Crown of Midnight was an exceptional follow-up to Throne of Glass. The pacing problems of the first book were pretty much non-existant, and the combination of a more mature narrative with far more effective character development makes for a riveting read from start to finish.
Celeana as Unlikeable Still Isn’t Actually Unlikeable.
As I mentioned in my Throne of Glass review, many of the criticisms often hurled at the character of Celeana are criticisms that I found to be valid points, but are ultimately traits that make her character feel more real. To be honest it’s kind of fun for me to read a character who, while a decent person at her core, can be pretty shitty to other people, AND who doesn’t always recognize that what she’s done, how she’s acting, is shitty. Again, it reads as real. She’s a young, very flawed character, and it works for me. Because all those flaws and all that youth also means that she has room to grow.
More Dynamic Character Development
Ultimately Crown of Fire shines so brightly compared to its predecessor because the reason it’s riveting is not just the plot line, but watching our young protagonists change and mature. All three, Celaena, Chaol, and Dorian, make some major progress towards growing up and figuring out how to stay true to their own conscience in this world that, let’s be honest, is a big, cruel mess. They test their personal limits, they test the limits of their relationships, they test their ideas of identity… and they don’t do so perfectly. They make mistakes. They screw up. They make stupid, selfish decisions, for stupid, selfish reasons, while lying to themselves about their own motivations. And once again, it all feels very real. Maas allows them to misstep in ways that feel very true to life, and in ways that impact their relationships in realistic ways.
This kind of character development really adds a whole new dimension to the storytelling that Throne of Glass was missing. Throne of Glass did a relatively nice job with Celaena, but ultimately the big selling point about that book for me was the plot. Pretty much everyone else felt kind of one-dimentional. As much as Maas tried to show that Dorian was much more complicated than his playboy prince image, and that Chaol was… well… at all interesting, in Throne of Glass those efforts weren’t terribly effective. In the end both men ended up just sort of being there. Just existing for the sake of the rather overwrought love triangle.
Crown of Midnight completely changes that. Not only does it do away with the love triangle angle deftly, but it lets both men become fully fleshed out characters, equal in many ways to Celaena in development. And adding the presence of these substantial characters to a plot line that is as engaging as it is unpredictable… well it makes for an enthralling read. End it on a massive cliffhanger, and by the time it’s finished, I can’t wait to see what Maas has in store for the next book.
In summary: This was a case of the follow-up actually being better than the original. Maas hits her stride in this book, and leaves her readers chomping at the bit for more.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Would recommend to: Anyone who enjoyed Throne of Glass well enough.
Find my Throne of Glass review here.
What did you think of Crown of Midnight?