Crown of Midnight raises the bar in the Throne of Glass series to a new high

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now I’ve hit my good reads target for 2017 I needed to have another focus to drive my reading till the end of the year and so I’m now trying to get through as many books in series I’ve started before the end of the year to try and increase my completed sets of series before the year is out. Having just started Throne of Glass a few weeks ago I decided now was the ideal time to delve back in and read Crown of Midnight, the second book in the series, before I forgot too much about it.

I enjoyed Throne of Glass and the story of Celeana Sardothien, the girl assassin who won the competition to become the King’s Champion and his trained killer. Picking up immediately after the end of Throne of Glass we follow Celeana as she begins her new job and the demands the king makes upon her to dispatch his ‘enemies’ on his behalf. All is not as it seems though as Celeana is struggling with the job as she begins to find that those she is sent to kill are not bad people but simply those who are trying their best to stop the power hungry King of Adarlan’s ongoing monopoly of their lands and the death and destruction his power brings.

Struggling with her conscience we follow Celeana as she continues to build her friendships back in the Glass Castle. She is growing closer to the Head of the King’s Guard, Chaol, and their feelings are moving towards something more than just friendship. Her best friend, Princess Nehemia, is helping her to understand the terror’s that face her people now the King of Adarlan has taken over their lands and finally she is trying to stay away from the Crown Prince Dorian who she doesn’t want to lead into danger through a close relationship with her.

This book was absolutely non-stop action. From the very first chapters it had me gripped. I liked Throne of Glass but Crown of Midnight really raised the bar on this series for me. I hadn’t grasped what the hype around this series was really all about till I read this second instalment. Whereas book one spent quite a bit of time world building and had lots of characters who came in and then left again as part of the competition to find the King’s Champion in Crown of Midnight we have a more tight knit cast, most of whom we have met before and we are all about expanding their stories and knitting them all together more.

This book was a reasonable read, at about 440 something pages but I read it in just over a day, sitting up to the small hours of the morning finishing it because I literally could not put it down. Every time I thought I’d caught my breath and it was calming down it would be off again in another direction full speed ahead. It has magic and mystery from the first book and we continue to explore the mysterious Wyrdmarks and how they link to the world of the past and present. We have a kick-ass heroine who is amazing to read about because you almost never quite know what she is going to do, you just know that it will be awesome. There is backstabbing and intrigue in the court of Adarlan, questions over who can be trusted and who cannot and that is one of my favourite aspects of the books. Finally there is a wonderful romantic element with the ongoing relationships Celeana has with both Chaol and Dorian.

The book ends with a really stunning revelation which sets up book 3 wonderfully and raises the excitement levels for what will happen next. It gives us a glimpse that the next instalment will expand the world even further and introduce even more aspects and characters than we’ve had before, including some Fae!

This book was really good, I liked it so much more than book 1, it hit all the points I needed it to and reassured me that this series does have the potential to live up to A Court of Thorns & Roses. It is a thoroughly deserved 5 out of 5 stars for this one.

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An explosive start to the Throne of Glass series

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having read and loved the Court of Thorns & Roses novels by Sarah J. Maas and with it being around a year till we can expect the next installment from that series I decided that in the meantime I should try the other series from this wonderful author, Throne of Glass. I’ve heard lots about this series as well and the reviews are very positive so with that in mind I started off the series with this first novel in what is an ongoing and developing story, Book 6 having just been released this week.

The first thing that struck me about this book was the absolute no nonsense delving into the story, right from the first page the story kicks off with Assassin Celeana being taken to meet the Crown Prince who is looking for someone to be his Champion in a contest his father the King is holding to find someone to fulfil the role of Royal Assassin. In this contest, she must compete against a variety of thieves, murderers, professional soldiers and other Assassins to win her freedom from the mines where she is currently a prisoner. This story is Celeana’s fight to win each round of the competition and to ensure that she never has to return to the brutal mines at Endovier again where she knows she will die.

The essence of this story is Celeana’s relationships with the people she meets in the royal palace, the Head of the Kings Guards Chaol who mentors her through the competition and helps her train, her relationship with the Prince, Dorian who she is building a close relationship with which could turn to more than just friendship. The other contestants in the competition, a foreign Princess in the palace who as a political pawn is trying to cope with the wrongs done to the people in her country by the King. Against this backdrop, people are being murdered in vicious circumstances and Celeana is scared she may be next.

