Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #4
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Published on: September 1 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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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 will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. 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.
Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.
*takes a deep breath*
Okay. This is how this is going to go: short(ish), non-spoilery review first, looooooong spoiler-tagged review second.
That’s just how it has to be. I must talk about ALL THE THINGS. I tried to rein it in, but #cantstopwontstop
I read this book almost in its entirety on release day . . . and I’ve been mulling it over ever since. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t jumping up and down with glee—I was thrilled with the way things ended for all of the numerous story threads . . . and yet . . .
Finally, I determined that my issues were with the journey—just b/c I’m happy about where we went, doesn’t mean I’m happy about how we got there.
Being the black sheep (per usual), my dissatisfaction had little to do with the most common complaint . . . something about character assassinations . . .? *snorts*
There’s not a lot I can say about that without major series spoilers, b/c QUEEN OF SHADOWS is a crossroads installment. For nearly everyone who matters. So if you’ve been desperate for important decisions to be made, for lines to be drawn in the sand . . . this is your book.
We also meet a handful of new characters.
If you pinterest stalk SJM like I do, you knew we were finally going see a few of the characters whose likenesses we’d been salivating over, some for more than a year.
Lysandra we’d already met in the prequels, but I somehow managed to miss the connection until she showed up on Celaena’s doorstep. Elide had been briefly mentioned in HoF as a child of Terrasen who was probably dead. Then there was Nesryn whom we knew nothing about at all.
Speaking of Lysandra, it was while contemplating her massive turnaround that I realized how absolutely typical it was of SJM—it’s what she does, people!
She ties strings to our feelings and jerks them around in some kind of macabre dance. This is not new information. She’s been doing it since she put pen to paper in the very first book.
She’s killed people we loved in horrible ways. She’s broken our hearts with seemingly small decisions that ended catastrophically in the most painful of betrayals. She’s blown out the fragile flame of hope, even as we wept and begged her not to.
And don’t even get me started on Arobynn-friggin’-Hamel. What is it about him that leaves me feeling like a victim (vixen, too. Damn you, autocorrect) of Stockholm syndrome?
This time she took characters we loathed, whose blood we thirsted for, and made us embrace them as sisters. TWICE.
And you’re fine with all of that. More than fine. You love it.
When she does the opposite and takes a character you previously loved and turns him into a bastard . . . Well, that’s unacceptable.
I really can’t say anything else. About anything. Which makes my head want to explode, but I can keep a lid on it while I wrap this portion up.
I still love these books, and QUEEN OF SHADOWS by Sarah J. Maas was full to bursting with the things that make THRONE OF GLASS my favorite YA fantasy series. BUT. There was a bluntness to some of the plot twists that made them harder to swallow than similar twists in previous installments. I suggest you focus on the awesomeness that is Abraxos and another animal development to get you through the hard parts, b/c overall it’s definitely worth it. Highly recommended.
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Seriously, do NOT click this unless you’ve already read the book or don’t care about be spoiled, b/c nothing is sacred in that space. Spoilery content including but not limited to: Points of Contention (mine and yours), Highlights, New Ships, Questions Raised, and Theories: View Spoiler »
POINTS OF CONTENTION:
Disclaimer – there were a multitude of other issues raised as people were reading, but I felt like those (the perception that Aelin was stone-cold ready to kill Dorian, Aelin keeping too many secrets from her inner circle, etc.) were addressed along the way, so I’m not including them here.
CHAOL – yours
In regards to Chaol I have two things to say:
1. Have you guys never broken up with a really nice guy (most likely B/C he was too nice and you were bored) and had him morph into Super Jerk? Even if you haven’t experienced it firsthand, then surely you’ve observed the transformation.
It’s shocking when it happens, not to mention upsetting and confusing, but it does happen.
2. YOU WERE FOOLING YOURSELVES.
Hell, my book bff had convinced even me (*consoles b/c book bff* but not the rest of you). I wasn’t happy about it, but I was reconciled to Chelaena/Chaelin. HOWEVER, I had excellent reasons to support not only my belief that they were NOT mates, but also for why I DID NOT WANT it to happen.
I’m not going to go into all the things that went down in HoF b/c been there, done that. You can check it out in my updated Goodreads review, if you really want to, but it boils down to this: Chaol had already adequately showcased his ability to be an ass.
You just didn’t want to believe it.
Chaol and Nesryn – yours
It never surprises me to find out someone—male or female—had a rebound fling. *shrugs* I’ve heard all kinds of reasons why readers couldn’t believe he would do such a thing, most of them in their basest form being, “he’s just not that kind of guy.”
EVERYONE is that kind of PERSON. You do out-of-character things when your heart is broken. Then you heal a little bit, look around and wonder what the hell you’re doing, and move on. That’s why it’s called REBOUND.
Chaol and Nesryn – mine
That being said, I felt Chaol’s enumeration of their encounters lacked subtlety, and despite being firmly out of the Chaol camp, I wasn’t ready to hear it.
If you’re like me, you had suspicions the second he showed up with a right hand WOman, making that kind of embellishment unnecessary and gratuitously painful.
