Monday, January 25, 2016

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Mass

"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.

Rating: 2,5 Stars

“The world didn’t need an assassin with a coward’s heart. It needed someone like Nehemia.”

Second buddy read with Jaz!!! We are on a roll here!

Be warned, this review contains spoilers for ToG and CoM because most of the things I want to discuss are essential to the plot so, if you haven’t read either of them, this will spoil you big time.
Also, there will probably be some swearing and profanities, not for any particular reason, I just felt like swearing today.

I read Throne of Glass by Sarah J Mass last year. After reading ACOTAR and countless of positive reviews about this series I decided to give it a shot, very eager to discover a new fantasy world with a strong and interesting female main character. Sadly, I was very disappointed with ToG, the plot was painfully predictable, the romance overwhelming and annoying, and the characters cliché whiny and oh so, so boring. Many people told me it got better after ToG but honestly, after being bored out of my mind with that book, was I really willing to put myself back through that? No, the fuck I wasn’t. Honestly, I let some months go by hoping that my mind would change but even then, the thought of going back to doing the same thing made me want to hammer my fingers, anything to keep me from being so bored again.

Still, as stubborn as I am I knew I wanted to continue with the series. Jaz had gone through something similar, although I’m sure she handled it as much more sane person (not really but she might be reading this shhhh ;) ) we both wanted to give it another chance… but we really didn’t want to read this book, so that’s when we decided to start reading it as a buddy read, so we could talk about it, share theories and do anything really to keep us from being bored.

Now that I’ve finished the second book I have to say it was a bit more interesting than the first one, at least the second part, even though I’m really pissed at what happened to get to that point. However, considering how little I liked Throne of Glass, saying this one was a little better doesn’t exactly make it a good book. Sarah J mass carries the same problem she had in her previous book (as well as in ACOTAR) and that is to spend most of the book without an actual plot, cultivating romance and basically making the narration an uncoordinated mess.

The plot was (if there was any) essentially the same as in the first book, Celaena is at the castle, there is a mystery animal-thing going around, she has to defeat “The Evil”, but she’ll care more about the love triangle between her Dorian and Chaol and demanding things from Nehemia when she needs her but not paying much attention to her the rest of the book.

I really enjoyed the first chapter, the writing had significantly improved and I loved how I could picture the scene perfectly. It was as if I had been there with Celeana tracking down the targets the King had commanded her to kill. I could hear every sound, see the rooms, the place. I let myself believe the book would be as good as that chapter, but that didn’t happen.

There were a lot of logical errors from the beginning and what really pissed me off was Celaena not killing the people she was told to, but letting her friends believe she was doing as the king commanded her and therefore being a terrible person.

First, I had problems understanding why she wasn’t killing those people. She said she was planning on killing them but changed her mind when she saw her first target and realized he was actually a “decent” person:

She’d prepared herself for the kill, told herself that Sir Carlin was nothing but a stranger and his life meant nothing to her. But when she got to his estate and witnessed the unusual kindness with which he treated his servants, when she saw him playing the lyre with a traveling minstrel he sheltered in his hall, when she realized whose agenda she was aiding … she couldn’t do it.”

Is that all it takes? Being kind to his servants? What about all the innocent lives she has taken for people working for the King? Celaena has told us countless of times how she didn’t care who she killed and even told the story of an innocent guy she butchered because two royal men wanted to take his job. She had killed the poor bystander without a second thought, but now she’s risking her and her friends’ lives because…?...........?..........................??!

I don’t know, Celaena’s motivations are so fickle, almost as if she had no real characterization beyond what the author needs to create senseless drama… mmm.

Again I was annoyed at Celaena’s passivity. At book one we saw how she knew that there was something in the castle killing competitors and that she was being targeted, and yet she chose to ignore it. Willing herself to believe it was all in her head and demanding for other people to fix the problems for her. I could never understand how Celaena was supposed to be such an amazing assassin when she had a problem right in front of her rather bring her hands to her ears, close her eyes and wait until the bad guys go away. It’s not only childlike but stupid, she allegedly has gone through a lot and yet the woman we know here is incapable of defending herself.

She encounters a mystery being outside the library in a cloak with animal eyes and makes her amulet shine… and she convinces herself it’s just some noble who visited the library in the middle of the night.

Why? Why be so dumb as to put herself and everybody else in danger? To create tension in discovering who or what the thing is but it’s just annoying as hell.

