CROWN OF MIDNIGHT - Sarah J. Maas
Throne of Glass Series, Book 2
Bloomsbury USA Children's
Young Adult Fantasy (grade 7 and up)
Erilea – Once upon a time.
The King of Adarlan ordered his King's Champion, Celaena (Sell-lay-nah) Sardothien to assassinate Lord Nirall and his wife. She travels back to report her success to her king at his glass castle Rifthol. Celaena brings proof with her—the victims' badly decomposed heads. If she wants to live, Celaena must do as ordered by this tyrant overlord, but it doesn't mean she likes what she does or respects her king. Now he gives her one-month's time to kill someone who stirs rebellion, a person she admired as a child, Archer Finn.
The king outlawed all magic in the kingdoms while he continues his conquest of surrounding lands, but there is something evil in what he does; others just don't sense it. The talisman gift she wears, the Eye of Elena, was gifted from a long-dead queen and warns Celaena of danger. She is compelled to explore the castle, reading the wyrdmarks left by old magic that lead her to trouble. Her dog Fleetfoot loves and protects Celaena in its own way, and Celaena is not friendless. She shares some of her problems with her friend Nehemi, a princess from Eyllive, and some with Chaol (Kay-all) Westfall, the captain of the guards, and even the king's son, Dorian Havilliard. Both men have strong feelings for Celaena, but their support might not be enough to save her from the secrets (hints given throughout the story) of her past and those who seek to use her now.
This story is compelling, but readers need to have read the first volume, THRONE OF GLASS, to understand the background and how the relationships in this story evolved. Few players are what they seem, even Celaena, although the reader learns some of her secrets early on. Thwarted romance brews for Celaena with her attraction to the handsome captain of the guards, and with Dorian's for Celaena, which forecasts future trouble. I must say some of the gruesome assassin details seem to require an older audience, but the trouble, dilemmas, and convoluted interactions between the characters give the story intriguing appeal for all readers.