I loved this book. I liked the sheer range of characters, there are so many we are introduced to in this novel that I’m sure we are going to learn more about through the series that you feel you can forgive Maas for not exploring all of them in depth at this stage. I like that we have a love triangle setting itself up that you cannot quite decide on which side of to fall. You want to root for both sides. Celeana is a kick ass lead character, she is feisty and strong and intelligent. You want her to succeed and we are sure that there are lots of stories still to explore about her past. I really enjoyed the introduction of paranormal elements to the story, the demons and fight against good and evil during the final duel.

I am excited to see where this story takes us next. Having read Court of Thorns & Roses and its expanding world I know how capable Maas is of building stories that are all encompassing and I can see a great deal of potential in this world and its history and the development of its future. I gave this one a 4 out of 5 stars because I have a feeling the best is yet to come.

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A beautiful conclusion to Rhysand and Feyre’s love story

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns & Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I kicked off my July reading this month with the third book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas. I’ve read this series quite quickly over the past month or so and it was my first experience of this author but I’d heard such great things that it drew me to this series and I am so glad that I did.

This third book in the series will be the final one Maas writes from the perspective of Feyre and her mate Rhysand, we are anticipating more books in the world Maas has built but they will be focusing upon different characters from the world and so this book was where Maas had to really bring together all the threads of Feyre and Rhysand’s stories and make sure she also laid the groundwork for the book that is to follow.

This means that we pick up in this book immediately after the end of Book 2, with Feyre returning to The Spring Court with Tamlin having been torn apart from her mate Rhysand. Feyre is playing double agent though and has pretended she never felt anything for Rhys and is now going with Tamlin for the sole purpose of trying to infiltrate his court and find out all she can about their alliance with Hybern and the King of Hybern’s plans to attack the human realm. This return to the Spring Court was a great opening to this book, it allows us to connect with those characters we fell in love with in Book 1, Lucien and Alis and to allow us to re-examine the relationship with Tamlin and see just how dysfunctional it could have been.

The subterfuge Feyre undertakes to cause disharmony in the Spring court is a wonderful opening to the book, the wiles she uses to make Tamlin trust her while sowing the seeds of doubt in the minds of those close to him about his actions are brilliant. Feyre has reached the point in this book where she is strong and sure of herself, she has learned much about the strength of her powers and is willing to use them to ensure she protects the human world and to get back to the night court and Rhysand.

There is so so much that happens in this book, at nearly 760 pages and each one full of so much action it would take a long long review to break down each and every plot point and would also spoil for readers who haven’t delved in yet, however, there are a few areas I feel worthy of discussion at this point.

Firstly is the way in which this world and it’s characters have expanded over the course of the three books. When I think back to A Court of Thorns and Roses I now realise how small the world Maas painted was compared to where we finish at the end of A Court of Wings and Ruin. Throughout the books she has added to the world piece by piece and book by book until at the end of this series we have met such a rich cast that the world feels truly three dimensional. This is one of the things I have loved most about this series, Maas never makes any character feel short-changed from their time on the page. She takes the time to develop them all enough, to give them light and shade and a back story that we feel engaged in them, we like or dislike them enough that we truly care about their fate. This is really exciting because as we move away from Feyre and Rhysand in this series there are so many possibilities of who we could focus upon next that it is going to be so exciting to find out who Maas may choose. Will she follow Feyre’s sisters and their mates? Will she follow the story of Myriam and Drakon, who’s story was only hinted at near the end of this book? Will she explore Lucien’s backstory and his uncovering of his heritage? Each and every option sounds amazing and this is because of the way Maas builds her characters and weaves them in so that you never feel overwhelmed or confused about who is who but she almost without you noticing builds a whole world fo you to lose yourself in.

