***WARNING*** This review may contain spoilers from the previous book in the series, so continue reading at your own risk! You’ve officially been warned!***
To see my review of book #1 – Throne of Glass – Click HERE
Total Star Rating: 4 Stars
The ever-amazing Throne of Glass series continues into this exciting sequel, which has so much more action, suspense, betrayal and badassery than the first book. If anyone was feeling meh about it, I sincerely suggest giving this book a try and possibly change their mind. Instead of dresses and love triangles, there’s more characterization and much more surprises!
What It’s About:
Calaena Sardothien has won the King of Adarlan’s tournament to become his champion and royal assassin, but her loyalties remain in question as she’s sent on specific missions to kill his enemies, all of whom may or may not be innocent. One target in particular, Archer Finn, is suspected to be the leader of a rebel group in search of the lost princess, Aelin Galathynius, in order to restore the lost kingdom of Terrasen, Calaena’s homeland.
Calaena also deals with the changing of her relationships with those closest to her in the castle. The most notable change is her relationship with Chaol Westfall, the Captain of the Guard. It’s obvious that they both have unreqruited feelings for each other, but where their true loyalties lie may be the thing that tears them apart.
More clues are also revealed as to what is building behind closed doors within the castle. The King is up to something sinister, and Calaena is unraveling more and more about the wyrdmarks and the answers to the riddles that reveal secrets far beyond anything she’d imagined.
Tragedy strikes, and Calaena’s word is flipped upside down. Suddenly, no one is to be trusted and she turns to unconventional means to get what she wants…
What I Liked:
The Bigger Sense of Direction! After reading this sequel, readers will be shown a much more intricately drawn out plot towards the overall story. The first novel, as it turns out, was merely setting the scene and introducing the world and characters that the author created, but this book takes it all so much further, and gives a much more exciting and unpredictable story to enjoy. The author truly stepped up her game with the characterization, the worldbuilding, and the rising tension that makes readers so eager to turn the pages to find out what happens next.
Calaena Becomes a Bigger Badass! In the first novel, readers merely caught a glimpse at the warrior that Adarlan’s top assassin is capable of. In Crown of Midnight, it’s like she’s been unleashed, and her wild, deadly ways are truly shown. She also keeps her sassy, witty, arrogant attitude that made me like her immediately and remains absolutely ruthless towards those that threaten who she cares about. She is lethal, plus there’s so many reveals for her in this story, its amazing how many secrets she actually has about herself.
The Romance! It’s no longer a love triangle, it’s a slow burn of unreqruited love between two great characters, each being torn between what they want, and where their loyalties lie. Calaena and Chaol’s relationship was filled with unexpected moments in this novel, it started off with humorous banter that makes readers ship them so hard, to much more meaningful moments that makes us think true love exists, but has a few sobering moments that make us think that romance is dead…
Dorian Gets A Twist! He may not have gotten the girl, but he did get something a little unexpected…But I’m not going to spoil it for anyone!
The Character Development! The original trio really change throughout this story; Calaena finally stops running from her past, and both Chaol and Dorian finally gain the courage to stick up to their fathers.
That Revealing Ending! It was the moment that I knew that I loved this series.
What I Didn’t Like:
Straining Relationships…Dorian became a favorite character of mine because he was as an apple that had fallen as far from the tree as physically possible from his father. Dorian is a great character; he’s handsome, he’s charming, he reads. for fun. The boy is straight up marriage material, but in this story, it felt like he was put on the backburner in terms of his relationships with Chaol and Celaena. He deals with a specific twist that’s life changing, and doesn’t know how to share that tidbit with anyone, but the other two seem too worked up in their own issues to even be decent friends to him anymore. Plus, Celaena’s relationship with Nehemia takes a downward turn at one point, and her and Chaol go from extremely high to low, it was all so surprising to be honest.
The scene had been set, so the story can finally begin! The author went above and beyond to bring more action, excitement, danger, betrayal, and surprises; it’s added a much needed new depth to the overall story. If people get past all the less than interesting first novel filled with clichés, this novel will save their interest, and believe me, the time investment that this series requires is so worth it!
Throne of Glass is just the beginning of a fast paced, high octane, seriously action packed YA fantasy series that immerses readers into a rich, complex and beautiful world full of assassins & warriors, corrupt kingdoms, scorching romance, courtly scandals/intrigue, and forbidden magic that burns with a growing need to be set free once again.
