lists, miscellaneous

#MaasMondays: Week 3 – Crown of Midnight

You guys… it is so close to April, which means it is so close to May, which means it is sooooo sooooooo very closer to A Court of Wings and Ruin. Deep breath. And now… on to week 3!

Last week we got into some discussion on Throne of Glass, and we are now onto Crown of Midnight. This is a very polarizing book… wait… I think a lot of the books are like that. But this one in particular had some heated discussion in my reading groups, especially for those that read it when it was released. And absolutely especially for the people who loved the couple of this book more than Sam or Dorian. We’ll get to that in a bit.

First, as per usual, this is a discussion rather than a review, so there will be spoilers.

Blurb:

17167166From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

Quick summary that skips many things:

Celaena is now the King’s Champion and one thing she is not doing is actually killing the people that she is sent to kill. Her relationship with Dorian is on the rocks since they broke up. Chaol’s relationship is also on the rocks with Dorian because he steps into the boyfriend role with Celaena, forcing Dorian to get over their break up. Celaena has regained enough freedom to go shopping for the fancy dresses, shoes, hats and all the finer things like bath toiletries that she loves. Meanwhile there is still trouble in the crypt and the dead Fae queen isn’t leaving Celaena alone. Nehemia dies. Gruesomely. Chaos ensues. And in the end, Chaol and Celaena part ways at the docks as she boards a ship to Wendlyn on an assassination mission. She uses a Sam quote here too, which may make you think he stands a chance when she returns.

Phew. Not the shortest summary I could’ve written, but shorter than last week.

The Couple of Crown of Midnight:

The couple of this book is Chaol and Celaena. There are a lot of die-hard Chaol fans, as a lot of people shipped this relationship in the first book because he has that neglected, kicked-puppy, defers-to-his-best-friend, tough-but-lovable kinda thing going on. Chaol is easy to like, I will give you all that. But Celaena has to take the lead during their courtship phase. And that’s fun to some extent, but he seemed to struggle with his worthiness a little too long.

Chaol sees the strength and spirit in Celaena, but he wants her to be something she is not, in my opinion. He wants a happily ever after, but more than that he wants to remain true to himself… and for him, that means putting his loyalty to Adarlan over her. So when it matters, when he is ordered to do so… when he has a chance to warn Celaena that there is a plot to kill Nehemia, he doesn’t tell her.

Many will disagree, and have disagreed, but he did betray her. True, it went so quickly that he didn’t have a lot of time. True, if she loved him that much, she could have been a little more understanding (maybe?). Either way, Nehemia’s death shatters their relationship. Mind you, I know I’m saying this as someone who is not invested in the Chaol/Celaena ship, but I did enjoy their relationship. It needed to happen. They needed each other for that time, and they were perfect for each other in those moments. It helped them each grow.

The Best Moments of Crown of Midnight for me:

  • Mort – he provided some much needed comic relief
  • Chaol’s Birthday
  • The Celaena / Aelin plot reveal
  • The carnival
  • Dorian and Celaena mending their friendship
  • Celaena vs. Grave
  • Celaena vs. Everyone in the Warehouse
  • Celaena vs. Baba Yellowlegs

If you felt like Throne of Glass was slow, chances are, the speed of Crown of Midnight was perfect for you. And if you are like me, everything felt like it came to a crashing halt when Nehemia died. I read those pages a few times before moving on with the book. It was a shocking character death, and it was so soon after Celaena was admittedly happy, I was in disbelief. So I put the book down for a few hours, and then had to read the rest before I could be bothered to go to sleep. Plus Celaena got to show her dark side. All of her assassin’s training came out in FORCE.

I think what I mostly liked about Crown of Midnight was Celaena’s freedom. She is out of the castle, she’s not in Endovier, she’s not in training underneath Arobynn. She is free to travel, to go on missions, to go all over Adarlan, to recapture a bit of herself again. True, she is working for the king. But she is being rebellious in that role. I love that she is weighing the costs of killing those the king would have killed versus the cost of her own life if she is caught. She hates the king, but she knows how dangerous he is and walks this fine line throughout her missions.

I love that Maas’ characters are finding their way, and at the same time making awful (and sometimes incredible) humanizing mistakes that could make or break them. This book reminds us that people don’t always make the right choice. In the real world, that is as true as anything. I prefer my characters to not know the answers instinctively, I prefer them to have to stagger through some tasks blindly, and to think they have everything planned but also didn’t see factor X. If they know everything and just win win win, that’s not real. It’s not believable. And this book, to me, is proof. You get so much more engaged in the story when they have victories and losses.

Crown of Midnight is a great ride, but still… not yet my favorite of the series. (That comes very soon!) What is your favorite part of CoM?

Some of my favorite CoM Quotes:

“Because,” she whispered, her voice shaking, “you remind me of what the world ought to be. What the world can be.”

“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.
So Dorian closed his eyes, and took another long breath. And when he opened his eyes, he let her go.”

“When you do, I want you to remember that it wouldn’t have made any difference to me. It’s never made any difference to me when it came to you. I’d still pick you. I’ll always pick you.”

“I know you can look after yourself. But I worry because I care. Gods help me, I know I shouldn’t, but I do. So I will always tell you to be careful, because I will always care what happens.”

“But no matter what I did, Elentiya, I want you to know that in the darkness of the past ten years, you were one of the bright lights for me. Do not let that light go out.”

“Nehemia was gone. That vibrant, fierce, loving soul; the princess who had been called the Light of Eyllwe; the woman who had been a beacon of hope—just like that, as if she were no more than a wisp of candlelight, she was gone.
When it had mattered most Celaena hadn’t been there.
Nehemia was gone.”

“She was a whirlwind of steel and blood. As he watched her cut through the men as though they were stalks of wheat in a field, he understood how she had gotten so close to touching Endovier’s wall that day. And at last-after all these months-he saw the lethal predator he’d expected to find in the mines. there was nothing human in her eyes, nothing remotely merciful. It froze his heart.”

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