Read a full summary of Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas below. If you can’t remember what happened in Crown of Midnight and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.
EVERYTHING IS AWESOME AND THEN EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE AND THEN EVERYTHING IS AWESOME MY HEARTTTTTT. Oh. You’re here for the actual recap. Okay then. Celaena is now the King’s Champion and is supposed to stop a secret rebel movement against him. Her target is Archer Finn, a courtesan she used to know, but because she isn’t actually killing her targets, she tells him to give her information in exchange for faking his death. Mysterious things are going on: Celaena finds out about an evil creature living in the castle library, and a riddle in Elena’s tomb teaches her about the fact that there are Wyrdkeys to open the Wyrdgate (which basically opens all the realms aka they’re pretty much doomed if the king finds all three keys), and Dorian finds out he has magic. Celaena and Chaol hit it off and get together, but then Nehemia gets murdered (CRYING FOREVER) and Celaena blames Chaol for not telling her there had been threats against her. Celaena snaps. She opens a portal and unleases a monster (accidentally) and we find out she is actually Fae. Archer is a betraying bastard who killed Nehemia, and Celaena kills him. Then Chaol sends her to Wendlyn (land of the Fae) to keep her safe, but then finds out she is actually the long lost Queen of Terrasen. DUN DUN DUN.
What happened in Crown of Midnight?
- As you may remember, Celaena won the battle in Throne of Glass and is now the King’s Champion, which basically means she has to kill everyone he wants her to kill. Except… she doesn’t actually kill any of them. No, she has started faking their deaths, because unlike what she thinks of herself, she’s not a monster.
- Celaena and Nehemia are BFFs. They discuss the rebellion, and Nehemia promises to teach Celaena how to use Wyrdmarks. The King tells Celaena to kill Archer Finn, a courtesan she used to know from her time with Arobynn Hamel, because the King thinks there’s a secret movement against him (spoiler alert: he’s right). Celaena asks for more time, so she can get information from Archer about this movement.
- Chaol and Celaena get closer and closer. Thinks are a bit awkward with Dorian, but Dorian later decides to let Celaena go. They would never work out for spoilery reasons (see the end of this recap) but also it’s pretty damn obvious Celaena and Chaol are in love with each other.
- Dorian’s annoying cousin Roland comes to visit. We don’t like him. He joins the King’s counsil for whatever reasons, although Celaena notices that he wears a black ring that the King himself, Duke Perrington (his most trusted advisor and type A asshole) and Cain (Perrington’s former Champion, who is kind of dead) wear. Hmmm.
- Celaena is hanging out in Chaol’s room and they start talking about people they loved. Celaena tells him about Sam and Chaol tells her about a girl he used to love that Roland stole from him. Then they also talk about Rourke Farran, the asshole who killed Sam in The Assassin’s Blade, and how Farran has been dead for nine months. Chaol tells her that Farran was murdered by Wesley (PRECIOUS WESLEY), Arobynn Hamel’s former bodyguard who tried to warn Celaena that getting revenge on Farran was a trap, a trap which lead to her being sent to Endovier. Then Chaol tells her that Wesley is dead as well, murdered by Arobynn and spiked on the gates of Farran’s house. Celaena finally lets herself consider the fact that it was Arobynn who betrayed her over a year ago (duh).
- In the middle of the night when Celaena is casually wandering the castle she sees a mysterious cloaked creature outside the library and the Eye of Elena starts to glow (you know, the necklace she got from Queen Elena’s ghost to tell her when evil things are happening?). Dun dun dun.
- Celaena goes off to find Elena in her tomb to get some answers, but the door knocker starts to talk to her. Which is not supposed to happen, since, you know, magic is supposed to be gone. Well, the door knocker is persistent. His name is Mort and he tells Celaena that she is now in a position of power and the fate of the world is bound to her. No pressure or anything. Elena doesn’t show up because her last visits have weakened her.
- Celaena decides to conveniently run into Archer Finn, and Chaol comes with her because he’s protective and jealous. Archer and Celaena decide to have dinner the next night, and he’s not suspicious at all. Fool.
