Also by this author: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1), Crown of Midnight, A Court of Thorns and Roses, Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3), A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2), Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass, #5), A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3), A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.1), The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass, #0.1-#0.5), Catwoman: Soulstealer (DC Icons, #3), Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass, #7), House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City, #1), A Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #4), House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City, #2)
Series: Throne of Glass #4
Also in this series: Crown of Midnight
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on September 1st 2015
Pages: 648 •Goodreads
The queen has returned.
Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…
She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.
She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.
The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series continues Celaena’s epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.
“You make me want to live, Rowan. Not survive; not exist. Live.”
It was only a few weeks ago that I was shouting from the rooftop (of my blog) about how much I loved Heir of Fire, and how the Throne of Glass series has come to shatter all of my preconceived notions of it after reading the first book. Now four books in, I have given each book that followed the first novel a solid 5 star rating. I am completely, devastatingly in love with this series, these characters, this universe, and anything Sarah J Maas writes in general. It’s such and incredible feeling when you’re proven wrong in the best way possible. I finished Queen of Shadows three weeks ago and I still haven’t been able to commit to reading another book because of how hungover I am from this one!
*Please note: This review will contain spoilers for the previous books in the series.
First and foremost, this book is long. At over 600 pages, it’s heavy and lengthy and I’ve heard quite a few grumbles that it goes on for far too long. I, however, loved every second of it and never felt that it dragged or that the pacing is off. This book really merges the “core” cast of the first two books with the new Fae world that was revealed in Heir of Fire, as well as characters from The Assassin’s Blade, and I think the length was right for how much this book had to tie all of these narratives together cohesively. Aelin is back in Adarlan and has fully embraced her new (or old, I suppose) identity, and this book satisfyingly has her facing her demons from her past in a way that Celaena could not. I particularly enjoyed her ability to go toe to toe with Arobynn now that she has reclaimed herself as Aelin, as well as her ability to look past her own past prejudices (such as with Lysandra) and decide for herself who her allies are and aren’t. Alien has a sense of self that isn’t present throughout the previous three books, and she truly conducts herself as a queen throughout this installment.
Queen of Shadows brings back many of the older characters and settings from the first two books, which was interesting for me since I never loved any of the pre-Fae characters (I was just never swept away by the Chaol, Dorian, and Celaena friendship triangle). Heir of Fire was the turning point in the series for me because it did something really brave- it introduced major characters, plot elements, and themes that didn’t exist at the beginning of the series, and Queen of Shadows carries on with those elements and merges them with the more original characters without bowing to them- I don’t feel like Maas is an author who feels an obligation to have Aelin end up with certain people or have certain loyalties just because she started with them. This series really focuses on Aelin’s character growth, and she is a very, very different person than she was at the beginning of the series. As a reader, I am completely OK with this change. Sure it’s a little risky, and many people will and have taken issue with it (I’ve actually heard that a lot of people are not fans of Aelin, but I LOVE her. She’s fierce and regal and not afraid to want). I think Queen of Shadows will be a very divisive book for many readers.
This book also really showcases how Maas has grown tremendously as an author. While I think she’s always been a great character writer, I found some of the plot elements in Throne of Glass to be rather commonly structured and unoriginal. However, at this point in the series Maas has truly hit her stride and solidified herself as a fantasy force to be reckoned with. The plot is layered, she’s bringing in other POV characters who have stories that subtly tie in with Aelins, and she’s making the world feel as though it has so much depth and history. I particularly found myself enjoying Manon’s chapters (to my surprise, because I always think I’m going to be irritated when the story pans away from Aelin), and learning more about the history of witches, and the powerful grappling with morality within the clans and witch hierarchy. After Aelin and Manon’s epic battle, I just really, really want them to be best friends (Fae Queen+ Witch Wingleader= The Most Badass Duo Ever).
Speaking of badass characters, Maas writes strong female characters with such vigor, heroines that can coexist along with fantastic male characters and don’t feel as though they’re competing for the spotlight. Manon and the Blackbeaks obviously come to mind, as their society is matriarchal and while viscous, they put a huge importance of phenomena that are unique to women: childbearing. Lysandra is another character who brings a unique kid of female strength to the series, though her cunning and beauty, and I respect that Maas acknowledges that Lysandra’s time as a courtesan is just as traumatic as Celaena’s as an assassin, albeit in different ways. Kaltain, however, really blew me away View Spoiler »the fact that she literally used the powers that were implanted into her by the King and shady Lord Perrington to BLOW THEIR EVIL LAIR UP (well partially) and pretty much laugh maniacally while she did it (I may have imagined that part, but it fits) was just awe-inspiring). « Hide Spoiler. Sarah J Maas writes such inspiring female heroines without hitting readers over the head with the message “LOOK HOW INSPIRING AND PROGRESSIVE I AM.” It’s such an effortless, wonderful talent.
If you’ve read by Heir of Fire review, you won’t be surprised by the fact that my review has to include a Rowan appreciation paragraph. I was SO scared that he would be absent throughout most of the book with Aelin returning to Adarlan, but thankfully Maas chose to integrate him heavily into the story despite the location change. Aelin and Rowan’s relationship continues to be a slow burn throughout this novel, and although nothing really intimate happens between them, the tension and promise of a *hopefully* lasting bond by the end of the series was somehow even better to behold. My copy of Queen of Shadows is literally peppered with post it notes marking every hear-tearing heart-wrenching moment between the two of them. I binge read most of this book in one weekend, and even Max could sense the out of control fangirling that was happening on my end (and I am not usually an out-loud sort of fangirl):
Overall: This book, this series, has reminded me WHY I love fantasy, why it was my first true love as a genre and why it encompasses 2/3 of my book collection, despite having read so many contemporaries since I started blogging. Queen of Shadows is a novel that shows such incredible growth in its characters, but also its writing as well. As an author, Mass isn’t afraid to take risks, whether with her characters, her romances, or within the YA genre. Sarah J Maas’ books are officially my favorite thing outside of Harry Potter, an honor that I have not bestowed upon anyone or anything ever. Do yourself a favor and read this book immediately, if you haven’t already.
Read my other reviews for the series!
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- Goodreads Challenge 2016
- Must Read in 2016 Challenge
- Rock My TBR 2016