title: Crown of Midnight
author: Sarah J. Maas
buy it: Amazon Goodreads B&N
rating: 5/5 [in the genre] or 8/10 [all books I’ve ever read].
recommended for: Fans of Throne of Glass (duh), Tamora Pierce, Rae Carson, Kristen Cashore, and epic fantasy in general. Everyone, because it's amazing and you should read it!
My Ratings Explained
After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king's contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.
Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king's bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she's given a task that could jeopardize everything she's come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon -- forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.
Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?
the basicsThis book killed me. Seriously, it's been a long time since I've been dragged around so much emotionally by a book. It's the mark of an amazing writer when you can absolutely hate the main character and still desperately want them to succeed. Maas is that writer. She gives her characters deep flaws that have devastating consequences, ones that shape what turned out to be an exhilarating plot. It starts out slow--not a bad slow, just setting the scene slow. Celaena has contracts to kill for the king. She's investigating some traitors and keeping some secrets.
Then a chapter late and BOOM. People are dying, plots are coming out, romances are sizzling, magic is brewing, and it doesn't stop until the end. In fact, it only gets more intense, with a climax that broke my heart and a shocking end. I could not love this series more than I do now, even though I hated Celaena for part of the book due to romance-y things. This book raises the stakes 10 times higher than Throne and immerses you deeper in Celaena's world. And for people who actually approve of her romantic choices, you won't have my complaints.
plot . 4.9/5You think you know what's going on...and then BAM. I had that sensation about 10 times in this book. First you think Celaena is just killing traitors...but there's more. You think she's just investigating Wyrdmarks...but what about that prophecy? You think the king is just a cruel jerkface...but what's this about keys and gates? You think everything is going well...oh boy, are you a sap. It's the best kind of plot, where there's real danger, real consequences, and you can never feel safe when something good is happening because it could (and will) change the next second. Maas also does a fantastic job of weaving plot and lore.
Many people guessed the ending, but it was a shock to me. A good shock. A shock that is going to make this series more epic than I'd ever imagined. The only part I hated was the middling part where Celaena gets cozy with one of the boys. That was rough for me to read because I felt that she was being selfish and destroying friendships, and I didn't think the scorned boy in this scenario was upset to a believable degree. But you may not think so, and clearly I still loved the book despite wanting to punch Celaena.
concept . 5/5You get all the goodies from Throne. The adventure, the intrigue, the assassining, the romance. Only everything is graver now. Instead of a title on the line, there are kingdoms, lives, subjugated peoples. We get wind of threats from abroad and a deeper plot initiating with the king himself. There are magical goings-on that set up future plot and are part of an intricate, exciting layer of this world. I never loved Maas's worldbuilding more than in this book. Crown really brings out her imagination and mastery of epic fantasy.
characters . 4.5/5I'll start with nice things. You get to know Celaena a lot better in this book. You see her darkest side, and her most vulnerable. It's refreshing. I think the way she grows after PLOTTWISTOFDOOM is really clutch for her character, and made me forgive her for being a selfish selfishpants for the rest of the book. Because I was super angry at her for the way she handled the romance, in much the same way I was angry at Harry in Phoenix for being bitchy. I felt she was willfully ignoring others' feelings for other own benefit. Same goes for her beau, who I can't name for spoilery reasons. And that actually made me dislike reading it for a little.
That said, I still came out rooting for Celaena in the end, which is an important sign of good writer. And, we get to know other characters much more deeply this book. Chaol comes into his own, even though his goodie-ness annoys me, and Dorian becomes stronger and more capable. Nehemiah is just as awesome, and the king is much more fearsome. Even the side characters feel alive. I was especially fond of Baba Yellowlegs and Mort, who play small but powerful roles.
style . 5/5Maas' style is phenomenal. She manages to be lyrical without being flowery and has some of the most striking phrasing around. She also has a good grasp of medieval-style language and her book just feels different from any other. Everything's dripping with atmosphere. I can't even tell you how many quote I highlighted and revisited. I think the writing in this book is even more polished than in Throne. You can really see Maas' mastery of her craft and her characters.
mechanics . 5/5Boo love triangles. Boo members of love triangles acting all noble even though they're hurt, which lets the offending parties get off scot free. Yay polished writing!
take home messageOne of this generation's best fantasies--a compelling sequel with a staggering plot, well-developed characters, and a true mastery of storytelling.
Note: I received this copy through Netgalley for a review. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.