- Celaena learns that Lady Kaltain, the one who poisoned her during her final battle in Throne of Glass, is imprisoned and she goes for a visit. Kaltain says that something is coming and that she hears the sound of wings in her dreams, and she seems to have lost it a little, but Kaltain also wonders whether the King and Perrington brought her to the castle not just to marry Perrington, but for a bigger purpose. Later, Celaena finds out that Kaltain’s family used to have magic, or at least some kind of power, and that that might be the reason the King has brought her to Rifthold.
- Celaena has dinner with Archer and it’s all fun and games until she tells him she’s supposed to kill him. Archer begs her to spare him in exchange for information about a rebel group who wants to put Aelin Galathynius, the heir of Terrasen, back on the throne. Even though the fact that Aelin is alive should be impossible, because she was murdered ten years ago, Celaena decides to give him to the end of the month to fake his own death and flee the city, and meanwhile, give her all the information.
- Celaena and Archer go to a ball at one of his client’s houses so Celaena can spy. She breaks into the guy’s office (and finds a riddle in one of his books: “It is only with the eye that one can see rightly.”) but the guy (Davis) comes in and stabs her with a poisoned sword. Celaena goes oh hell no and guts him. Then she runs back to the castle before she passes out from the poison. She goes straight to Chaol’s room because she feels safe there, and he gets a healer for her. She gets better, because she told him which poison Davis used (gloriella, the same poison Farran used to paralyze her before he handed her over to the King, and the same one he used to kill Sam. SOBS).
- When she’s better, Celaena goes to the library to search for the creepy thing, because why not. She finds a hidden door in a hidden stairwell and it’s all very creepy. The stairwell has painting of Fae all over it, and the door is locked. Also, it’s made entirely of iron, which is the only thing that can keep magic out.
- Singer Rena Goldsmith performs at the castle, but she sings a song about magic and Fae and she gets killed by the guards. She doesn’t care though, because all her family members have been murdered because of magic. It’s all so damn tragic.
- Nehemia accuses Celaena of becoming the king’s puppet, so Celaena tells Nehemia she hasn’t actually killed anyone. She also tells her about the riddle in Davis’s book and shows her Elena’s chamber. They try to figure out the riddle but they can’t, but at least Nehemia can figure it out with her. They find an eye shaped Wyrdmark in the wall which you can only see from a certain angle, but when they look through it, they only see another wall. Hmmm.
- Celaena has to stand guard during the Royal Ball and she starts dancing on her own because she’s so damn bored, but then Chaol comes outside and they dance together and it’s adorable. Meanwhile, Nehemia and Dorian watch and Dorian decides to let Celaena go, and then Nehemia tells him that there’s something within him waiting to get out (spoiler: HE’S GOT THE MAGIC).
- Dorian has to sit through his father’s counsil meetings and he starts getting more and more involved in politics. He finds out that there are many slaves in the mines of Calculla and Endovier, and he rages at his father and the counsil for allowing these people to suffer. Basically, he starts thinking about how he could make the kingdom better if he were king and it’s all so amazing, until he basically explodes from anger after the meeting and blows up a wall. Oh hello, magic. SO AWESOME.
- Chaol gets Celaena chocolate cake. This is an important detail. Also, there’s a threat to Nehemia’s life and the king is a little threatened by her as well, but Chaol doesn’t tell Celaena about this because he doesn’t want the king to question where his loyalties lie.
- There’s a carnival coming to the castle grounds for Dorian’s spoiled brat of a brother, Hollin, and it turns out there’s a Ironteeth Witch among them. Here’s what’s up with the witches: they live in the Witch Kingdom to the west of the mountains. It used to be ruled in peace by the Crochan witches, but then the Ironteeth witches (containing the Blackbeaks, the Bluebloods and the Yellowlegs) took over. The last Crochan Queen cast a curse that the lands would become a wasteland, and it still is. The witch in the carnival is Baba Yellowlegs, a Yellowlegs Matron. She’s terrible.
