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!