Instead of posting one long review of the whole series, I decided to break it down and review every book individually. Each book deserves it’s own post, and it’s an important series to me as it helped spark a passion in me towards reading much like the Harry Potter series (but honestly, I can’t think of anyone who’s a book enthusiast that doesn’t say the same thing about HP).
I started this series back in the spring of my freshman year at college back in 2013, so about a year after this title was released, and it’s been a huge part of me ever since. I remember of all the places to discover a book to read, it was on Pinterest where I began seeing concept art/fan art with “Throne of Glass” in the tags, so I decided to look into it and started reading it while in between events at a Track meet, and as lame as it sounds, I felt the confident swagger that Calaena protruded and it spread through me like a fan spreading flames. I was instantly hooked and wanted to see what could possibly happen next!
What It’s About:
The story starts off by introducing readers to Calaena Sardothien, formerly known as the youngest and deadliest assassin in the land of Erilea, but now she is a prisoner stuck in the salt mines of Endovier, a notorious concentration camp for only the worst criminals that had been captured.
She’s been there for about a year, physically and mentally abused into submission until any hopes and dreams of being free long gone…until one day when the crown prince, Dorian Havilliard, shows up with his Captain of the Guard, Chaol Westfall, to give her a proposition: if she competes in a 23-person tournament as his hand selected champion, wins, and becomes the King of Adarlan’s royal assassin for four years, she will earn the right to finally become a free woman. It’s the deal of a lifetime, and so she takes them up on their offer, and gives herself a fake name in order to not draw attention to herself.
Soon, she’s at Adarlan’s capital city of Rifthold, and enjoys the pleasures that being Dorian’s champion has to offer, including flirtatious run-ins with the prince himself, all while training with Chaol to condition herself back to normal after being malnourished in Endovier for about a year. It doesn’t remain that simple, and soon she discovers that something dark and malicious is at work within the walls of the glass castle…
One after another, competitors are being discovered murdered and brutally mutilated in such ways to suggest that these are no ordinary attacks, with mysterious shadows hiding terrors through the halls in the dark of the night. While dealing with her developing affections for the charming, handsome prince and the brooding, stern captain AND becoming familiar with a spirit of the past as her guide, Calaena must figure out what’s going on before whatever it is that’s killing the others becomes too powerful and comes for her…
What I Liked:
Calaena’s Sass! Girl has an attitude, and I am here for it. She quickly became one of my favorite characters in any book because she is a sassy, badass chick who smirks at any man who tries to completely control her. She has the mouthy comebacks, and asserts her place amongst the court of the glass palace in Rifthold..
The Memorable Main Characters! One thing that I know more than ever from reading Sarah J. Maas books over the years is that she creates such vivid characters with an even more amazing group dynamic. Seriously, they are squad goals! Calaena, Dorian, and Chaol are incredibly easy to get behind, and all have entertaining interactions amongst themselves that helps make the story even more entertaining.
All The Easter Eggs! I will say that there were many, many hints about what was to come later on as the series progressed. It was fun when I went back and reread it and realized how much is actually hinted at. Plenty of events happened, especially during the climax of the book, that excited the readers to want to move onto the second book and see how many answers it would give them. Evil forces are at work, and nearly all the past players have returned to restart the unfinished game that they began long ago…
The Entertainment Factor! Maas truly knows how to excite their readers, for pretty much none of the story felt boring or excessive. It gives the reader a satisfying amount while making them want more, and while its not high fantasy, it’s not absolutely mind-blowing content, but it is much fun to read.
The Good Minor Characters! There are several other characters that are introduced in the book that add so much to the bigger characters while still standing out on their own. Nox Owen is another competitor in the tournament, and Calaena grows to have him become an ally as the competition gets underway. Kaltain Rompier is a noble-born lady who serves as Calaena’s typical “mean girl” rival who also is after Prince Dorian’s affection (She’s kind of similar to Margaery Tyrell from Game of Thrones, in a sense). There’s also Elena, the spirit of the first ever Queen of Adarlan. Calaena discovers a secret passageway to an underground mausoleum dedicated to her and her husband, King Gavin, and so Elena’s spirit becomes Calaena’s guide in order to solve the mystery. Lastly, we have the proud and brash Princess from the southern region of Eyllwe, Nehemia. She instantly becomes fond of Calaena, and they quickly become a formidable duo of strong willed outsiders who help each other out. Calaena promises to teach Nehemia the common tongue of Adarlan, while Nehemia teaches her about Wyrdmarks, an ancient text linked to magical properties.
