Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

*Because this is the 4th book in this series, there are going to be spoilers. If you haven’t read the first 3 books in the Throne of Glass series, I wouldn’t recommend reading this review! Run away!*

“When you shatter the chains of this world and forge the next, remember that art is as vital as food to a kingdom. Without it, the kingdom is nothing, and will be forgotten by time.”

queen of shadows

Synopsis from GoodreadsThe 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.

Feelings: Entertainment wise, this book was EVERYTHING. While reading the last 150 pages, I had verbal and physical reactions to the action and unexpected everything. I’d get to the end of a chapter with a “WHAT?!” or honestly, a “HOW DID THAT WHAT THE WHAT’S HOW?!” I took notes while reading (because it’s 645 pages and I kept forgetting who did what) and one of my notes literally says, “Last 100 pages. I’M DEAD. Lysandra YES. Nesryn YES.” There were so many out of the blue WHAT moments that have me wanting to give Maas some kind of award for writing.  I’ve said it before, and I want it written on my tombstone, “Maas is a master.”

My favorite scene from this book was Aedion’s rescue. I loved Aelin’s conversations with Florine, the dance master. I loved how the dancers caused the distraction with the glass flowers and reactive powder. I loved her tough love to get that big oaf moving faster as she got Aedion the heck out of there. I just…I think this was one of the first action scenes of the book where I was hooked and couldn’t stop reading. It was like I was reminded of why I love Maas’ writing so much and I began reading in chunks of like 100 pages.

Issues: Seriously? The ultimate bad guy is actually Duke Perrington? There has to be some other twist there, because I just don’t believe that. I have a very small theory that Dorian’s brother, Hollin, is going to turn out to be important later on in the series. Is the demon king actually taking up residence in him? But seriously, though…THE DUKE? I’m having a hard time processing that. I don’t find it believable…unless there’s even more backstory that I’m missing…which is probably the case.

Characters: Ok…I have a lot of opinions that have been building over the course of many books. Stay with me.

Aelin – LONG LIVE THE QUEEN. Dang, girl. She is something seriously fierce. Aelin is the Queen of all things Trickery. Thank you, Sarah J. Maas, for not having Aelin spill out her plan before everything she did. I couldn’t predict a single outcome in this novel and I loved it. The last of Celaena Sardothian has slipped away, and the Queen of Terrasen has finally come into herself. I love the depth and complexity this adds to the series. Some books have characters who grow and change over time, but this character literally grows and actually changes into someone else as the series continues. Maas has done it well, so I’m on board. I was so happy when Aedion and Aelin reunited! I hadn’t realized how much they needed each other until they were finally together. Aelin and Rowan…in HoF they were all “we’re just friends” and platonicly whatever. I love that QoS starts up a romance with them, but it’s not the sole focus of the book, it’s not like it’s driving the plot forward. But what hasn’t Aelin had any kind of mating reaction to him? You know? The way it’s described in this series always makes me think of imprinting in the Twilight series. Has that not happened because Rowan isn’t her mate? I guess we’ll find out! And when she tricked us about the whole Arobynn ring thing?! Ahh! Aelin is my hero forever and ever amen.

Rowan – I finally feel like I understand him! If he wasn’t a POV character, I would still be struggling with who he is, exactly. He’s one character that’s done a LOT of developing over the last 2 books. He’s actually kind and thoughtful and funny, as opposed to the brutish and controlling beast I thought he was. I really liked how he showed up and started dropping truth bombs on everyone. Oh, Aedion? He’s Gavriel’s son. Lysandra? She’s obvi a shapeshifter. WHAT? Bring those fae senses over here, Rowan! I love how Aedion saw Rowan as some fictional hero, like how we see Hercules. He didn’t behave the way I expected him to around Rowan, but by the end of the book they were bros and I wanted MORE.

Dorian – I really liked his character in the first few books, but I wasn’t necessarily a passenger on the Aelin/Dorian ship. As Aelin became more queen-like and less champion Celaena-like, I could see her compatibility with Dorian slipping. I couldn’t understand his draw to Sorcha in HoF, so I was already kind of meh about him as I picked up this book. THEN that first chapter happened and I was hooked. I knew his *literal* internal struggle with a DEMON PRINCE would be captivating. I was so very right. His connection with Manon is one thing I’m really interested to get more of in the next book. I’m also ready for him to own that ice power and rule Adarlan. Don’t take any pages out of Elsa’s icy book, though. You be you.

Lysandra – New favorite character right here. I read The Assassain’s Blade before I read QoS, which I think is necessary. Lysandra annoyed the heck out of me in that book, but in this one she was the best. I want her to be my best friend. Female companionship was something that Aelin’s character desperately needed and Lysandra was the perfect candidate. Plus, she can totally rock being a shapeshifter. I’m really excited for more of that in the next book. She wants true love and Aedion has a lot to offer. That needs to happen STAT.

Manon – In Heir of Fire, I found some of the Manon chapters a little tedious and boring. In QoS, however, I was SO intrigued. I was anxious to learn more information about Elide, I wanted to see what was up with Asterin’s behavior, and KALTAIN the Devourer of Worlds was YES. And Manon’s fight scene with Aelin was SO INTENSE. I love when POV characters finally meet. I’m really curious about how her character will evolve now that there’s magic again. I’m not sure we fully understand the extent of a witch’s power when they actually have access to magic. Also, I’m really looking forward to seeing how she changes things in the new witch regime that, let’s face it, she’s going to bring about. Down with her grandmother and up with Team Manon.

Chaol – Honestly, he’s never been my favorite character. This series just has so many strong female characters that I tend to rally behind one of them. He’s had a lot of personal issues going on in the last couple of books, like realizing the man he was serving (the King) wasn’t the right horse to back. Then he put all his money on Dorian, only for him to get taken over by a demon prince. Poor guy just couldn’t catch a break. In this book, he really had to decide what was worth fighting for and go after it. Stick with Nesryn, Chaol. She’ll guide you along the right path. 

Comparisons: Literature wise, this book wasn’t a perfect 10. But like I said, this book had everything you could want out of an entertaining novel. This is probably my favorite book in the series, but I also really loved Crown of Midnight. This book had so much action and a lot of loose ends tied up. For the series as a whole, though, this book felt like the climax. With two books left in the series, I feel we’re headed towards the resolution at this point.

Final thoughts: Yes, you should read The Assassain’s Blade before you read this. There were MANY references to things that happened over the course of those novellas. Plus, it’s vitally important that you see just how freaking creepy Arobynn really is. There are so many things I’m looking forward to in the next book. It better be 700 pages long, minimum, because I’m not going to want to stop reading.

If you liked this book, you should check out:

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (see my full review here)

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Goodreads rating: 4.69/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.8/5

My rating: 5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

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