Review: Queen of Shadows (SPOILERS)

Title: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) 18006496

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Publication Date: September 1st, 2015

Summary: 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.

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This was one of my most anticipated books of the year, if not my most anticipated. The Throne of Glass series is one of my favorite series and one that I’ve amazingly never really had any sort of issue with, which is really saying something since I can be a huge nitpicker. When I got this book in the mail, I knew that it would be another successful read, an amazing continuation of this equally amazing series.

Queen of Shadows starts off with Aelin back in her city, scheming and planning against her old master, Arobynn, King of Assassins, to get back the Amulet of Orynth and the Wyrdkey inside of it. She finds out that the king has her cousin, Aedion, held prisoner and is planning on executing him on Dorian’s birthday. Oh, speaking of Dorian, he’s just withering away as the Valg prince takes over his mind and slowly destroys him. Oh and Chaol is leading part of the rebellion and decided to be a sulking, grumpy ball of misery. Things aren’t looking very good, to say the least.

One of the biggest things I heard about this book was that people decided to not continue the series and bad talk Sarah J. Maas for her decisions surrounding Chaol. I’m a huge Chaol and Aelin shipper so I was really disappointed to find that their reunion wasn’t all I had hoped and dreamed about. In fact, they basically went for each other’s throats, blaming each other for everything that had happened and destroying whatever relationship they had. After a while, it became apparent that they would never be rekindling their romantic relationship, and while I found that immensely disappointing, I also understood. I think that what a lot of people are missing is that Aelin and Chaol aren’t the people they were during ToG and CoM. They have gone through so many struggles and have had to change who they are to survive. Chaol was the man that Celaena needed when she was an assassin, but now she is Aelin, a queen and ruler, and she left that other girl behind. By the end of the book, Aelin and Chaol seem to be mending their friendship, but I think we can all agree that romance is out of the question, which I actually found myself supporting, simply because it wouldn’t make sense for the people they are now. I think everyone should give the book a chance and realize that even though things might not go the way we want them too, realistically, in series like this, changes are going to happen, and as long as they make sense and honor the characters, I’m fully support that.

While I’m on the subject of romance, I should probably address the fact that Rowan and Aelin are now romantically involved. To be completely honest, I’m not 100% sure how I feel about this yet. A huge part of me feels like a traitor because I’ve always been completely on Team Chaol, but when I was reading this book, I found myself really supporting Rowan and Aelin together. Rowan is who and what Aelin needs and I adore their relationship. But the thing is, in HoF, I loved that they had such an intense connection without is being sexual or romantic, so I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that it’s become that now. It was refreshing to see such a beautiful relationship that went beyond friendship between a man and woman, while remaining platonic. I’m not surprised that they starting smooching it up, and I loved every second of it, but part of me will always miss what they had before. But my inner fangirl is crying over their devotion to each other and how stinkin’ adorable they are all the time.

As for the actual story in this book, it was full of so many twists and turns and intense parts that I could not put it down. I absolutely love reading books where the schemes feels so smart and there are a million layers to every plan, so kudos to Sarah J. Maas for managing to be so unpredictable and clever. I loved the revenge aspect with Arobynn and seeing their strange relationship in action, as well as the differences between Aelin and Celaena. There were so many different story lines going on, but each one was so vital and interesting, there was never a point that I was bored or uninterested. And that ending, HOLY MOTHER, I couldn’t even comprehend what was happening because my mind was so blown. I mean, I NEVER saw that coming.

Aelin was, as usual, absolutely amazing. The amount of growth she goes through in every book, as well as the obstacles she overcomes, continue to shape her into more of queen. The one thing that upset me about this book was how quickly she seemed to accept Dorian’s condition and how easy she made killing him seem. But Aelin will always be my number one bae. We also get more new characters in this book and my favorites had to be Lysandra and Nesryn. Those girls knew how to kick ass and take names, I mean, DAMN. And Manon, don’t even get me started on how much I love that witch, having her and Aelin fight each other was like a dream come true. Just watching Aelin’s court grow as she helped people and earned their loyalties literally had me tearing up at some points. I loved seeing how Rowan and Aedion never once judged her for any of her current and past actions, and their love and commitment to her was unwavering.

