Crown of Midnight – S.J. Maas review

One of the things I’ve strongly disliked about this busy season in my life is the little time it has provided for reading. However, as I start to focus on better organization in my life, I’ve been able to fit the time in again. Which meant I finally had the opportunity to sit down and read Crown of Midnight, book two in the Throne of Glass series by S.J. Maas.

This particular series has a very, very special place in my heart. If you’re a fan of the books and have read the acknowledgement section, there is a portion in them dedicated to a group of readers on a site called Fictionpress.net, where the story was first posted. It delights me to say that I was one of those readers. As Maas was writing the story, I would anxiously await each chapter. It was incredible to be part of that process – giving our input, seeing responses at times, and getting to witness as the story came together.

When I found out that the series was being published, I was ecstatic. We have had to wait almost a year past each release date to get the books in paperback in Canada, which is why when many are on book four, I am just completing book two.

Synopsis: In the first book in the series, Throne of Glass, Celaena Sardothien, the greatest assassin in Erilea, is released from the slave mines only to compete to become the King’s Champion. The King is an evil, dark man, who is searching for someone to do his dirty work; a skilled assassin that can carry out murders on those conspiring against the crown, or just plain pissing him off.

In Crown of Midnight, Celaena’s time is torn between doing her duties and finding out more about the history of the throne and how the King has managed to overthrow so many powerful empires. She does not believe in the Crown, and is simply doing what she can to obtain her freedom. She faces an internal battle between doing what is right for the world and doing what is right for herself. Along with finding a great, powerful love, she also faces a great tragedy that rocks her world. The book also reveals several important details about Celaena’s own history, and the impact it would have on the entire world.

Thoughts: While the book has a lot less action than Throne of Glass, I don’t see that as a bad thing. The action is fantastic, but with this particular book, there is a lot of discovery, relationship building and specific character building with Celaena. We see a rather significant transformation several times with Celaena in this book, and the lack of action is part of what provides the opportunity for that.

I used this book as my gym book, because I hate doing cardio and I needed something I could disappear into. Crown of Midnight did not disappoint in that respect. The book took me 2 hours and 12 minutes to read, which is a very good sign that it drew me in so much I basically lost track of everything around me. I’m a super fast reader, particularly when drawn in, so such a short reading time is usually a good sign in my case.

There’s a lot I don’t remember from the original version, which is also a good thing. It means I can’t pinpoint what has been changed and what hasn’t, and it also make a lot of it new to me. There were several points I could go ‘aha, I remember that’, but those were definitely far and few between.

Celaena is quite possibly my favourite fictional character. She’s strong, she’s beautiful, she is powerful, and she is determined, but she also has several flaws. She’s very self-involved and often out for protecting herself, and herself alone. She is one of those act-first, think later kinds of people, which often lands her in a lot of trouble.

In Crown of Midnight, there are a lot of plot revelations and key story points revealed, which lead into what I remember as being one of the most action packed, intense parts of the story. None of the plot points were surprises to me, as I’m pretty sure they’re still the same as they always were, but they are good ones. Revelations that change the face of the entire world Maas has created.

The love portion is just as exhilarating as I remember it being. Maas definitely knows how to write mind-blowing romance without having it overtake the story (unlike George Lucas, who bless his soul, couldn’t write romance if his life depended on it).

Conclusion: I really, really liked Crown of Midnight even more than Throne of Glass. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out if I remembered certain things, but even when I suspected what it was, I was still surprised to find out. The book read at an excellent pace; there were no points where I felt it dragged on or wore me out as a reader.

If much of what I remember of the original is the same, then the series is building up to a beautiful crescendo – each book climbs and climbs until POW. Big, beautiful, breathtaking ending.

While these books are technically meant for teens, it’s a series that also works for adults. Celaena is supposed to be a teenager (around the age of 18, I believe), but the characters are also quite mature for their age. It’s very easy to read them as if they are young adults, and even up to their mid-twenties. The characters, as outstanding and brilliant as they are, are also relatable, which is part of the draw in.

And the writing, well, I for one feel the writing is absolutely fantastic.

Overall, I would give Crown of Midnight five stars out of five, because there is nothing negative I could find about it.

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