4 out of 5 stars
Setup done, the second book in the Throne of Glass series bursts with equal parts world-building and kick ass heroine.
Celaena Sardothian, newly victorious, embarks upon her period of indenture as champion to the King of Aderlan. Still the devastating assassin she trained as, Celaena finds herself just as good at committing another crime: lying.
Sarah J. Maas’s countless storylines make it tough to weave a synopsis from this book. Each thread is held deftly, never slackening, twisting around its fellows so as to never be untangled again.
Not-Really-a-Spoiler Alert: Celaena likes/liked Dorian. That changes… or does it? All you need to know about an SJM book is that plot twists will arise, and try to tear your fangirl heart to pieces.
Chaol is my kind of YA trope: the backup boyfriend so perfectly written that he’s a trap you know you’re walking into. And walk you will, like Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade, clutching a book and shouting random plot points as protection. Still, the booby traps spring.
In Crown of Midnight, Celaena’s role as champion exists merely to allow her redemption and deliver her to the right subplots. A bit too simple and clunky, like its counterpart, the champions contest, in Throne of Glass. But as long as it moves her story, you don’t complain.
There’s far more magic here in this book two. It’s revealed in bits, twisted and dark enough to shade out the points not yet finely sharpened. Except for the extremely dumb talking door knocker – that is just crap. Mort is the Jar-Jar Binks of TOG. Celaena’s relative freedom allows her to investigate and explore not only people, but places.
Our heroes collect secrets as the story goes, until most of them know the same things but no ones talking about it. That usually frustrates me, but not here. SJM has succeeded in building in real reasons they don’t share – a rare feat. Still, you know they’ll collide. And when they finally do, the story explodes. Maybe you guessed one of the twisty surprises. But no way you guessed them all, or which would be revealed to whom. Now you know why there are so many books in this series!
Here be SPOILERS, y’all.
My only qualm, besides Mort, is Crown of Midnight‘s big old Lame-Ass Plot Device (LAPD): that Celaena’s reason for falling out with Chaol is weak. Oh she’s so mad – about something so freaking obvious! Really, Nahimia had a threat against her life? The princess of a defeated nation fostering rebellion had foes in the court of her biggest enemy? Snore. I loved Nahimia’s character, and the overall plot is so polished, that Celaena turning on Chaol for this is trite and unworthy of the rest of the book. Bang! Bang! Drama Generator! Is this thing on?! Oh well, we rarely escape a YA novel without someone getting offended like they’re living in 2018 America debating politics on Facebook. Blergh.
This LAPD leads to some big twists, so perhaps it’s worth it. Celaena and Chaol don’t make up, but the reason why gets much better after the books climactic scene. Chaol knows some, but not all. And Dorian, well, no one tells him anything. Celaena’s secrets put her at odds with both men. Dorian’s own might just put him back on Celaena’s side, but he doesn’t know that. She could just as easily kill or marry him. It’s as good a reason as any YA book why people who love each other keep secrets, to literally keep their heads.