- Celaena thinks the riddle has to do with the Eye of Elena (which she wears around her neck), but it doesn’t seem to work. On Elena’s tomb the words “Ah, Time’s Rift!” are engraved. Hmmm. She tries to use the Eye of Elena to look through the eye in the wall but it doesn’t work and Mort laughs at her.
- For Chaol’s birthday, Dorian gives him an Asterion stallion (remember the Asterion mare Celaena stole from the Lord of Xandria? Good times). Celaena arranges a private dinner and then they finally give into their love and kiss and have sex and it’s so sweet.
- Dorian goes to the witch and asks her about magic. Bad idea, Dorian. Yellowlegs claims that some kinds of magic have disappeared, but others haven’t.
- Celaena and Nehemia fight because Nehemia wants to free Eyllwe and Celaena thinks it’s madness to go against the king. Nehemia implies that the king has magic, because how else could he have ruled.
- Then Chaol is kidnapped by the rebel movement Archer is a part of, and Celaena goes off to rescue him, which of course she does, by slaying everyone in the warehouse they have hidden Chaol in. Then fucking Archer steps in and tells her he has been working with Nehemia to build up their movement. He also tells her that someone is planning to kill Nehemia and probably right that very moment. Fuck you, Archer.
- THEN CELAENA BASICALLY FLIES BACK TO THE CASTLE AND FINDS THAT NEHEMIA HAS BEEN KILLED AND EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE MY HEART HURTS SO MUCH FUCKING ARCHER I WILL END YOU
- Celaena tries to kill Chaol for not protecting Nehemia and Dorian stops her with MAGIC. Celaena is imprisoned in the dungeon, and she is completely broken because she has lost so many people already, my precious baby. She talks to Kaltain for a little bit because they drug her, and she’s happy to be unconscious.
- When Celaena is released, she is completely numb. Her only plan is avenging Nehemia’s death and murder her assassin. From the way Nehemia was butchered, she figures out she was killed by Grave, the asshole assassin she beat in the finale of the Champion competition. She goes to find Grave and slaughters him, but not before learning that Minister Mullison, whose Champion he was, paid him to kill Nehemia, because she was against his idea of making more room for more slaves in the salt mines of Calculla. Celaena brings Grave’s head to Minister Mullison, and he is imprisoned by the King.
- Celaena cleans out Nehemia’s room (poor baby) and finds out more about the riddle. Mainly, she realizes that “It is only with the eye that one can see rightly” applies not to the Eye of Elena, but to Damaris, the sword that belonged to Gavin, the first King of Adarlan and Elena’s husband. She uses the sword to look through the other eye, and finds another riddle. This riddle talks about three things hidden in different places (one in a starry cell, one in a volcano, and one hidden completely). Yay more riddles. Also, Nehemia knew about the tomb even before Celaena brought her there. Mort tells her that it was Nehemia getting rid of the ridderak’s body all those months ago.
- Then Celaena goes to pay her respects to Nehemia, and sings her an ancient song. Chaol overhears, and he starts wondering about Celaena’s past.
- Celaena and Dorian hang out and it’s lovely and Dorian is precious and please don’t hurt him, Sarah.
- Celaena goes to visit Baba Yellowlegs to talk about the second riddle. Yellowlegs threatens to tell her what Dorian came to ask her, so Celaena realizes she has to kill the witch. But first, answers. It turns out the three things in the riddle are three Wyrdkeys to open the Wyrdgate (to other realms). All realms have a foundation in the Wyrd, and ages ago, three demons slipped through, the Valg. Thse Valg destroyed part of the Gate to create three keys, which meant they could control the evil within. The Fae found out, and they hid the keys. According to the witch, the King of Adarlan has at least one key, which makes sense because how else could he have destroyed magic? The witch then ruins everything by trying to kill Celaena, but Celaena manages to cut off her head.
- Chaol searches Celaena’s rooms and finds her will, which states that she’ll leave everything to him when she dies. Celaena shows up and tells him she’s not going to change the will. Chaol cries.
