Friday, October 2, 2015

Book Review // Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

“Let's go rattle the stars.”

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Pages: 648

My Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: 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.
// This review contains spoilers for previous books in the Throne of Glass series. Spoilers for Queen of Shadows are hidden.  Highlight to view. //

Teisha's Review


Sarah J. Maas, the Queen of Young Adult Fantasy, has blessed us yet again.  

Queen of Shadows is so gods-damned beautiful.

I always find it incredibly difficult to review my favorite books.   And, Queen of Shadows was no exception.  Containing all of my love for this book into one review was a daunting task.  When I feel as passionately about a book as I do about Queen of Shadows, I tend to go on long tangents about characters and plot points that are in no way cohesive.  So, writing this review took a lot of focus (and editing).  But alas, I have finished!

Sarah J. Maas has rattled and earned ALL OF THE STARS.

Here are the reasons why I gave Queen of Shadows five rutting stars:



Plot

You know that feeling of coming home after being away for a long time?  I don't mean going on vacation for a week.  I'm talking about taking a gap year to explore the world or going off to college for four years.  And then when you return home, you find that you've matured, that you've started to understand who you are, and that you've developed a different view of the world.

This is where Aelin is at the beginning of Queen of Shadows.

The story takes us back to Rifthold, where the Throne of Glass series first began.  The world is familiar and foreign all at once because so much has changed.  Celaena has changed.  As she puts it: "It's Aelin now.  Celaena Sardothien doesn't exist anymore."

Everything that the past three books of the series (and the Assassin's Blade novellas) have been building to finally comes to a head in Queen of Shadows.  We get a lot of resolution; battles are fought, characters die, others move on.  But, oh how the plot thickens...  Because we are also introduced to new characters and set up for new conflicts, relationships, and worlds that will be explored in Book Five.

Queen of Shadows does not lack in any area; it is chock-full of action, adventure, romance, and humor.  There are plot twists and surprises that keep readers on their toes.  The story is heartbreaking and heartwarming, swoon-worthy and anxiety-inducing. It was just the roller coaster ride I was expecting it to be, and more.  But, what I appreciate the most about Queen of Shadows is how the tiniest of details from all of the previous books are flawlessly interwoven into the story--old faces and places are brought back to our attention, and key phrases (such as "rattle the stars") are reemphasized.  Maas is carefully weaving an intricately beautiful web with this series, and I'm sure that the final product will be astounding.




 ALL The Badass Females

The Throne of Glass series has always been about girl power, but Queen of Shadows feeds my feminist soul.  

Of course, there is the "Fire-Breathing Bitch Queen" herself, Slay-lin Galathynius.  I could honestly talk about how amazing Aelin is for days and days.  She is sassy, confident, and powerful -- a beautiful creature who could set the entire world on fire.  And yet, she is unapologetically flawed.  She makes mistakes just like the rest of us.  She has been beaten down (literally and figuratively), she has been broken and put back together again.  All her life she has known shadows.  But, she's always found some light in that darkness, be it pretty dresses, or books, or candy, or Fleetfoot.  And that's what makes her such a beautiful character.  Aelin is inspiring in the way she continues to fight, not only for herself, but for those she loves, for her people, and for all the voiceless others who can't stand up for themselves.

And then there's Manon Blackbeak.   I have a confession: I didn't really like Manon in Heir of Fire.  But, before you kick me out of the Cool Kids Club, allow me to say that I have learned the error of my ways.  I was so dumb!  Manon is uh-mazing.  She reminds me of Aelin because both women strive to overcome the labels that have been placed on them.  Witch.  Bitch.  Murderer.  But, what Manon struggles the most with is her humanity.  And, oh how I love stories about the dichotomy between humanity and monstrosity (Frankenstien, anyone?).  Manon has been taught by her brute of a grandmother to be heartless and vicious, but she constantly finds herself caring too much and hoping.  There is a moment in the book where she asks, "Do you believe monsters are born, or made?"  Because she seems to realize that maybe she doesn't have to be a monster just because she isn't human.  GAH!  I just love her journey throughout this book so much, and I can't believe I ever wrote her off.  She's brilliant and badass and takes shit from no one.  There's also the simple fact that she's a witch who feeds on the blood of men and rides a freaking dragon.  (So, basically she's everything that I strive to be and more.)

