So, I was not very thrilled with the first book in this series. "Throne of Glass" promised an assassin, a competition, blood, blades, etc. and what we mostly got was a girl prancing around in ball gowns and fueling a frustrating love triangle. When I started to see the stellar reviews for the second book, I decided that even though the first book was not my cup of tea, I'd give the series and second chance and attempt to drudge my way through the second book. I am so glad I did.
I think the thing I appreciated about the second book most was the fact that Celaena's assassin skills really shine in the second installment. We get to see a dark, ruthless, bloodthirsty side of her that was hidden under layers of taffeta and stolen kisses in the first book. She kicks some serious ass, and the complexities that her chosen profession lend to the development of her character are just amazing. We get to see into her heart and really examine how the fighting and deaths affect her in a way that wasn't really present at all in the first book. These extra dimensions give Celaena a depth of character that is really to be admired.
Astonishingly, Celaena is not the only character in the second installment that gets more depth. Chaol and Dorian also get some much-needed development. We get further insight into Chaol's fierce loyalty and the problems it poses when he is put in situations where he must make hard choices. We get to see a side of Dorian that makes him more than just the pretty, shallow prince boy. Really the character development overall in the second installment is just wonderful. The on character I really wish had gotten a little more depth would be Nehemia. While we do learn a lot more about her life and her ambitions, I didn't feel like we got closer to her as a person.
Another thing I really loved about this book was that the love triangle all but disintegrates. Love triangles drive me absolutely crazy. And the relationship that develops between Celaena and the boy she chooses feels unbelievably sweet and honest. There were cheesy bits of course, but I think the best part of their love is the fact that it is not always about the good times, which is such a realistic portrait of what real-life relationships are all about.
I think my favorite part of the book, however, was the plot twists. There are tons of them, you never see them coming, yet nothing ever felt completely from left field either. It's almost like, in the back of your mind, you knew what was going to happen, you just didn't realize it until it was too late.
My only real gripe with this book I think would be the ending. I know, I know, it was a wonderfully shocking plot twist, but something about it just rang false with me and I cannot put my finger on exactly why. That being said, it will still be very interesting to see where the story goes in the final installment. The ending of "Crown of Midnight" definitely ends on a rather epic note, so I can only hope the final book will deliver on that promise.