The World of Erilea! Maas, while creating some of my all time favorite characters, she also has a stunning ability to create truly believable fantasy realms that serve it’s purpose to be a part of the bigger picture of the overall story. Erilea used to be a land filled with magical beings and creatures, until the King banished all of it, and hunted down any of those who dared to defy him. With it, an appreciation for the arts is also lost, so theaters, museums, libraries, and art are all destroyed as well until only profitable, industrial businesses take favor.
What I Didn’t Like:
The Shallowness…Before people assume the worst and think I sound like a sexist, chauvinistic man…I’m talking about the fact that Calaena is supposed to be a deadly assassin. In fact, she’s supposed to be the most reputable, notorious one in all of Erilea, so why is she so consumed with what dresses to wear and how her hair is done? Her overall looks while also being overcome with the whole “does he like me?” mentality with both Dorian and Chaol seems pretty juvenile and unnecessary in this kind of setting, plus it’s become a real cliché in YA lit by now. Sure, this book was released back in 2012, so it wasn’t so overdone at that time, but it’s not even funny how often this little arc is portrayed in SO. MUCH. YA. It looks juvenile, even if it’s supposed to make the character look vulnerable and relatable and remind the audience that they’re just a young girl like some of them. At least at one points in the story, Calaena calls herself out on it and focuses on the bigger issues.
Less Than Developed Antagonists/Villains…The King of Adarlan is a cruel, arrogant, brutal man who has silenced any magic that once remained in the land of Erilea, but there isn’t really much else revealed about him. No motivation, no evil plan, nothing…he’s just another villainous man who is in charge, and it’s a wonder how Dorian is even supposed to be his son since they’re nothing alike (thank god, Dorian is not another Joffrey Baratheon). Another character is Duke Perrington, who seems to be nothing more than the King’s right hand man. They’re both present in the story, they’re obviously the bad guys, but there’s little reasoning behind it all besides the fact that they’re in powerful positions, and it’s no surprise their cruelty got them there. I know more gets revealed later on….ugh, SO much more…but at first glance, these guys are just so flat as villains!
Overall, this is a strong start to (once again) one of my all time favorite series that I have ever read. I can promise that there is SO much more to come as it evolves, and it’s so strange to look back at the beginning of it all in this first of a magnificent eight books, and how much has happened/changed from its original foundation.
While for newer readers, it may show signs of cliché YA fantasy tropes like the love triangle, the badass female protag who becomes distracted by material objects & potential love interests, and a token POC character amongst a whitewashed cast, believe me when I say that you ain’t seen nothing yet!
This series is about a young assassin named Calaena Sardothien, who’s been trapped at a concentration camp for over a year before she’s hand selected by the crown prince, Dorian Havilliard, to be his champion in a tournament in order to be the king’s royal assassin and eventually gain her freedom. Without giving too much away for those that haven’t read it yet, SO much more happens in this series, and we’re introduced to a lot of memorable characters:
My review of book #1 –Throne of Glass – Click here!
My review of book #2 – Crown of Midnight – Click here!
My review of The prequel – The Assassin’s Blade -Click here!
My review of book #4 – Queen of Shadows – Click here!
My review of Book #5 – Empire of Storms – Click here!
My review of book #6 – Tower of Dawn – Click here!
My review of book #7 – Kingdom of Ash – Click here!
Here’s my official Fancast/Dreamcast:
Calaena Sardothien: Amber Heard, or Samara Weaving
Both these blonde bombshells have that little fire in their eyes that perfectly encompass our main protagonist, Calaena! Amber Heard has been in Pineapple Express and Aquaman, and Samara was in the Netflix Halloween flick, The Babysitter. Amber was my original choice when I read the series over the years since while they were published, but I discovered Samara recently and thought she’d also make an excellent Aelin!
