This is one of those series that is borderline a guilty pleasure for me at the moment. I can tell that this is one of those series that was 1. Maybe hurt by the hype train and my inability to read books in a timely fashion so things end up getting kind of spoiled, and 2. That it’s also one of those series that only really gets good come the third or fourth book. In “Crown of Midnight” Celaena is firmly the King’s Champion, though she’s fairly good at not having to assassinate anyone for an assassin. The King gives her a list of people she needs to eliminate, and she goes off and pretends like she does, but things get complicated when the King wants her to kill a blast from her past because he suspects that he’s leading a rebellion. This person is a courtesan of sorts, and Celaena doesn’t believe her old friend would have the guts to do something like the King claims given the life of luxury he leads. So, on her quest to figure out who is really involved in this rebellion, Celaena uncovers more secrets in the impossibly large underground passages of the Glass Castle—like seriously, there’s at least 3 castles within this one castle that are just completely abandoned. Ultimately, this is very much a book about moving pieces and characters into the right places so the main plot of the series can finally begin.
This book IS the inciting incident that will frame the groundwork for all the books to follow. A few characters have their secrets revealed, learning new things about themselves in a very dangerous kingdom. Others have their relationships irrevocably changed, opening the door for other relationships—which I know about mainly because this is an older series and it’s impossible not to be spoiled in some way with the synopsis of the next books. Some characters exit the series completely, their murder setting the groundwork for this massive change in all the remaining characters, serving as motivation to DO SOMETHING. I have mixed feelings about this, clearly. This second book was mainly a lot of mixed feelings in general for me, honestly. I liked Celaena more this time around, and I always find Dorian charming. But Chaol, poor Chaol, was all kinds of up and down for me. I loved him, wanted to shake him, felt like the author did my boy terribly wrong, became lukewarm toward him, and then just all around sad for the man. Really, if the main characters could all just learn to talk to each other and not keep secrets from one other most of the trouble they get in to could be averted. It’s a personal peeve of mine where the lack of communication is really what causes all the drama instead of say, the bad guy.
“Crown of Midnight” felt a lot slower at times then the first book in the series as well. There’d be moments of action, of intrigue, and then long stretches of not a lot happening, or a lot of sadness around one character’s ultimate departure. And, since I kind of knew/guessed the ending early on, I found myself just wanting to get to the point where the secrets are no longer secret all the faster. This is not the authors fault, but mine for waiting so ridiculously long to start an insanely popular series. But the last third of the book was full of action and nail biting scenes, the climax becoming this huge swell of an event that I did really like! I just wish it hadn’t taken so long to get there? Or it felt like it took a long time to get there given I guessed how most of the twists were going to end real early on.
I might have given up on the series at this book if it weren’t for how things did actually end. What Chaol learns about Celaena, what Nehemia “gifts” Dorian and what that means for the crown prince... It sets up for the big conflict that the rest of the series will solve for! So the first two books in the series were mainly just set up for Celaena and putting her where she needed to be for this larger plot. Again, I personally have mixed feelings on using a series in this way, but that’s just a preference I have. Ultimately, even though I liked the main character more in this book, and am finally starting to feel good about this series, I am so confused about Chaol and my personal feelings toward him. I loved him so much, or did, and I hate his loyalty to Adarlan, which becomes all the more painful in this book. I don’t like that he’s become the outcast between Celaena and Dorian in a weird way. And I wasn’t a fan on how these friends STILL hid things from each other adding unnecessary complication. I get it’s meant to be realistic, but I was getting annoyed after a while. So while there were parts I liked more than the first book, there were parts I liked equally less, which means this is another 3 star for me. But I have much higher hopes for the third book!
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