I can’t even begin to express how excited I am for the next book in this series. Now that Aelin and her court are back in Terrasen and Dorian is king, and the war looming overhead, things are about to change for sure. I’m really excited for Chaol and Nesryn to go to the Southern Continent, and to see what Manon and her thirteen are going to do. Not to mention Elide working her way to Aelin with the Wyrdkey; I’m definitely going to cry when they are finally reunited. Okay, and am I the only one hardcore shipping Dorian and Manon together? Can we just all take a minute to enjoy the thought of Manon ruling beside Dorian? That poor boy wouldn’t know what to do. In all seriousness though, this was a solid fourth book in the series, exceeding my expectations and hurting my heart and soul so good.

RATING: 

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7 thoughts on “Review: Queen of Shadows (SPOILERS)

  1. I knew you were a Chaol and Aelin shipper, so I was interested to read your review. I originally gave this book 2 stars because I was so disappointed in the direction SJM took the characters, especially Chaol and Aelin. Now that I’ve have some time to think about it, I would bump it up to 4 stars for the story as a whole. For me, Aelin was a little too mean and indifferent to Chaol and Dorian, especially as you said, when she was willing to kill Dorian and not figure out a way to save him. As for the romance, it’s not that I don’t like Rowan’s character. I think I would have been OK with Aelin and Rowan ending up together if it wasn’t at the expense of Chaol’s character and how quickly the other romance happened. If we put ourselves in the character’s positions and pretend we experienced what they did, each of their reactions are understandable. But I still can’t get over feeling that SJM chose the character she personally would have picked if she Mary Sued herself into Aelin (Rowan-she even said he’s her favorite character), instead of choosing the character I think would have been best for Aelin (Chaol-if his character was allowed to develop without Rowan stealing the show). I’ve read a few comments about how this is a maturing series that is realistic to love and loss. What bothers me the most about describing the series that way how overlooked it is that Rowan has punched Aelin in the face. Falling in love with someone who was previously abusive is not realistic (or at least shouldn’t be). Just because Rowan is a perfect, handsome, swoon worthy, and powerful fae with absolutely no flaws (way too perfect if you ask me), does not make it OK to punch a woman. Chaol would never have done that to her. I think that scene shows that SJM never originally planned for Rowan and Aelin to end up together.

    What do you think happened to Chaol in the end? He said he thinks he died. I am curious if he could have been blessed with some powers of his own? A part of me really wishes I could believe Rowan is what Aelin needs now, but the changes in Chaol make him into what she needs in the end. Aelin did spend a lot of time at the jewelers in this book. In an alternate universe of this series, I would love to think that she saw the ring Chaol pawned and bought it back, then proposes/chooses Chaol in the end (I really thought SJM had an Aladdin theme going with this series). Anyways, great review. I’ll probably go back and re-read QoS at some point once I get over how my ship sank and try to appreciate QoS for the story it is.

    • I agree, Rowan and Aelin had a rough start and abuse is never okay but ultimately, Aelin wouldn’t be with him if she didn’t love him. I don’t know if you’ve ever read the Kate Daniel’s series but in it, Kate is super badass and the man she is with, Curran, knows she can take of herself. So sometimes when they fight and argue, they’ll start throwing punches and kicking each other around. I never view that as abusive because it’s just who they are and it’s kind of funny to be honest. Obviously this isn’t the same situation but Aelin is kind of like Kate to me, she can take care of herself and give as good as she gets. But for Rowan to hit her before they determine the boundaries of their relationship is a different matter. I’m conflicted about their relationship I guess, but we will just have to see how it goes.
      I have no idea with Chaol, I’m probably going to re-read the series and post a predictions talk sometime soon. The thing with Chaol is that I’m not sure he ever would have been perfect with Aelin. His loyalties would have always been divided between her and Dorian and while I love them together, I think he needs someone more like Nesryn, who is similar to Aelin (strong willed, independent, bad ass) but a safer option with less conflict.

      • In fiction, I can see how a punch before they determine the boundaries of the relationship is different than if he hit her now. Although, I wonder what Sam would think about their relationship, considering how upset he was when Arobynn beat her.

