Thursday, September 19, 2013

Crown of Midnight, Sarah Maas

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)The shutters swinging in the storm winds were the only sign of her entry. No one had noticed her scaling the garden wall of the darkened manor house, and with the thunder and the gusting wind off the nearby sea, no one heard her as she shimmied up the drainpipe, swung onto the windowsill, and slithered into the second-floor hallway.

Summary from Goodreads: "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?"

Crown of Midnight was one of the summer/fall releases that I was most excited for. And I finally got a copy of the sequel to the excellent Throne of Glass, something of a guilty pleasure for me. Everyone is saying that Crown of Midnight is better than the first book, and that is certainly true. There's a lot more action in the sequel, and the (somewhat hideous) cover matches how fierce Celaena is in book 2, much more deadly, I would say. I would point to what she does in Chapter 28, which also had my heart racing. Crown of Midnight was so much more high stakes and enthralling. I couldn't put it down.

Maas's writing didn't draw me in quite as fast, for some reason. The book was still suspenseful, but not as much (at first). There's more action and less trying on of clothes, to be sure, but Celaena still spends a lot of time fretting and worrying. Which is understandable, considering what she has to deal with. Still, the action scenes are very action-packed and one scene in particular towards the beginning of the book had me almost breathless, racing through the pages. There's also a very strong mystery element to the book, with Celaena encountering a mysterious and terrifying hooded creature in the library. As it went on, I was more and more sucked in.                   

There's lots more intrigue, in a court swirling with secrets and memories. I actually really do like the romance in this series, which is very unusual, considering its love triangle elements. After reading Throne of Glass, I preferred Dorian, but then I read some arguments and thought about it a bit more, and realized that Chaol is actually better; Dorian is kind of an idiot at times, and in Crown of Midnight, he and Celaena aren't getting along so well. Celaena was also kind of a spoiled brat in Crown of Midnight. She toys with people's feelings, she goes on tremendous shopping sprees with her blood money rather than doing good with it, and her temper is even more foul than before. Several times in the book, she lets out a stream of curses for not very good reasons, for minor annoyances really. But main characters don't always have to be likable, and in this case, it wasn't that important (although in something like Fangirl, I do want to like the main character). Besides, Celaena's overall a good person, and she's just struggling to do what's right while also carefully guarding her scarred, wounded heart. 

Even the less active scenes, the court dinners and the conversations, felt suspenseful and were certainly very entertaining. There were seemingly light scenes with menace underneath, beautiful scenes, and deeply chilling and sad sections, for example on page 120 (no spoilers). That was one of the saddest parts of the book, I think. It was both sad and moving, especially to see such talent and beauty destroyed (I'm being purposely vague, of course). 

Crown of Midnight was excellent, despite its character flaws, and it was certainly better than Throne of Glass and much more intense as well. It was more suspenseful, with more action, once I got into the story. And the last part of the book, the left me stunned. Normally once I close a book, I can start doing other things. But after finishing Crown of Midnight I needed a while to just process it all, and be awed at the complexity of the mystery. It was almost too much, as if Maas tried to cram everything into Crown of Midight. After all, the series isn't a trilogy; it's going to have six books. SIX. I really hope that the books don't lose focus, because I can easily see that happening, books 4 and 5 getting bogged down, all of that. Sarah Maas is also publishing a new series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, starting in 2015, and I have to say that I'm somewhat uneasy about the fact that after then, she's going to be putting about 2 books a year. You can't write good, well thought-out books at that rate. Hopefully the quality won't suffer, but we'll see. At any rate, I'm definitely looking forward to Book 3 of Throne of Glass. How will I survive until Summer 2014, which is presumably when it's coming out? I do have The Assassin's Blade (May 2014) to tide me over, a print collection of all the e-novellas plus some extra stuff. I'm super excited for that too. 

Crown of Midnight was stunning, and it affected me physically and emotionally in a way that a book hasn't in a while. It was also wholly surprising; I expected it to be pretty light like Throne of Glass; instead it was dark and disturbing. But I still really loved it, and it more fit the description of the plot and the badass assassin image.

418 pages. 

Rating: *****

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