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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Mass

Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Series: Throne of Glass #2
Young Adult
Pages: 432
Genre: Fantasy, Romance

An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt.

But her heart never wavers.
     After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king's contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.
     Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king's bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she's given a task that could jeopardize everything she's come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon -- forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice. 
     Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?
*Digital galley was provided by Bloomsbury USA Childrens for an honest review*

Sarah J. Mass has done it again. Another Celaena Sardothien adventure with enough magic, mystery, ghosts, talking magic door knockers, assassinations, jealousy, portals, and the cold, hard truth of the past to knock your socks right off. Crown of Midnight is the perfect book for those Game of Thrones fans needing a craving of high fantasy in a new form. You will not forget Celaena Sardothien. She takes heroine to a whole other level.

I have so much that I want to say about this book, but I don't want to spoil anything. Trust me, there is a whole hell of a lot happening in this second installment. So much that could be spoiled. So many secrets revealed. But I also don't want to make this such a vague review at the same time. That would not be a pleasing review, not for you or me or a great book like this.

There is much more at stake here in Crown of Midnight. Celaena's life still hangs on a thread when she goes against the kings orders to execute anyone in conspiracy against the crown, letting them live on in different places under different names. Right off the bat, Celaena's priorities are set with the matter of right and wrong by her defiance of the king. Being his Champion, she is to do exactly as he commands. If  the king ever found out, Celaena is a dead woman. But when an old friend from the assassin's guild come up on the king's hit list as a rebel, Celaena finds an interesting opportunity to find out answers that are to lead the famous assassin into not only mortal danger, but otherworldly as well. There is magic harboring itself in the castle when if should be extinct. The lost princess is alive, gathering an army. And Celaena finds herself piecing together every bit of mystery that the ghost of Elena, the first queen of Adarlan, cryptically relays the assassin about the king's dangerous plan. If Celaena cannot figure it out in time, Adarlan will pay the price.

Celaena keeps her usual spunk from the first novel, Throne of Glass, hot as a flame. She's much more lethal in CoM with the wire wearing thin and lives of those closest to her put at risk. How quickly it's revealed that Celaena can turn on someone so close to her when revenge and hatred root itself in her mind and bubbles through her fuming veins. The truth that is an cold-blooded assassin lies in the heart of this young girl of only seventeen. Not even living in the lap of luxury can hide away the beast that Celaena Sardothien can become when finally pushed over the deep end. Though living high and mighty inside the castle walls does happen to sand away some rough spots that the assassin had in the first novel. When she's not involved in her life's work, the assassin has a quirk for spending money on seemingly useless things that she might never use, wear, or read. Sometimes I found Celaena becoming spoiled by the riches.

But everything else that is the dark and deadly assassin cancels out that spoiled nature. Even sometimes the love looming between her and Chaol, the Captain of the Guard. There seems to be a constant battle between Chaol and the Crown Prince, Dorian for Celaena's time of day.

Jealousy sparks between the two old friends. There really isn't much love triangle in this book since Celaena quickly inches over to Chaol's side. But that doesn't stop Dorian for trying to keep the option of him open to his favorite little assassin. Even when Celaena finds the lust for an old assassin friend turning her cheeks red, it shows how the girl can be overtaken by the bouts of romance. That, a handsome face, and a winning smile seem to be the assassin's weakness. Who'd of guessed?

Chaol is given much more depth as a character. He cares deeply for Celaena just as much as she does for him. Her safety is a primary concern. His background and nobility status are revealed. His father enters into the story as well as his homeland.

Even Dorian has some secrets of his own that can prove crucial if told. The stakes are amped for the Crown Prince, and this time wooing his fair assassin is not the only dangerous game he plays. Though Dorian had a knack for acting like a moody girl around Celaena and Chaol, his jealous nature is not overlooked when reading. I'm glad he doesn't make a huge ass of himself about the matter. Dorian actually tries to be happy for his best friend, even if it means he cannot get the girl. There was the respect I have for Dorian; the humble Crown Prince. He was trying, and I gave him credit where credit is due.

The introduction to the iron teeth Witches & fortuneteller, Baba Yellowlegs, and even to the Fae was intoxicating. Information slowly weaving itself together. The mysterious and magical world that Mass has created. Little by little there are bits and pieces of Celaena's world being put together. Between the kingdoms, the hierarchy, languages, species, magic, other-worlds--I fall in love a little more with this series.

Mass had blown me out of the water with the huge secret revealed at the end of CoM. Even though I had seem something along the lines of that coming, I was still impressed and stupefied by what I had just found out. I couldn't believe what I'd just read! The series really does keep getting better by the book. I'm delighted to know that this series is a long one!

Final Summation: CROWN OF MIDNIGHT was a wonderful second installment to the Throne of Glass series. Though the beginning revolves around the attraction between Chaol and Dorian, it quickly sidesteps into a world of action and mystery where secrets abound fight their way to be revealed. Celaena packs much more of a punch, where her true violent nature is revealed, and so is much of her past. I'm hungry for more of Adarlan's assassin now that she is out of the glass castle and sailing to another kingdom. What misfortune awaits her there? I'm dying to find out.

First Line: The shutters swinging in the storm winds were the only sign of her entry.
Story: S
Cover: S

*To check out my review for THRONE OF GLASS, click here*