From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Celaena knows the man she serves is bent on evil. Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realises she isn't the only one seeking justice.
As she untangles the mysteries buried within the castle, it seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not Prince Dorian; not Chaol; not even Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Spoiler Warning! This review contains spoilers relating to earlier books in the series. Read at own risk.

I didn’t think I could love Sarah J. Maas’ writing more than I did after Throne of Glass but, it seems I was wrong. The second installation of Maas’ Throne of Glass series offers a whole new world of insight into the life of Celaena Sardothien and delivers endless heart-stopping twists that kept me on my toes the entire time and made me dread the moment I would have to put down the book. What a ride!!!

After surviving the brutal trials in Throne of Glass, Celaena begins fulfilling her new role as the King’s Champion, working alongside the King, the man who took everything from her and her people, as his personal assassin. But Celaena is playing a deadly game. In no way loyal to the King, Celaena works to uncover the mysteries he works so hard to protect, which could mean facing not only her past, but also the possibility of a far more terrifying future. But she is not the only one seeking justice for the King’s tyranny, and keeping her movements hidden becomes progressively more challenging.  As she starts to unravel the endless secrets concealed within the walls of the glass castle, even her closest companions begin to question her actions. It is time for Celaena to decide who she is and where her allegiance lies.

This book has something for everyone, complete with romance, adventure, action, fantasy, comedy and politics. I don’t know what more one could ask for.

There are three massive things that this novel has that so few YA fantasy books include and I absolutely love Sarah J. Maas for incorporating:

Firstly, Celaena’s characterisation absolutely makes this book and she completely tears down the stereotypes for what girls should be like. She is an assassin who can go from that gentle lady sitting across the room to ruthless killer with a knife at your throat in about two seconds. She has been trained to kill and harm people yet she cares about people, is loyal to those she loves and would never hurt someone innocent if she could help it. More than that, her taste for luxury is so realistic and her love of herself is so empowering. At last we have a female lead who doesn’t hate herself, and isn’t shamed for loving the way she looks. This is the first time I've read a series that has said, it is okay to be confident in yourself and you don’t need anyone else to tell you how smart, beautiful and funny you are to believe it.

The second is girls defending girls! HALLELUJAH! While, yes, there are still a couple of catty, mean girls just looking to improve their situation, most of the lovely ladies actually stick up for each other and support each other. I so admire Maas for creating a female character who doesn’t look down on other women who are just working to get through the days. She doesn’t dislike servants, maids or prostitutes, doesn’t sneer at them or think of them as useless just because they aren’t doing more. And that is because she has been there, struggling to pay off her debts and doing anything to be free. Also, it is far too rare in YA novels, particularly fantasy, for female leads to have really close female friends, and it is downright unrealistic. But not the Throne of Glass series! Celaena and Nehemia become quick friends, remaining loyal to each other and working as each other’s primary confidants. Perhaps what I love most about Nehemia and Celaena’s friendship is that, despite knowing that they both have secrets, which they refuse to reveal no matter how cherished they become, they completely trust each other to always do what is best.

The third thing that I love is the realistic relationships between Celaena and her love interests. Some people may consider this be an unpopular opinion but I absolutely adore the fact that she doesn’t end up with the first person she falls in love with. While it is obvious that she cares for Dorian, she doesn’t go back to him.  They both recognise that their relationship would just be too hard and work to find a way to continue as good friends. It was amazing to see their friendship grow into a relationship of absolute trust and I so admire Dorian for the way he just accepts Celaena for who she is, he accepts the assassin, the lady with a taste for finery, the King’s Champion and the avenging warrior. He understands the masks she must don, forgives her pain and never attempts to control her.  He may love her, but he isn't going to hold on and they can both satisfy each other with being book buddies.

He would move on. Because he would not be like the ancient kings in the song and keep her for himself. She deserved a loyal, brave knight who saw her for what she was and did not fear her. And he deserved someone who would look at him like that, even if the love wouldn't be the same, even if the girl wouldn't be her.

Some of the characters in this book are difficult to place but Chaol would have to be the hardest. The love interest in this book, I have never really known what to think of Chaol.  His unflinching loyalty the king, constant seriousness and initial aversion to Celaena made me a bit hesitant in liking him. And, I am sad to say, this book didn’t change my feelings towards him. Despite his seriousness, his relationship with Dorian opens up a soft and warm side of him which gave me a lot of hope for his character. Alas, Chaol doesn’t seem to be able to accept Celaena for who she is, he carries all these biases against her that he just can’t see past. The way I see it, Chaol fell in love with a fraction of Celaena knowing there was more to her and then, when she revealed who she was, he couldn't handle it because it isn’t her. He loves the light in her but can’t push himself to even accept the dark.

But he had no idea what sort of darkness lurked inside her, or what sort of monster she was willing to become in order to make things right.

Well, this book was definitely not what I was expecting. Crown of Midnight is one of the greatest books I have read this year and I would recommend this series to just about anyone. A riveting plot, amazing characterisation, realistic relationships and a truly kickass heroine, putting this novel down was one of the hardest things I’ve done in a while.

But death was her curse and her gift, and death had been her good friend these long, long years.

Rating: 5/5

Do yourself a huge favour and go grab this book from Amazon or Book Depository, you know you want to!