Monday, December 9, 2013

All That Power

There are some books you like, and some books you don't. There are some books you fall in love with completely, and then, sometimes those books have sequels. And on an all-too rare, rare occasion, sometimes those sequels just as amazing - and maybe even better - than the original novel. Let me put it this way: I have been stalling the writing process of this review for over two weeks because I'm still trying to process the magic that I have read.

Crown of Midnight, by Sarah J. Maas, is the dazzling sequel to last year's thrilling Throne of Glass, a novel that introduced us to the fantasy world of Erilea, the powerful and evil King of Adarlan, his handsome son Prince Dorian, gruff Captian of the Guard Chaol Westfall, the mysterious and hilarious Princess Nehemia, and most importantly, the kickass, beauitful, leaves-no-survivors (or so you think) force to be reckoned with that is Celaena Sardothien. She's finally gained the position of the King's royal assassin, but her loyalties certainly aren't to the King, the man who sent her to the saltmines of Endovier in the first place. Involved in the duplicitous dance of remaining under the hand of Erliea's malicious monarch, while still standing true to her own beliefs, as well as the people she cares about most, Celaena has a lot on her plate already, even without more magical interference. However, as evil forces gather on the horizon, our heroine is forced to make some powerful choices, about what she's willing to do to fight for what's right.

I was completely terrified of the "sophomore slump" coming into this book, which is why - no matter how excited I was - I put it off 'til Thanksgiving to read it. I was worried that there's no way the sequel could contain as much suspense, action, romance, and intrigue as the first, that there was no way the stakes could be raised quite as high, or the plot would move along quite as quickly.

And then ohmygod I caught whiplash from the vertigo-inducing pace and found myself reeling from plot twist after plot twist, careening through expertly-crafted battles of both the hand and the heart, and being drawn in by even more well-written lore and world development.

My expectations did a complete 180 degrees from what they were coming into the novel, boomeranging from high hopes and low expectations to barely hanging on the sides of my chair, as the story raced along at 100 miles per hour starting from Page 1. The stakes aren't just raised, they're jettisoned into the sky, as the characters we've already grown to care about are put in more danger than ever before. Even characters I didn't care about were suddenly thrust into peril and it made me care.

Other things Maas made me do? Swoon. Sigh. Shake my head. Rock back and forth. Bite my nails. At one memorable moment about halfway through the novel... break down in tears. Like, completely. Maas is exceptional in her abilities to make you relate to and empathize with a character - even the nearly-despicable ones - and every single member of the cast of characters is fleshed out in full.

So, in total, and in attempting to keep my super fangirl emotions in check, Crown of Midnight not only successfully continues on the already-impressive saga of Celaena Sardothien, but does so in a way that gets your heart pumping and leaves your mind spinning, while still drawing in the reader to the dynamic character development and intricate world building that made the first novel in the series, Throne of Glass, so immensely popular.

Specifically, for fans of well-written high fantasy, as well as of Maas herself, read this book, read this series, and pre-order The Assasin's Blade immediately, if you haven't already. Because it's just so totally worth it.

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