Paperback: 656 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s (1st Sept 2015)
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, agonising crescendo that might just shatter her world.
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The hard, fire breathing, (yet somehow simultaneous) breathless fat cat is back.
*breathes heavily and snorts out fire*
This book has me so conflicted, so you can only imagine the incoherency that is about to ensue. So let’s all take the mother-load of a deep breath, settle down into a comfortable position, and prepare for the onslaught of the rant that is about to follow.
Oh also. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD OKAY. YOU ARE NOW ENTERING SPOILERVILLE. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. BREAK DOWN AND CRY AT YOUR OWN PERIL.
Let us begin with all the good things about this book, and that is that Maas really knows how to pack a punch with her story; the plot and action was amazing. Her writing, solid as ever continued to draw me in from the first page, right through to the last. There were no moments at which I wanted to put the book down, instead, after having started it last night, I read all through till morning and finished it just early this afternoon. Admittedly it had been a while since I read the last book and may have forgotten the plot somewhat, but I needn’t have worried, the book picks up from where it left but does include points here and there that clue you in to past events, and a single google search for specific people and events that I was confused about when they arose in the story, had me back on track within the first 100 pages.
I’ve said before in my previous reviews for the series (for which the reviews can be found respectively here here and here) - I’m not the biggest fan of fantasy - but credit to Maas for the fact she managed to not only reel me in, BUT also keep me hanging book after book. This was no different in terms of her ability to keep you entertained - not as many cliffhangers and shocking scenes here that make you fart in your pants, but good enough to keep you up and finish the book. Eloquent writing, engaging, swift - but admittedly some metaphors were dragged too far.
Like I said beforehand, spoilers galore in this review as I want to discuss the book and characters. Just fair warning, I’d hate to ruin it for others honestly. Anyway - so yes characters. I absolutely loved loved loved the female characters in this series, Maas has written some epic strong, resilient women who carry such burdens with strength and honour and humour. In this book, Lysandra and Nesryn were just that, though the former stole my heart more. Cunning, honest, brutal and loyal till the end - Lysandra was a firm favourite in this book for me, and Nesryn too was a valiant supporter who I enjoyed reading about. The friendships and loyalties that are forged with all the female characters is one of the best things about this book - at the risk of shouting “GIRL POWAAAA” and thumping my chest, I really do love the dynamic between these heroines and their personalities, though not all destined to be assassins and warriors, they still carry the same inner strength that draws them together.
As for Celaena, I feel like she had a major growth spurt that attributed to the story substantially. Though I’m not sure just yet whether this growth warrants my full liking, but it can’t be denied that the way she adorns herself with her responsibilities as a Queen as well as friend and cousin, is a step forward for her. I felt like her vision was extremely clear, she knew what line she could or shouldn’t cross as a Queen, keeping focused on her plans as a rule to her people, but at the same time was loyal, caring and considerate for her friends and cousin - something I felt was displayed perfectly in all the plotting she does to ensure Lysandra is taken care of. BUT. I think that’s the only thing I liked about her in this story. The rest? Not so much. The way she treated Dorian really killed a part of Celaena for me. Yes, we get it, she has responsibilities now and maybe killing him would be for the greater good and what he would want too, but the way Maas formed this aspect made Celaena seem callous and uncaring - forgetful of the fact that this is her friend. She also seemed so much more mean in this book, and a departure from the Celaena we knew in the other stories. The author seemed so intent on making Celaena and Aelin too people and making it out like Celaena was a weaker version of Aelin, more prone to emotion and I hated that. It’s like Aelin wanted to eradicate who she used to be which is seen especially in the way she behaves with Chaol (more ranting on this later). I did like and can appreciate as a reader some parts of the new and improved Celaena, but her character isn’t who I used to love. She’s more badass - but it comes at the cost of losing her compassion and I can’t deal with that.
Also, I’ll add in here, that in the last book, I may have tried to skip as much of Manon and the witch’s sub-plot (but read enough to be clued in) - and I guessed at the fact that Manon has been given such breadth and depth as a character because she’s going to encounter Celaena and together join forces to bring down evil - and I’ve been valiantly proven right (I think). Their short encounter has me really believing that, I did still find the parts about Manon boring and tried to skip as much as I could, yet the only thing I liked was her unfailing ability to not bow down. It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out. Additionally, erm, am I the only one in thinking Dorian and Manon are somehow going to get together? LOL watch this space when the next book comes out, and I somehow turn out right again.
So that’s all the good stuff, yes? We’re about to tread into messy waters now, because we’re about to enter the much debated and heated “Rowan-Chaol-Celaena triangle of doom”. Aka - Celaena/Aelin.