Dorian Havilliard: Chace Crawford, or Karl Kugelmann
So ever since I watched him be pretty boy Nate Archibald in the CW’s Gossip Girl back in the day, Chace has been a favorite of mine! he’s got the charm, he’s got the smile, and to help further my justification, it was the image of him below that had me sold on him being my Dorian!
Karl (below) is a model/Tik-Tok creator/influencer (I also can’t believe that’s a thing), and he is so stunning that I actually tear up a little if I look at him for too long! He’s like if Ian Somerhalder and Matthew Bomer had a baby together, and a lot of people are also fancasting him as Rhysand from SJM’s other series, A Court of Thorns and Roses. I see that, but personally, I think he encompasses our dashing Dorian Havilliard just a tad more.
Chaol Westfall: Steve Boyd
The guys no actor; he’s a model I found on Instagram, but he’s my version of the proud and stoic Chaol Westfall. You don’t see it in the first image I selected, but Steve has that smoldering gaze that made it easy for me to select him as another one of my favorite male SJM characters. To further prove my point, here are some more images below to enjoy for your own eyes, and maybe see where I’m coming from…you can thank me later 😉
Nehemia Ytger: Antoinette Robertson
I love her portrayal of Coco Connors in Netflix’s TV show Dear White People, so I know she’s not afraid to play a strong woman of color. She’s absolutely gorgeous, and has such a glamorous presence on screen; she’d be perfect to to play Princess Nehemia!
Kaltain Rompier: Camilla Luddington
She’s tough and spunky Jo Wilson on the later seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, but I feel like she’d also be able to play the catty and brash Kaltain. Her character starts off as the basic, interchangeable mean girl trope, but becomes much more compelling as you read Queen ofShadows, and that is where I think Camilla will excel at this role.
The King of Adarlan: Alan Van Sprang
He’s played a brutal king on the CW’s Reign, plus other titles too, so I know he’d be great at playing the sadistic King of Adarlan! Not the most original casting, I know, but the guy plays corrupt men on the thrown so well, I felt like some of us would be disappointed if he didn’t get the role!
Nox Owen: Bernardo Velasco
I’d hoped Nox would play a bigger role in the whole series because I really liked the time we had with him, short and brief as it was, but I could totally see this handsome model play the part of Nox.
Sam Cortland: Sam Claflin, or Cameron Cuffe
Both actors just fit the description I had pegged for the one character who everyone loves but only a few actually meet (At least those who read The Assassin’s Blade), and both actors have the ability to teach me love, teach me patience, and teach me pain with Sam’s terrible fate.
Archer Finn: Armie Hammer
Archer is a total pretty boy, plain and simple. He’s a male escort in Rifthold, and Armie is just so delicious to look at, and he’s surprisingly not as old as he actually looks! I’ve seen him in The Social Network, The Lone Ranger, and Call Me By Your Name.
Queen Elena: Amanda Seyfried
A lot of people have fancasted her as Calaena and/or Aelin, but I always thought she seemed too old for that part. With her being put into the list of possible names, I just came up with the idea of the actress from Mean Girls, In Time, Mamma Mia, Jennifer’s Body, and Red Riding Hood would be better suited to play the first queen of Adarlan!
Duke Perrington: Stellan Skarsgård
Stellan is a terrific actor, even if he’s never been an actor who I seek out whenever finding a movie to watch. I imagine Duke Perrington to be this more portly nobleman who just has foot soldiers do all his dirty work, but actually has SO MUCH GOING ON BENEATH THE SURFACE, I”M NOT SPOILING IT BUT OH MY GOD, please appreciate the meaning of that sentence!
Sorscha: Kelsey Asbille
I loved her as Gigi in One Tree Hill, and immediately thought of her as the healer we meet in Heir of Fire who also becomes a love interest to our favorite Prince, Dorian.
Rowan Whitethorn: Chris Hemsworth
Watching him play the god of thunder, Thor, in the MCU movies was what really gave this idea to me. I mean, he had such gorgeous long locks of hair that were so similar to Rowan’s when we initially met him in Heir of Fire, and I’d hoped he’d have kept it a little longer than he did, but nonetheless, he’s beautiful no matter what length it is! But since everyone is so NOT for this choice, here’s a visual of Thor’s hair both long like Rowan’s in Heir of Fire, and shorter like it is in Queen of Shadows and further on:
Aedion Ashryver: Josh Upshaw, or Christopher Mason
Both highly agreeable options to play Aedion, I feel no need to further justify!
