Even though I finished the first Throne of Glass book slightly disappointed and unsure of where the series was going, I decided to continue with Crown of Midnight because Goodreads reviews convinced me it would get better - and it did.
Spoilers are below, read with caution!
Celaena Sardothien won a competition to become the King of Adarlan’s Champion, but hid her lack of loyalty to the crown to keep her position and life safe. Celaena realized she wasn’t the only one keeping secrets, and slowly became tangled up with a rebel group when she was given an assassination assignment she knew she couldn’t complete.
One night, all of the secrets that Celaena, Chaol, Dorian, and Nehemia had been keeping came flying to the surface in a deadly twist that forced Celaena to choose who she wanted to fight for once and for all. As she struggled with the change in her life, she had to come to terms with who she really was and what she could contribute in the fight against the evil king.
Crown of Midnight gave readers the Celaena Sardothien that should have existed in the first book. She was tougher, she actually fought and killed, and she was much more devious and not just a shallow, dress-obsessed princess. In this installment I was fine with her “girly” interests because her character also developed as she showed us she really did know how to fight. Finally.
Throne of Glass gave me a few flashbacks to reading The Hunger Games series, but thankfully Crown of Midnight didn’t - except for one thing. The character Archer made me think of Finnick Odair, but I adore Finnick and Archer ended up being totally different. After this point in the series I stopped being reminded of The Hunger Games, though, and the series really took on a life of its own.
The King of Adarlan remained a mystery; Maas never even gave him a name. That was a little odd in and of itself, but in my opinion he remained the most one-dimensional character in the series while the others grew exceptionally from the first book. (I pictured him like a human Scar from The Lion King - anyone else?) He was evil, had evil minions, was doing evil magic things...and yet he wasn’t super active in the story. He just handed out a few orders and Celaena carried on as she wanted.
Nehemia, who I liked in the first book, became my favorite character in the second one. She was smart, wholly dedicated to her people and cause, and braver than Celaena seemed in many ways. When her storyline took a tragic turn, I was genuinely upset. I cried a little bit. I thought it was a waste of an amazing character and even after finishing the fifth book, I still missed having Nehemia around.
The love triangle continued in this book, except this time Dorian was mourning the girl he thought he knew (I mean, Dorian, you were aware you pulled an assassin from the mines, right?) and Chaol seemed to win our killer’s heart. I liked them as a couple. I was happy that they were happy together and then disappointed in the reason they ended things. Celaena seemed to forget that she also worked for the King and her inability to forgive Chaol was hypocritical, but I did see this as Celaena’s character continuing to grow so more than anything I was interested in her next move after Chaol.
The big reveal at the end wasn’t too surprising for me; I was waiting for something like that but wasn’t sure how I felt about Celaena being aware of her own royal history the whole time. So she knew who she was...but hadn’t owned up to it? There were enough hints in the two books that I knew there was more to her backstory, but I felt like it could’ve been revealed better. I would’ve been much happier with Celaena periodically admitting her royalty in her own head and wondering what to do about it, while the characters around her were totally oblivious. Regardless, her hidden title and the powers she had stamped down were a welcome addition to the story and made me excited to continue reading.
Crown of Midnight was a 4 of 5 for me. It was leaps and bounds better than its predecessor and drew me into the story and world Maas created.