Review: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) – Sarah J Maas

queen of shadowsThe 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.

Rating: 4/5

Y’ALL KNOW YOU WANNA KNOW WHAT I THOUGHT!

Still pretty fantastic, despite my misgivings and criticisms. I didn’t read this one when it came out, namely because I saw all the reactions and I had some serious doubts about the book – I also wanted to let the hype calm down so I could read it without being overwhelmed by everyone else’s opinions.

And I’m glad I waited – I just picked it up, thought ‘It’s time’, dived in, and resurfaced two days later. Ha. The author can weave an adventure story like it’s nobody’s business, even if QoS did involve rather a lot of running back and forth. She kept my attention, she kept me invested, and that’s really all that matters.

I promised myself that this would be a super-short point-form review, since everyone else has pretty much said what I thought, but somehow I found myself with PLENTY to say regardless.

Now, there are three specific areas I’d like to address in my review. And let’s get the obvious one out of the way.

SPOILERS AHEAD FOR REST OF REVIEW.

The Romance & Character Development

Ae-2

Yeah, so my ship was battered viciously on the rocks, and then shattered into a million little pieces, to be washed up as flotsam and jetsam years from now on the beach of some forlorn island…Wait, am I being overdramatic?

Yeah, I’m a little bummed, but the romance was really not the only reason I was reading my book. And I can see why the author did it.

(Apart from the fact that I think it’s good that a female heroine as romantic options, that she doesn’t always have to stick with first and second loves, etc.)

Celaena was partly an act, Aelin is who she really is. And I didn’t like her very much in this book, but I’m still A-okay with having unlikable female characters, as long as they are well-developed. She’s ruthless. She can be quite a bitch. She steamrollers everyone and everything in her path. She has very much changed from who she used to be, and it makes sense that the person who was romantically right for her then isn’t that same person now. If there’s one thing this book really did, it was very much to highlight everybody’s glaring flaws.

And Chaol. Precious cinnamon roll, to good for this world. At first, I agreed with those who mentioned that his character development seemed to be going backwards in this one, not forwards. But then I thought again, and I disagreed. The situation reminds me a little of Katniss in Mockingjay (book), where everyone was like ‘Katniss was so mopey all the time’ and I’m like ‘THE WOMAN HAS PTSD AND IS TRAUMATISED THAT IS ENTIRELY REALISTIC.”

Chaol here – he’s very much aware of his human fragilities – too aware that he cannot compete with Aelin, Rowan or Aedion 0r indeed, their magical foes; he’s lost the one thing that meant everything to him and was also clearly his Achille’s heel – namely his honour; he left his best friend behind him to pretty much be enslaved – of course he’s going to be on edge, angry, hurting. He is utterly powerless. Furthermore, he’s the moral compass of the group – he repeatedly questions who or what will keep powers of Aelin and the like in check. He is right to fear magic, or at least look upon it with distaste. What possible defences do the ordinary humans have against  it?

A new world, yes. But a world in which the ordinary human voice would be nothing more than a whisper.

/the defense rests

In terms of the romances in the book, I did cringe quite a lot. Nesryn, while I like her, seems like a convenient bone to throw to Chaol(‘s boner…wait, what?!), much like Sorscha was for Dorian in the previous book.

Ans in terms of some of Aelin and Rowan’s scenes, I had to double check I wasn’t reading some paranormal romance novel, complete with alpha-male he-man. I really loved their platonic friendship in the previous book, but in this one, it felt too over-the-top. I think part of my issue is that Rowan feels like a caricature to me – I want more insight into his past, his motivations, his likes and dislikes –  but it’s just ‘Aelin Aelin Aelin you smell good GRRRRRR’.

That’s also my issue with Aedion – he also seems like a caricature of alpha male – I would have liked to see more character depth to him too. Alas. It was just him and Rowan growling over Aelin the entire time. Although he did bring some welcome comic relief. (Especially when the poor boy couldn’t even pee in front of Aelin so she had to turn on the taps full blast and sing very loudly.)

“Thank you for your spectacular rescue. Let’s never do it again.”

(I was secretly hoping for an Aedion/Rowan ship, haha – but while they’re firmly on the side of brothers, apparently, Aedion does refer to Rowan as handsome. Twice. So I’ll totally hang onto that.)

Finally, I love how a character who only featured in the prequel novellas still manages to have quite an impression in this book. That takes skill, dear author. Oh my poor sweet Sam.

Friendships

The friendships in this book are simply glorious. Hear that? SIMPLY GLORIOUS. Some new, some old, some recovering from break-ups and identity reveals (HA), some bordering on brotherhood (Dorian/Chaol) and sisterhood (Manon/Asterin).

I mean, Dorian and Chaol. From ‘I love you’s’ in the HoF to weeping all over each other, foreheads touching… We need more demonstrative dudely friendships. I approve.

Lysandra and Aelin were also wonderful together. After Nehemia, there was rather a dearth of female friendship. I especially like the fact that they both realise what (understandable) idiots they were as teenage girls.

And our original trio, at the end. After all they’ve been through. The way they try to save each other, over and over again. The gestures they make towards each other, despite everything that’s happened between them. Hearts in my eyes, man.

Female Characters

“You are sacred vessels,” the duke said. “It is an honour to be chosen.”
“I find that a very male thing to assume.”

The first three books were rather saturated with males, but QoS really brought the ladies to the fore. And again, how glorious they were. Manon and Asterin and Lysandra and Elide and Kaltain and Nesryn. I like how they represent different manifestations of female strength – not necessarily all physical fighters – some fight back with powers, some with pure cunning and manipulation and their sheer wits and tenacity. I like how we see women protecting other women from the men who would do them harm. 

Ae-3Verdict? Not flawless, but so full of very many things that I loved, that I can totally overlook what I didn’t. Utterly fierce, bold and unrelenting.

“You came back,” he said, as if that were an answer.
They joined hands.
So the world ended.
And the next one began.

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19 thoughts on “Review: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) – Sarah J Maas

  1. I haven’t read book 3 yet – gah! But I am planning on getting back to it and I’m glad that the series is still going strong. They tend to slacken after a few books sometimes, and I was wondering if this would be the case here too…

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  2. i totally agree about Chaol, I obviously don’t like him as much as you do, but I didn’t think he was out of character AT ALL. He was hurting and his reactions weren’t that much different from when he was hurting in the previous books. good review 😉

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  3. I WANT TO READ THIS BOOK ❤ I'm still in Heir of Fire so I didn't read your entire review because of the spoilers 😦 But I'm glad to hear you really enjoyed the book! I saw this book in the bookstore last week, and it's incredibly MASSIVE. It's thicker than some textbooks in my school 😛

    Jillian @ Jillian’s Books

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  4. Although I am a Rowaelin fan, I do admit that the romance part they had was very jarring to the tone of the rest of the book, I hope SJM tones down on the animalistic lust thing they have going on because it’s SO AWKS. I like your assessment of Chaol a lot!!

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  5. “Chaol, precious cinnamon bun.” Hahahaha love it. You hit on many of the same thoughts I had. I wasn’t crazy about the romance, but it also wasn’t the main reason I was reading. I did have issues with the pacing and the focus on Rowan, but I agree that Celaena was part act, so it makes sense that Aelin was different.

    C.J.
    Sarcasm & Lemons

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