Lysandra Ennar: Megan Fox, or Phoebe Tonkin
Despite people not seeming to be big of fans of Megan Fox, I’ve always liked her in whatever film I’ve seen her in. She’s type-casted as the bitchy hot girl, and Lysandra definitely starts off as that, but it’d be a great bridge for Megan, who has more ability than just being the same role! Phoebe is another great choice; catch her in the CW’s The Vampire Diaries and its spinoff, The Originals.
Manon Blackbeak: Catherine Joy Perry
So I follow SJMaas on Pinterest, and she’d pinned images of caucasian girls playing Manon, and not east asian actresses like others are casting her as. I won’t knock anyone who chooses their own fancasts, but I’m just personally going with the author based on her own visual cues.
Asterin Blackbeak: Teresa Palmer
Another fancast option that’s been mentioned for Calaena and Aelin, so I had her included in my casting as the Second-in-Command for the Thirteen in the Blackbeak clan.
Lorcan Salvaterre: Henry Cavill
I love this man…with his Netflix show, The Witcher, showing him in his white wig as the main character, Geralt, and EVERYONE was instantly like “IT’S ROWAN!!!!“… Not me, I’d already had him casted as my Lorcan!
Fenrys Moonbeam: Jason Momoa
Fenrys was by far the hardest character to cast! First, not enough artists have commissioned fanart of him, and no one else has given me satisfying fancast options of him either! Jason Momoa came up because he’s a person of color, he’s can show the cockiness to match, and Aquaman here is also just plain gorgeous! I like him being my Fenrys; give me a better actor’s name, I dare you!
Gavriel: Charlie Hunnam
He’s been in the show Sons of Anarchy and the Guy Ritchie directed flick, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. He’s got a more mature look, so I thought he was an actor of proper age to play our calmer member of the Cadre, Gavriel.
Blackbeak Patron: Jessica Lange
She’s an icon, plain and simple. Jessica usually plays homophobic old women in her roles, but I can look past that for the sake of having her play an ancient, but powerful Ironteeth Witch and patron of the Blackbeak Clan. I’m literally getting chills just thinking about it!
Elide Lochan: Nina Dobrev
Everyone knows her as Elena Gilbert and Katherine Pierce on The Vampire Diaries, but now you can also picture her as the resourceful and courageous Elide Lochan! Both characters know they aren’t the strongest players in the game, but that doesn’t stop them from sticking it to the big male alphaholes who continuously underestimate them.
Nesryn Faliq: Liza Soberano
Liza has beautiful Filipino features, and she was someone who I thought of to play the master archer, Nesryn. It’s up for debate what ethnicity she technically falls under, but I’ve always pictured her having more eastern Asian features in her appearance, plus there’s plenty of fanart to back me up, so I’m sticking with my choice!
Ren Allsbrook: Alex Libby
Ren isn’t described a whole lot in the books, so I feel like it can be pretty up in the air with whoever would portray him. I had a major crush on this model around the time we met this character in the books, so I just put a face to the name at that time. This choice could really be anyone!
Ansel of Briarcliff: Rose Leslie
If not Sophie Turner, I believe the role of Ansel should go to the other fiery redhead in Game of Thrones, Rose Leslie! I loved her portrayal of Ygritte in the hit HBO series, and even though Ansel is a little more refined and less rough around the edges, their spunk and confidence is what made this choice for me!
Queen Maeve: Kate Beckinsale
When her most famous roles include movies like the Underworld films and the Van Helsing flick with Hugh Jackman, It’s no surprise that this gorgeous, British bombshell should play the High Queen, and one of Aelin’s biggest enemies!
Erawan: Alexander Skarsgård
This is more for when we physically meet (one of) the King of the Valg, and big villain of the series, in Empire of Storms. I believe the host he took over was described as statuesque and blond and beautiful…um, so basically Alexander Skarsgård then! I find it funny that I have two Skarsgård brothers to play the big boss villain!
Captain Rolfe: Theo Theodoridis
Theo is a model I found on Pinterest of all places, plus I do believe digital artist @morgana0anagrom kind of based her commission the character off him too, so he’s a choice for me to play the Pirate Lord who we first meet in both The Assassin’s Blade, and then later on in Empire of Storms!
