Crown of Midnight
This week’s brief review is looking at Sarah J. Maas’ latest novel the Crown of Midnight. It is the second book in A Throne of Glass series.
The stories revolve around the young assassin, Celaena Sardothien. She is working for an evil King in order to win her freedom. Naturally nothing about life is as simple as she pretends. There is the crown prince Dorian and the Captain of the Guard Choal for a love triangle. And then there is her friend, the princess Nehemia, who would like to see Celeana fighting for the people, the land or good in general instead of her own selfish desires.
The novel is a quick read. The pacing is fast. The main character is physically strong. The use of magic should appeal. It is a land that was once seeped in the ancient and mystical, until suddenly it wasn’t – until the King decreed magic was banned and set about slaughtering all its visible remnants. There is an undercurrent of bringing back the forgotten magic – a concept I like.
However, I find the book has been tainted by the Fae. I am not entirely certain I can articulate what it is about fairies that displeases me so. Perhaps it is the fact they are thrown into the world as a seemingly easy way to explain things like magic. Perhaps it is because they are nothing more than lifeless derivatives of Tolkien’s work that I find so insipid. The Fae are always magical, always gorgeous, always faster, smarter, prettier, with golden pale hair and pointed ears. They live forever and are often – especially those following in Tolkien’s glorious footsteps – perfect in morals and rule. This holds true once more. The Fae have been persecuted, driven from the lands/hunted from their homes – slaughtered and killed and etc.
The big twist in the book regarding the main character’s past was not unexpected. I thought it was a bit excessive for two reasons. First it was a bit too predictable – which I suppose would could interpret to mean that the author was successful in setting up the plot. Except that it is an old plot twist that is common to this style of story. The second thing that rubbed me as being slightly off was a comment made by one of the characters, Nehemia. The princess says and does what is most convenient to the plot. At one point she is speaking with the Prince will Assassin and Captain dance in the moonlight.
“Responsibilities. We will always have burdens that no one else can ever understand. That they…will never understand.”
These words bother me even more having finished the book and knowing the big twist. They bother me because it has been implied at several junctions Nehemai know of the twist, yet I do not feel this is accurately expressed in her words – and sometimes in her actions. Of course, it could be related to some other idea yet to come. For while this book certainly felt like a second book in a series, I cannot tell from the story ending or the author’s webpage if this is going to be a trilogy (most common) or longer series (increasingly common). I suppose only time will answer this question.
So, to wrap this up. Yes, Crown of Midnight is a good read. I think it holds up rather well to the first book in the series, Throne of Glass. It is fun, fast and frivolous. It is a solid young-adult fantasy novel that does show the influence of Cinderella in subtle ways.