Review: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4)Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

That was a spectacular story packed with so much action, ferocity, and amazing twists.
I’ve noticed over the years how my pet peeves and certain tropes have tended to make me biased. This is a biased review.ย This book is not perfect and it’s bound to contain a lot of flaws since it’s a whopping 650 pages long. And let me tell you, it will take a while to get through but the time it takes to read will fly by.

Spoilers for previous books ahead:

I’ve always placed the utmost importance on plotting and there was so much going on that I’m awed by how the author still manages to squeeze a lot of character development in. There’s new characters introduced and things have definitely changed while Aelin was away in Wendlyn. One of the first things that stood out to me was how Chaol became so embittered. Right from the beginning of Aelin and Chaol’s interaction, I noticed how he acted as if he had a chip on his shoulder; well, that was new. Of course, he went through many losses, heartbreak, and exile but while it only made Aelin stronger, he did not seem to recover to it. This peeved me because the author wrote such a dynamic character who had a lot to figure out but he was not consistent in Queen of Shadows. He felt like a completely different person molded to fit the author’s purpose. He was no longer a staunch supporter of Aelin as he had been in Crown of Midnight. Is this because Rowan replaced his role? I think so. Basically, he was not needed anymore. He’s still important, of course, but he’s pushed to the sideline since he has no magic whatsoever to boast of so he’s practically useless.

Now on to the juicy, good stuff:
There’s a lot of action, devious planning, and underhanded tactics going on. Whereas I had thought the struggle to be two-way, it turns out there were hidden enemies (King of the Assassins, anyone) that emerged to trouble/help Aelin. Adarlan is plagued with debauched characters and I liked how Aelin showed her dogged determination and cunning when she dealt with them. From what Chaol and the title hinted at, it seems that Aelin is more of an anti-hero than the standard YA heroine. She kills but her methods are orthodox to her upbringing which means it’s super gory, unladylike, and very polarizing. Readers like me drank it up like crazy because we finally have a ‘fire-breathing bitch queen’. The author pulls all the punches and there line between good and evil becomes blurred. In order for Aelin to keep up with her enemies, she has to be more ruthless than them and always one step ahead. Despite the facade she carried, it’s very obvious that she’s tired and heavily burdened. That’s why I’m ecstatic that the supporting characters who join her court are strong and able to take care of her.

I’ve been wondering when Aelin would receive the tight-knit group of rebels that she sorely needed. She lost Sam and then she lost Nehemia.ย Dorian had bigger things to worry about than her, and Chaol wasn’t able to monitor her well, so thank goodness for her new court! The plot flowed very well because it was driven heavily by the characters and anyone who’s read these books will know how active the characters are. Especially Aelin who is always scheming; she’s still overly protective of her friends so that means there’s so many plans going on right under their nose.

There’s also Manon Blackbeak who had worried me initially due to the moral direction she seemed to take. For those who had anticipated a convergence of these two’s perspective, rest assured because they do meet. Albeit it was a bit delayed than expected since they didn’t meet at all in HoF, the culmination of the wait is well worth it. I enjoyed how diverse these two’s personalities are and yet how similar their upbringings were. I loved the quote “You were made, made into monsters.” It’s like two sides of the same coin because Manon is a witch and Aelin is a fae and yet they are both very fierce and loving in their own right. Manon becomes more fleshed out and readers learn more about her Second and Third-in-Command. It’s a moving story, actually and I enjoyed her point of view much more than I did in Heir of Fire.

Also, bless Kaltain, one of the most underrated characters in the first book! She’s a sort of anomaly because she is one of the people who was truly discarded and forgotten about. I’m glad the author included her in QoS because she wasn’t necessarily a bad character in ToG and I wondered what was happening to her. Let’s just say she’s stronger than anyone anticipated and she knows more than she lets on. There’s a lot of female empowerment especially with Lysandra who is a blast from the past for Aelin. I really liked her because she defied all stereotypes and female norms sanctioned in place for a woman of her ranking. She’s a prostitute and yet she has a free will along with her own motives. When Aelin lost Nehemia, Lysandra was the perfect person to heal the scars in her heart.

I think a lot of people have been holding out hopes for a Rowan cameo. He’s there, alright. I like him more because he’s become more expressive. However, I think it’s a bit unrealistic because he was formally so cold towards Aelin. Now he is like a cinnamon roll but he’s still deadly.