King Gavin Havilliard: Wes Brown
This was just kind of random choice to be completely honest, I believe I was watching Private Practice on Netflix around the time I met him in the books, as Wes was a guest star on it, and he had similar features to Dorian, so that’s how I made the choice!
King Brannon: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Love, Love, Love him as Jaime Lannister! I think by the time we get a surprise appearance of this character in the series, I was just looking for any character I could have Nikolaj play. If not King Brannon, he could also play a good Gavriel too I think!
Galan Ashryver: Jay Byars
Another character who really anyone could play I feel like…Jay was another model I discovered on Instagram around the time I met Galan in Heir of Fire, so that’s how I made this choice!
Ilias of the Silent Assassins: Kendrick Sampson
I wish Ilias was around more in the whole series! I really liked the whole Silent Assassins thread when you meet them in The Assassin’s Blade!
Yrene Towers: Kat Graham, or Tina Kunakey
Yrene Towers is one of the harder characters to fancast, just below Fenrys to be honest! There are so many different names thrown out there as to who everyone believes should play the healer that escapes to the Southern Continent, and becomes such a huge role in how the whole series wraps up! Kat Graham is a choice for me so long as she has her hair longer and lighter like in the image above, but someone on Tumblr mentioned Tina as their choice, and with her long curly hair, I do see her as a choice too!
Prince Arghun: Godfrey Gao, or Alex Landi
Godfrey Gao, who was in the Mortal Instruments movie, was my first choice to play the pompous high prince of the Southern Continent, but I was so sad to hear about his unfortunate death…the story behind it is just so tragic too! He died way too early. I have to include him, but Alex Landi is a newer choice, and you can see him on the most recent seasons of Grey’s Anatomy.
Prince Sartaq: Sam Asghari
Mr. Britney Spears is my choice for Sartaq, who is by far the best new character to come out of Tower of Dawn (You meet Yrene in The Assassin’s Blade first!) Obviously, put a wig on top of Sam’s head, but wouldn’t you swoon if you saw him flying by on the back of his noble steed, Kadara? Can Ruk’s (Giant Eagles) be referred to as noble steeds?…
Princess Hasar: Constance Wu
I first saw Constance star in Crazy, Rich Asians, and crazy enough, I also pictured her playing the exact opposite of a character as the the vicious, sharp-tongued princess and eldest daughter to Khagan, Urus. Some other fans see Hasar as more Middle Eastern, Egyptian, or Indian, but Constance really resembles how I pictured this character.
Prince Kashin: Sean Sarrantos
The handsome middle son of the Khagan, I’d found this Greek/Korean fitness model on Pinterest and it was love at first sight! Someone said he looked like an asian Ryan Reynolds, so do with what you wish with that information…I hope that’s not offensive to anyone!
Borte: Naomi Scott
Borte is one of the Ruk riders alongside Sartaq and his clan, and is described as having golden-brown skin and onyx hair, and I know Naomi is a credible actress, so I thought she’d make a great addition to my stacked cast!
Yeren: Ariel Ben Attar
In my opinion, Yeren could really be casted as anyone…for anyone who needs a reminder, he’s engaged to be married to Borte despite the fact that they can hardly stand each other, even though they’re both in the same clan of Ruk riders in Tower of Dawn.
Falkan: Aiden Gillen
We meet him in Tower of Dawn, and he’s incredibly worth mentioning based off what you learn about him later on in that book–not that I’m spoiling it in this post for anyone who possibly hasn’t read that far–and I want Aiden to play a role where I don’t hate the character too!
Bronwen: Elizabeth Blackmore
Katherine played Heretic Valerie Tulle in the seventh season of The Vampire Diaries, and I think she’d play this role very well. Not much was told about this character’s appearance, so I think it’s a little more up in the air, but since she played a notable role in Kingdom of Ash, I thought “why not?” and included her.
Arobynn Hamel: Tom Hiddleston
I had to end this fancast on a high note, and why not have the Master of the Assassins–and Aelin’s former mentor–to end it with? My first choice was originally Michael Fassbender, who’s also a lot of other fans’ choice, but I believe Tom as Loki in the MCU movies changed my mind, as Arobynn and Loki are very similar in personality and demeanor, at least in my opinion!