// Spoiler // My absolute favorite scene in this entire book is when Aelin and Manon come face-to-face. It is such an amazing scene because they are fighting each other, wanting to kill each other.  And yet, at the same time, there is this sense of mutual respect.  They both respect each other's fighting abilities and overall badassery.  I just love it!  I need them to become best friends by the end of this series.  Sarah, you have two more books to make it happen. // End spoiler //

Sarah also gives us a host of new female characters who are flawless in every way.  There is Nesryn, a tough and sassy archer who helps with Rifthold's rebellion.  Lysandra is a chocolate-loving "monster in human skin".  And Elide is the human girl who dares to spy on Manon and sleep next to wyverns.  There are also familiar faces that we get to know a little better such as Kaltain Rompier, a character who became a voice in the background but demands to be heard this time around.  And, finally there is Asterin, the hidden gem of this story, who puts to rest the idea that witches are heartless.

Sarah has put together an inspirational ensemble of female characters that really shines in Queen of Shadows.  Thinking about all that they've been through, all that they've accomplished, makes me feel like I could climb the highest mountain.





★ The Swoony Males

While Queen of Shadows is filled with fighting and death and blood and gore, it also has its softer side: romance.  The guys are hot (Sarah writes hot male love interests unlike any other author) but, of course, they are so much more complex than that.  The Throne of Glass men display as much development as the women in Queen of Shadows.  Chaol in my opinion, shows the most growth out of all of the guys.  He's changed a lot from that brooding Captain of the Guard we met in Book One.  Chaol is still fiercely loyal (especially to Dorian) and honorable.  But, he's a man whose entire world has been thrown upside down--all of his beliefs, everything he thought he knew, have constantly been challenged.  It's been interesting to watch him struggle with his values and his love for Celaena.  And, in Queen of Shadows we continue to see Chaol adapt to his ever-changing world.

Valg Dorian.  Where do I even begin?  // Spoiler //  It broke my heart to see him struggle with that demon inside of him.  (And Manon gave me a heart attack when she left that message for Celaena:  "WITCH KILLER--THE HUMAN IS STILL INSIDE HIM." I swear it gave me chills all over.)  And then, when he finally managed to break free, he was forced to face the grief and guilt of Sorcha's death. // End Spoiler //

ROWAN! (He's my favorite).  Rowan is so sassy in Queen of Shadows and I loved every minute of it.  He also came across an important hurdle in this story: // Spoiler // Learning to love Aelin.  Rowan hasn't let himself love since his first mate, Lyria, died.  He still holds a lot of fear and guilt over her death, so it's understandable why he staves off love.  But Aelin, his carranam, his Queen, his Fireheart, helps him to forgive himself and love again.  // End Spoiler //

Aedion is semi-new, so we don't get much development from him, but we still learn a lot about his character.  I really like Aedion.  I love his and Aelin's dynamic.   And, I personally think that he's adorable and hilarious despite his macho "Wolf Of the North" title.  

Back to the romance...  A (lengthy) note on Throne of Glass ships:  First and foremost, I will always ship Aelin with happiness.  But I also ship her with Rowan (and have done so since the moment the Fae prince stepped on the page in Heir of Fire).  Just because I love Rowaelin doesn't mean that I hate Chaol or Dorian or Aedion.  They are all sweet little cinnamon rolls whom I adore.  And, if Aelin doesn't end up with Rowan, I'm not going to suddenly hate this series or throw shade at the author.  I trust Sarah, I believe in her vision for this series (whatever that may be), and I support her choices.  In the end, I just want everyone to be happy.  (Except for the villains and the Valg demons.  They can all go back to whatever hell they came from.)




★ Aelin's Squad & The Court of Terrasen

The squad goals are real with this one.  (But, seriously, where can I sign up?)

