Published by Bloomsbury on August 27th, 2013
Amazon • Indiebound • Barnes & Noble • Goodreads
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?
Help. I’m drowning in a river of feels.
If you enjoyed Throne of Glass, prepare to be completely bowled over by Crown of Midnight. For me, Throne of Glass was “just” a 3.5, but this installment blew me away. Everything about CoM is more. More action, more badassery from Celaena, more world building, more villains, more mystery, more magic, and more romance.
The plot ascends to the next level. There are so many twists and turns. There’s magic, romance, betrayal, adventure, absolute heartbreak, and death. I can’t believe one book contains so much awesome. And even though the two biggest twists can be seen from miles ahead, the story is so engrossing, the plot so intricate, and the characters so easy to care for that I didn’t even mind.
This book took me on an emotional thrill ride. My heart went from soaring to absolutely devastated. No, really. Devastated. There is a thing that happens between two characters that completely slayed me. My jaw was hanging wide open at how heartbreaking and terrible this was. My heart still pangs with sorrow when I think about it now. I could’ve read this in one sitting but after this event…it was so sad, so taxing to continue that it took me awhile. Prepare accordingly.
Unlike in Throne of Glass, we get to see Celaena put her skills as an assassin to the test. She is absolutely vicious and lethal. It’s awesome. I think a lot of the perhaps disgruntled feelings toward ToG arise from the the fact that it is a book about an assassin yet she does absolutely no assassinating. If this aspect frustrated you I beg you to give CoM a chance. This is remedied and then some. You do not want to be Celaena’s enemy.
The character development was also really well done. I felt a marked improvement in understanding of all the main characters. Especially Dorian, who I didn’t much care for in ToG. He came off as way too arrogant and too much of a ladies’ man for my liking. Also, who do you think you are getting in the way of the perfectness that is Celaena x Chaol, sir?!? In CoM, he becomes a decidedly different character. There’s a very…interesting reason for this but I won’t spoil why. You’ll just have to read. 😉
Celaena continues to make my heart ache. All that sassy swagger and arrogance and it’s just a front. This girl has been through hell. The traumatic deaths of her parents, losing Sam, her time in the Endovier prison camp…it’s as if there is no end to her misery. And in this installment she’s in for even more loss and betrayal. It makes all of the positive aspects of her life (her friendship with Nehemia, her relationship with Chaol) that much sweeter for their unfortunate scarcity. One thing that I really appreciate about Celaena’s character is that for as kickass and lethal as she is, she is also very feminine. She is an unabashed girly girl. Feminine ≠ weak. I can never get enough of that messaging.
I’ve even given this my “feminist fiction” tag. There might not be anything explicitly obvious that jumps out but if this were a film, for instance, it would pass the Bechdel Test and beyond. The main character is a woman, her best friend is a WOC, and I think they talk about men/relationships once. Celaena is fiercely independent and not afraid to defy gender norms to the point of throwing it in the faces of the men around her, some of whom are in positions of great power over her. I love her.
The romance, oh my gods, the romance! Swoon. Chaolaena forever, okay? Chaol, Chaol, Chaol. How I could go on about you! Stolid, loyal, caring Chaol (he recently made an appearance on my favorite fictional crushes list). This pairing is perfect. I absolutely love the way their relationship is built up. They are truly friends first and their banter is the best. They just play off of each other so well. Celaena’s sassiness against Chaol’s seemingly impassive demeanor. I love those secretly caring guys.
There is much here that should keep these two apart. Their loyalties lie in very different places. They could very well end up on opposite sides of a war if it comes to that. It makes it all the more enjoyable to watch them fail at fighting off their attraction. There’s a great deal of depth to their relationship and what they mean to each other. It made me teary (books almost never make me cry) seeing how each thinks of the other and all the little and big ways they show their love. Two lost people who found their homes. Now I’m getting teary again.
And that ending. There are so many places this story can go. The ending is wide open and exciting (but also gives me a lot of anxiety). Maas has deftly moved many pieces into play around the board and it’s going to be very, very exciting (but also nerve wracking) to see what happens in the upcoming installments.
I read this several months ago,but I remember I finished it with a sad little aching sorrow sitting in my chest. When I woke up the next morning it was still there and stayed with me for days. Even when I think of the characters now, I very easily get upset about their possible fates. I actively worry about them. You must all be okay, dear hearts. You must.
Strongly recommended for those who love romance-centric, girl power fantasy like Graceling or Cinda Williams Chima’s Seven Realms series. Just prepare yourself emotionally. It’s not going to be an easy journey. But it’s okay. You can come to me. We’ll comfort each other.
As a sidenote, I’d like to point out that the prequel novellas will be released in one collection, The Assassin’s Blade, on March 4th. These cover Celaena’s assassin work before her capture and imprisonment in Endovier. I’ve not read them yet (mainly because I’m scared of Sam feels), but I think I’m finally ready. Popular opinion seems to say you shouldn’t read these before Throne of Glass as it’s a step down in assassin action and badassery from Celaena. But I hear that they are a good lead in for the action in Crown of Midnight.
I also feel that I’d be remiss if I did not mention this short scene, The Assassin and the Captain, that takes place immediately prior to the events of Crown of Midnight. A must read for Chaolaena fans. Enjoy!