Conclusion:

Magic is very powerful. The plot contained a lot of twists and turns that I myself didn’t even see coming. A lot of mysteries were uncovered and we find out why affairs are the way they were. So there actually was more to the king than I thought. Seriously, I just assumed he was an ambitious young man who simply turned greedy and evil from power.

Spoiler (highlight to see but DON’T LOOK IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK YET):So the talking skull knocker didn’t mention the duke following the king down to explore the tombs! I’m wondering what’s going on because that’s super fishy since that means Elena also withheld that bit of crucial information. ~

Anyways, please comment your thoughts on the book and let me know what you think.
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21 thoughts on “Review: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

  1. okay so i agree with basically everything you said…. chaol really pissed me off in this book; i recently found of throne of glass is a Cinderella retelling, so I figured out that she’d have to end up with either Rowan or Aedion and as Aedion kept calling Rowan prince it was going to be Rowan. (Before, i was team rowan but i didnt actually know if we’d get it so soon because he was so icy to her at first) so from this i kind of knew Chaol was going to be dropped in some way… but WOW i wasnt prepared. from the last book, i was definitely not on his side anymore because he was too judgemental and like everything i LIKED about him over dorian (the way he understood celeana, the way he was more likely to fight for her, they kind of shared that brutality and they trained together so the relationship was more of a connection than lust like she shared with dorian) he had slowly started destroying in the previous book, but then he went and decimated it. Like, the bigotry from him felt like racism or homophobia, it was that stupid and unfounded and unrelenting. Also, like i wanted him to suffer a bit more; this chaol is just a wet cloth, hes not the Guard Captain we knew. there wasnt really any fight in him, or much of ANYTHING. he just seemed tired or ready to give up and i just kind of wanted to strangle him and be like “WHAT ARE YOU EVEN COMPLAINING ABOUT, THIS IS YOUR KING DUDE YOU SIGNED UP FOR THIS. THE PEOPLE TRYING TO MAKE CHANGE ARE THE ONES YOU’RE ALWAYS JUDGING. STFU.” and like WTF man i thought you loved celaena; like i wanted him to see her and be all like “BAE ILY” or at least care. Like i didnt want them together, but when they were i liked it, so i thought she kind of deserved a better response from him, like hes been such a dick to her couldnt he at least be crippled with regret when he finally realises that shes not a monster…but i digress. I kind of like this because i hate love triangles and i kinda thought we’d end up in more of one with C/C/R and IT WAS AVOIDED *sings* but then it made me really hate the character and i think it kind of undermined the importance of chaol in the story and celaenas life like i get that he wasnt end game because (HES A BIGOT) they arent compatible, but i never felt like he was a time waster i felt like he was a lesson learnt or like maybe she would make him an ally or something or just that he had a purpose and that their relationship had a purpose like hers and dorians did, but the way his character has turned has lead to him being brushed aside. like even their “love” seems insignificant and i really liked that (TEAM ROWAN) but it was one of those things i feel was rushed and SHOULDNT have happened, even if the fangirl in me did want it to. like i just think a character that was a fan favourite thatwe all loved (i loved him!) suddenly switched and hes not even a villain and like im confused because i think we’re meant to think of him as a tortured hero or something, but i just hate him and when i think of his place in celeanas life and the story i dont want to, i want him to be a dorian type where the relationship had a point (especially as it progressed so much).

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  2. AND ROWAN. I love rowan, i love them together, but i dont understand how quickly it happened. like i know it wasnt quickly because lots of pages, lots of time yada yada but it FELT quickly like he turned up and all of a sudden it was just LOVE, LUST, LET’S ALMOST HAVE SEX YAY. and (i swear i say this all the time) but the FANGIRL in me loved it because MY SHIP WAS SAILING but the actual like proper reader was really like… is this it? why should i be so emotionally invested? how are THEY so emotionally invested? and like i loved the scenes between them because they were written amazingly and they were just amazing, but i kind of feel like maybe they shouldnt have been put in yet or maybe different scenes, like i know theyve grown close, but it really seemed like a platonic GETTING romantic relationship, not a romantic one in the previous book and now they’ve really jumped into it. i just kind of didnt really imagine it happening like that, especially as the OTHER real relationships in the book (chaol and sam) seemed to have a much better foundation/history/buildup like i love the relationship, but i dont think it was executed in the perfect sarah j maas style… even if their scenes were perfect. i think if hed been in the book the whole way through and theyd got together then yes, but him just randomly popping up and realising his feelings is much more…idk juvenile than i expect from this writer

