ARC Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas


title:  Crown of Midnight

author Sarah J. Maas

pages: 432

format: Kindle

isbn/asin: 978-1619630628

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

An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt. But her heart never wavers.

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 basics
This 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 . 4.9/5
You 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 . 5/5
You 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 . 4.5/5
I'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 . 5/5
Maas' 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 . 5/5
Boo 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 message
One 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.


  1. "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." <-- So true! This is the kind of plot I think would make for a really, really good movie too. Or if they made it into a TV series, but they probably wouldn't, since it'd inevitably be compared to Game of Thrones.

    Heh, even if it's possible to guess the ending, doesn't mean it's not an awesome one :). I'm still in shock that there'll be six or seven books.

    "But you may not think so, and clearly I still loved the book despite wanting to punch Celaena." <-- Lol.

    "Only everything is graver now." <-- So true. This makes me think of the pretty cover. I'm staring at my hardcover now - can't wait until I finally have the time to dog-ear passages and reread scenes - and I just love the fire and dress she's wearing on the back and the strangely awkward pose.... How all of that contributes to the darker tone in the novel. Though the spotlight was darker for the first, the fire beats the purple for that imo.

    "I was angry at Harry in Phoenix for being bitchy" <-- Really??? I hear about this a lot but I always felt in tune with his angst in that book. Would've sucked as his friend for him to snap so often, but I thought he was more compelling as a character for all his turmoil.

    "She manages to be lyrical without being flowery and has some of the most striking phrasing around." <-- What are some of your favorites?

    I'm intrigued by the comparison to Rae Carson and Kristin Cashore. While they write epic fantasy, I always felt like their work was much different. It is about the characters in Throne of Glass, but not in the same way - like Cashore's character-driven plots. But I won't disagree 'cause I loved this one and I do like most of their work too :).

    PS - I am going to reply to the email tomorrow! Sorry for the lateness. Stuff got hectic real fast for me o.O. Still behind on so much. Also, have something to tell you about Dorian there!

    1. Hint: Hollywood, please option Throne of Glass and its sequel and dont' make them suck.

      Oh, of course. Some of the best endings are the ones that you can see coming. Dramatic irony, what what.

      Hehe. *hides*

      I need the hardcopy. I'm still in e-galley land. I agree though, the cover does strike me as quite dark and menacing.

      I think my personality just clashed a little with how he was acting. I kept thinking, YES, I know you're angsty, but your friends are trying to help you and you're being so mean to them! Again, I'm a little softhearted when it comes to that stuff.

      Curses. I'll type out some when I have my Kindle and all my highlighted bits.

      Eh, I can't say I've read them so it was more of a genre-based comparison. So I'll admit, I was reaching there, just hoping to snag fans of epic fantasy in general.