I've talked about how much I love the Throne of Glass characters individually, but I love to see them interact with one another even more!   In Queen of Shadows, we see a lot of friendships blossom and unlikely characters working together to put a stop to the evil in Adarlan.  In this book, Aelin's court begins to develop (I won't tell you who that includes), and the most heartwarming scenes in this story are when they are all in the same room together.  One of my favorite moments in the book is a scene where Aelin and her friends are all sitting around cleaning their weapons, preparing for bloodshed.  My other favorite interactions are when // Spoiler // Lysandra takes Rowan's spot in bed beside Aelin.  When the boys and Lysandra watch Aelin put on that soap-opera like performance after Arobynn's death.  When Lysandra chases Aedion around in ghost leopard form.  When Aedion calls Rowan "brother".  // End Spoiler //  You can slowly see these characters forming a deep, life-long bond.  And, it's so special and heartwarming because all you've ever wanted was for Aelin to be happy, to have a family, and she finally has that! 

The Court of Terrasen, aka Team Good, is everything.  I think that what I love the most about this group is what they represent: hope for a better future.  I am really looking forward to seeing them kick-ass together in the next two installments. 




★ The Writing

Flawlessly beautiful all-around.

I have always loved Sarah's writing style.  Everything about it is lyrical, and it flows so well (#writerenvy).

I could show you better than I could tell you.  Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

"[Love] was like dying a little every day. It was like being alive, too. It was joy so complete it was pain. It destroyed me and unmade me and forged me. I hated it, because I knew I couldn't escape it, and I knew it would forever change me. ...It was the most powerful thing I've ever felt, greater than rage, than lust, than magic."

"You make me want to live... Not survive, not exist. Live."

"Even when we're apart tomorrow, I'll be with you every step of the way. And every step after--wherever that may be."

"She could forgive the girl who had needed a captain of the guard to offer stability after a year in hell; forgive the girl who had needed a captain to be her champion.  But she was her own champion now."

" 'We are not whores for your men to use.'
'You are sacred vessels... It is an honor to be chosen.'
'I find that a very male thing to assume.' "

What I really love about Sarah's writing is her ability to write from multiple perspectives and still make you care about every. single. character.  I think that it takes real talent to make readers feel invested in all of your characters, and Sarah (in my opinion) has perfected this.

Side note:  I always cry at Sarah's "Acknowledgements" because they are just as heartfelt as every word in her story.  Sarah, as well as her characters, inspire me to persevere in everything that I do, especially when it comes to writing.  


Final Thoughts

Sarah, I bow to you.  I would swear a blood oath to you.  Because Queen of Shadows is amazing.

I am too so invested in Throne of Glass.  It breaks my heart when I think about the fact that there are only 2 BOOKS LEFT in this series.

I HIGHLY recommend Queen of Shadows and all of the books in the Throne of Glass series.  This is by far my favorite Young Adult series.  If you haven't started reading these books yet, what are you waiting for?

Get thee to a bookstore!


About the Author


Sarah J. Maas is the author of the New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling Throne of Glass series–Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, and Heir of Fire, and the series’ prequel, The Assassin’s Blade–as well as the New York Times and USA Today bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses. She wrote the first incarnation of the Throne of Glass series when she was just sixteen, and it has now sold in twenty-three languages. Queen of Shadows, the fourth book in the Throne of Glass series, will release worldwide on September 1st, 2015.

A New York native, Sarah currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and dog. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hamilton College in 2008 with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Religious Studies.

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Light Up The Darkness

  1. Have you read Queen Of Shadows?  What did you think?
  2. Who is your favorite badass female character? 
  3. Who do you ship?
  4. What do you hope to see in Throne of Glass #5

Hope to talk to you soon!


2 comments:

  1. This is one of my favorite series, and Queen of Shadows is sitting bereft on my bookshelf, waiting to be read. Alas. I really really REALLY need to get to it. Great review! There's so much to love about this series!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Jessica! It really is a great series. I really want to just reread it all over again. I hope you're able to get to QoS soon! SO good.

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