After winning the competition and becoming the King's Champion, life has become a daily challenge for Celaena. As Champion she is the tool of her King, sent to deal with those brave or foolish enough to stand in his way. It feels as though she is in a nightmare, with the ones she loves starting to keep their distance from her and what she represents. The worst part is that the King seems to revel in the bloodshed, each severed head or token of identity accepted with a gloating calm. It seems as though Celaena has settled back into her old ways, an assassin who is the perfect tool for a ruthless and blood thirsty King.
But Celaena is not the perfect tool she appears, she is quietly defying the King and everything he stands for by offering his targets a choice - give up their names and flee for their lives to a land far away, or die by her hand. Life would be so much easier if she could tell her friends the truth, it would stop them withdrawing from her, judging her with false beliefs. It is a delicate balancing act to maintain, treading a careful path of trust and honestly, and secrets kept to keep those she loves safe from harm. When the unthinkable happens and one of the people she loves most is taken from her, the controlled veneer of civility and control snaps and she turns into something that none of them recognise. With a new danger on the horizon Celaena is about to face one of the biggest challenges of all - controlling the darkness inside herself.
I first read Throne of glass over two years ago, so one of the first things I did before reading Crown of midnight was to pick up a copy of Throne of glass and read it again - and I am glad I did because part of the richness and experience of reading Crown of midnight comes from reading Throne of glass. I was instantly captured once again buy Celaena and her world, a world that doesn't shield it's predominantly teen audience from the brutality and horrors of the world - this is a gritty and thoroughly engaging world that leaves you in no doubt that something dark and dangerous stalks the land (other than Celaena that is).
Too many fantasy books for teens stick to a light and fluffy path, almost as if the author doesn't believe their teen audience can handle the truth, or worried that the parents will object if it is too realistic. Maas has walked a fine line with her stories, weaving together a completely believable world of intrigue, danger, and violence that could easily have happened in the past - or could be happening right now on another world. Her characters are richly imagined, fully formed and ready to engage fully with their world. You soon find that each character is perfect with their imperfections, their flaws and faults are what make them perfect. There are archetypes of characters here, but they are not what you would expect - not surprising for a series loosely based on the Cinderella story (where just happens to be an assassin rather than waiting for a fairy godmother to save her).
I am very much looking forward to reading the next two books in the series, and I am thrilled to know she will be visiting Auckland soon and that I will get to meet her - hopefully not as a gushing fangirl! Hopefully Maas will continue to write long after she has finished this series as she is a very talented author and is filling a much needed niche in the teens market - writing stories that talk up to teens and treat them as equals rather than talking down to teens or smothering them in written cotton wool.
If you like this book then try:
- Throne of glass by Sarah J. Maas
- A court of thorns and roses by Sarah J. Maas
- Ink and bone by Rachel Caine
- Arrows of the queen by Mercedes Lackey
- The kiss of deception by Mary E. Pearson
- Graceling by Kristin Cashore
- Grave mercy by Robin LaFevers
- The hunt by Andrew Fukuda
- Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
- The pledge by Kimberly Derting
- Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
- Daughter of smoke and bone by Laini Taylor
- The demon trapper's daughter by Jana Oliver
Reviewed by Brilla