The second thing about this book was the way in which the action unfolded, I found this book had a really strong start, it immediately was back into the story with no stopping to fill in any backstory just moving the story along. I did find a little dip around 100 pages in and I’m not sure if that was down to me and I had a little struggle for 50 pages or so then suddenly I was back the moment and I could not put this down. My husband took my children out for the day on their school holidays and I got some precious alone time and for the 4 hours they were away I read this solidly getting through 250-300 pages. When my daughter came home she asked me how I could read that long without getting bored and I said to her that this book had had me shouting out loud at it’s pages. Punching the air in joy and at it’s ending crying my eyes out. It took me through so many emotions that it left me feeling drained by the end. There were such wonderful high moments and then heartbreaking moments that Maas had been building to over the course of all the books. Characters we had only touched on had their moment in the spotlight and left us loving them in ways we never thought they would evoke from us.

Finally, I am going to be sad not to follow Feyre and Rhysand in the next book, I love them and their relationship. They have become one of my all time favourite couples in any books I’ve read because of the way in which they support each other without question through all they do. The way they each are happy to let them be their own individual people with thoughts and decisions of their own whilst they are absolutely devoted to one another. We are given a small and unusual glimpse of what is to come in their future in this book and that was one of the most touching moments for me. I would dearly love to touch on them from time to time as the series moves on but whoever Maas focuses upon next has a huge legacy to live up to in this couple. They have been a joy to follow and I know I am not alone in having them very high on my favourite literary couples list.

I am delighted I have discovered Sarah J. Maas as an author and will be taking time over the months ahead to delve into her Throne of Glass series also, although I have a couple of other series I’d like to complete and try first. I now fully understand why so many readers were excited about this series and can say these books absolutely do live up to the hype they have received.

An amazing sequel and a beautiful progression of Maas’ wonderful world

A Court of Mist and Fury
 (A Court of Thorns & Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I made no secret of the fact I loved Book 1 in this series, A Court of Thorns & Roses and so I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold off on reading this, the sequel, for too long. I had heard so many amazing things about this particular book in the series that I knew that where the first had blown me away this one would offer an extra something special that would take the story and characters to the next level.

Following on a few months after the end of A Court of Thorns & Roses, we return to the Spring Court where newly created High Fae, Feyre is preparing to marry her true love Tamlin but is struggling to cope with the events of book 1 that occurred Under The Mountain and she is also feeling suffocated by Tamlin’s overprotectiveness and is chaffing against the increasing control he is exerting over her. She also is waiting to find out if the High Lord of the Night Court, Rhysand, will ever call upon her to honour the bargain they made where she would spend one week per month with him in the night court.

Firstly, let’s talk about Tamlin. I think we all loved him in the first book, he was kind and considerate and seemed the perfect gentleman to Feyre yet in this book he seems to have undergone a character transplant and is now controlling and secretive and content to have Feyre play the role of his wife but not to do anything else. This took me a bit of getting used to as it was such a different perspective to the Tamlin we’d loved. He went from being the hero to the villain in only a few chapters and kind of left my head spinning. Of course, this character transition allows us to move him aside for the arrival of the real hero of the hour, Rhysand, the enigmatic and slightly dangerous Lord of the Night Court.

Rhysand was great even in the first book, a little darker than in this book but there was always something about him that shone off the page. Let’s not forget he was the one person to back Feyre to be able to succeed in her first trial and did have her back, even if it was in a slightly dark fashion. In this book, he comes front and centre and boy does his arrival totally take away any lingering feelings we may have for poor Tamlin. When he whisks Feyre off to his home it is with kindness and consideration that he does so and from there, his little actions towards her get more and more endearing.

This book introduced a whole raft of new characters that also help to expand the world from Book 1 and take us to a totally different area of the Faire realm as we meet Mor, Azriel, Cassian and all of Rhysands closest confidantes. The relationships between them all are wonderful to read about and each character brings something to the story that makes you feel they are worthwhile characters to invest in. I also love that we return to the mortal realm and Feyre’s family and I am really keen to see how they will feature in the third and final chapter of this book.

The plot is great, this book clearly is setting up for a final showdown in the last book in the series and we are left with a suitably intriguing cliffhanger which is heartbreaking and yet exciting. We have now so many people we care about in these stories that we need to bring all of their individual strands to a conclusion and I cannot wait to see how Sarah J. Maas does this in A Court of Wings & Ruin.

