Review of Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (when sequels get it right)
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
I read Throne of Glass a little cautiously. I like gritty high fantasy with plenty of action, adventure and blood. I’d heard good and bad things about Throne of Glass. Some reviewers talked about the ruthless main character, some complained about the romance. The romance put me off for a while, until I decided to give the book a shot.
Throne of Glass turned out to be pretty good. There was romance, but Maas put enough other elements into the plot to keep me interested, and the set up for the sequel promised good things.
And it delivered. Crown of Midnight is a different book to Throne of Glass. Celaena is a different character. In Throne of Glass she had to hide her assassin side, but in this book it’s unleashed in almost every chapter. And on many of the characters.
The plot of the first book had mystery elements, but the tournament was the focus of the story. This time around, the mystery comes to the fore and the book benefits from it. All of the characters have secrets and agendas. The castle is full of secret passages and hidden chambers. It’s hard to know who to trust, who not to, who wants who dead and why. Which makes the book even more addictive. Characters’ pasts are revealed and change the course of the story.
The world-building is more solid than in Throne of Glass, the politics and laws of Erilea are developed and the world starts to seem bigger than just the castle where the story is set. But the world doesn’t get too big and complicated. Maas still focuses on the castle and the secret places revealed beneath it. It’s these scenes where the book is the most gripping. Maas writes so it’s easy to imagine the dark tunnels and ancient chambers.
The romance is still a large focus of the story, and at times I was itching to get back to the mystery and action, but Maas gets the balance right on the money in Crown of Midnight and this series is edging closer to a YA Game of Thrones. The action scenes are bloody and brutal, the fights gripping and well-written. Maas has an eye for awesome set pieces and this book has some pretty standout ones.
Overall, this is a sequel that knocks it’s predecessor out of the park. Crown of Midnight is action-packed, fast-paced; characters are more developed, as is the world, and rarely a chapter goes by without a plot twist or some secret being revealed. Where the first book focused too much on the romance at the risk of appealing only to a certain readership, Crown of Midnight doesn’t let up with action, adventure and fight sequences and makes sure there’s something for every kind of reader.
This isn’t a stand-alone read; the plot threads aren’t all resolved and the awesome cliffhanger sets up things for the next book–but if you haven’t given this series a shot already… give it a shot.