Saturday, 1 August 2015

Book review: Crown of Midnight



Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas
Bloomsbury
Buy: UK/US

Ah, now this is more like it. After what I thought was a solid by relatively lackluster first entry into her Throne of Glass series, Sarah J Maas returns with a much more action-packed, polished and exciting book in Crown of Midnight.

Taking place months after the events of Throne of Glass, the book opens with Celaena undertaking an assassination. Finally! One thing that the previous book was missing was a good old fashioned assassination - considering the story follows the greatest assassin in the land. Now we're seeing our favourite assassin creeping in the shadows, sneaking into a bedroom, lifting her blade and...not killing anyone at all. You see, the main plot revolves around the King of Adarlan sending Celaena, who is now his champion, to kill a group of rebels who are apparently plotting an uprising against him. But Celaena, not being entirely sympathetic towards the tyrant, gives each of her marks a way out - go off and start a new life in a different land and never return.

Celaena's character is given more room to grow in Crown of Midnight and we see her go through some scary changes, especially when she goes into full warrior mode. She's by far the most captivating and rounded character in the book - intelligent, caring, strong and vulnerable - you can't help but root for her, even when she's balancing on a moral tightrope.

Her relationship with Chaol is brought to the fore in this book, who also becomes much more fleshed out over the narrative. He's strong but sensitive, a supporter of Celaena but also a staunch proponent of the king - putting him in an interesting situation. Prince Dorian also returns after being rebuked in the previous book but still harbouring feelings for Celaena. Maas gives Dorian a bigger role than just being eye-candy for Celaena in Crown of Midnight, as he goes through changes of his own and tries to get to the bottom of what's causing them.

While I found the pacing in Throne of Glass to be off, Maas has really picked things up in Crown of Midnight. The plot is tight and multifaceted, bringing together storylines of betrayal, magic, mystery, history, politics and romance. So much happens in this book that I was excited to get home every evening and get stuck into it. We also get much more of a glimpse into the world of Erilea, with information about the different kingdoms, alliances and creatures of the world. I particularly liked the story behind the Ironteeth Witches - one of whom makes an appearance in book.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, though it's not without its faults. I found the climax of the third act drawn out and the 'big bad' was a bit left of field, but this wasn't exactly a sticking point.

Overall, Crown of Midnight is a fantastic read and a great improvement on Throne of Glass.

Verdict: Read it