Book: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4)
Author: Sarah J Maas
This book again took me a while to read, because it was a beast of a book at 648 pages! I have to say, I’m slightly unsure of what to think of this book. I flew through the last third or so of the book, I really enjoyed that, but the rest of it, I wasn’t entirely sure. There were definitely parts that I enjoyed, but I don’t feel like it lived up to the expectations I had for it and I definitely feel like I preferred Heir of Fire. I kind of felt like it was overly long, there was a lot of slow stuff that you had to get through in order to get to the good stuff and while that’s all well and good and I understand that there needed to be a lot of planning in order to get to the end, but I did feel like my attention was kind of wavering at some points. Here is the synopsis for the book:
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.
Like I said, it’s kind of difficult for me to review this book, because it’s hard for me to exactly pinpoint what didn’t work for me. It’s one of those books where I did enjoy it, but I didn’t love it to the point where I’m crazy fangirling and incredibly excited in my reviews. I found it just okay and those are often the hardest books to review. I think the length of it was a big problem for me, because essentially, when you take all of the extra stuff out of the book, there were only two big things that needed to be done, rescuing Aedion from the castle and freeing Dorian/freeing magic/freeing the King. Everything between those two big things is kind of all just set-up which after a while, gets a little dull. I definitely think this book could have done with some page culling, it probably could have been shortened by at least 100 or so pages, as there definitely felt like there were some chapters in this that weren’t entirely necessary.
I wasn’t keen on the whole Rowan/Aelin romance thing. I didn’t really see the chemistry between the two of them and it kind of seemed to come out of nowhere. I mean there were kind of hints in Heir of Fire that they might become more than friends and I wouldn’t have minded if there had been some build-up, like their feelings of friendship slowly blossomed into romance but it all seems too sudden and out of the blue. Plus, what I really loved about their relationship was that they were just friends! You don’t get that too often in YA fiction and it was really refreshing to see. I could probably still be convinced of their romance but at the moment, not a fan. Plus it is kind of gross their relationship, if you really think about it, given that she is 19 and he is like 300+. It’s not okay! This romance felt like a reduction of both their characters, I mean Rowan is this all powerful fae and he spent a lot of time fawning over Aelin and Aelin is this powerful queen and she spent a lot of time parading around in her nightwear like a little girl. Plus, I don’t really think Aelin needs another romance right now, she’s only 19 and she’s already been hurt so badly, I feel like it would be so much better to give her time to develop on her own, rather than throwing another romantic entanglement in there.
I officially love Lysandra! I never thought I would say this after Assassin’s Blade because I wasn’t exactly keen on her in that, but it turns out she’s awesome! I love that we got to find out about her history in this book and I liked the reveal that she had magic and the power she had I felt made so much sense for her. I loved her relationship with Aelin, it was nice to see her have a close female friend again. In fact, I wish we’d seen more of her, because I really enjoyed the scenes with her in. Her character in this book didn’t really match with the Lysandra from The Assassin’s Blade, but it has been two years since the events of that book in this one, so I’m fully willing to accept that she would have changed over that length of time. She has some cute little moments with Aedion as well, so I’d quite like to see where that relationship goes.
I love Manon, she’s really awesome but again it felt like the witches chapters didn’t really fit in with everything else that was going on. By the end, I kind of got how everything tied together, but I felt like some of the chapters with the witches needed a little bit more substance to them. I liked the introduction of Elide Lochan, a character who was mentioned in Heir of Fire, but we actually got to see her here and I really liked her. She was quite a complex character and I’m really intrigued by her. I definitely want to find out more about her in the next book, like what magic does she have? It’s hinted that she may have some, but it’s never revealed, so I really want to see that next book! I also definitely want to see her and Aelin meet again, they knew each other as kids but haven’t met in a decade, so it will be quite interesting to see how they interact.