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  3. but…SUPPORTING CAST. AMAZING. lysandra . . . i just love her so much. SO SO much. i love how strong female friends are always written in and they dont rely on celeana or men and i have to say i think lysandra is my fave. and aedion. oh my gosh, i just loved their relationship; they’re both so devoted to each other and…aorobynn. W O W. Im so glad we got a chance to explore that character a bit, even if i kind of wanted aelin to kill him herself

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  4. and as for aelin, i love her and continue to love her for her flaws. i love having such a perfectly, realistically flawed heroine.

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    • I agree-itusedtobemiami… Seems Sarah J Maas hated Chaol slowly slowly. She started with him highly in ToG and made him fall from grace in QoS.. If she’s not the author i will think she’s jealous how Celaena fell for him in ToG. ๐Ÿ˜€
      I dont know to whom Celaena/Aelin’s lovelife will end. With Dorian, it was curiosity and lust… And i noticed in QoS Dorian might be with Manon….With Celeana/Chaol, enemy,friends then love..they have this connection that both of them felt even in silence.. She even said in ToG- with Chaol she feels home and wanted to stay that way when everything is over.. Then enter Rowan and Nesryn in both their lives.. With Aelin/Rowan- well they did not started as friend but not enemy either.. Just some cold aquaintance which became heated in QoS… But i wonder if it is because of the blood oath? In the last pages of QoS, Aelin thought Rowan smells home.. So which is it SArah J Maas? Or who is it really? Chaol feels home and Rowan smells home.. Dorian… Well Dorian smells.. Dorian! ๐Ÿ˜‰
      I loved the twist of the story,sans the love stories… I can relate the end of the king in Qos with the king in Erica Stevens’s Broken.. How they became the king villains… How They were good and the intentions of why they became bad..
      Wonder if in the next book, there will be twists in the lovelifes of the characters?

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    • It’s okay , I really enjoyed reading your comments!! I can see you’re super passionate about this series lol
      So I was really peeved by the 180 degree change of Chaol’s personality because he was portrayed as a gentle, understanding person who supported Aelin. He was always by her side and yet he became so unwilling to stand by her in QoS. This is not Chaol. How is it like him to not even fear for her safety?!!! He didn’t even worry about her night excursions and was so easily dismissed her. The fact that she has magic makes her dangerous but she’s in Adarlan now which means she’s practically defenseless. Which is why I don’t see how Chaol could perceive her as a threat and not choose to ally with her. He made terrible decisions and honestly, he was so useless in QoS.
      I feel super bad for saying this but he really got the short end of the stick; he’s got no magic, he’s practically clueless about what’s going on, and he does not know wrong from right. He has no leadership skills despite being Captain of the Guard because he does not know what the hell is going on. He just comes across as a pitiable figure amid all the rebels that surround him. Seriously, it’s so illogical for him to reject Aelin’s help when he barely has anybody in the first place. He’s powerless to fight the king so I don’t see why he won’t accept her. His character was just a mess so I hope Sarah Maas will patch him up nicely when she sends him down south.

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  5. I kinda like the cuteness of Chaol/Celaena tandem in Tog and CoM .. Their banterings, their jealousies, their being just them as normal persons. Not the heroine, not the villain, just being them… I also like Dorian for her – from secret love (tho not so secret), to being friends.. But their situation as Prince and assasin doesn’t look good to reach deeper.. The Rowan/Aelin affair— well i guess that’s where the story is leading isn’t it? My choice? Chaol and Celeana.. I will just keep repeating their love story in my mind… ;-)… I understood Chaol’s situation as Captain of the Guard.. (My uncle was a presidential Guard in his time and he explained how “classified” is “classified” that not even his wife knows what was goin on in his work in most cases)..
    In Celeana and Chaol’s cases, they were both young to understood and discuss the matter because of their status.. Conflict of interests and difference in “personality”– A human and half fae… I read so many paranormal stories, and from these stories, it’s normal for a human to get shocked, scared, disgusted when they find out that one is different from the other.. But in the end, love conquers all… In this series, Sarah J Maas decided to give each a partner that will understand them better.. The story is really interesting… I skipped most of the love scenes even in HoF and just focused on how the story developed.. Im looking forward to the interactions of Aelin, Maeve, and the witches, and how the story will end.. Hopefully no one dies from the “good side”… ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    • I agree that I had shipped Chaol with Celaena so hard but Sarah Maas has mentioned at some point that the endgames were determined at the end of QoS which means: DorianxManon (which I find surprisingly cute) ChaolxNesryn RowanxAelin and AedionxLysandra.
      I met her yesterday actually and she was hilarious and really upfront about her life and books. She also spoiled a bit of ACoTaR so if you want to know, just comment and I’ll tell you. I don’t think she’ll really kill off the powerful characters because they’re needed for the tides to turn in the war. But I’m glad the romance is being pushed to the background because the plot is what grabbed many of the readers. It’s funny because many people were surprised when Rowan and Aelin didn’t actually get together by the end of the book. But SHE FINISHED HER DRAFT FOR THE FIFTH BOOK!!

