Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass, #4
Celaena Sardothien, Adarlan’s most notorious assassin turned King’s Champion, has finally accepted who she really is. Now she returns from her mission in Wendlyn, but not as an assassin, but as Aelin Galathynius, rightful Queen of Terrasen. But things are not as she left them in Rifthold. The King has taken those she loves prisoner and is hunting down the rebels who dare to stand against him. Those under his power are amassing and only Aelin stands between him and conquering the world.
“Her fingers barked in pain, digging into the brick so hard that her nails broke inside her gloves. She gritted her teeth and pulled, hauling herself onto the ledge and then through the open window.”
Sarah J. Maas’s Queen of Shadows, the fourth book in her Throne of Glass series, was painful in so many ways, there’s a good chance I went through an entire tissue box while reading. Maas’s series excels in its world-building and ability to prey emotionally on its readers with gut-wrenching stories about characters you cannot help but root for. The villains in this series come in many forms, each seemingly impossible to defeat, capable of bringing the world to its knees. With every page the King of Adarlan’s plans become more and more terrible, ambitious, and mad. The Valg are a terrifying enemy, able to feed on and possess those with magic. His army of witches, riding the impressive wyverns, are more brutal and skilled than any human soldier could ever hope to be. We are also finally introduced to the man who made eight-year-old Aelin Galathynius into the skilled assassin Celaena Sardothien. Cunning and vicious, it is Arobynn’s belief that Aelin rightfully belongs to him that had my skin crawling. Even more frightening is knowing these adversaries are nothing compared to what Maas has in store for her next books.
New characters are introduced in this fourth installment including a formal rival of Celaena’s, Lysandra, whose history with the assassin is complicated, but whom Aelin finds common ground with when it comes to their mutual hatred for the King of the Assassins. Elide, a former citizen of Terrasen, who’s been relegated to servant by her corrupt uncle, draws the attention of Manon and her story becomes closely intertwined with the Thirteen. I really enjoyed Manon’s character arc in this book. I was drawn to her in Heir of Fire and knew there was more of her character to explore. Her ruthlessness and unwavering obedience, once thought of as the most valuable qualities both in herself and others, are challenged in this book. Though it goes against everything she’s ever been taught, she learns to listen to those who have fought at her side and begins to understand that bowing to those above her in station may not be what’s best for the witch clans.
I wasn’t a fan of everything that happened in Queen of Shadows for various reasons which I will mostly not divulge because of spoilers. As I’ve said with the previous books, I’ve been hoping that Dorian would get a more compelling storyline, since I’ve felt that he hasn’t been given much to do and I’m left once again hoping this takes place in the next book. There is a gap between Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows that we aren’t fully privy to and I would have liked to have explored what happened with Dorian and Chaol during this time. Because of this, I didn’t quite understand the raging tension between Aelin and Chaol in this installment. Instead of working together, they found ways to quarrel which was hard for me to accept given their history.
Overall, though not my favorite in the series, Queen of Shadows was full of thrilling battles, gruesome foes, and a protagonist finally coming into her own.