Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)
by Sarah J. Maas (Goodreads Author)"A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.
It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend."
From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.
Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.
Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie... and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.
My review: 6/10
The first 80% of this book was a 4 star. I was so disappointed. And then, the last 75 pages or so was a 10 star. What? Yes. I've ended this book feeling both disappointed and hopeful.
The thing about labeling your main (female) character an assassin... it's not a title that you just use to make them seem hard or badass. First the physical, an assassin should have razor sharp senses and reflexes, a strong ability and desire to blend in, be anonymous. They should be cool, calm, deadly focused. If emotions take over the drive, that's when mistakes are made. An assassin needs to be all of these things, or else they would likely be killed from a botched attempt before they earned the title. I would suspect that an accomplished assassin would have learned to be very suspicious, frequently on edge, after seeing what they saw. They would be extremely guarded emotionally.
Celaena was everything an assassin is NOT. I couldn't even believe it.
Let's start with Davis' office. She seriously waltzed into that situation, where she intended to be sneaking and spying, very conspicuously dressed in movement-impeding clothes. Why not have something on underneath and shed the dress when needed? I would think her mind would be working on exit strategies first and foremost in every situation she finds herself in.
Moving on to Chaol, who is quickly built up as the most important person in Celaena's life, ever. He is everything. Then, all of a sudden, he is not. Nehemia is everything, and because he didn't tell her that he'd heard of a threat to Nehemia and that the King planned to question her, now Chaol is the enemy. What? This doesn't even make any sense. I thought Chaol was your everything? You would prioritize his safety over everyone else's. If the king had decided Nehemia was a traitor and ordered Chaol, his CAPTAIN of the guard, to execute her, what would she expect/want him to do then? Be executed himself? Of course not. Not only does the flip make no emotional sense, it makes no logical sense.
Celaena just busts into that warehouse in an emotional rage, annihilating everything in her path. She doesn't think or collect information before acting. You would think she would have learned from what apparently happened with Sam and would have learned not to act rashly, emotionally. But no, she just bursts in there intent on destruction. She was not clever, she was not wise, she was not stealthy, she was just stupid.
While troubling, I didn't think Chaol's withholding that information was such a big deal. It's not like he'd known Nehemia would be killed. Celaena doesn't ask any questions, doesn't think or consider, doesn't listen before turning on him.
The theme for this story is that Celaena is always two steps behind. It's amazing she wasn't killed. She has no problem divulging her secrets and plans to those she currently considers trustworthy. I was floored. Even if they don't betray you (and she should have had a healthy respect for her mistaken judgments at this point), do you not care that having that kind of information could get them killed?! Why did they need to know? It was so carelss, so sloppy.
The whole Grave thing came out of nowhere. It was unnecessarily disgusting and should have been impossible. How is it that he got into the castle, past all the guards, past Nehemia's personal guards and then had the time to hang around and be "artistic?"
Why, WHY, did Celaena tell Yellowlegs the WHOLE riddle?! She's supposed to be intelligent! If you know that this is a riddle telling you the location of three powerful objects, WHY would you hjust hand that info out?! Why wouldn't you give her a piece of it? Why would you fish for information based on what you did know, asking questions like, what kind of power would it take to open a portal and let in creatures (like the ridderak), how would they get that power? etc.
At that point, I thought this book and its characters were doomed. I forged on, however.
Then, all of a sudden, Celaena transforms. Not into any of the poorly concealed surprise identities (SPOILERS: Fae, heir to the throne of Terrasen... seriously who didn't see that coming from about half way through the first book?) but into the smart, calculating powerhouse she should have been from the beginning. She thinks first, then acts. What a difference it makes.
I will read the next book in the hope that Celaena has been permanently altered and she can now be someone I respect.