This was a much better continuation of the series. ‘Crown of Midnight‘ nearly lost me, but I’d already bought all the novels at that point because I’d enjoyed the first one so much. ‘Heir of Fire‘ rekindled my interest, though parts of Celaena’s now apparent characterisation still really annoyed me. She was now being cast as a simpering waif who just felt really sorry for herself, when this wasn’t how she was portrayed in the first novel at all. ‘Queen of Shadows‘ returned more to the tone and overall feel of the first novel, so I thoroughly enjoyed reading it – however there were some things that grated on me.
I like the fact Sarah J Maas has started telling other chapters from other characters’ points of view. It means that the things that annoy me about Celeana – or Aelin as she has now dubbed herself in her chapters – aren’t as grating. I especially loved the chapters told from Dorian’s perspective, and those shared between Manon Blackbeak and Elide. These give us an extra layer to Maas’ narrative, and personally I find Manon a much more entertaining character.
What I liked about Celeana in ‘Throne of Glass‘ was the fact that Maas didn’t shy away from the fact Celaena was meant to be one of the best assassins in her field. I still like that about this series, don’t get me wrong – the only issue with it is Maas runs the risk of pushing Celaena into the Mary Sue category as a character by doing this. A Mary Sue character is a 2D character with no depth who is absolutely amazing at everything, and everyone automatically loves them for no apparent reason, or characters hate them for no apparent reason – they basically have such poor characterisation that they are in no way believable as a character. Unfortunately, Maas seems to be heading this way with Celaena. Rowan and Aedion for some reason automatically worship the ground she walks on without really any reason – Aedion is meant to be her cousin but hasn’t seen her for ten years, so won’t have any idea what kind of a person she is. Rowan at first displayed contempt towards her, then all of a sudden in the last book changes his mind and likes her, and for some reason in this book has developed overwhelming sexual feelings towards her and this might be me being petty but there is no explained reasoning for any of this. It just seems Rowan has automatically fallen for Celaena just because she’s this amazing Mary Sue character – which really annoyed me because I loved her character in the first novel!
Maas also seemed to be taking Chaol down the same simpering waif route, which annoyed me because I liked his character. I mean really?? Just have him as a rebel sympathiser without the added moping rubbish, because it completely jarred with his character. Yes he would be upset at the loss of his friend Dorian, but it would be much more effective for him to just get on with his story and try to find a way to free Dorian. Maas seemed to be using as much of Chaol’s chapters as possible to shove in readers’ faces that he’s never going to go out with Celaena. I liked Nesryn as a character, but she had blatantly only been shoved into the narrative to stop readers shipping Chaol and Celaena together. It really does feel like Maas is just plotting as she goes from book to book at times, rather than have an overarching plot arc thought out well in advance. It’s just really annoying as this romantic aspect to the plot which Maas is trying to add really jarred on me when I read it. It’s just the way she’s trying to write this in – it’s just coming across as a really clumsy way to do it. Maybe that’s why I loved Manon’s chapters so much because there wasn’t a romantic interest! It made her story so much more interesting. It’s almost as if Maas feels that her main characters must have a romance plot line otherwise they won’t be interesting, but that just isn’t the case. I much preferred Celaena when she didn’t have any romantic crap going on.
The plot was much stronger in this novel – it was more gripping than ‘Crown of Midnight’, and more interesting plot wise than ‘Heir of Fire’ though the third novel did get better towards the end. I loved Manon Blackbeak’s chapters as I love the Blackbeak culture! I loved how Manon was debating whether to follow orders from her Grandmother when she felt they were the wrong thing to do. I really loved how her character developed through out this novel! Plus these chapters gave us more of an idea what the King of Adarlan was up to, which was infinitely more interesting than Celaena’s love life.
The plot was so much more gripping – the parts of Celaena’s narrative which I did like were the ones when she was going after Arobynn. I loved their entire interaction, as this was a much more interesting aspect of Celaena’s life. I loved the new character Lysandra, but again her interaction didn’t quite sit right with me. They were introduced as life long enemies, and all of a sudden Lysandra changed her mind and thought “Actually I like you!” That just wouldn’t happen. I did love her character though, so I overlooked that massive plot hole. If they had disliked each other in their previous lives before these novels take place, they still would have felt a dislike towards one another.
I loved the ending! Both in Morath with Kaltain and the Blackbeaks – a beautiful way to stall what was happening under the mountain! – as well as the plot twist surrounding the King of Adarlan’s motivations. I looooved that plot twist and did not see it coming! Though thinking back over the hint of the black rings, it seemed fairly obvious once it had been revealed. Though I liked this plot twist, there was still the hint as to whether the King was actually telling the truth. Plus with the nostalgic ending with Aelin, it was a much better book than the last two! I can’t wait to read ‘Empire of Storms‘ to find out what happens next.
Though there were some things that annoyed me, I would give it a 4/5. I’ll probably overlook the niggles about Celaena’s charactisation because there are so many other characters I enjoy reading about, and I really want to find out what’s going to happen next. I think Manon has to be my absolute fav.