- Celaena goes to visit the creepy place in the library looking for answers, and opens all the doors with the Wyrdmarks Nehemia taught her. Even though the doors are made of iron, the Wyrdmarks are still able to open them. It turns out there are catacombs underneath the library leading to the clock tower, which is made entirely of obsidian. The second riddle also said the Wyrdmarks/gate were obsidian, and so are the rings on the hands of the king, Perrington, previously Cain, and now also Roland Havilliard. She realizes she is in danger and tries to run back, but then realizes she’s not alone.
- Dorian has followed her, and he is there when the monster shows up and it’s holy fucking creepy. Celaena and Dorian run away trying to fight it and then Dorian uses his MAGIC to lock the creature up again, after Celaena cut off its head, of course. She suspects the monster had been human once, because it had a human heart and acted like it as well. What.
- Celaena realizes Lady Kaltain and Roland have both been having terrible headaches, which probably has something to do with the evil magic. From a book, she learns that Kaltain’s bloodline had magic, just like Cain’s used to have. She thinks that the king is using them as pawns in his game. Duh.
- Celaena realizes that “Ah, Time’s Rift!” is an anagram for “I Am the First”, aka the first Wyrdkey of the riddle, the one claiming to be hidden in the crown of Elena in the “starry cell”. Which again, duh. Unfortunately, the Wyrdkey isn’t actually there anymore. Mort tells her that the king has had that one since he was just twenty years old, and he also confirms the king has one or two of the keys. Also, the king has magic just like Dorian. Celaena is overwhelmed and wants to talk to Nehemia and then decides to open a port to another world. BAD IDEA, GIRL.
- Dorian dreams of Gavin, the first King of Adarlan and also Elena’s husband, warning him for what Celaena is about to do and he runs after her.
- Celaena opens the portal and Nehemia appears, telling her that opening portals is dangerous (duh) and that Celaena was one of her bright lights (sobs), and then disappears again. Celaena’s precious dog, Fleetfoot, is there because she loves Nehemia. Then fucking Archer Finn shows up, and Celaena remembers a note from Nehemia that told her not to trust Archer. Archer then tells her that he wants to tell everyone about the Wyrdkeys, and oh by the way, Nehemia left the rebel movement before she died. Also, it was Archer who made Grave kill Nehemia, and not Minister Mullison. Fucking Archer. And then a monster escapes from the portal.
- Chaol and Dorian come to the rescue. A huge monster is attacking Celaena and she is hurt. Dorian tries to get her out of there while Chaol battles the monster. The monster then grabs Fleetfoot and leaves through the portal. Chaol goes after them and then Celaena knocks out Dorian and goes after the two of them as well and IN THE OTHER REALM CELAENA IS FAE. WHAT. Celaena eventually manages to get them to safety.
- Celaena goes after fucking Archer Finn and stabs him.
- Afterwards, Celaena tells Chaol that her great-grandmother was Fae. She has lost her ability to shift to her Fae form when magic disappeared, but somehow in the other realm she could still shift. Chaol realizes that as Fae, the glass castle is the most dangerous place to be for Celaena, and he forms a plan with his father (who is visiting from Anielle, that Chaol left to be Captain of the Guard) which says that Celaena needs to be sent to Wendlyn to kill the royal family, but actually to keep her safe because that’s where the Fae are. In return, Chaol will return home and rule Anielle, like he was supposed to but never wanted to.
How did it end?
Celaena promises Nehemia she will free Eyllwe of the King. She says goodbye to Dorian, and then tells Chaol about the Wyrdkeys, about the King’s bigger plan, possibly concerning Kaltain and Roland, because she doesn’t want to be the only one knowing about them. She also gives him the Eye of Elena to protect him. And then she tells him the date of her parents’ death, to help him realize who she really is. After she leaves, Chaol finds out that Celaena is the great-granddaughter of Mab, one of the three Fae Sister-Queens. Celaena is Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, the long lost Queen of Terrasen.