Synopsis: 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.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Genres: High Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, Action
Other books in the series:
“Maybe the world should burn”
Epicness. That’s the only word I can think of to describe Queen of Shadows in order to encompass its complexity and awesomeness, because while I loved Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight blew my mind away and Heir of Fire broke my heart into teensy tiny pieces, neither of those installments felt as grand as this one — worlds collided, debts were paid and a queen rose to her glory.
“Let’s go rattle the stars.”
I’m going to start by saying that I’ve read it twice in a matter of days — once devouring it cover-to-cover, fueled by that insatiable need to find out what the hell happens next (pulling an all-nighter, if I might add), and then simply to savor its cleverness, awed yet again at Sarah’s ingenuity. But as I finished it for the second time, I realized something extremely important: QoS is a tribute to strong, tough heroines, main and secondary alike.
“Please,” Lysandra said, waving a manicured hand, “you and I are nothing but wild beasts wearing human skins. Don’t even try to deny it.”
You will be completely astonished with the unraveling of Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, because in reality you haven’t exactly met her until now. You see, she’s the same heroine we’ve come to love during these past 3 (4) books and yet a different persona. Every trait of Celaena Sardothiens is magnified and combined in such a masterful way to create a unique character. She’s still an arrogant, stubborn, brave and sassy young woman, but she undergoes a spectacular character-development into a cunning, determined and fierce queen. Aelin is completely in control and she makes a statement in bold capital letters that she doesn’t buy any bullshit and that she’s ready to reclaim back everything that was taken from her. And oh, boy, she does it in style.
“I went too long without demanding retribution. I have no interest in forgiveness.”
In addition to that, she has matured a long way and, for the first time, she shed her impulsiveness for being open-minded, calculating and often kind. Aelin managed (through those crushing sessions of healing from HoF) to lose some of her darkness and her real strength — spiritual and physical alike — finally shone in this installment, making me so proud of her at this point. And I’d bet a good deal that Sam and Nehemia are freaking proud of her too. *sobs*
“I miss you,” she said. “Every day, I miss you. And I wonder what you would have made of all this. Made of me. I think—I think you would have been a wonderful king. I think they would have liked you more than me, actually.” Her throat tightened. “I never told you—how I felt. But I loved you, and I think a part of me might always love you. Maybe you were my mate, and I never knew it. Maybe I’ll spend the rest of my life wondering about that. Maybe I’ll see you again in the Afterworld, and then I’ll know for sure. But until then … until then I’ll miss you, and I’ll wish you were here.”
Now onto the next awesome woman and quite possibly my favorite character from this book: Manon Blackbeak. She was completely fabulous in a mind-boggling manner. I never would have expected her wonderful character-development: she is not all about discipline and obedience anymore. She starts wondering. She starts plotting. She starts taking a stand, slowly but surely, like Dorian did in CoM and later in HoF. She’s gloriously wicked, but she’s no evil and I utterly loved her. I cannot wait for when her defiance will leave the witches kneeling at her feet.
And damn, when those two met?! Shots fired. Fireworks exploded. And badassery was brought to a whole new level. It was by far my favorite scene out of the whole novel, managing to exceed my expectations thousand fold — they were deadly and powerful and so goddamn magnificent I was literally fangirling. The encounter in its entirety was astounding by starting out surprisingly and unfolding in an incredible way that only increased my adoration for both kick-ass chicks.
“We are the masters of our own fates—we decide how to go forward.”
The attention falls equally on some other ladies. Prepare to fall helplessly in love with Asterin. She’s so strong and loyal and her story will move you to tears. We finally get reacquainted with Kaltain and she’s not in a place full of flying unicorns and pink rainbows — she’s basically in her own hellhole. There were a few fascinating developments that transformed her into a worthy, lethal player. Nonetheless, her inner strength was awe-inspiring and I ended up regretting that we didn’t get to know her better before. She was hands down amazing and she has my unwavering respect and admiration.
“She did it for herself. To free herself. And she was entitled to. After what they did, she was entitled to rip the entire damn world to shreds.”
This book allowed us to meet new kick-ass females: Lysandra, who was nothing short of amazing and surprising; Elide Lochan, who was determined and immensely brave; and Nesryn Faliq, who was simply awesome in every way. I loved and cheered for them all.
And now let’s fuss over the boys. Firstly, Chaol. His reunion with Aelin was all sorts of shit, no, this-can’t-be-happening, and I was mad at him for his demeanor. With that being said, I can assure you he remained true to his character throughout the whole book, his loyal, selfless traits reminding me why I like him so much and his insecurities being in sync with his overall upbringing, legacy and priorities. With Dorian’s safety being his ultimate goal, his desperation is just gut-wrenching.
“Oath-breaker. Liar. Traitor. Chaol was all of those things now, but not to Dorian. Never to his true king.”
Speaking of Dorian, my sweet, precious and innocent cinnamon roll. He killed me in this book. Killed me with his few and far between chapter POVs that had him in pure, unaltered agony and pain. Killed me with his loneliness, with his sense of being lost, with his acceptance that he’ll drown in an ocean of misery and cold. And finally he killed me with his force to constantly fight back, with the desire to tear free of the monster inside him and with the protection he bestowed on his loved ones. He’s done kneeling before others and he is forever changed, but wonderfully so. I loved loved loved him, even when he broke my heart.
