Book Review – A Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

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Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)

TITLE:  Crown of Midnight

SERIES:  Throne of Glass Series, book 2

AUTHOR:  Sarah J. Maas

FORMAT:  Epub via Google Play Books

PAGES/LOCATIONS:  362 pages

GOODREADS’ AVG. RATING:  4.53 out of 5 stars; 74,726 ratings

SYNOPSIS PROVIDED:

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?

DATES READ:  July 31st to August 21st, 2015

MY REVIEW:

It was as if her heart was too full of the dead, too full of those lives that had ended well before their time.~Celaena Sardothien

This book, this book was filled with so much emotion – so much anger, so much grief, and so much hope.  A large amount of Celaena’s story has been in direct reaction to how she deals with grief, for instance her loss of Sam and now her loss of Nehemia,  as well as her loss of Chaol albeit in a different manner than the first two.  Truthfully, Celaena doesn’t handle grief well at all – I mean, she makes some seriously rash and dangerous decisions in direct reaction to her sense of loss.  Granted, Celaena has lived the entirety of her life surrounded by death going so far as to call it her good friend:  

But death was her curse and her gift, and death had been her good friend these long, long years.  

There is a lot to be said about loss and the feelings which accompany it, but there is more than one way to lose someone.

The most obvious loss is Celaena’s loss of Nehemia, I am saddened by the loss of Nehemia because she was ultimately the friend that Celaena truly needed.  What amazes me about Nehemia is that she knew and understood what her death would mean, what her death would do to Celaena; she was able to walk forward to her death and embrace it because she understood exactly how much it would impact Celaena – that her death would ultimately become a catalyst.  The sad truth is that Nehemia’s death may ultimately have more of an impact on Celaena and the future than the impact she would have had while living.  Even Celaena herself began to wonder whether or not this was the case.  It is only through Nehemia’s death and the subsequent events that we are able to hope that Celaena will be willing to take up the mantle that is her birthright.  Ultimately though, a lot of questions are raised by Nehemia’s death and my biggest question is:  How differently would events have played out had Chaol trusted Celaena enough to tell her of the anonymous threat on Nehemia’s life?  Or trusted Nehemia enough to warn her and her guards about it?  This would have been an entirely different story had it played out with Chaol warning both women or just Celaena herself, I am unsure if Nehemia would have attempted to stop the attack had she alone been warned due to her previous acceptance of her death to provide the catalyst Celaena needs to act, either way though, this seeming small act by Chaol will have great consequences on his relationship with Celaena so much so that they may now be lost to each other.

Again, in some ways Chaol is now lost to Celaena regardless of the feelings she has towards him and even him for her, he is somewhat lost to her if he was ever there in truth to begin with.  In the first novel, Throne of Glass, it was blatantly apparent that there were certain portions of Celaena’s character that ruffled the feathers of our esteemed Captain of the Guard.  It had appeared that over time he had gotten over them and began to see Celaena as a person separate from her role as an assassin, but I am beginning to think that some of those old prejudices were still present and may be further antagonized based upon the end of the novel.  The truth is, I think that Chaol ultimately is in love with some idealized version of Celaena that he has created in his head and not the actual Celaena herself – ultimately, if that is the case then this is a pretty damn unhealthy relationship for both of them because he is basically delusional and she is left to live up to some standard that she may never be able to attain (granted it is Celaena and she is awesome enough that maybe she could, but I doubt that she would actually want to or be happy doing so is more my point).  If Chaol is having so much difficulty accepting Celaena Sardothien the assassin, I don’t know how he is going to go about accepting her entirely as she is given what he has discovered about her and her identity by the end of Crown of Midnight

For three books, including The Assassin’s Blade, we have been dancing around the subject of who Celaena Sardothien is and it is due to the events of Crown of Midnight that we have finally found the answer – Celaena Sardothien is Aelin Galathynius, heir to the throne of Terrasen.  An heir thought to be long dead, killed during the assassination of the royal family 10 years ago at the time when Adarlan had mysteriously gained great power and strength.  Chaol has been training all these years to identify the greatest threats to Adarlan and provide protection to it and its royal family, yet he failed to identify that one of the greatest threats possible was within his arm’s embrace.  In addition, he is ultimately responsible for allowing her to travel from the glass castle to a land filled with potential allies and distant family members who could lend strength to her should she decide to reclaim her throne and rid Terrasen of Adarlan’s influence forever.  Honestly, I think that Chaol is ultimately going to define himself come Heir of Fire because he is going to be forced to ultimately decide where his true loyalties lie – with a king and kingdom bent on greed for power or the woman, the assassin, the possible future queen he has yet to truly accept.  I think it is ultimately going to be an interesting series of events and great deal of character development for Chaol.

In addition, I wasn’t surprised to discover that the King was the reason behind why magic had disappeared from the land, though I remain curious about his motives for doing so.  The King using magic through the wyrdmarks and a wyrdkey is somewhat hypocritical given his blatant ban on magic and the ban is somewhat superfluous if he was able to prevent the use of magic through his manipulation of the wyrdkey anyway.  This whole story line raises a lot of questions:  Did he just hate magic so much because he and/or his bloodline weren’t blessed with its gifts?  Is this ultimately the temper tantrum of a little boy who grew up feeling slighted by the gods because he didn’t have magic and it has now grown into this full scale attempt to claim the greatest power possible?  I can also understand that he wanted to guarantee that no one would have the power to fight against him when he attained all 3 wyrdkeys hence his blocking of magic, but what sparked the formation and ultimate initiation of this plan in the first place?  He has also proven that he is a conqueror, denoting that he is somewhat hungry for power, so his desire to attain all 3 wyrdkeys and ultimately control of the wyrdgate isn’t all that surprising, but it also raises the logical concern of what comes next?  What sort of evil would he be able to release upon the world in the name of Adarlan and would he actually be able to control it or would it ultimately become a force of its own?  These are interesting questions that I look forward to seeing answered in Heir of Fire!

TL;DR REVIEW:  4.5 out of 5 stars.  Ultimately, Crown of Midnight is a solid sequel and excellent follow up to Throne of Glass.  I really like Celaena’s character, but I want to see more growth from her.  I want to see her act first, I want to see her initiate rather than constantly reacting.  I want to see Celaena become the change that her and Nehemia wanted to see in the world.  I am looking forward to Heir of Fire!

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