Author: Sarah J. Maas
Overall Rating: 4/5
Spicy Rating: 2/5
Celaena has discovered that there are some deeply shrouded mysteries within the castle, her friends, and her own family history prior to being taken in and raised by Arobynn Hammil, some of which were never meant to be uncovered. Celaena is having trouble fulfilling her role as the King’s Assassin while staying true to herself, her relationships with old and new friends are rocky and her first real love after Sam betrays her in ways she could never have imagined. Some of the characters that are most beloved do not make it to the end of the novel and I found myself hanging on to every word.
When Celaena experiences the death of yet another loved one, she can’t help but remember the loss of Sam and her grief is overwhelming, who she had become is lost in the anguish and anger of her grief.
This found family of characters that in Throne of Glass I imagined would kill the King and live on happily as allies and friends, ruling the continent, have now been divided by lies, secrets, and betrayal.
In addition to the action, intrigue, drama, and mystery rife within this book, there is also a brief interlude of romance where everything seems as if it will go perfectly and Celaena falls in love for the first time since the tragic death of Sam Cortland in Assassin’s Blade, the prequel to the Throne of Glass Series.
In addition to that, we learn about a secret kind of magic that is still possible despite the disappearance of all other magic from the realm, and Celaena learns in secret how to wield this untold power. But for some reason, one person is the exception to the disappearance of magic, and they must try desperately to learn to control their newfound abilities or risk being executed upon their discovery.
There was no point when reading this book that I knew exactly what was coming next and I loved that. There were characters that were introduced that I loved and some that I hated, character arcs were developed that left me sitting on the edge of my seat not knowing what new thing about them might be discovered that would change my opinion of them. I liked Chaol much more in this book than in Throne of Glass because he was a much more three-dimensional character, but he also made mistakes that cost him and those around him greatly and whose consequences were far-reaching.
This book gave me “dress like a princess and stab them in the back for doubting you” vibes which I loved. Celaena proved herself to be a badass with a conscience and a divine sense of retribution that was exhilarating if not necessarily politically expedient.
Nehemia’s death reminded me eerily of “fridging,” which is a term coined by Gail Simone for the act of killing off or severely traumatizing a female character for the sole purpose of providing motivation to a male character. The original term is based off of a scene in a Green Lantern comic in which the male hero returns home to find that his enemy killed his girlfriend, dismembered her body, and left it for him to find in their refrigerator. It all seems rather graphic for a children’s comic book, but then the Throne of Glass Series is a young adult book series and Nehemia’s death was also incredibly graphic.
However, the reason her death felt like “fridging” wasn’t for the typical reasons of a female character being killed off to motivate a male protagonist, because clearly Nehemia and Aelin are both female characters, and badasses at that. But rather, Nehemia was the only explicit person of color in the novels up to this point, an issue unto itself because Mass has a habit of describing characters as tan to make their race more ambiguous. Nehemia was described as “stunningly beautiful with a long and lean body. She had long black hair usually worn in thin braids, brown eyes, and creamy brown skin.” In my imagination, Nehemia looked like depictions of Ethiopian princesses.
As the only person of color in the novels, using her death for the sole purpose of motivating a white character is the same concept as fridging a female character to motivate a male character, and in the same way that fridging is traditionally sexist, this felt like Maas was being racist without even realizing the issue. Since Nehemia was the only character that was a person of color, and if we ignore Assassin’s Blade, the prequel to the Throne of Glass Series which was published after Crown of Midnight, then Nehemia was also the first character death. Am I the only one that thinks this is reminiscent of the racist trope in horror films that black characters always die first?
Overall, I think killing her off first in a gory and grotesque way that was only meant to serve the purpose of motivating Aelin detracted from Nehemia’s character overall, and it left the series feeling very blasé and distasteful. I have more thoughts on this that are related to future information that’s revealed later in the series which can be read in my review of Kingdom of Ash and in my overall review of the Throne of Glass Series.
If you enjoyed Crown of Midnight you might also enjoy the A Court of Thorns and Roses Series, the Crescent City Series, the From Blood and Ash Trilogy, The Folk of the Air Trilogy (also known as the Cruel Prince Trilogy), the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, and its follow-up the Six of Crows Duology, the Serpent and Dove Trilogy, and The Shadows Between Us.
Buy the book here:
Thriftbooks: Crown of Midnight
Half-Price Books: Crown of Midnight
Better World Books: Crown of Midnight
If you can’t afford to purchase the book, consider subscriptions like Scribd which I reviewed here, or by visiting your local library or using the app Libby to borrow books from the library digitally on your own devices.