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      • Wow! She finished the 5th?!! That’s good to hear… I hope it wont take a year of waiting…
        I changed my fave pair.. Im cheering for Dorian and Manon this time. Haha! But Chaol will always have a soft spot in my heart.. I guess im a “bucker” ( you know what i mean) for underdogs. ๐Ÿ˜€
        I dont understand why Sarah made the 180 degrees turn on Chaol’s character.. She made him really useless in QoS.. She might as well killed him in the CoM or HoF when the king tried, than a pitiful character in the last book.. His story with Nesryn is just some sort of extra ingredients which can be optional..i do hope he will be redeemed in the coming books… I dont want to say anything about Aelin’s character since she is the title holder but she have some flaws too… (Who doesn’t?)… Her hatred for Chaol regarding Nehemia’s death is sort of over the top.. I guess she hated herself more but needed someone to blame… Shouldn’t she blame herself too because she was too focused on her feelings with Chaol and didn’t take time to check her friend? She lied by omission to him regarding herself so she should also be understanding regarding Chaol’s secrets in his job… She doesn’t trust him but she wants him to trust her… How is that for fairness? As for Dorian… I love his bromance with Chaol… THAT is really something that made me cry while reading their part.. I hope Sarah will not ruin that friendship.. I also like him to continue with Manon.. I will skip the scene of Rowan/Aelin… Not interested.. :-D.. However “hot” the fae prince is, he doesn’t have an appeal to me.. I will be more interested with Aedion’s past…

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      • Rowan doesn’t have a strong enough appeal in terms of personality and actions towards Aelin. I understand the whole gallant knight complex he has but Aelin is simply so strong-willed and independent that he’s not needed. A lot of what people like in love interests is the whole savior thing but I can totally see Aelin being single at the end of the series. Of course, she’ll probably be paired off anyways but Rowan is…bland.
        Manon’s a whole other creature so I would love to see how Dorian deals with a blatantly dangerous woman. It’s funny because he’ll being flirting with danger and he’s always been attracted to risky people. Aelin has always been flawed and that’s what made her dynamic so she is technically in the wrong too about the Chaol thing. It was over the top when she tried to kill Chaol in CoM simply because she didn’t know where else to direct her grief and rage. I think she was way too volatile and the reason why Maas paired her off with Rowan is because he calms her down with his rational thinking.He’s also more powerful than Chaol who has always fallen a bit short on physicality, aristocracy, and intelligence compared to Aelin.

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  6. Hi, Anne! I guess we agree about Rowan huh?! When i read his and Aelin’s love story in HoF, it did not appeal to me the same way i felt with Chaol/Celana.. I tried.. I really tried… Yet there is no “click” to me.. I tried again in QoS,and that just made me skip all their love scenes… I like him when he was training Aelin and just being friend… I like the way he brought and let Aelin accept her inner self..But when it became deeper,-then there is the blood oath – i feel like Sarah is selling him hard to be Aelin’s partner -and made Chaol fell short being human and no supernatural power- to keep someone with Aelin… Rowan is centuries old, someone who can handle Aelin’s character as well as her power… But that is the only connection i can think… I dont know.. I don’t feel they are right for each other.. Or maybe it’s just me who thinks like that…. ๐Ÿ˜€
    As for Dorian and Manon… Dorian is always attracted to danger.. He likes challenge.. And Manon is just right for him.. THEM! – when i read their part, i feel the same “clickness” i felt with Chaol/Calaena… I love characters who are challenging each other because they bring the best of each other… I like the way Sarah started their (soon to be) love story.. The unique-ness, the conflict, the curiosity and the mystery, as well as their miseries… I loved Manon’s story.. Her feelings- her doubts, her guilts, her empathy and the way she think of her every action and decisions- Sarah makes her more human than Aelin! ( but she is more human because Aelin is half fae,isn’t she? Witches are still “normal” human compare to other supernatural,right?)
    Thanks for the discussion Anne! I guess Sarah is happy that readers are discussing and/or arguing to find something that makes her book interesting… I guess the next book will be more interesting… Hopefully more answers,more actions and more intrigues to keep the story rolling.. But please keep the love stories on the half of her last book of the series.. ๐Ÿ˜€