Nehemia’s death:

I knew it was coming because of spoilers, and even though the idea of the only POC character dying pissed me off to the point where I didn’t want to read this book, I tried to give Sarah J Mass a chance and hope that it would be well done. I read and waited, trying to see if it could be well played. Maybe Nehemia’s death was really necessary and not just a woman in refrigerator (a woman being killed/tortured/hurt to further another character’s plot, usually a guy’s).

I was sadly disappointed. Not only does Nehemia’s death comes out of the blue, but the girl had even less scenes than in Throne of Glass. It was disappointing to know she was going to die and that all the scenes she had were her talking a bit about the revolution but not about what she was doing, giggling with Celaena about Chaol and drinking tea.

We all know how in Throne of Glass Nehemia’s only role was to be there when Celaena needed her, either by being a friend with magical powers that saved her life when she needed it the most or to tell us, the readers, just how super-especial-beautiful-powerful-capable-amazeballs Celaena was (because we definitely needed somebody else to hit us over the head again and again about how special Celaena was). That was it, we knew little about Nehemia really, she wanted to free her people, she had both parents and some siblings but that was all we knew from her. We hardly ever saw her interact with anybody else, or know what colors she liked, what foods she enjoyed, who exactly this character was.

Sure, I wasn’t Nehemia’s biggest fan either but yet again I’m nobody’s biggest fan in this series. Despite her noble cause of wanting to free her people, she often came off as selfish. Her role at court was to be an ambassador and establish a friendly relationship with the King and Queen, instead all she did was insult them and spend as little time with them as possible, causing an even worse relationship with the Kingdom and contributing to the death of those five hundred slaves.
However, she had improved in this next installment- Ok no, that’s a lie since we hardly ever saw her, but her story was far more interesting than the boring-ass love triangle Celaena was having and I would have rather seen Nehemia do all the amazing things Archer said she had done off-screen rather than seeing her only drink tea and being Celaena’s plotless side kick.

She was a character with a lot of potential who was sadly sacrificed to further bland Celaena’s plot. Nehemia’s character, despite her friendship with Celaena was sorely underdeveloped. We knew nothing about her because Celaena didn’t really care to know much. It bothered me how, after Nehemia died it still seemed like her only purpose was to help people. Dorian missed that Nehemia never got to help her with magic, and Celaena despite her cries of what an amazing woman she had been, only seems to want her for Nehemia to do things for her. It was annoying how little this character was and how underplayed it had been, even after death she wasn’t even a person but more like a thing that did stuff:

“Nehemia should have been here—to help with Yellowlegs and the riddle, to tell her what to do with Chaol, to smile as Celaena played something particularly clever for her.”

Look at that quote, do you feel the love there? Because I don’t. Everytime Celaena remembers her is to miss the things Nehemia did for her, not the person in itself. The only POC in the story was reduced to nothing but a plot device, the narration itself acknowledges it:

Nehemia had engineered her own death, knowing that she might change the world—change Celaena—more through dying than living.

Considering what I know, without having read the next two books, was Nehemia’s death really worth it? So far no, her death was not necessary for the plot or Celaena to change. Again, I haven’t read the next two books but for what I can see right now Nehemia was nothing but a woman in refrigerator, dying so that another character can change from her pain, diminishing her horrible death and everything she had accomplished in life to serve for someone else’s development, and that’s just too fucking sad. Look what the author did, ruined perhaps one of the best characters she had in this series to try and make Celaena cooler, instead of simply, you know, being a better writer and not needing to kill your only POC to make an assassin actually kill.


Apparently, it was supposed to be a surprise Celaena turning out to be the lost fairy Princess? I thought it had been made clear in Throne of Glass at the end with this scene:

“Thank you for saving my life.”
Elena bowed her head. “Blood ties can’t be broken,” she whispered, and then vanished, her words echoing in the silent tomb.”

I mean, Celaena wondered why the half-fairy-human Queen had chosen her to get rid of the evil, and it was made pretty clear in this scene that Elena saved her because they are related, which means Celaena has royal blood which indicates she’s the lost Princess.

But no, just like in the last book with the mystery of the very obvious “Cain is the freaking killer”, the author drops some very obvious hints at Celaena being the lost Princess such as having the Champion almost fainting at the mention of Aelin and her being absolutely sure that, if there was an Aelin out there gathering an army, she had to be an impostor. There was no way for Celaena to react that way unless she were the Princess so, even if I had missed the clue on the first book, there was no freaking way I would be oblivious to it up until the VERY END OF THE GODDAMMEND STORY.