The witches story did tie in better in this book that it did in Heir of Fire, although it wasn’t really until the end of the book that we were told how the witches’ story tied in with the main story. Still the witches’ storyline saved the first half of the book for me, because the stuff in Rifthold, aside from Aedion’s rescue, wasn’t all that interesting. The whole thing with Duke Perrington trying to breed Valg with witches was quite interesting and it seems like SJM is setting Manon up for a confrontation with her grandmother which would be epic if it happens! I also liked getting to see what became of Kaltain. I felt so bad for her and was so happy when she finally got her revenge. I loved the Manon x Aelin showdown, that was one of my favourite parts of the book and I really want to see them team up at some point because they would be unstoppable! I also love Manon’s friendship with Asterin and I loved Asterin in this book. She kind of acted as Manon’s voice of reason and steered her in the right direction which I thought was really cool. I love the way Manon’s character is developing and how she is learning how to embrace feelings other than bloodthirstiness. I hope to see this continue in future books.
I’m quite interested in the possible hints dropped about a Manon/Dorian romance, but at the same time, it’s the same situation as Rowan/Aelin, kind of gross given that he’s only 20 and she’s over a century old. Still, I am intrigued as to where Sarah J Maas is going with this one. It did seem kind of random though, not going to lie. Does everyone need to be paired with someone? Well I say no, but apparently SJM does not agree with me!
I was disappointed with the way things turned out with Arobynn. Not how his story ended, that was fine, but I felt like the whole Aelin/Arobynn confrontation had kind of been built up and in the end it didn’t end up being as big a deal as it should have been. I was expecting this big showdown between the two of them and it never really materialised. Also, not going to lie, but I thought the way that Arobynn went down was kind of pathetic. I was expecting so much more! He’s the King of the Assassins, he should have been harder to take down than he was.
Chaol was kind of out of character in the beginning of the book and I felt he and Aelin were overly nasty to each other in a way that wasn’t necessary. Sure, things were bound to be awkward because they didn’t part on great terms, but I didn’t feel like they needed to be as outwardly nasty to each other as they were. Plus he was kind of overlooked for most of the book until right at the very end, which didn’t seem entirely fair given that he’s one of the main characters. The one constant of his character was his unwavering determination to rescue Dorian though and I loved that because they have always been so close and I loved his scenes towards the end when they are freeing magic because he had a much bigger role and it felt like he was back to the old Chaol that we knew and loved. Although I have to say, his ending was so sad, I hope there is a little more happiness for him in the next book.
We were introduced to Nesryn Faliq in this book, a new character, she’s a WOC who is fighting for the rebel cause and was a city guard. I really liked her character but she did sort of just exist to be Chaol’s new love interest and to hammer home the point that Chaol and Celaena had moved on. I didn’t mind her developing relationship with Chaol because it’s developed quite nicely and doesn’t go too quickly but I would have liked a little more individual character development for her. I’m hoping that this happens in the next book?
I also kind of felt like I wanted to see more of the Aedion/Aelin relationship. It’s made such a big deal of in the first part of the book and I loved his rescue scene, it was all kinds of epic and their reunion scene the next morning where they get to know each other again after having been apart for so long was really heartwarming, but we don’t really get to see much of their relationship after that, which kind of sucked because a big part of the first part of the book was getting Aedion back. I hope we get to see more of their relationship in the next book and maybe less of the Rowan/Aelin relationship? It did kind of feel that other relationships (and I mean friendships, not necessarily romance) kind of suffered in this book because Maas was heavily pushing the Rowan/Aelin stuff. I hope this changes in the next book. I’d also like a little bit more character development for Aedion next book, because it kind of seemed as if he was only there to be the muscle in this book.
I also wasn’t entirely keen that some of the biggest plot twists took place off page. Lots of time throughout the book, there are some really intense scenes that are only resolved because of something Aelin did off-page that we don’t get to see and I didn’t really like that.
The last 40% or so of the book was epic! Seriously, I got to around chapter 70 and could not put the book down, I sped through all of the chapters from there to about chapter 80 and it was so intense and amazing and just AGGHHHH! I can’t even, it was so exciting! I loved the climax that the story came to, you know an author is doing something right when it’s 2am and you’re still reading! I loved the little hints of Dorian and Chaol friendship in the last few chapters of the book and I would like much more of this please! I also liked seeing the Aelin/Dorian friendship we got at the end of the book as we haven’t had that in a while and I really love their friendship, so I would love to see that continue in the next book. I am kind of wondering where the series will actually go next, a lot was resolved in this book, so I’m kind of wondering how much epicness there is left for the last two books and since Queen of Shadows didn’t leave off on an obvious cliffhanger, there’s no obvious starting point for book 5.
