Written by: Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Pages: 648, Hardback
Series: Throne of Glass, #4
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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 contrinues Celaena’s epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.
How do I even begin to explain Queen of Shadows.
The last book, Heir of Fire, was mainly set-up and (amazing) character development, not too heavy on things actually happening until the very end. On the other hand, Queen of Shadows was an Everything Happens So Much book, full of fun action scenes, brain-exploding reveals, and the beginning and continued build of some wonderful relationships. This is probably the Throne of Glass book I had the best reading experience with, though Heir of Fire is still my favorite.
To be honest, Queen of Shadows feels a little bit like fanfiction. I know a lot of people who have said that mean it in a bad way, but I don’t think feeling like fanfiction is necessarily a good thing or a bad thing. In this case, I’m leaning more towards ‘good’.
I feel like, even with the awesomeness that was Heir of Fire, I’ve still been going back and forth about whether or not I like the series as a whole for the past year, and Queen of Shadows cemented that, YES, I love this series, Aelin is the queen of my heart, the secondary characters are all beautiful (and OH MY GOD this book had SO MANY amazing female characters and friendships! that was for sure my favorite thing about the book), I’m emotional about a million different, and this series is a ride-or-die for me.
Since this has been a point of contention for the fandom, I’m going to address Chaol and his relationship with Aelin. First of all, I genuinely don’t understand how anyone can read this book from beginning to end and hate Chaol, or think Sarah J. Maas wanted them to hate Chaol, especially with that ending. Maybe the fandom was making such a big deal out of it that I was expecting him to be completely terrible and he…wasn’t. He had his asshole moments, but so did Aelin, and I understood where he was coming from and thought he actually brought up a few good points. I also think Chaol’s worse moments in this book, while more extreme than we’re used to, came from flaws that were established in previous books.
I don’t think the conflict was handled perfectly. Some of the accusations Chaol and Aelin threw at each other did make me squint a little, but I had to remind myself that neither of them had read Heir of Fire, so they had no way of knowing what the other person had been through the past few months. I also felt like the narrative framed Chaol as being wrong and Aelin being right a little too much–I would have preferred a balance there–but of course Chaol turned out to be right about a very important thing. Add in Chaol’s unflinching loyalty to Dorian and his actions at the end of the book and…yeah, I have more good things than bad to say here.
Also, I’m really happy that at the moment, all signs point firmly away from Aelin ending up with either of the guys from the original love triangle. I shipped Chaolaena a lot in the first two books, and when I reread Crown of Midnight recently I still felt a lot of things about them, but it’s over now and I’m fine with that. I’ve read so many books with love triangles where it was really obvious who the main character would end up with from the beginning that it just makes me really happy that Sarah J. Maas broke away from the format instead of dragging it out for the whole series. And I know people complain about how many love interests Aelin has had (I don’t think four in three years is all that much but that’s beside the point) but I do think it allows for some great messages: that you can fall in love more than once, that you can have more than one soulmate, that someone can be great for you at a certain time of your life but not so much at another, that just because it doesn’t work out romantically doesn’t mean you can’t be friends. And I love that the romance is pretty secondary; it’s an important part of Aelin’s life, but it definitely isn’t the only part.
This book is just So Much. My brain is bursting with things to say. I didn’t love everything about it, but I loved a lot of things, more than I ever would have expected to love in a Throne of Glass book when I started the series. Queen of Shadows is filled to the brim with excitement and adventure and feelings and women being awesome and I can’t wait for books five and six to explode my brain even more.