Saturday, March 12, 2016

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

Publication Date:  September 1, 2015
Publisher:  Bloomsbury
Pages:  648
Series:  Throne of Glass #4
Genre:  Fantasy
Synopsis:  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.

Review:  Looking back on this series, it is unbelievable how far it has come.  It started out as a few characters running around in a glass castle to a diverse cast spanning continents.  Honestly, my initial reaction after finishing this was:  AHH FEELINGS.

First of all, I feel like the plot has more structure to it this time around, with a more defined path.  However, I also feel like it is simultaneously all over the place.  Secrets and plans are kept from the reader, which may be nice for plot twists later, but make for too many abrupt turns to keep track of.  

Let's go rattle the stars.

Speaking of plot twists, as much as I love them, this book series is bursting at the seams with them.  It's almost as if Sarah J. Maas keeps changing her mind halfway through the books and the series as to what is going on and just expects us to accept whatever new idea she's thrown in and go with it.

I distinctly missed three things in this book:  magic, Dorian, and epic wyvern riding. These things are gone for a reason (well, there could have been more wyvern riding, really), but the book felt a bit...empty without them.

She was fire, and light, and ash, and embers. She was Aelin Fireheart, and she bowed for no one and nothing, save the crown that was hers by blood and survival and triumph.

Aelin, formerly known as Celaena, has earned the utmost respect and a round of applause.  She has evolved exponentially as a character, become more responsible, strong, and confident in herself as Aelin, a queen who bears the burden of fighting for her country and her people.  No more running, or hiding, or recklessness (well, not much).  

Manon, the ancient and cunning witch who became much more involved in the plot rather than being so tucked away in the middle of nowhere, riding wyverns (think dragons).  However, as much as I still adore her and her chapters, the sole point of them seems to be revealing what the villains are scheming about and who they are currently torturing.  While it is hinted at, she has very little of her own story arc.

A cripple and a courtesan are thrown into the mix this time around.  Lysandra, the courtesan, has a fair amount of sass and will, so I naturally embraced her character. But Elide...well, she did not impress me.  Again, much like Manon, only seems to exist in order to reveal and link plot points.  The difference is that Manon is complex and has this spark to her, while Elide cannot even begin to compare.  Nesryn, another addition, would have been a preferable option to a new point of view and I hope to see more of her.

She was a whirling cloud of death, a queen of shadows, and these men were already carrion.

Chaol was unrecognizable.  I despised him for the first half and was just baffled at the last half.  I didn't see any of who he was built up to be in the first three books.  He might as well have died and been replaced.  There are also characterization issues regarding Rowan.  He at least has remained intrinsically himself, yet he behaves and reacts to certain situations in ways that don't match his personality.  He was less of a focal point and more eye candy or last minute hero than anything else.

Let's not forget Aedion, although it wouldn't be difficult, since he barely made an appearance.  There was the much anticipated Aelin/Aedion reunion...then it fell flat. Their relationship was glossed over to focus on more pertinent things, such as Arobynn, king of the assassins.  

Arobynn is excruciatingly manipulative and cruel, which is why it may sound odd that I was delighted he was so involved in the story.  Even if he presented a rather convenient means to getting the plot rolling, his character is necessary to be able to reflect on Aelin's past and how she has moved on from all that suffering.

Aelin has also moved on romantically, which is a bit redundant, since this must be the third or fourth love interest.  The romance was minimal but rushed.  I'm aboard the ship, but feel nostalgic for the strong friendship previously formed that has now been abandoned.  

To whatever end.

The ending was astronomical.  It is explosive and satisfying, leaving just enough hanging to drive you crazy, but not rocking in the corner clutching the book type of crazy.

Queen of Shadows delivers such a sense of delirious excitement and anticipation that it is nearly impossible to put it down.  More than ever I am looking forward to seeing the world being destroyed and rebuilt again when the next installment is released.  


  1. Glad you enjoyed this Erin! I probably won't read it, because Heir of Fire is taking me so long to read, but I hear that the fifth book is coming out this year?? So you won't have long to wait for the next book, yay! :D

    1. Me too! I'm sad to hear you aren't getting into Heir of Fire, but I am SUPER excited for the fifth book (yes!) this year. I hate waiting. Thanks for commenting, Geraldine! ❤

  2. DUUUUUUDE THIS SOUNDS SO GOOD. Now I really really want to read this series. Except I don't because it's so popular, you know??
    Do you know how many books there are supposed to be?

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

    1. That's because it IS so good! You should totally read it. I was tentative, but it is worth it. And this is the fourth out of six books! Thanks for commenting, Ellie! ❤

  3. Omg this review has the simultaneous effect of making me feel both very excited yet extremely nervous to read Heir of Fire. As you mentioned, it certainly sounds like the orginal Glass Castle gang have come a long way since the first book and that their characters have also progressed loads too. Basically, I want to read about wyverns and magic and awesome people. But I'm scared too meet all these new characters. Omg the dilemma. Anyway, I'm so pleased you enjoyed Queen of Shadows! I'm sure I'll find the courage to continue this series soon. Lovely review! ♥

    1. Correction in sentence #4: *to (sorry but grammar mistakes like that are on the same level as using there instead of their so I must correct myself. Apologies!) ♥

    2. HEIR OF FIRE IS EVERYTHING, REBEKAH! That is when the story expands and grows and IMPRESSED THE HELL OUT OF ME. And, okay, the magic and wyverns had a lot to do with that. You know how much I like dragons and such. And no worries about grammar corrections, I'm the same way! Thanks for commenting, Rebekah! ❤

  4. I agree with you on some of these, but the thing was... I didn't really enjoy this book? I know literally EVERYONE did (I haven't come across someone who rated it lower than 3.5), but I thought it was too slow. I agree with you on how the author seemed to change her mind - I was looking forward to Rowan/Aelin being purely platonic, so I'm disappointed they're now together. I missed Dorian too!

    Denise | The Bibliolater

    1. Nooooo! I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this, but I do agree it was a bit slow. If I wasn't so invested and excited about the story it would have annoyed me a lot more than it did. And as much as I like the romance...where did the strong friendship go? I miss friendships in books. Thanks for commenting, Denise! ❤

  5. I missed Dorian and (THE REAL) Chaol so much too. *gross sobbing* This one kind of made me decide to quit on the series? My bad. :P But I'm glad you mostly liked it! I agree Elide was very underwhelming...and Idek, I feel like Chaol/Dorian got replaced with Aedion/Rowan, but they have less backstory and attachment so it didn't feel right?
    But glad you liked it!! :D

    1. ME TOO, CAIT, ME TOO. I still love this series, but you're right on how far it has strayed. It seems to me as if it was a completely different story at the start. Although, I DO prefer Aedion and Rowan to Chaol (but not Dorian)... Thanks for commenting! ❤