What I love most about Sarah J. Maas’s writing is that she is wonderful at creating the Faere world, she adds so many beautiful and whimsical aspects to it that you really do feel transported as a reader. She uses such great descriptive language when writing and it pulls you in and means you lose yourself completely whilst reading. It’s a very special series and I literally cannot wait to delve into the third and final novel in the trilogy.

One of my favourite books this year, a wonderful book about the world of Faire

A Court of Thorns and Roses
 (A Court of Thorns & Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The A Court of Thorns and Roses series has been everywhere in the book world this month as the release of the third and last book in this trilogy had its release in May and everyone has been going crazy to read it. The author of these books seems to be held in such high regard by book lovers I literally had to give these books a try and see if they lived up to the hype everyone has been giving them.

Categorised as Young Adult books these can often be found in the bookstore with a warning sticker on the front stating that they do contain scenes that may not be suitable for younger teen readers due to scenes of a sexual nature and I would wholeheartedly state that up front, these are not books for the younger end of the Young Adult reader market but instead should be aimed at older teens and beyond.

This story is classed as a fairy tale retelling, loosely based on the Beauty & The Beast story but having read it I’d say that whilst yes you have themes from that fairy tale in there it isn’t something that leads this book entirely or consumes the story. The story of Feyre, a young girl who lives in a poor and bleak village trying to keep her father and two sisters fed and cared for any way she can we find her at the start of the book hunting for whatever food she can to get them through the winter. She kills a wolf in the forest and brings his hide home to sell for what money she can. What she doesn’t know is that the wolf she killed is actually a faire who has crossed the border between the fairy lands and the human world. We learn that years before the human world had been ruled by the Faire and that their retreat left the human world a desolate place, but now years later more and more incidents of Faire crossing the wall and harming humans are occurring and no one knows why.

Feyre is visited by a faire who tells her that because she killed the wolf she must either die to give a life for his life or she must come with him and live in the Faire world for the rest of her life. With little option, she goes with him back to his home where she finds out that he is the High Fae and ruler of one of the seven fairy courts, his specifically is the Spring Court, but there also exists the Summer, Winter, Autumn, Dawn, Day and Night courts. Instead of being unkind to her, Feyre finds that Tamlin is kind and thoughtful and only wishes for her to be happy and content. From there we are swept into a story of their growing love for one another.

The first 70 or so pages of this book were reasonably slow paced, Maas has a huge amount of scene and character setting to do and this takes us some time to achieve so initially the action is limited instead focusing on Feyre and the circumstances of her family and the travelling to the Faire world and her becoming familiar with all the characters of that world. What happens after this initial scene setting though is just magical. Maas paints her Faire world in such vivid clarity that it springs off the pages. Each and every chapter is filled with even more colourful characters and such a wonderfully gentle way in which she develops the relationship between Tamlin and Feyre.

The entire first half of this book is set entirely in Tamlin’s Spring Court and focuses closely on this aspect of the story but we are aware all the time of shadows on the edge of this world creeping inward and that all is not well in the Faire world and that a dark shadow hangs over them all. Tamlin himself is cursed never to be able to remove the mask he wears and show his true self and Feyre is aware that something terrible cast this curse but doesn’t know what. This leads us into the action-packed second half of this book which explores this curse.

I literally devoured this book in 2 days, I could not put it down. If I wasn’t reading it I was thinking about it, it’s written so vividly that it really stays with you in your mind. The characters are really engaging and we have a great mixture of the good and evil. It struck me as being a little bit like Game of Thrones meets Beauty & The Beast. There is all the fairytale love in part 1 and then all the vicious, violent politics of the seven courts and their ruler in the second. We even have a villain so evil she’d make Cersei Lannister look like Snow White. It is breathtaking. The second half of the book is all action, there is so much adventure and danger for Feyre that she has to overcome and the introduction of great new characters that expand the world and help us to understand just where this series may be going as we move into Book 2, A Court of Mist & Fury.

There are great moments where the plot unveils itself a little more and gives you a little more information as a reader and those are the points where I was shouting at my book, those Oh My God moments that have you wanting to jump into the pages and get involved. Awful twists and turns that really affect you emotionally and such excitement.

I loved this book so much, it was spectacular. It was by far one of my favorite books I’ve read this year so far. It was so much more than just a fairy tale retelling it was the setting up of what I know is going to be an amazing series moving forward.