‘Before she was deadly, now she is unstoppable’ shouts the copyline on Crown of Midnight, the second in Sarah J Maas’ fantasy series Throne of Glass. Phew, never was truer line written on cover. Celeana, still only 16 but accomplished assassin, slashes and hacks her way through a variety of opponents during the course of the book, emerging bloody but unbowed after each encounter.
I enjoyed the first book in the series, though there were times when the action slowed or even felt a little repetitive. There is much more going on in this book and the various different storylines are brought together nicely. The King of Ardalan is cruel and ruthless, and when he sends Celeana to crush an underground resistance movement she has a whole new set of challenges to meet. At the same time, she is discovering more about the hidden chambers of the castle, and the remains of the magic that built it. She will lose a friend and have her heart broken by the end of the book.
This is not a book for the faint-hearted – the fight scenes (and there are plenty) are pretty gory. But it’s a genuinely thrilling read, not short of humour and full of appealing characters. Maas tells her story with considerable verve. She does the romance very well too. Celeana is loved by both the prince and the captain of her guard, and though she seems to have made her choice the situation is by no means resolved at the end of the story. There’s another episode to come so we can hope she finds a happy ever after.
For readers though, the real love interest has got to be Celeana herself: beautiful, clever, honourable, funny, loving, and the best swords-person in the land! Maas has described this as a Cinderella story, and while it promises rags to riches, there’s no way this heroine would sit at home waiting for a prince to save her. On the contrary, she’s the one to do the saving, the one with all the power. We want to be her because, as the cover proclaims, she’s unstoppable. There’s a lot to like here, and I’m looking forward to the next volume.