Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas, published September 2015 by Bloomsbury UK.
Read: September 2015
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Get It Now: Wordery
Goodreads 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 will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. 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 hype surrounding this book! I jumped on the Throne of Glass bandwagon just before the fandom imploded, but by now it’s a MASSIVE deal and so my expectations were super high going in to this read. The obvious question is, did this book live up to them? Yes, and no. This is going to be one major word-vomit review – brace yourselves.
**Beware – Spoilers Ahead!**
So the ONE major thing I need to talk about, and get off my chest, is the fact my OTP is fading, and FAST. A certain platonic friendship was introduced in Heir of Fire, and I really appreciated it. I did. I loved Rowan when he was introduced, but I didn’t want him to become the new love interest. I was shipping Chaol and Celaena SO HARD from the very start, but by the end of Queen of Shadows, I had such mixed emotions. I was obsessed with Chaol, and when I first picked up the prequel novellas (The Assassin’s Blade) I was dubious of this Sam character I’d heard about. But then I fell for Sam SO HARD. I could deal with the pain of Sam’s story, and still ship Chaol and Celaena, but then Maas shits all over my dreams by introducing Rowan.
Maas writes male characters and romantic interests so well, that at times I found myself rooting for whichever pairing she was presenting to me. But in the back of my mind, I still want Chaol and Celaena to work it out. I’m just not sure if it’s possible, or realistic, given where the story is going. In terms of… species I guess, Rowan is the better fit, and Chaol doesn’t understand or appreciate Celaena’s abilities, but I STILL want them to work it out, damn it! My prediction is that they won’t though. Chaol and Celaena have both definitely changed in this novel, and I don’t know that either of them can come back from it.
So aside from my OTP dying off, what else did I think of this book? It’s getting complicated. Obviously, this read is a chunker, it’s HUGE. The world-building took off in Heir of Fire, and it continues to grow and evolve in Queen of Shadows, so much so that Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight now seem simple in comparison. Especially when you also consider all of the side-characters and story arcs. This is both a good and a bad thing. I love how intricate, detailed and in-depth these novels are, but at the same time it can make for a slower-paced and at times more confusing read. There are SO many characters to keep track of, and there is SO much going on, that it can feel overwhelming.
Speaking of those side characters, I’m LOVING Lysandra’s storyline, and her new found friendship with Celaena. She’s kick-ass, and I’m hoping we see more of her. I’m also definitely obsessed with Manon. I KNEW there was going to be more to her than you first thought, and was highly anticipating her scenes with Celaena. I loved how her relationship with Celaena was developed in this instalment, and I can’t wait to see where it goes. Nesryn. I have not bonded with Nesryn. As for Arobyn, I really thought he was going to be a major player in the whole series. He had some fantastic scenes in this novel though, and overall I wasn’t saddened by his storyline at all. I may even have cheered.
Something about this book that did annoy me slightly, was the emphasis put on Celaena’s name change (as you can see in this review, I’m still referring to her by her original name). While the emphasis on this is understandable, I don’t think acceptance of who she is should change her entire character completely. Her history as Celaena is still the history of Aelin, as they are after all one and the same person. However, I do get how acceptance of the name “Aelin” is acceptance of her Fae-self, which sadly lends itself to a relationship with Rowan as opposed to Chaol. This grated on me because Aelin kept picking flaws in Celaena, and as far as I can tell, I much prefer the old Celaena. Can we have her back now, please?
Overall, I felt the tone of this novel change, and with it some of our characters have changed. The story isn’t as character driven, and I’m not sure just yet how realistic and seamless this change-over will be, because at times it felt a little off. Only by reading the next instalment will we know if things fall in to place. I really need to reread this one too, because I found the events of the last couple of chapters happened too quickly and I struggled to keep up (or maybe in my excitement I was speed reading like a demon…). Can’t wait to continue this series and see how it all ends up.
Have you read Queen of Shadows? What do you think of the series so far, and where do you think it’s going? Let me know in the comments!
I always feel a little lost when I read a review for any of the books in this series! hahah. I feel like there’s a whole slew of characters I will have a hard time keeping track of. 😀 I know you’re a big fan, so I”m a little surprise it’s taken you this long!