I’ve been a huuuuge fan of Chaol from the start - especially in books 2 and 3, and of course I shipped Chaol and Celaena even more. I literally thought they would be endgame, despite the fact that Chaol disappointed me in the last book (Heir of Fire) due to his indecisiveness where I wanted him to step up and you know, puff his chest out and be “I am man. I am strong. I save you”. I figured in Queen of Shadows, he’d rise to the occasion and do just that and in the process wind up with Celaena again. ALAS. Twas not meant to be as such it seems. Instead, Rowan takes over completely and it looks like he’s here to stay. I didn’t like him much in the book before, he felt too stiff as a character for me - strong, sure, and he worked well with Aelin in training her up. Once I saw all the Rowan and Aelin shippers I was like OH HELL NAWWW, this friendship is going to stay platonic to the end. I won’t have it. But what happened? Instead come Queen of Shadows, and I found myself liking Rowan and Aelin together.
Hold up hold up, before Chaol shippers start breathing fire on me. I can see now, in this book, that Rowan is good for her. He’s a pillar of strength and support that the future Queen (yes, read Queen, not Celaena or Aelin) needs. He doesn’t faff about, he doesn’t coddle her, he respects her, trusts her, and understands her. He also pushes her. I feel like that connection could only happen between him and her when she stands to be more than just an assassin and instead in line to be Queen, you know? Chaol and her were legit when she was that former assassin, who needed someone to ground her, to be comfortable with. They shared a friendship that turned into something more - he was there for her and she for him in those times and that’s a history admittedly that Rowan and Aelin don’t have. Of course I still want them to get together, and I always will, and yes yes yes crazily I’m hoping the following books will see to that. *fist pump* Chaol and Celaena to the end.
But my true disappointment doesn’t just come from that ship not sailing, but instead the way Maas has dealt that blow to us fans. In all honesty, I felt like she killed Chaol’s whole character in an effort to give Rowan more space. I know I’m not the only one feeling this, so many of you are. We hardly saw anything of Chaol in the story, and even when we did, it was almost like he was made out to be this weaker, human being, who didn’t match up to Rowan in Aelin’s eyes nor with the audience. Chaol may have disappointed me in the last book, but he rose to the occasion in different ways in this. We saw him step up to look after the innocent, the civilians, to fight for those who couldn’t. He stays behind in the city that is his home and risks his life time and time again alongside the rebels in order to keep people safe.
Sure, he’s no Rowan who’s all muscle and power, but my God I loved Chaol the human who became a saviour in his own right - but Maas shadowed ALL of that with Rowan. Okay I sound like I’m having a hissy fit here, maybe I am. But it didn’t have to be like this okay. Even with Chaol and Aelin, the way we see her accuse him, be mad at him, all for what? All over what? Her anger stemmed from how he “stood by” and watched Nehemiah get killed, yet here was Aelin who wasn’t about to hesitate to kill Dorian because of the threat he posed. I get it, it goes back to her clear vision as a leader and eliminating for the greater good and bigger picture - yet how can she be mad at Chaol when he steps forward to time and time save his best friend? She goes on to accuse him of how he behaved at the salt mines when he went to retrieve her, how he didn’t do anything - like um hello, reality check, he didn’t know you then mate, chill out (inner Londoner comes out here). I hate how it’s all disintegrated between Chaol and Aelin in this book, how Maas wrote it off so that both of them somehow accepted that it was over and conveniently, far too conveniently I might add, Nesryn is paired with Chaol, it feels simply to placate Chaol and Aelin shippers. Not cool man, not cool. It’s like the last 3 books didn’t even happen for Chaol and Celaena, instead all of Chaol has been shot down and pushed to the background to make space for a “bigger and better” love interest for her. And the final thing that cinched my hatred of it all? The ending she wrote for Chaol. LIKE HOLY COWBALLS. AFTER ALL THAT, THIS IS WHAT HE ENDS UP WITH IN EXCHANGE FOR HIS LOYALTY AND STRENGTH? Naaaaaaaaaaaaah. She’s pissed off a lot of people with that and I don’t really know how this is going to go down in the next book.
The few final thing that I disliked about the book was the whole “I am death, destroyer” thing, which gets old pretty quickly - I honestly could have done without that. Also, Dorian is still one of the main characters of this book, yet how much time did he really get in the story? Barely few pages each in between chapters - I seriously wanted more from him, to show that he’s still here. Still alive. Sigh. Also also also (yes this is turning into a list) I fail right now at least to see the point of Elide’s character - maybe she’s going to be a pawn in this story in the next book to aid Aelin, but I just found her parts boring too.
My huge hissy fit and these issue aside, I know it looks like I haaaaated the book due to the shipping issues, but I can’t deny that I did still enjoy parts of the book. The fact that I stayed up all night to finish the book will always count for something - but I won’t deny that what Maas did with her characters has totally ruined my overall opinion of the whole book, which is why I’m giving this book a measly 2, or most 3, stars. It wasn’t as full of surprises and “HOLY SHIT” moments as her previous books which yes also drags down the rating - but I’m so disappointed overall with this story which I waited over a year for only to have Maas destroy it. Pick up at your own peril people.
Could this review be any longer by the way? LOL I think not. Even then, watch this space, as I'll be doing a Throne of Glass dream cast post in the next few days. That's all for now, over and out.