I continue to share my thoughts on the Throne of Glass series so today I have a review for Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas. I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t find this book as enjoyable as their predecessors. But more of that below.
WARNING: the Goodreads synopsis has spoilers for all the previous books in the Throne of Glass series so don’t read ahead if you don’t want to get spoiled for the prequel and books #1 – 3. I recommend you reading them first them coming back so we can discuss, or if you’re unsure as to whether to read them and you want my thoughts, I have reviews:
- The Assassin’s Blade (#0.1-0.5)
- Throne of Glass (#1) [REVIEW COMING SOON]
- Crown of Midnight (#2)
- Heir of Fire (#3)
I was spoiled for this book from reading the synopsis so I don’t want you to have the same experience. There may be some minor spoilers for Queen of Shadows throughout the review depending on what you count as a spoiler. So, if you haven’t read it yet, read at your own discretion. I also have a spoiler section at the bottom of the review which will include ACTUAL plot spoiler thoughts.
I have MANY thoughts.
Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass (#4)
Publication: September 1st 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
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.
- Dude this is going to take a long time to finish
- From the title, I’m predicting a rise to power for Celaena (I will never be able to call her Aelin)
- Also hoping that she will showcase her powers and it’ll be absolutely brutal
- Dreading the assumed romance that is suggested to begin soon between Aelin and Rowan
Now onto my actual reading experience…
It took me a while to get into this book. I was kind of bored for the first 100 or so pages. It is FULL of alpha male conflicts and arguments. I kid you not when I say that there are ego clashes between every male in this book. There was so much planning, conversing and not as much action as I wanted. Basically, the whole novel is everyone worshipping, praising and obsessing over Aelin and Aelin going yes, I know I’m a queen so you better treat me like one. The most satisfying plot point for me in this book is a huge spoiler but I just want to say that I have been anticipating this moment for books.
The seemingly separate plotlines in Heir of Fire have begun to merge and I can’t wait until Manon and Aelin’s storylines converge. There was a lot of fluffing around however, the merging storylines made the story flow better than its predecessor. It felt like a bunch of fun scenes squeezed into a plot of daily life. I enjoy the stabbiness of the book when they do come around. Stabby scenes are dramatic, intense and super fun. Though the vengeance plotline was not as epic as I wanted. The ending was intense and did not fail to disappoint. The epicness of this series really showed in the ending and it really got to me – right in the feels. I like where it’s leading and it felt so empowering. Despite all this, I’m finding that everything I’ve loved about the series slowly dying out. I’m conflicted.
I’m disappointed there was like zero magic but of course it made sense since they were back in Adarlan. It’s just you can’t introduce something and take it away for 600+ pages. Yes, this is bitterness reporting from grudges HQ.
There are so many characters. By now I think I’ve already forgotten half the cast. Who even is Kaltain? The characters were probably my biggest problem in this book because in general, they didn’t feel like themselves. Literally, Aelin’s squad was just threatening to rip/shred whoever’s throat if they were as much to breathe in the general direction of Aelin. Yep, those are the characters. I’m not finding the character development logical. To be honest, the characters were butchered to some extent and there were inconsistencies to achieve a specific plot point or character arc. And that just felt lazy.
“Aelin” (ugh): I tried to keep an open mind about this whole identity flip for the whole book but I just can’t do it. I don’t like Aelin as a character at all really and it’s not entirely because she’s not the Celaena I’ve gotten to know for 3 books. I don’t believe that Aelin and Celaena can be seen as 2 completely different people. Aelin’s past experiences has shaped the person she has become and I don’t think it’s something you can completely suppress and ignore because a new responsibility has been shoved onto you. With this, I felt like I didn’t know this character starting off and as I did get to know her, I was not a fan.
Celeana has always been seen as a strong female character but vain and arrogant and although that was something refreshing and needed adapting to, Aelin’s pretentious nature zooms out the roof. There was a definite evolution in her character in Heir of Fire and we get to see her become more considerate and well-rounded. I didn’t just imagine that, right? But then we get to this book, we’re going backwards and I honestly don’t understand why. I dislike her attitude treating everyone in her “past life” as peasants and hating Celaena so much. She’s so malicious and bitter and her style of leadership is more like a dictatorship. There was no transition, just an abrupt change – at least in my opinion. I never thought I would say this but I kind of want Celaena back.
She has so many titles and statuses and although it was empowering to begin with, I got sick of all this and gradually more annoyed at all this power and privilege she’s gaining by… existing. All the male characters calling Aelin my queen and all those titles, and attempting to protect her. It’s just so melodramatic and I’m VERY sure that Aelin is more than capable handling herself. Sure, there have been some pretty epic plot twists especially for this character, but literally each one builds up her special snowflake status and her ego inflates exponentially. She was just being downright unreasonable and selfish, demanding respect because she’s a queen. I’m not exaggerating when I say that everyone is in awe of her and falls in love with me as soon as they come in viewing distance. I know this is random but I really like Aelin’s nickname; Fireheart. I just think it’s so adorable. On a side note, has it been explained why the name “Celaena” was chosen? I don’t know whether I’ve forgotten or we’ve just come to accept that was that and moved on?
