‘Crown Of Midnight’ is book two in ‘The Throne Of Glass’ series so this review will doubtless hold some spoilers, stop reading now if you’ve not read book one, ‘Throne Of Glass’!
In book one, Celaena Sardothien survived the trials set her to become the King of Adarlan’s royal assassin, which means she is going to have to kill anyone he tells her to in order to survive. However, even though Celaena is a trained killer, she cannot bring herself to simply kill people just because the King has turned against them as these are good people that she is being sent to kill. So she comes up with a plan that only she and her potential victims know about, she only fakes their deaths. This is revealed very early on in the book, so isn’t a spoiler. One part of the storyline is Celaena trying to discover who originally betrayed her so that she ended up in the salt mines as a slave and, boy, does she find out some interesting bits of her past, some of which I did not see coming at all! The other part of the storyline is Celaena trying to find out what the King’s plans are and how he has gained so much power over the various lands. She needs to do this before all hell breaks loose.
Celaena is certainly a girl of two very different halves, one half is ready and trained to kill, using anything she can get her hands on. The other half is a lover of pretty things, dresses of every description and a great devourer of books. I guess this makes her more of a realistic character for us as readers to take to our hearts, less two-dimensional and more well-rounded and, to be honest, it worked with me. I enjoyed how Celaena has become more of a spy in this book and less like a slave simply fighting for her life. She really does get involved in a lot of the political intrigue going on within the palace and the surrounding city.
Along with Celaena and her revelations, we get to learn some really interesting new elements to Dorian including some things that could get him killed by his own father if the secrets get out. The relationship between Celaena, Dorian and Chaol (I still find it hard pronouncing that correctly, it should apparently sound like ‘kale’) progresses but, unlike many other YA fantasy, there is not an irritating love triangle. Celaena either likes one of them or the other at any one time and makes it very clear what’s going on without giving the other one any false hope.
This book feels a lot less like a YA fantasy and much more like an adult one, apart from a lack of actual sex scenes or particularly bad language. There is much more politics going on with multiple different plots, not all of which are tidied at the end of the book. There is also a lot more magic in this book with the main characters and also hinted at towards the end with some of the less central characters.
Oh, beware the feels in this book, Maas does not shy away from killing off some of the main characters from the previous book. I honestly didn’t think she would do it until I actually read the death scenes. I felt that I got lulled into a false sense of security with the first half of this book, which was much lighter in feel than the second half. I did feel that the first part of the book took a lot of getting into, it was quite slow for me and I did struggle a bit. Things definitely get a lot more gory and emotional and the pacing sped up a lot at the end of the book. I’m wondering if the slow pacing at the beginning was to do with this being a much longer book and there might be a bit of set-up for the next books in the series to do with the main characters and their pasts. Having said that, there are some excellent and very gory fight scenes at the end of this book! So do keep going with it even if you feel the beginning doesn’t interest you.
Overall, this was a decent book even with the pacing issues. The characters are all well rounded and I can kind of see where the story arc might be going but with Maas I’m never quite sure and that’s a good thing. This book does end on a bit of a cliff-hanger so you will need the next one in the series nearby.
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(pub: Bloomsbury Children’s Books,2013. 422 page paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-40883-494-7)
check out website: www.bloomsbury.com/uk/childrens/