This is the second novel in the Throne of Glass series. I looked for my review of Throne of Glass–only to find I had never written one! I bought Throne of Glass on a whim after hearing the author speak at the 2014 Texas Teen Book Festival. She was on the same panel as one of my favorite authors of all time, Garth Nix, writer of the Abhorsen series (see my review of his newest book, Clariel, here). I remember her saying how some of the creatures that Lirael contends with and her adventures underneath the library inspired her own novels. In Crown of Midnight that influence is very clear. Some of Maas’s reviewers liken her books to The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones. I can definitely see those connections. However, I think this series is also very reminiscent of Tamora Pierce and her fierce heroines.
A faint warmth bloomed against her chest, then a pulsing blue light–The Eye of Elena was glowing. The thing halted, and Celaena stopped breathing. It hissed, and then slithered a step back into the shadows beyond the library doors. ~p. 43
He didn’t know where he was going, only that he felt freezing cold–a cold that fueled the calm, glittering rage. He took flight after flight of stairs down into the stone castle, then long hallways and narrow staircases until he found a forgotten hall where there were no eyes to see him as he drew back his fist and punched the wall. The stone cracked under his hand. Not a small crack, but a spiderweb that kept growing and growing toward the window on the right, until–The window exploded, glass showering everywhere as Dorian dropped into a crouch and covered his head….It wasn’t possible. Because magic–Magic…Dorian dropped to his knees and was violently sick. ~pp. 144-145
Synopsis + My Thoughts (and some spoilers):
The plot that begins in Throne of Glass thickens in the sequel. Celaena is now the King’s Champion, which involves the nasty business of bringing the heads of traitors (or just heads) to everyone’s favorite conqueror–the king of Ardalan. Speaking of bastards, the king is a sneaky one. Celaena and her best friend, the Princess Nehemia suspect that there’s more going on in the picture there. I mean, he decides to conquer the world and suddenly all the magic disappears? This brings to mind Jack Sparrow’s mournful words, “Why is the rum always gone?”
Why is the magic gone? Or is it?
I have to admit that I found the love triangle (two best friends fall in love with the same girl) in the first installment a little cliche. Cliche or no, I enjoyed their exploits and in this second installment I thought the triangle became MUCH more complicated, which I enjoyed immensely (because I like complicated things). I KNEW something was up with Dorian. After reading the Picture of Dorian Gray I will NEVER trust a character named Dorian. However, in this second book we are only beginning to discover that something’s a bit off with Prince Charming. Dorian and Celaena reunite as friends (she turned down his proposal of “be my secret girlfriend?” with an ever-satisfying, “No gracias, amigo. Now off to take some heads….”), though Dorian would certainly like it to be more. Things steam up with Chaol….then the steam evaporates in the blink of an eye when Celaena finds out Chaol had been hiding information from her that could have led to the death of someone very dear to her.
I won’t lie, I’m looking forward to reading the third installment, Heir of Fire, as soon as I can get my hands on it–and as soon as I finish my final paper for class. So far the writing hasn’t been astoundingly, earth-shatteringly great, but I really like Dorian’s character (even if I don’t believe in his Golden Boy act). I like that the narrator shifts from Celaena to occasionally stray to Dorian, Chaol, and others. I want to know more about Maas’s construction of the Fae and more about the secret power that the king has. In short, I think the Throne of Glass series, thus far, has everything that a Young Adult Fantasy should have: attractive heroes/heroines, the quest for identity, forbidden/hidden inner power, all of the good stuff. I do, however, struggle to find something that sets this series apart. For me, I think it’s the uncertainty or ambiguity in the intent of the characters. Celaena, Dorian, and Chaol are all pushed to and over the edge at some point. Just like your average George R.R. Martin reader, I like my heroes imperfect.
I recommend the first two books in this series as a Summer read for anyone who likes YA Fantasy, faeries, unnatural creatures skulking about, and kick-ass female assassins.