This just satisfied the Mexican soap lover in me a little too well.
To be honest, I really had no plans of getting on board this series and only got curious enough when the second book came out and everyone's saying "it's the shit!" So I read Throne of Glass while dreaming of Crown of Midnight.
Now I'm a little scared of starting the second book because if I liked this one THIS much, what will become of me after CoM? Ah yes, the impending book hangover that you don't want to have but will plummet blindly into anyway because whether to continue isn't really a multiple choice question.
I have to admit, High Fantasy is starting to get on this habit of making me accept tropes that I usually scoff at. Case in Point 1: The fantasy equivalent of The Cool Girl Heroine Stereotype. So if Contemporary Romance's current wet dream is the hot brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, doesn't mind dirty jokes and burping, video games and cheap beer, High Fantasy is dating the deadly but funny assassin who also just happens to have shiny hair, pretty eyes, loves books and dogs.
Meet Celaena Sardothien.
She could scale a wall with ease, and had even demonstrated by climbing up to her own balcony with nothing but her bare hands.
But what's different with Celaena is that she's also very much an eighteen year old girl who isn't all doom, gloom and sorrow after being enslaved in the horrific conditions of Endovier. She is the renowned and notorious Assassin of Ardalan and she is given the chance at winning her freedom by besting the most nefarious criminals from all over Erilea in a competition to be the King's Champion. She is obviously the best among the group but at the same time, she thinks of kissing boys and wearing pretty dresses and attending parties and dancing. And of course, since this is High Fantasy, Case in Point Number 2: she's pitted in the middle of a love triangle between the dreamy, though slightly spineless, Prince Dorian and the just plain dreamy Captain of the Guard Chaol.
And I am ashamed to say that I may have enjoyed the build up to the triangle a little too much. Dude, sword trumps puppy. The development of the relationship was believable, the scenes were tad bit cliched and, there were some eye-roll worthy moments but I didn't want to hurt anybody while reading this so… major yay! Celaena's dialogue and chemistry with both Dorian and Chaol were on equal footing though, even without mentioning anything about both characters, it's already a given who the reader will gravitate to. I'm not conflicted at all as I was in Shadow and Bone (or Siege and Storm for that matter), the choice is pretty clear.
But I so do love it when the author tries to bribe me to like the other guy. It's like the New York Time Bestseller List repeatedly trying to tell me what to read.
Or it could just be the masterful winding path to a glorious HEA. Which ever may be the case this was loads of fun. It reminded me a lot of what I was hoping for Grave Mercy except here the court intrigue is more juicy and scandalous, Celaena gets to be the arrogant, swaggering badass her notoriety entails and the mystery surrounding her didn't hamper the plot moving forward. I liked that. I wasn't burdened by figuring out what happened in her past because that's not what this is about. Yet. I was far too invested with what's going on in the present but not to the detriment of the characters.
I was a little disappointed with how predictable the Tournament ended up being. I think I was expecting either more Goblet of Fire-esque creativity or just gory violence. I can blame it on TV/Film violence, but I was definitely not expecting The (Male) Assassin Olympics to be so PG-13 (nobody even got to survive against an angry bear! WTF Sarah Maas!). And while I did like Celaena, I think some elements in her character didn't mesh well with each other. I guess I was expecting a small bit of ruthlessness. True, her semi-sunny disposition after that 1-year in Endovier could be argued as strength in her will and character, it also counters that bit of sympathetic angst in me for her. Every time her scars or her experience as a slave gets mentioned, I just feel… meh.
The mystery was not that much of a mystery, there were A LOT of telenovela plot executions and the paranormal aspects isn't particularly groundbreaking but these didn't bother me much. It eased a lot of the burden away from the storyline and the intensity wasn't forcing to take this too seriously which allowed me to tether my feelings to the characters better.
It was just a lot of fun.
Such an unusual feeling after finishing this. I am going straight into the next book, not because of any cliffhanger (this ended clean) but because I can't wait to see how Crown of Midnight can up the ante from something as awesome as this one.