I just want to give a quick mention here to how much I loved the scene where she visited Sam’s grave, I thought it was really beautifully done and it was a scene that I didn’t know I needed until I read it. Kind of wish it had been a moment where she had just been alone, rather than bringing Rowan with her, but it didn’t distract from the beauty of the scene so I didn’t mind too much.
I hated how possessive Aedion and Rowan were over Aelin, like, the girl can protect herself, she doesn’t need you to fight her battles for her and they were so possessive, to the point of being physically aggressive at times which I really didn’t like. I did like the friendship that eventually developed between the two of them though.
I did feel like the transition from Celaena to Aelin seemed kind of rushed. She seemed like a totally different person in this book and whilst I love that she accepted her name and her heritage and her queenship and everything in the last book, I felt like she completely tried to forget who she was as Celaena and I didn’t like that because Celaena did have some good qualities. Aelin for the most part was just a bitch for most of the story. I felt like Aelin had lost some of the good qualities that Celaena had and although I felt she had redeemed herself by the end, I hope that in the next book we see her showing more of the qualities that we liked from Celaena. I also didn’t like that Aelin showed hatred toward her former identity because Celaena is part of who she is and I’d like to see her accept that. I also didn’t like how indestructable and perfect Aelin came across, I would have liked to see her show a little more vulnerability. Basically, I didn’t like that SJM was trying to make Aelin and Celaena seem like two totally different people, Aelin spent more than half her life as Celaena and I just wish that this had been acknowledged. I also didn’t like that she was willing to kill Dorian, Celaena would never have wanted to do that, she would have wanted to find a way to save her friend no matter what it took, where Aelin was only willing to give him one minute before she killed him. Sure, she redeemed herself in the end but I didn’t like that she was even willing to consider killing Dorian. She also came across as kind of Mary-sueish, overly powerful, so cunning that she had her game plan done weeks in advance and it near enough always went the way she planned and everyone constantly gushed about how perfect she was, it got a little annoying after a while.
It was kind of sad that Dorian was such a small part of this book considering how the biggest cliffhanger of the last book was centred on him, but I guess that was kind of to be expected since he was possessed by a Valg demon for most of the book. His scenes made me so sad, I hope the next book is so much better for him, because poor Dorian wasn’t exactly having a great time in this book!
I do like that with each book, the world expands and becomes more complex and layered and I’m really looking forward to the next book, because we’re going to get to see Terrasen and I can’t wait to see even more of this amazing world that Sarah J Maas has created.
I’ve seen complaints about the twist that was introduced with the King of Adarlan at the end, but I actually liked it and thought it was really well done. I kind of wish we could have heard more from him before the big climax happened (can’t really say too much about it without spoilers!) as he was finally starting to get more interesting as a character and not just being this generic evil guy.
The writing as usual was lovely, if there is one thing that I have come to expect from Sarah J Maas, it is beautiful writing and in that regard, this book definitely does not disappoint, there are many quotable lines from it, which I loved.
Overall, this book did actually have many things that I loved about it. The action scenes were brilliant, the female characters are all so brilliant and badass and I loved that we finally had another strong female friendship in this book, with the Lysandra/Aelin friendship (well Lysandra in general is just awesome!), there were certain scenes that I really liked and the ending was definitely explosive, so I didn’t hate the book by any means. However, I had a lot of issues with it, the pacing was off and the character development was off and this definitely hindered my enjoyment of the book. The ending also felt like it was too neat, everything was too wrapped up and I find it hard to see how Sarah J Maas can get another two books out of this story. One maybe, but two seems like it may be dragging it out a bit, especially with the pacing problems in this book. My expectations after Heir of Fire were maybe a little too high but I can’t help but have a slightly bitter taste in my mouth after this book. I will still continue on with this series to it’s end because I love the characters, but after this one, it will definitely be with a bit more trepidation.
My Rating: 3.5/5 (I added the extra 0.5 for the climax because it was so epic!)
The next book I will be reviewing is the final book in the Divergent trilogy, Allegiant by Veronica Roth. I am slightly nervous about reading this as it seems to be very polarizing, but I would like to make up my own mind about it, so I guess we’ll see what I make of it!
Oh and before I forget:
Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you’ve all had a good one!