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    • Witches are actually the strangest because they’re not human; it’s a mix of fae and Valg so it explains why she grows up looking different and being immortal. Aelin is more human because she’s going to die and she’s more integrated into society which explains her natural fit. Manon, to me, sticks out like a sore thumb but she’s definitely someone who feels deeply. She really grew on me and I hope she’s good for Dorian.
      Yea, Rowan is very friend zone material after Chaol was introduced because he’s a hard shell to crack. I wish being Fae didn’t make him the best option for Aelin when what she really needs is a court, not a king.

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      • If Aedion’s father is a fae, does that makes him more fae than Aelin? Does it mean that he has more power than her?
        I can’t imagine Manon as the queen of a adarlan. Im having a good laugh imagining her in queen’s clothings… It will be fun watching her and Dorian bantering like Chaol/Celaena… And i really like them together…
        I will guess Sarah will make Aelin an immortal too, for Rowan’s and her country’s sake… Altho i still have this wishful thinking that she will go back to Chaol… There are still 2 books right? So anything can happen… If i will base their story with Elena and Gavin, they have the similarities..very much i’d say… A human warrior and a fae warrior…. Wish, wish, wish! Haha!
        Will Maeve join Aelin or against her? Will Wendelyn be joining Aelin’s war? Because i am sure Manon’s witches will be on Aelin’s and Dorian’s side… We’ll just have to wait how it will happen…
        I am going to start reading ACoTaR this weekend cos i am almost finish with my other books.. I am jumping from one series to another and really enjoying paranormal stories… Is the second book out already?

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      • We readers can only hope for Chaol but he’s being sent down south so he’s most likely going to be out of the picture. I have a feeling he might bring back allies since that’s his second agenda aside from healing paralysis.
        That’s so funny about Manon! Wow, I never thought about that haha! She’s quite a savage so I would love to see how they interact with each other especially since they’re both so magically powerful. Can you believe it, Dorian’s power is infinite and he has raw energy!! It’s so to be AMAZING WHEN HE FIGHTS. And Maeve is too much of a trickster to ally with Aelin but I’m thinking Wendlyn might.
        Second book of ACoTaR is not out yet but I have high hopes for it because all clues point to Rhysand as the main character.

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  7. Hey! You change your theme! I like it! Refreshing and easy on the eyes.. I Like the font type, guess it’s Roman?
    I am starting tonight with ACoTaR!.. I will let u know what’s my take on it.. Im a fast reader so i might finish till 5 or more chapters.. Depends on how long each chapter is.. I finish QoS in 3 days (sleeping and working included! ๐Ÿ˜‰ )… Well i will admit i skipped some part tho.. As i said, i won’t miss the love scenes of Rowan/Aelin.. ๐Ÿ˜›

    Sarah had missed some characters in this book— Dorian’s mother and brother.. I wonder where they were during the fight? It’s a pity she killed Khaltain and Roland so fast… My heart goes to Ress and those guards that’s been nice and loyal from the start… ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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    • Thanks, Jam!! I’m glad you like it and the font is Alegreya. ๐Ÿ™‚ I wish I was a faster reader because that means more books for me to read! My speed currently is only 550wpm.That’s impressive finishing QoS within 3 days!!
      I’m anticipating some major deaths in the next book because the characters that were killed off did not tug at my heartstrings. Authors often tend to kill off people that readers care about and I wonder who’s next after Nehemia.
      The queen was so clueless, didn’t even know Dorian was different, and that aggravated me. It’s amazing how well he grew up despite his circumstances. It’s a pity to lose Kaltain because she would have been a worthy ally. And those guards too. -sigh-

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