        I imagined Chaol developing differently. He never saw himself fit to be a Lord or a King and consistently put himself down and as liar and traitor. I had hoped he would grow out of that. He was kind of the main person doing the dirty work in QoS, trying to saving Aedion, Dorian and the towns people from being taken into the Valg army. And now he’ll be securing alliances. Maybe his death/near death experience and injury (he better be healed!) is symbolic of a new Chaol. But yes, if his character never evolves like I imagined it could, Nesryn is a safe choice.

  2. I hope I am not posting this comment twice! I forgot to include my name and email the first time I posted.

    I knew you were a Chaol and Aelin shipper, so I was interested to read your review. I originally gave this book 2 stars because I was so disappointed in the direction SJM took the characters, especially Chaol and Aelin. Now that I’ve have some time to think about it, I would bump it up to 4 stars for the story as a whole. For me, Aelin was a little too mean and indifferent to Chaol and Dorian, especially as you said, when she was willing to kill Dorian and not figure out a way to save him. As for the romance, it’s not that I don’t like Rowan’s character. I think I would have been OK with Aelin and Rowan ending up together if it wasn’t at the expense of Chaol’s character and how quickly the other romance happened. If we put ourselves in the character’s positions and pretend we experienced what they did, each of their reactions are understandable. But I still can’t get over feeling that SJM chose the character she personally would have picked if she Mary Sued herself into Aelin (Rowan-she even said he’s her favorite character), instead of choosing the character I think would have been best for Aelin (Chaol-if his character was allowed to develop without Rowan stealing the show). I’ve read a few comments about how this is a maturing series that is realistic to love and loss. What bothers me the most about describing the series that way how overlooked it is that Rowan has punched Aelin in the face. Falling in love with someone who was previously abusive is not realistic (or at least shouldn’t be). Just because Rowan is a perfect, handsome, swoon worthy, and powerful fae with absolutely no flaws (way too perfect if you ask me), does not make it OK to punch a woman. Chaol would never have done that to her. I think that scene shows that SJM never originally planned for Rowan and Aelin to end up together.

    What do you think happened to Chaol in the end? He said he thinks he died. I am curious if he could have been blessed with some powers of his own? A part of me really wishes I could believe Rowan is what Aelin needs now, but the changes in Chaol make him into what she needs in the end. Aelin did spend a lot of time at the jewelers in this book. In an alternate universe of this series, I would love to think that she saw the ring Chaol pawned and bought it back, then proposes/chooses Chaol in the end (I really thought SJM had an Aladdin theme going with this series). Anyways, great review. I’ll probably go back and re-read QoS at some point once I get over how my ship sank and try to appreciate QoS for the story it is.

  3. I have very conflicted feelings over the whole Rowan/Aelin romance show, tbh. I never shipped Aelin and Chaol, bc he never accepted her for who she was when he found out the truth (being fae, having magic, being queen of a conquered nation), and she’s always resented his loyalty to his wicked king, so how could that have ever worked out? He’s always been disgusted by her having killed people, and that has never changed. Those are really big moral and harmonious discrepancies between two love interests. In the real world, that wouldn’t work, and I appreciate the RL take this series has had regarding human behaviors and emotions.

    I too was pissed off about how expendable Dorian has been to Aelin. Not for the first time has she basically failed him without regret. That kills me and it’s really something that bothers me about her. I dunno, maybe Sarah isn’t that interested in Dorian any longer, his page time and story development has been really sloppy, IMO, since ToG. But especially in HoF and QoS. He’s my favorite and I’ll always be on his team, not necessarily as a romantic interest for Aelin, (bc IMO, he WAY deserves better), but I’ve liked him more than I’ve like the rest of the male characters. She shed more tears, had more grief, and was more proactive towards everyone else she’s cared about who has been in danger except for him. Just deciding to take “him out of his misery” by chopping off his head when she’s fleeing with Aedion, and unable to really and fairly assess if Dorian was still in there, a plan she fully committed to doing was BS. I was livid. It’s so unfair. (I know, I’m whining) It’s just that he has always been such a loyal, giving, and thoughtful friend to her and she’s always pretty much treated him a bit as an afterthought and insignificant. It hurts me. Especially when she can so quickly go hardcore for either character’s she’s just met, or at least those she’s previously hated and have now decided to forgive. *Ahem* Lysandra. (btw, I’ve always been stanning hard for Lysandra. Sam wouldn’t have liked her if she was a horrible person. I LOVE HER)

