Queen of Shadows by SJ Maas [ToG]
As the year begins, I find myself on a roll with my reading goals! And second up (because this wasn’t the first book of the year), I decided to finally read Queen of Shadows by SJ Maas. In terms of series, Throne of Glass has been my latest addiction and I was super glad to finally get my paws on this fourth book! To check out my semi-coherent rant on the first three books click here.
Picking up where Book 3 left off, Queen of Shadows has the King’s Champion returning to Rifthold as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. Having finally embraced her past and trained her embers, Aelin must now fight to protect her kingdom’s trapped people and her loved ones from the tyranny and death surrounding the glass castle.
Out of the whole series and novellas, this is probably my least favorite and favorite book of the series. Let’s start with characters.
Many of the characters aren’t what we remember them to be, and I don’t mean this in a good way.
Since the beginning, I’ve always had a slight admiration and jealousy of Celaena because she can be really self-sufficient and goes forth with what she believes. There were a few times when I thought she was a bit overly emotional but I also liked that about her. It made her feel grounded and relatable to me.
In this book, however, that admiration went down so much I was surprised. Instead of thinking about how amazing she is, I couldn’t help but feel she was extremely bratty and almost demeaning.
Demeaning in the sense that she’s putting down her old self, the one named Celaena, and almost placing Aelin on a pedestal. I understand that she’s gone through so many things and learned so much about herself, but it just really frustrates me that she calls her ‘old self’ nothing but a child. Almost dismissing all of the experiences she’s gone through to get to who she is now. Along with this is her temporary change to Celaena, which I thought was very harsh, portraying her as someone who didn’t care for the lives of others.
If I remember correctly, Celaena did help free slaves and she loved like every teenager out there, which means she wasn’t a monster like Aelin claimed she was.
Celaena is not the only character that I felt had a major change in this book. We also have Chaol who was demoted from main character to minor character, which would have been fine except that his character is completely butchered. Gone is the honorable Captain. We also have Dorian who is trapped but still appears every few chapters though honestly, I’d say he could have been omitted since he didn’t contribute anything.
The witches were really cool and I hope we get a lot more of that in the next book!
In Heir of Fire we started getting some insight into the Blackbeak Witches and what their purpose was (army). I actually wasn’t too excited about their POV and often got bored in those moments. Here though, we have more of Manon (the Wingleader) and what she’s up to. We learn that she’s not just following orders like a puppet and as she begins to find out more about the Valg, I feel more inclined to like her. The way she protects her family (witches, the 13) as best she can while still following orders is really tricky and I hope things work out well for her and Asterin!
Along with these two we have the cowardly Elide who I was initially skeptical about. A crippled maid who was sent to Manon, Elide is starting to really be an important part of the story. Out of the whole book I think it was her that really impressed me. I’m wondering how she’ll find Celaena if Aelin no longer goes by that name (and she doesn’t know they’re the same person).
I’d say more but then I’d worry about spoilers, haha
Plot: Too many things felt too convenient and easy, however, I’m glad we’re finally moving in the direction of war.
I won’t talk much about what was too convenient because that would ruin the whole book but I will say that by the end of it there are a lot of magical beings and characters I hadn’t thought would become important later on. Characters that (I could be wrong here, don’t quote me) only appeared in the Novellas.
Still, we do start to have all the ends tie up and now this book sets the stage for the next one which will (most likely) be about the Valg, Witches, and Aelin’s Court’s war. And if war doesn’t come I will be so disappointed…
The pace is faster than the previous books since Maas seemed to really want to tie all the ends up here for something new in the next book. There are new characters introduced and even our old cast seems to feel new. And I honestly don’t care how many people tell me this is not the point of the series but the romance here is heavy, possibly because of the fast pace.
I would also say to re-read the previous three books prior to picking Queen of Shadows up because there are a lot of tiny details that are referenced. I’m actually going to reread the series, starting with the Assassin’s Blade, which I also recommend for a better insight into Celaena’s life prior to Endovier and her relationship to the King of Assassins. Of course, if you have a great memory (unlike me), then you probably don’t need to reread any of the previous stories.
Also, this might not be anything too important but there’s more violent tendencies I picked up in this book. If I had to describe it, I’d say it was very rage filled for all the characters.
My rating: ~ 3/3.5 out of 5
Recommended: Yes. This book is best for fans of the series/author and for people who like world building/magic. It’s not overly complicated or simple and can be enjoyed by both genders (though I would personally recommend it more to females). This book also has a very interesting way of portraying magical beings like witches and fae.