See my review of this book, and many more, at Tales from the Great East Road.
(Spoilers for book one.)
After nearly dying during the King’s tournament, Celaena Sardothien has been officially crown the King’s Champion and the Royal Assassin. She is the King of Adarlan’s mutt, his attack dog, doing his dirty work by killing off those who oppose or displease him. This was supposed to gain Celaena her freedom after a few years, but it feels more like slavery than ever. What no-one realises is that Celaena has a terrible secret – she’s not actually killing those she’s sent to dispatch of. Playing a very dangerous game, Celaena lives in fear that the King will discover that the people he believes dead have in fact gone into hiding, whilst also trying to help Queen Elena and bring back magic to the world. But magic may not be gone as everyone thinks, with an unnerving fortune teller from a camp of travellers and something menacing stalking the palace dungeons. If the King doesn’t kill her, this mysterious magic might.
Crown of Midnight is one of those books that has so many twists and turns you just can’t stop reading it, and will probably spend hours emerged in this amazing story without even realising it. Sarah J. Maas exceeds her first book, which is quite a feat in itself. Stakes are higher than ever, and gone is the flirty, somewhat easy going Celaena (at least compared to her attitude in this book). She is hiding her defiance of the King all by herself, and it’s clear the pressure, and having to act like a loyal dog, is getting to her. Still, her resilience is admirable, and her struggles also show the strength of the friendships she has with Chaol, Dorian, and Nehemia. The friendship with Nehemia was one of the best aspects of Crown of Midnight – it is deep and meaningful as not only does Nehemia support Clelaena, she isn’t afraid to tell her the harsh truth that Celaena needs to hear whether she wants to or not. The romance develops more and goes beyond the love triangle hinted at in the first book, with Celaena making a choice, but still staying close friends with the other man. There is still no happy ending in sight however, as issues and conflicts drive a seemingly inevitable wedge between the couple, in a heart breaking way that may not be salvageable.The other part of this book I thoroughly enjoyed was the discovery of further magic, especially the character Baba Yellowlegs, an iron-toothed witch posing as a fortune teller. She was both truly creepy and intriguing, and the nature of witches is something I hope to see far more of in the next books. The idea of magic returning is one that can cause endless adventures for Celaena and her friends. The revelations about her nature and identity make for a shocking ending that will leave everyone dying for the next book.
I loved Crown of Midnight, it was a constant twists in politics, magic, and characters. After that cliffhanger I cannot wait for the third book.