RAELIN – both sides, but mostly mine
Geez, where to begin . . . I have nothing to say to those of you who saw Rowan in a strictly mentor capacity. It’s not how I saw (wanted to see) him, but I understand it, and you have good reasons for feeling that way.
Those good reasons are the crux of the problem—if the transition from mentor, to friend, to lover had been handled more deftly, I think it would have been accepted more easily.
Instead, the last we knew, they were both vehemently protesting having any kind of non-platonic feelings for each other, then BOOM cold showers everywhere.
Then there’s my biggest gripe with the way it played out: Aelin scantily clad and prancing about like a 14-year-old just discovering her sexuality, not understanding the effect of her actions.
It’s going to be hard enough to convince your audience that the nearly 300 year age difference is surmountable without having Aelin behave like a naive child.
MANON – mine
In HoF, I was sick of Chaol long before he said the things that made me permanently abandon ship. A decision was staring him in the face, and he refused to make it. He kept straddling his fence, despite the unignorable EVIL of his then master. Despite the obvious rightness of standing against King.
I have no patience for that shit.
Manon . . . there’s no way around it, did the exact same thing in QoS. Only it was worse b/c SISTERS BEFORE . . . BITCH MATRONS. And the way Manon treated Asterin for most of the book . . . NOT COOL.
That and the combination of handing over the Yellowlegs coven for breeding purposes + engaging in the slaughter of that village . . . It was too much.
I could’ve maybe handled the Yellowlegs coven b/c they volunteered, she was in a tight spot, and as awful as the end result was, she couldn’t have known how that would end. BUT. The village . . . b/c Duke-from-Hell said so, ignoring Abraxos’ obvious attempts to steer her back on the right path (like Kaladin ignoring Syl) . . . Yeah, she made the right decision in the end, but so did Chaol.
Bottom line, Manon has a LOT to make up for, and I can only hope she gets off to a better start than Chaol did.
I think Sam would be happy that she and Celaena are friends. *rubs fist over heart* And Lysandra is more than a token replacement for Nehemia—her childhood training was a different (but very similar when you get right down to it) aspect of Celaena’s, cementing their friendship with that common bond.
ALSO, she’s a shapeshifter which is frickin’ awesome.
I’ve been saying since Manon wanted to rip the face of the Yellowlegs heir that in another life, she and Aelin would’ve been best friends.
It was nice to see a non-Red Shirt female who wasn’t an inyourface fighter. There are more diverse weapons than knives vs. fists, plus . . .
. . . was clearly smitten with her, which was adorable. Abraxos is the BEST. He’s the only character whose behavior is above reproach, and he’s a dragon, and I LOVE HIM.
You know what I’m talking about.
1. Manon and Dorian – both of them will be dealing with the guilt of being used to do terrible things by people they trusted. Dorian more literally than Manon, but being brainwashed from birth that you are evil/soulless . . . it’s gonna leave a mark. They’re kind of perfect for each other.
2. Lysandra and Aedion – book bff and I are hopeful that since Aedion’s MORE THAN HALF Fae, he’ll get a cat-form like his pops, then he and Lysandra can run around the forest as big kitties.
3. Elide . . . and ABRAXOS – lots of dragons have a human form, you know. It could totally happen—book bff and I want this even more than we want #2.
1. How is it that Elide has witchblood? I mean, clearly, she got it from her mother, but where did her mother get it?
2. What the hell is up with that weird death cult?
3. Back in the day, Demons captured Fae to breed with them, resulting in the witches. Erawan has gold eyes. Ironteeth witches with gold eyes have some kind of natural resistance to Demons. Ashryvers have gold eyes, too. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
1. Fae are immortal. Aelin has a Fae form. Aelin is immortal.
2. The biggest (legitimate) issue Team Chaol has with Raelin is that Rowan was previously Mated. BUT. Rowan and Aelin have that weird warrior bond, and somewhere in Ch 44 there’s this wind that pulls Rowan INTO her, “as if their bond was a living thing,” and I’m convinced that it means they’re UBER Mates. ALSO, book bff informs me that in some interview SJM said that Fae can have more than one Mate. Not sure how I feel about that, but it’s definitely an answer.
3. Elide and Kaltain are somehow related.
4. Aelin/Dorian magical EXPLOSION: this is a rough theory b/c I didn’t go back to find the specific passages that talk about the cyclical nature of this war between the Demons and everyone else, but I think Dorian is this cycle’s Gavin in the way that Aelin is this cycle’s Elena. Something about their magics is perfectly in harmony, making it infinitely more powerful when combined, enabling them to eventually defeat Erawan. Again. Or maybe permanently. I guess we’ll see. But regardless, it’s going to be Dorian and Aelin working together that Saves the World.
To those of you who say that means Aelin and Dorian have to get married, I say NOT SO! In fact, that would be politically pointless seeing as they have an unbreakable bond. It would make infinitely more sense for, say, Dorian to marry a witch, and Aelin an Other Court Fae (b/c you know Maeve has GOT to go), cementing ties between those FOUR kingdoms.
BONUS if the reason the magic died out in the Havilliard line b/c Elena and Gavin DID marry.
That is all. « Hide Spoiler