Rowan: I guess he has officially been upgraded into the main cast and honestly, I still feel indifferent about him. I don’t understand the infatuation with him.
Aedion: I grew fond of him in the last book but his constant worship of Aelin really got me questioning my admiration for his character. He seemed so pathetic especially around Aelin, drooling all over her and attempting to protect her.
Chaol: this character is getting destroyed. He was so annoying and uncompromising in this book. The change and development I saw in his character in Heir of Fire was just gone. Just because Chaol is a human, we don’t need to reduce him to a weak commoner. You don’t need to be magical or a monster to be special.
Dorian: the moment I remembered Dorian’s situation literally shattered my heart again. Not that I have anything against him but he’s always been a sort of meh character for me, but I felt so sorry for him in this book. His chapters confused me and then I had a delayed response of hurt and pain.
Manon: I did not understand what was happening with her storyline. I was confused and mortified with what was going on. Although much of her plotline included her reluctance to recognise the awful orders she was following, I appreciated her development. Her chapters still felt irrelevant although I found myself more interested in them unlike the previous book.
Asterin: this girl on the other hand has become a new favourite of mine. I loved how she stood up for what was right and being the only voice of reason and injustice. Her story made me tear up. A little reminder of the goodness that was Nehemia.
Lysandra: this girl is AWESOME! I approve of her development very much and I love how much more we got to know about her #frenemies. I enjoyed how we got to see we with such a sassy personality and her background. She’s so hard-core and fierce and it was such an unexpected, pleasant surprise.
Arobynn: he is an absolute creepy, crazy, gross, old man and I hate him with all that I possibly can. His sly manipulation irks me so, SO much and how everyone gets swept into the act. I think he’s an interesting character but I loathe him so much.
Nesryn: we’re introduced to this new character who is Chaol’s second in command and I believe she is a person of colour. But I feel we could have gotten to know her more because she just felt like a device to smush Chaol and her together for a romance.
Can we talk about Chaoleana for a minute? Yes, we shall. This was a shipwreck (haha, no) and Chaoleana was literally shredded then trampled on by a thousand elephants. Repeatedly. For a good majority of the first part of the book. Look I’ve never been a huge shipper in SJM books but I was fond of this relationship and all the development for this was stomped on so brutally my heart hurts. I may slightly be exaggerating with the dramatics but ahem. I felt that Chaol’s character development also went backwards but the relationship between Chaol and Aelin was so foreign.
They pretty much spent all their interactions butting heads and all their history and feelings for each other were completely turned off. I understand that they have different missions and viewpoints but the atmosphere in this novel was so harsh. I felt that there was so much deep-set hatred between the two and it doesn’t make sense. I think the way the relationship was handled to create the desired outcome was so cruel. I’m still trying to figure the point when Chaol and Celaena decided they were officially over but it was more like a sudden switch to nothingness. I’m angry and confused.
And I’ll talk about Rowaelin for a second. I find that their relationship is nothing special and I do not ship. I enjoyed their growing toleration then friendship in this book’s predecessor, but romantic relationship??? I’m not feeling it. Fight buddies? YAY. Lovers? Nay. I feel that SJM is trying too hard to show that they are perfect together in every single way but I can’t see it. I strongly believe that Rowan and Aelin should have stayed platonic. What’s wrong with strong female/male friendships that have no romantic insinuations?
I dislike the fact that everyone needs to be paired up in a romantic relationship as soon as they get out of one. I just don’t find these relationships compelling and my care factor has reduced a lot.
Ships aside, I want to talk about friendships.
What happened between Aedion and Chaol? The friendship or respect that developed in Heir of Fire splattered like it never existed in the first place. Sure, they were on “opposing sides” but any sign of regard for each other vanished.
At least Dorian and Chaol’s friendship has lasted. Their friendship is so heart-warming.
I found the writing engaging as usual and the action scenes so gripping. I think that’s where most of my enjoyment reading this book came from. Readers were kept in the dark a lot of the time, I guess to build intensity and for a greater shock factor but that meant that not a lot happened until near the end. But I needed to know stuff. The “epic or majestic” speeches and descriptions of Aelin got old after a while and just ended up being cringeworthy.
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3… 2… 1…
A collection of random thoughts on important plot points:
- Hands down the most satisfying/victorious event that happened in this novel was Arobynn being killed and him choking on his blood. I know a lot of people wanted this to be more dramatic, but I actually really enjoyed the way this scene played out. And I REALLY enjoyed that fact that it was Lysandra who terminated him. I’ve been waiting for this moment since the end of The Assassin’s Blade and I’m disturbed by how content I am with such a morbid event but it’s Arobynn and I despise him.
- I think the king ending up being possessed and not actually evil was so extra. Just let him be the psycho that he was. No tragic backstories.
- My heart dropped to the ground at the ending when it was revealed that Chaol became disabled.
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I realise I may be a bit harsh in my critique, and I appreciate the complexity and layers of plot, but there are some things I notice and can’t let go. Overall, this book was way too long for the number of events that happened. But I did enjoy it for its entertainment value.
What did you think of the book? What did you think about the character development and new characters? Comment below!
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