I reluctantly own up to the fact that I can be outwardly dismissive of books. When I got my copy of Throne of Glass last year for my company’s Best of the Year list, I initially dismissed it largely based on the cover. Because the hardcover cover for Throne of Glass looks boring and bland. (I’m debating on just buying the paperback because THAT cover is awesome. That is how I imagine Celaena.) And after a slow build-up at first, I ended falling in love with Throne of Glass and had to download the prequels and wait for Book #2 to come out.It is worth saying that this a book where the bulk of the plot is centered around Celaena’s relationships with the men in her life while the actual plot meanders in the background. And admittedly, there were points when I thought “Okay get on with it.” But considering the fact that the larger plot involves Celaena trying to uncover lost information that very few people are willing to actually talk about, it doesn’t bug me as much. (Although having Mort the enchanted doorknocker who knows what’s going on but refuses to say anything was equal parts funny and frustrating. Was I the only one who was reminded of the skeleton guard from The Last Unicorn with him? Because Mort had that vibe.) However, I did really like some of the plot twists thrown at the readers, even when I called them five or six pages after the set up was introduced. Like Celaena turning out to be Aelin Galathynius, for example. WHICH I HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT—how in the hell does that work out, especially since we’re in Celaena’s head for the majority of the book? I know we got hints that Celaena wanted to avenge her parents, but there’s no hint of her being fae and my brain kind of hurts if I think about it too long. I do give Maas’s writing credit, though, as the lead up to Chaol’s discovery of her identity had me hooked and she does do a fair job of misdirection up until that point. Nehemia’s death, on the other hand, I did not see coming. It’s not only a huge plot twist for the reader, but it feels right in the context of the book as well. But still…I really wanted Celaena and Chaol to save the day. Instead, I get kicked in the heart. A lot.But the thing that I do have to applaud Maas here for is that despite the chunk of the plot revolving around Celaena and the two men in her life, it actually works really well. In a category that is overflowing with bland, unnecessary love triangles and forcing the bland heroine (read: readers) to choose between equally bland leads, Maas is an exception that proves the rule. The relationships between Celaena, Chaol and Dorian were extremely well-defined and set-up in the first book, and gave both male leads a chance to shine without feeling repetitive or boring. And even then, you could honestly see Celaena end up with either lead, and it would still work really well; there’s no obvious push for Chaol or Dorian. This, people, is how you do a love triangle.And Maas takes it further with the respective character development in Crown of Midnight. In most other YA love triangles, when the heroine starts cozying up to her choice of hero, the spare turns into an asshole and a huge pissing contest ensues. Here, when Dorian realizes that Celaena and Chaol are in love with each other, he lets it go. He cares about his friend’s happiness, and if that means letting go of a girl he loves (and knows that he’ll never be with ultimately), then Dorian will be there to support both Celaena and Chaol in their relationship. And yes, Celaena is *one* of the reasons why Chaol and Dorian’s friendship begins to fray, but the larger context is that the two aren’t sure if they can trust each other anymore. Yes, Dorian does take Celaena’s side after Nehemia’s death, but it’s because of what Chaol knew. Not to mention, Chaol is willing to risk his friendship to Dorian to do what’s right for the kingdom and save Erilea; again, while Celaena is a reason why Chaol does what he does, it’s not the defining reason.(All right, I have to squee here: THE DANCE! Omg the dance. *squee* I have smooshy feels for Celaena/Chaol.Also, THANKS FOR THE THING SARAH J. MAAS because I was totally beginning to ship Nehemia/Dorian and NO THAT THING HAD TO HAPPEN GAH. WHY.…*cough* Moving on…)If there is a major weak point in the two books overall, I don’t like the overall main plot line. Fighting against the corrupt king, fine; restore magic back to the kingdom, okay—except that we never learn what the king’s plans are and what his ultimate end game is. And it is frustrating, moreso here, because I want to know what exactly he’s doing and what that’s going to mean for the rest of the kingdom. The revelation of the realm gates comes far too late in the book for any major impact, and the only progress we get from that is the revelation of Celaena’s Fae form and her further identity. While it wasn’t really explained in the first book, I was willing to forgive it because the story was more on Celaena’s fight for survival. But in Crown of Midnight, so much is centered around her infiltration of a rebel group and trying to uncover the king’s plans that the lack of any explanation is a major sticking point. I’m really not looking forward to a massive info-dump—or worse, villain monologue-- on the entire backstory in the third book. And even though I just praised Maas for the handling of her love triangle, the fact that it takes precedent over the actual plot is rather grating. If you really liked the first book like I did, especially Celaena’s respective relationships with Chaol and Dorian, you are really going to like this book. However, for those of you looking for answers, I do have to warn that there’s not a lot answered in this book and while what we do get pays off, the amount of time spent on the romance aspect is frustrating in that context. However, the plot itself is very well-paced and structured, punctuated with great action scenes to liven things up every once in a while. (Celaena’s rescue of Chaol is definitely her CMOA thus far.) As for me, I will be impatiently waiting for book 3, whilst eyeing The Assassin and the Empire, because I don’t want this to end.