what to do with herself anymore. The grieving process is something you have to get through, but I didn't particularly love the way Celaena handled it. She was whining whenever she could and did nothing else than to complain.

Despite all this, there was still something that I adored about the events that happened after Nehemia's death: when she snapped. In my opinion, the best scene out of the entire book. I was overwhelmed by her thoughts when all she could think of was her time in Endovier. She wouldn't see the difference anymore between the overseers and the guards, and went on a serious killing spree. She couldn't do anything and couldn't think about anything else than to kill. I may look like a sociopath by now, but the fact that that scene showed her animal side, she side she never wanted anyone to see, that was what made it great.

When I said the book can be divided into two sections, I hadn't even written about the second one. It restored almost all of my issues regarding the first half. Celaena was still acting stupid, but suddenly the pace started picking up and I knew something big was going to go down. The ending left me speechless. Just like the author probably wanted, my jaw dropped when I read the last few words. It was definitely the type of situation when I couldn't even begin to describe my raw emotions. If I wasn't sitting by then, Chaol wouldn't have been the only one who would have sank to his knees. It is common news that Crown of Midnight ends on a cliffhanger, and now I know why I feared getting to it. I feel like one of the happiest girls in the world right now because I don't have to wait much longer for the release of Heir of Fire.

Unfortunately, I still can't judge my entire opinion on only the ending of the book. Even though it did make the book so much better -- and explained previous events I'd written off as random --, it didn't automatically make the entire book fantastic. Especially because I felt like this book is more of an inbetween book because of the dragging plot. A book that sets up the mystery and tension, but for what's still to come. There's no doubt about it: the mystery itself is intriguing, but dragged out way too much and in the end it was way too thin to come across as a real mystery anymore. It could have been great, if only with way less pages.

Just when I thought we were getting through the love triangle, I now realise it's only just the beginning of an endless and complicated relationship. Honestly, I don't even know which side I'm on anymore. After rooting for Chaolaena, I felt myself leaning more towards Dorian in this book, to eventually lean back towards Chaol again. Both characters have traits I love and both have something special. I fully understand Celaena as to why she's trapped in this mess. I can't seem to pick just one side either, since I'm also in love with both. It's obvious I was satisfied with their romance. The wait had seemed to last forever until they finally got to it. I couldn't help but to not hide my grin. The scenes involving the two of them seemed to be written more beautiful than ever and I completely swooned at every word they said to each other. It is also why I would have liked it to last a little longer, for at least the rest of the book. Deep down I know Celaena will end up with Chaol again, despite him being responsible for Nehemia's death.

Nehemia herself still remained a complex character I had an even more complex love-hate relationship with. I never got to understand my reasons for not really loving her as everyone else when I finally figured out why. There is so little known about her character so was really hard to properly bond with her and be compassionate. She went through a lot, and I feel like I wasn't ready yet to say my goodbyes to a character who died fighting.

In my mind I have this feeling I still have lots of topics to write about, when all I need right now are to express my feelings towards the two main love interests of the series. Honestly, Chaol was such an idiot in this book. A lot of it has to do with him having put the king before the girl he loves so dearly. He put the cruel king before Celaena, and it's not something I can be okay with. During the first half of the book he literally does nothing but be romantic and exclaim his love for her. I find it adorable of course, yet he's still so dumb to hide such a big secret from her. The fact that the king is at all friendly or caring makes it even worse. Chaol had no reason to even bother to hide it. As much as I still love him, I do think he definitely deserved those scars. His actions after Celaena's brutal attack seemed to have come out of nowhere and didn't hold any connection to his love for her. He lets her go without even considering consequences. Good job, Chaol. Good job.

I really don't have much to say about Dorian's character. The reason behind that is quite logical, as he almost never appeared in the book until the climax, nor did he have much development. It's not because Chaol and Celaena start a wonderful romance that I don't want to see anything from Dorian. Especially now when he discovered his magic, his storyline is promising. I'm desperate for more scenes with him in Heir of Fire.

Clearly Heir of Fire has a lot to improve and fix again. My hopes aren't currently very high because of my disappointment with this one. Still I hope it will be something fantastic, something that will blow me away. After all, the end of the book has made endless possible direction in where the plot will head now. I wonder what will happen in the future. I have faith that it will leave me even more speechless than I had with Crown of Midnight.

Aurélie Cremers is an eighteen-year-old living in Belgium. As an active member on Goodreads, Edelweiss and Amazon, she's always spreading her reviews to express her opinion and influences her followers to read the books she fairly enjoyed. When she's not writing, you can find her at her local bookstore or in a classroom. With her blog, "Exploring Pages", Aurélie hopes to gain a larger public in the near future and to continue that what she'll always love doing: writing.

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