Friday, 9 August 2013

Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Title: Crown of Midnight
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children
Release Date: 15th August 2013
Rating: 5 out of 5

Description: Eighteen-year-old Celaena Sardothien is bold, daring and beautiful – the perfect seductress and the greatest assassin her world has ever known. But though she won the King’s contest and became his champion, Celaena has been granted neither her liberty nor the freedom to follow her heart. The slavery of the suffocating salt mines of Endovier that scarred her past is nothing compared to a life bound to her darkest enemy, a king whose rule is so dark and evil it is near impossible to defy. Celaena faces a choice that is tearing her heart to pieces: kill in cold blood for a man she hates, or risk sentencing those she loves to death. Celaena must decide what she will fight for: survival, love or the future of a kingdom. Because an assassin cannot have it all . . . And trying to may just destroy her.

Let me tell you a secret. I am completely in love with Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series. The thing with fantasy and especially high fantasy is that it’s often a hit or a miss. You need the right world, characters and story and the Throne of Glass series is one of the best fantasy books I have come across. Maas pulls it off with such poise that you cannot but love these books.The second book in the series Crown of Midnight is exceptionally written, intricately detailed and beautifully complex. Maas has masterfully crafted a story filled with intrigue, suspense, action, romance and magic. Crown of Midnight is first and foremost about the characters. It’s their story of friendship, love, loyalty, choices, and freedom that makes this book so compelling.

Crown of Midnight follows the events that occur after Celaena is crowned the king’s champion. After nearly losing her life, she now has to deal with all the consequences and duties that come attached to such a title, especially when dealing with the Kings orders. Celaena is fighting for her freedom.  As she begins to unravel the mysteries hidden within the kingdom and contend with her own destiny, she is faced with many choices and their devastating consequences.  This instalment has a lot more action and plenty of swoony romance as it delves deeper into the world of Ardalan, Wyrdmarks and the history of the Fae.

As I mentioned before, these books are about the characters. It’s their interactions with each other that make this book shine. From Celaena and Chaol arguments about guard duties, to Mort’s amusing quirks at Celaena or Dorian and Celaena discussing books, this book is made up of small intricate moments when put together creates a vivid narrative. Maas writes fully realised characters that are multi faceted. They are nuanced characters with faults, hopes, dreams and strengths. Their relationships are not static but constantly evolving.

The characters we left at the end of Throne of Glass are not the same ones we meet at the beginning of Crown of Midnight and they are completely different again by the conclusion. Celaena is a little darker and we get to see what happens when the Assassin of Ardalan is completely unleashed. She’s fierce and unforgiving when she needs to be.  But she has a softer side where she is loving and loyal and wants nothing more than to eat chocolate.  She deals with a lot of self-doubt and struggles with her destiny.  We are given more insight into who this incredible woman is and what made her into the person we all know and respect.

Celaena is not alone and has the company of Chaol, Dorian and Nehemia. Each of these characters has their own special relationship with Celaena. They each challenge, compliment and protect Celaena in their own way. The boys in this book are a delight to read. They are each their own person and we get to see more Chaol and Dorian as they attempt to figure out their own destinies. Celaena’s friendship with Nehemia is a strong potent female relationship that we need to see more of in YA literature. Along with all the old favourites we get to meet new characters such as Mort, Baba Yellowlegs and Roland.

If I had to pick a few words to describe this novel they would have to be choices and secrets. All of these characters, especially Celaena have choices to make and each seem to be keeping secrets of their own. Crown of Midnight is a phenomenal book.  I wish I did not have to wait another year for the next instalment. 

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