    I really loved Rowan in HoF, but I hate how quickly the dynamics of he and Aelin’s relationship has changed in QoS. For me, it felt a bit forced down my throat, even as I realize that they make a sensible option for each other at the moment. Will it last? Who knows, but it made me a bit uncomfortable how heavy handed that particular development came across.

    Getting back to Dorian for a minute, I am deeply concerned about what will become of him. At the end of QoS, Aelin and her court has left, and Chaol and presumably Nesryn are scheduled to leave in three days. Where does that leave Dorian? He literally has no one that I know of. He’s killed most of the previous court. I don’t even know anyone in Rifthold who we’ve heard of that will be advising him. Do you? Additionally, while I would not be against an Manon/Dorian dalliance, I’m not sure how I feel about her being his queen. How would that even work?
    They could be friends and all but come on. They should not end up together just because she was the first pretty face he saw when the demon couldn’t control him.

    There are also these significant things to consider:

    – Manon is immortal
    – Manon wants to return home to the Western Wastes
    – How would Adarlan EVER accept her as their queen, especially when they wouldn’t have accepted Dorian as their new king if they knew the truth about how his father died (even inspite of the king being evil)
    – She’ll likely have difficulty conceiving and carrying an heir to term, if she even wants Kids (I’m not convinced given her dragging feet regarding the exploited witches and witchlings). How will the Havilliard line continue?

    Dorian:
    – He’s a bit fragile right now
    – I feel it’s a bit too soon for him to be involved with someone romantically. In not even a year yet he’s fallen in love with Celaena/Aelin and Sorscha (Sorry, I never bought that Sorcha “insta-love relationship f-ckery. Not even a little bit. That too felt contrived af. It was my BIGGEST problem with HoF, ugh!), got taken over by a valg, killed his daddy and a bunch of other people.

    Some points I’ve read elsewhere I really agree with:

    “Dorian NEEDS and DESERVES to be loved by someone and he needs an equal who will help better him and his Kingdom. Manon doesn’t seem to fall into that category as of right now. However she might develop and change in the next 2 books to be someone deserving of Dorian. And that’s another thing (don’t get me wrong) Manon doesn’t really…deserve someone like Dorian right now…Dorian has been imprisoned in his own body and had to struggle against evil being his only example for basically all of his life, yet he still manages to see the good in people and accept them for who they are (Aelin and Chaol being some) and I don’t doubt that he will see the good in Manon too. But Manon is an immortal Badass, almost unfeeling Crazy/twisted and subservient Ironteeth Witch (possibly Matron in the future) who wants nothing but to be ruler of the WESTERN WASTES….I mean she had over 100 years to feel something for her 13 and she is only just now questioning things. I definitely agree that I don’t feel quite right about Shipping her with Dorian at this point.”

    “It seems really strange because they like to drink Mortal blood…and the Yellowlegs EAT little girls. It’s rather disturbing. I mean Manon has been slowly coming away from that but she still thinks about it and has been raised to believe that it’s completely normal because WHAT’S A MORTAL TO A WITCH? Yaknow ? It’s quite frankly very creepy and though I do like Manon as a character and Asterin especially, seeing her with Dorian seems weird right now. Like I said I’m not against it per se but I don’t know about it working either.”

    “”Manon is kinda bloodthirsty so idk if that would be good, for Dorian specifically.
    There’s also the fact that Manon keeps going on about how all she wants is to return “home” to the witches homeland or whatever. So Idk if being w/ Dorian would get in the way of that or not.”

    Dorian is rather fragile right now. He’s gone through so much lately and I think he really just needs something stable for once. I would very much look forward to them having some sort of significant connection at the very least.

  4. Pingback: Top Books of 2015 | Rowan Reads and Raves

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