There are SO many characters. I read the book in September last year, just took til now for me to get around to reviewing it 😀 R x
I’m so glad you pointed out the overall shift in tone by Celaena as she embraced who she was as Aelin. I too felt that in a way she really dismissed her life as the former and I really didn’t see a need to. I’ve heard several people comment that the first two books and the last two feel almost like different series, not just because of the world-building, but because of the direction Sarah J. Maas has chosen to take her characters. Chaolaena will probably never cease to be my OTP, I underwent far too much heartache in the first books to truly ever let that go (did I really suffer for nothing?). Nice review, Rachel!
YES! I really didn’t get it. Like, OK, embrace who you truly are, and the name, because it carries so much power and fear to her enemies. BUT that doesn’t change who you were as a person, your history, and how you got to Aelin today. YOU ARE STILL THAT PERSON! I wonder if that’s where Maas is going though – the inner struggle between Celaena and Chaol, and Aelin and Rowan, and ultimately Celaena/Aelin having to make peace with her two selves and then pick the man who best suits HER, and not her former/current self and who they are “supposed” to be. Does that make sense? Or am I way over-analysing a fictional character??
The first two and next two read like two different series. The first two are character driven in my mind, and slower paced, and more intimate reads. The second two read much more like high fantasy, are more plot driven and focus on an entire world, as opposed to a small handful of characters. I assume books 5 and 6 will be as far reaching as 3 and 4, but perhaps revert to more intimate reads once the fighting all dies down. Just a guess.
I will NEVER let Chaol go. He MADE Celaena who she is. The fighting in the ring, when she was barely holding on, and he locked eyes with her and was like “you’ve got this”. OH MY HEART.
Thanks, Alicia. This series is going to kill me, I can tell lol R xx
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Exactly! Oh, Sarah J. Maas, I love you, but sometimes I just ah! Not at all, I’ve spent a whole lot of time trying to understand exactly what the author is thinking when it came to this installment. Let’s just say that if this series had been a trilogy rather than a six-book series, I believe it our ship would have been safe. I just need to accept this new direction, even if it really, really hurts.
What scares me more is that with two books left, she could change EVERYTHING. R xx
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I was also a huge Chaol&Celaena fan but I have to admit Rowan has just captured my heart, I feel like Chaol & Celaena would’ve been so good together if Celaena hadn’t changed as much as she had in these books but it was definitely a good change for her. Lovely review! 😀
Yes, I agree that she changed, which changed their dynamic. Did you not feel the change between them was… off though? She left and was like “I’ll always choose you”, then came back and was all “Dude, Bye!”. There seemed to be a lot of character development that was unseen and unexplained. Interested to see where she goes with it all.
That’s why Maas kills me – I’m still shipping Chaolaena because I still think of their characters and their history, but she write romances so well that I fully accepted and grieved for Sam, and then I found myself beginning to accept and see the attraction with Rowan. I ended up fighting with myself a lot. I think when I get the chance to reread the series in full, it will be clearer where my romantic loyalties lie, because at the minute it’s difficult to see who fits her best because the books are so far apart, and it keeps changing!
Thanks for commenting 🙂 R x
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I think I’m the ONLY person who has rooted for Dorian and Celaena/Aelin from the get-go. I mean, I love that they’re friends but I really really wanted that friendship to grow into more. I appreciated the platonic friendship of Aelin/Rowan and felt horribly guilty when Dorian lost his little healer … because I’m not going to lie, I cheered. I hoped it would clear the way for my OTP … but now it looks like Dorian is going to end up with Manon.
This whole series provokes a lot of mixed feelings. I can’t really say that I hate any of the characters, and the more Maas writes, the more it feels like she’s slowly convincing me to think her way … and I don’t know that I like it. 😛 😀
That’s a different ship to have altogether! I went through a will-they-won’t-they period where I thought I wanted them to get together, but from halfway through Throne of Glass I was ALL about Chaol! I liked Aelin and Rowan as just friends too, I was SO annoyed when it became more, and then even MORE annoyed because Maas writes relationships so well that I found myself shipping them too. I can’t believe you cheered over the healer though!! LOL You never know, the way Maas likes to blow ships apart it could happen yet, there are two books to go. Maybe they’re forced into marriage to bring the two Kingdoms together and end up loving each other. Like a Katnis and Peeta scenario. There are SO many feelings involved in this series, and there’s so much going on! I will definitely need to binge read the whole thing when they’re all released to work out how I really feel! R xx