Seriously, there are mysteries that you kip hidden until it is the right moment. You can give the readers little clues for them to figure it out on their own but enough doubt for them to be surprised when the revelation comes. There was none of that here, Sarah J Mass is as subtle as a punch in the face with her clues. She could have put enough hints to make us think that… I don’t know Celaena was actually a friend of the Princess and the two of them grew up together, only for her to have seen the poor girl being murdered, explaining how she knew any other Aelin would be an impostor. Mass could have also compared the loss of that first childhood friend to this more mature relationship she had with Nehemia, only to reveal at the end that she was the Princess and the one who had died was her friend. IDK something!

Instead we got this… thing.

The second part was a bit more interesting, though I hate the way it happened, it was more interesting to read about Celaena actually doing something that wasn’t her romance plot, she got to kill and torture people and that was fun.


The crown Prince was by far my most hated character of book one but in Crown of Midnight he actually got interesting and I cared a little about what happened to him. His realization that he had magic and the fear that his father would kill him felt very real and it was nice to explore a different aspect of his personality, seeing him care about the things his father was doing rather than turning a blind eye on it and keep on being a misogynistic pig.

That being said, I still have no idea on why he was so in love with Celaena and why he still has a crush on her? But I’m glad they are friends.


Dude, what happened to you? Chaol was the one character I liked from ToG but here… what happened??!

Chaol’s plot was being engrossed with the developing romantic relationship between him and Celaena. That and obeying a few of his King’s commands was pretty much all he ever got to do. In a way it was interesting to see his struggle trying to reconcile his feelings for the Champion while knowing how his best friend felt about her. Chaol kept saying how he wouldn’t do that to his friends and yadda and yadda, only for him to go and sleep with Celaena without giving it a second thought. He went from caring about his friend to forgetting he ever existed. The Chaol/Dorian interaction was kept to a minimum and I kind of missed it.
The romance between him and Celaena… ugh I was it a fan of it. I don’t know what went wrong with Chaol but he turned into such an asshat in this book! Hardly a dialogue went by between him and Celaena in which he wasn’t yelling/snarling or basically controlling everything she did:

“Believe me, Celaena,” he snarled, his eyes flashing.”

“He leaned over the bed, bracing his hands on the mattress as he snarled in her face. “Yes. I’ll deal with it.”

“Chaol stood in the hallway, his bronze eyes traveling down the front of her dress, then up again. “You’re not wearing that.””

This was how I pictured Chaol everytime he talked to Celaena:

Really, he pissed me off. Sure, he had his good moments but I wish we could have the Chaol from the first book, not this controlling asshole.

The things I always rant about:

Why do characters keep keeping secrets from one another? This way of creating tension by not having characters communicate pisses me off.

First there is Chaol, not telling anybody about the treat to Nehemia’s life because the King asked him to. Sure Chaol trusted Celaena with his life and he was willing to leave everything behind, everything he had sacrificed to have a life with him… but he won’t tell her that her friend’s life is in danger because…?....???????????????????????????????????????????
That was a really dumb move, and I understand why Celaena was mad at him. If she had known, at least she could have had a choice, be more alert, be useful somehow. But by not telling her Chaol took away any chance she might have had of saving her friend, and that’s something you don’t forget right away, if you forget at all.

However, why is Celaena not telling Chaol that the King threatened to kill him? Same goes for when she was faking all of those people’s deaths but not telling her friends because… emm well, because why? What reason could she have? Her not telling Nehemia and Chaol was the same as Chaol not saying about Nehemia’s treat, so I don’t see why she keeps doing it at the end of the book, when she doesn’t tell Chaol what the King is capable of. Even if there is nothing he could do, at least he would know, and he would understand why she acts the way she does. But nooooo, let’s keep being idiots for the sake of stupid drama.

Despite its ups and downs (mostly downs) I’ll continue with this series because… well, I’m a fantasy whore and I’ll take it any way I can.

However, I still fail to see why this series is so loved. The world building is flat, the characters are meh, the love story OHHH MY GOOOODDDD THE LOVEE STORYYYYYYYYYYYYY I hate it. So far it’s nothing out of this world.

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