Author: Sarah J. Maas
Released: August 27, 2013
Genre: YA Fantasy (Romance)
Series: Throne of Glass #2
After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king's contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes. Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king's bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she's given a task that could jeopardize everything she's come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon -- forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice. Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?I've been following Sarah on Tumblr, and though I hadn't been able to get the book until last week, I loved seeing her reblogs of fanart along with explanations of why they drew those scenes. So when I read the book, and I came to those scenes, I was able to think of those images. Which I would have thought would detract from my personal experience of the book, but it didn't. It just made it richer, like when the book says "Chaol barely made it into an empty broom closet before the sobs hit," I remembered the fanart of Chaol bent over and sobbing, and it wrenched my heart out.
The entire book wrenched my heart out. If the first book was dark, at least it had bright spots of budding romance and lighthearted banter amid the terrifying and treacherous goings-on. But this book, aside from some parts where Celaena and Chaol spend some time together as friends and then lovers - which are great, by the way - Celaena is just a mess of aching and sorrow and rage. Of course, this propels her to act, to find out what's going on and accept her task assigned by Elena, but it hurts so much.
The secret that's revealed at the end of the book - I guessed it earlier, but I think that's just because I was forced to stop reading before I was done and I had time to think about the different clues. They're there if you're sharp enough, and I was going crazy when I figured it out, but it was also amazing the way it's revealed, the way Chaol finds out just when it's too late to stop things from happening, things he set in motion but would never have had he known the truth.
The blend of action and emotion in this book is just as fantastic as in Throne of Glass. No one but the king is completely evil, and watching Celaena navigate her relationships with Dorian, Chaol, Nehemia, and eventually Archer is at first cautiously tense but eventually rip-roaringly heart-crushing. We don't always know exactly what's going on, but throughout I think I always knew whom she should trust or not, and seeing her fall into traps and subsequent overwhelming grief is just so hard to do. Of course, her tendency to react to grief by aiming a knife at someone's throat gets her into a lot more trouble, but her fearlessness - which we find out comes from a place very different than where we'd think - means that she'll go explore the deepest parts of the castle that scream "stay away" to anyone with a little less courage, and this of course leads to heart-stopping chases, fights, and magical battles.
The next book sees Celaena in a totally new environment, and I can't wait to see how she deals with a completely different part of herself. Book 3, untitled as yet, should be published sometime in 2014 - which is a really long stretch of time and I hope it's more towards the beginning than the end!