“I am going to destroy everything you love.”
Aedion was undoubtedly a new favorite of mine. The fact that he’s Aelin’s male version is only a shade of his real personality — he had me tearing up and smiling at the same time with his boundless love for his queen and his loyalty and sarcasm were a recipe for instant swooning. Oh, and his father? I went bazinga.
“Behind them, across the hall, the dancers shattered their roses on the floor, and Aedion grinned at his queen as the entire world went to hell.”
We meet again with the King of Assassins, Arobynn Hamel, and he did not disappoint with his cruel, scheming, controlling self. He was a ruthless bastard but the satisfaction I felt when the pupil outwitted the master was priceless. Bon voyage, you shameless asshole.
“Tell me what I must do to atone; tell me to crawl over hot coals, to sleep on a bed of nails, to carve up my flesh. Say the word, and it is done. But let me care for you as I once did, before … before that madness poisoned my heart. Punish me, torture me, wreck me, but let me help you. Do this small thing for me—and let me lay the world at your feet.”
Rowan Whitethorn is yet again a main focus of the book and I enjoyed everything about him. His devotion, his wisdom, his alpha-male intensity and not to mention the rare moments when he let emotions overtake him. Aelin’s effect on him really brings out sides we haven’t met before and the fact that he was, at times, sweet (yes, I’m talking about the King of Stoicism) continues to blow me away.
But the best part about these characters is not even themselves. Their intricate relationships are the real deal. The bromances are flawless — Dorian and Chaol redefine friendship, Aedion and Rowan set the backbone of a brotherhood for ages, Aelin and Manon bring a delicious and unpredictable frenemy dynamic to the table and the queen regains female companionship through Lysandra. Aelin and Aedion are even more amazing then I ever would’ve imagined and their reunion was all kinds of splendid (I was crying, goddamit) and the Thirteen prove again just how much of a family they can be. Besides these, the original trio crawl their way to being once again a marvelous team — Dorian and Aelin is possibly the best thing ever, maybe only topped by Dorian and Chaol. Banter and kinship and support and dedication are all etched deeply in every single relationship, giving them an almost magical quality.
“For her friends, for her family, she would gladly be a monster. For Rowan, for Dorian, for Nehemia, she would debase and degrade and ruin herself.”
Now — expect romance. The wowza kind. The slow-burning kind. The tension off the charts kind. One ship is sailing fast, folks, and it is steamy and romantic and snarky and just asdfghjkl. I’m not saying who it is just in case you escaped the spoilers. There are new feelings on the horizon for a certain male and I hope it will come to fruition soon. And and and maybe I’m a fool to hope or even bring it into discussion, but do I sense Dorian and Manon?!? BECAUSE I’M DOWN FOR THAT, MAAS.
All my talk about characters shows how incredibly balanced QoS is, because this book is very much plot orientated. So many twists coming from Arobynn and the Valg world and the rebel cause and bitch queen Maeve and the King and the Duke (turns out he’s a key player) and I can’t even. The Valg plotline is an endless well of terrifying territory and it seems that we’ll venture further into their scary world. It’s thrilling, jaw-dropping and fabulously written. The last 200 pages or so were a masterpiece, keeping you glued to the pages and at the edge of your seat, but the entire book is darker and bloodier than any of its prequels.
“Elegant, feminine, and utterly wild. Warm, and steadfast—unbreakable, his queen.”
QoS is not necessarily flawless. I have slight complaints — like Rowan being a bit too soft sometimes and Dorian and Chaol not getting enough page time — but they don’t irk me because I got so much more awesomeness instead (all of the above + Abraxos and Fleetfoot, of course) and I am fully aware we can’t have it all; it was almost a 700 pages book! My favorite still remains Heir of Fire though, with QoS and CoM not far behind, because that book broke me into pieces and did not apologize for it. However, QoS did with that phenomenal ending that had me smiling ear-to-ear and teary-eyed at its sheer perfection. It was like SJM personally apologized for every time I cried and sobbed and went crazy over her devastating story and gave me a solace of utter joy. Happiness is not a good enough word to describe what I was feeling at the dinner scene.
Yet again, Sarah J. Maas pulled out the big guns and took over the fantasy genre with a gorgeous world, otherworldly characters and imaginative plot. She is my favorite author and, even though I’m aware of her storytelling skills, she continues to bewilder me with each book she creates. I got literally everything I asked for (seriously, my initial “demands” can be found here), even the things I thought were impossible to come true. So thank you, SJM, for this outstanding book.
“She was the heir of fire.
She was fire, and light, and ash, and embers. She was Aelin Fireheart, and she bowed for no one and nothing, save the crown that was hers by blood and survival and triumph.”
Queen of Shadows is a breathtaking continuation to my favorite series — a truly wild rollercoaster, brilliantly woven with plot twists and thrilling from beginning till end, and also an absolutely beautiful journey sprinkled with countless gut-wrenching moments. Enthralling, action-packed and heartwarming (yes, you read that right), this book deserves every praise known to humankind and I bow down to the queens in eternal awe — Sarah and Aelin, you’re both spectacular. Cannot wait to see what you have in store for us next.
“What do I do?”
She had to swallow before she said, “You light up the darkness.”