I had my reservations after reading the first book of the series, Throne of Glass. Though enjoyable, some of the characterizations were mediocre, the narrative uneven, and the world, lore and magic vague, lacklustre, and underdeveloped. I sincerely hoped that Sarah J. Maas would find her footing and take the Throne of Glass series, a fantasy with potential to have unique and interesting ideas and narratives, and make it better. With Crown of Midnight, Maas fulfilled that wish, took everything that Throne of Glass did (and didn’t do well at), and made it better and more – in every way.
The biggest (and most important) difference between Crown of Midnight and its predecessor is its scope and depth in story. Whilst Throne of Glass centres on a battle of strength and wit between a band of assassins (most of which were forgettable anyway), Crown of Midnight is filled with battles for power, between characters and values, has complex character development (especially our protagonist, Celeana), the intricate world lore that I – and probably many others – were waiting for, and a meaningful contribution to the series’s wider story.
No more petty girl-on-girl dramas, no more predictable villains and silly infatuations, Crown of Midnight is a book that is filled with mystery, the machinations of war and conspiracy, friendship and responsibility, betrayal and loyalty, rebellion and oppression, and insane, wonderful magic.
And the characters! Though I was still a bit disappointed with Chaol and Dorian’s characterizations (though they are improvements from the first book), that disappointment is curtailed by two outstanding characters in the book that outshine everything else: Celeana herself, and Nehemia. Both are incredible female characters who are fleshed and developed, complex, and show both strengths and weaknesses that are not influenced by tropes. More so, the strong female friendship between them was beautiful and well-written – and let’s be real, how many memorable female friendships are there out there? (Not a lot, unfortunately.) I felt more emotionally connected to Celeana and Nehemia’s friendship than the romances we have read in this series thus far. Maas shows that female friendships can be just as powerful, as enduring, as profound, and as important as heteronormative romances.
Maas developed Celeana to be a memorable character, especially in a landscape of forgettable YA heroines. Celeana grows in this book; she faces tribulations that test her abilities as an assassin, and also her character, will, and spirit. And though she may be flawed through and through (she’s a coward, she’s volatile, she’s aggressive), it is her flaws that allow her to grow, learn, and change. Celeana is the sort of female character that I love reading about – one that isn’t perfect or the superficial ‘strong female character’ ideal, but a character we can empathize with, grows and learns from her mistakes, and shows the many dimensions of being human and growing up.
And through Celeana’s journey, I am beginning to get an inkling of what this series may ultimately be about: a character whose disposition and profession makes her an unlikely and reluctant heroine, who must rise above her fears and weaknesses to become the saviour and warrior that she was born to be. With Crown of Midnight, she makes sacrifices, she loses so much and gains little, but all of this brings her closer to her destiny and perhaps save the things that she loves most.
Crown of Midnight is a worthy addition to the Throne of Glass series. With what we read in this book, I anticipate bigger and more dangerous things to come for Celeana and her allies – and I’m excited. I can’t imagine, and I can’t wait, to see what Heir of Fire brings, and I have a really good feeling about it.
Book Name: Crown of Midnight
Book Series: Throne of Glass #2
Author: Sarah J. Maas