Crown of Midnight

Things I love about Celaena Sardothien: an incomplete list.

1.  Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the most badass of them all? Hint: by the time you've asked the mirror this question, Celaena has punched out the mirror, killed a majorly creepy plot-lurker you didn't even know was behind you, and given a critical once-over to your outfit. You don't need to ask this question. You have the answer already.

2 (or 1b).  There are few things more annoying than characters who do not fill the shoes they've been given.  "Oh yeah, sure, you're the most powerful wizard of all, right, uh huh."  But there is no doubting that Celaena has what it takes to be Ardlan's Assassin.  She travels days with severed heads in a sack, she has no problem torturing people who deserve it, and she's got one heck of a temper.  Even her male romantic interests are a little scared of her.  She may be a teenager, but that means we see a great amount of arrogance in her, too, which can sometimes be her downfall.  She isn't all-powerful or completely right all the time, but she is a very major force to be reckoned with.  (Except you'd be dead long before reckoning.)  So yeah, her shoes fit perfectly (and they're undoubtedly gorgeous).

3.  Celaena does not whine, moan, or otherwise fret over boys.  The crux of this series, unlike so many others in YA, does not rest on which boyfriend will she pick.  (Also, she mostly skips over "boys" and goes for "men." Good call, Celaena.)  This doesn't mean there isn't romantic intrigue, tension, and drama.  Ooooh no.  The huge amount of Chaol fan art across the interwebs will clue you in there.  Celaena is a young woman who understands there's a greater game being played and she strategizes as such, but she still has her failings. The reader is reminded of her young age when romance comes in to play but I feel like her actions and reactions are completely in keeping with her character.  

4 (or 3b).  Celaena is a complicated character who can be both strong and female.  There's so much more behind this pretty face and her trump card is never her sexuality because she's got so many other talents to rely upon.  Additionally, she may be a feared assassin, but she's also very much a young woman who indulges and delights in luxury and pretty dresses.  She doesn't have a problem being both feminine and fearsome and I appreciate the sending of that message.


Throne of Glass introduced us all to the glory that is Celaena Sardothien, an assassin sentenced to hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier, who was then pulled out of that prison by the Crown Prince to be his contestant in a competition to become the king's assassin. But can Celaena even call it "freedom" when the prize is working for a heartless, conquering king?  And what's all this about magic being banished from the world?  Surely that won't come back and bite us in the ass?

So, I never got around to writing a review of Throne of Glass, but I really loved it. It's fast, it's fun, it's creative, and I didn't want it to end.  Good thing there were four prequel novellas to gobble down that were released after I'd finished the galley but before the final book was published.  I read the novellas *after* reading ToG and that means I knew a lot of what had ultimately gone down (aka what heartbreak we were headed for), but the novellas are so detailed on their own that it didn't matter.  Read them first or after ToG and you'll get just as much out of them either way.

Now we have Crown of Midnight and despite what was the original plan, this isn't going to be just a two book series -- THANK GOODNESS.  Of course, that means you should get ready for the binge-read/twiddle-your-thumbs-for-a-year cycle that we who read books in a series as they publish are already quite familiar with.  I was so delighted to get my greedy little hands on an ARC of this book at the start of the summer.  In just two books (okay two books and four novellas), Maas has scrabbled her way to a permanent spot on my "must read ASAP' pile, whether she's publishing another novel or a frickin laundry list.

If you've already read Throne of Glass and you're worried that Crown of Midnight won't live up to its predecessor, I'm here to tell you that your fears are totally unfounded. Not only did Maas manage to build and grow the world, but she introduced new challenges that are shockingly refreshing.  There's a big game-changer in this novel and Maas isn't afraid of setting huge challenges for herself, which makes me excited for her as a writer and for the series as a fantastic adventure that I have forced in to more than a few hands, including that of my mother.

I haven't crawled out of my cave to post a YA review in a while and that isn't for lack of great YA, but there's something about this series, guys, that makes me need to talk it up. I'm a huge Tamora Pierce fan and while Sarah J. Maas has a different tone, I would be willing to be that fans of one will easily become fans of the other. (Indeed, I haven't looked in to interviews or blog posts to see whether Maas has talked at all about Pierce, but I'd be willing to bet that Celaena's foundation is built to some degree on Alanna's, as there are a lot of great compare/contrast studies one could do with these female warriors fighting in a world where magic comes in to play.) Be prepared for a complicated, vivid world in Crown of Midnight. When you're all done, drop me a line and we can sit and gush and stalk Sarah's website for any hints about book #3. In the meantime, I leave you with this teaser...

“I don't think you realize who you're dealing with."
The man clicked his tongue, "If you were that good, you would be more than just Captain of the Guard."
Chaol let out a low, breathy laugh. "I wasn't talking about me."
"She's just one girl."
Though his guts were twisting at the thought of her in this place, with these people, though he was considering every possible way to get himself and Celaena out of here alive, he gave the man a grin. "Then you're in for a big surprise.”
- Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas