Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas Book Review
Updated: Jan 25
Queen of Shadows
by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury
Book 4 in the Throne of Glass Series
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, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.
RATED: 16+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Violent #Fantasy Thrilling
Some Steaminess #YoungAdult Emotional
Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas is the fourth book in her Throne of Glass series, and centers around Aelin (previously known as Celaena), Queen of Terrasin, her Court: Rowan, her Carranam, and a Fae Prince Warrior, and Aedion, her cousin, her guardian, and also a Prince. Her friends, Chaol Westfall, and Prince Dorian Havillilard, Manon Blackbeak, Wing Leader in the King of Adarlan's army, and head of the Thirteen, a brutal coven in the Blackbeak family, and Elide Lochan, the heir to Perranth, after her parents who assassinated by the King when he took over Terrasin. There are other characters that stand out in this book, and there is a lot of moving parts in this story. So buckle up and let's discuss!
Queen of Shadows continues Sarah J Maas's story in a beautifully unique and heart pumping way. As you might know, I had very low hopes for the series after reading the first book, but with every book afterwards, Sarah's skills as a writer get better and better. I couldn't wait to be able to sit down and dive into the story again, and there were quite a few nights this week where I barely had any sleep, because I just had to keep reading. The characters in Queen of Shadows, new and old, are written with the depth they needed and lacked in the first book. I care about these characters now. I was moved to tears in some cases. In fact, Queen of Shadows is probably my favorite of the series so far.
Aelin is one of those characters that you either love her or hate her. For a while now, I've been hovering in the middle, but Queen of Shadows has me leaning towards love. She is brutal and violent, but only to those who deserve it. She is bullheaded, which leads to some moments where I want to shake her. She is complicated, which I appreciate, because it makes her more real. Every person has flaws, and I shouldn't expect our heroine to be perfect. Queen of Shadows finally showed us a glimmer of the queen she is. It's not just her strength and skills. She is intelligent. She feels empathy. She is loving and protective. Does she leave Celaena behind in her transformation? No, and I am glad of it. While those ten years were awful, she learned how to survive, which in the upcoming war, will be so important. Things I don't love about her, is she can tend to toe the line of hypocrite. She is angry with Chaol because he ran when Dorian told him to run. Mad at him for serving the king, and couldn't understand how Chaol didn't try to kill the king whenever he was close to him. But, Aelin herself, has been in a situation where she was told to flee, and she did. Sure, she was kid at the time, but she should know it was never an easy decision, or something Chaol was proud of. And also, when Aelin was living as Celaena, she was perfectly content to work for the king as his champion to secure her freedom. So she should at the very least, understand and show some empathy for Chaol.
Lets talk about Rowan for a second here. Rowan quickly became a favorite of mine in Heir of Fire, and that didn't change in Queen of Shadows. While I don't have my theory proved about Rowan and Aelin yet, I think everything that happened in this book is pointing to it.
Aedion's story in this book was pretty great as well, and the more I learned about him, the more I loved him too. Spoiler/Theory I have -------->First of all, his reunion with Aelin was absolutely beautiful, and one of my favorite parts of the book. I felt bad about the blood oath that was his by right, but I wonder ... if my theory about Rowan and Aelin pans out, and they are mated, I wonder if that makes the blood oath void? Leaving it for Aedion? I hope so. I also have a feeling Aedion's mate might be Lysandra. Which makes her turning into a Ghost Leopard, which creeps Aedion out, much funnier.<---------
Dorian's part of this story is ultimately sad and with little to no hope. I wonder what it means that ------->Aelin and Dorian were able to connect to one another to share their power? Distant relation maybe? I thought that it was rare for magic to connect that way. Is it because he has raw power? I hope we get an explanation.<--------. Dorian's story is far from over, and I feel like his transition from Prince to King will be a hard one for him. Hell, Chaol's story was equally sad in a way.. Lonely. I used to really root for Chaol and Aelin (until Rowan, of course), and I always felt that Chaol got a raw and brutal deal in everything that happened between him and Aelin, but obviously, it all works out, and I'm glad by the end, while it's bittersweet, there is a friendship between them. All they needed was to reestablish trust between them, and talk to one another.
And what are your thoughts on what the King says to Dorian and Aelin at the end of the book? Let me know in the comments!
I still wasn't overly crazy over Manon's story line, but I will admit to it being better than it was in Heir of Fire. Her character still annoys me though, because there is very little about her that makes me like her. I am happy that through Elide, and ------->Manon and Aelin fighting it out<----- her story line blends in with the story a little bit more, other than a POV from the enemies line. Theory ------>I think Manon and Dorian will have a fling of some sort. Just a vibe I am getting. I also think in a weird and twisty way, Aelin and Manon could become really good friends.<-------. Elide's story line was somewhat more interesting, because I wondered what happened to the quiet girl Aelin remembered. She hasn't had an easy time of it, and one of my favorite parts of Queen of Shadows is when she found out her Queen, Aelin, was alive and strong, along with Aedion.
There are some important characters in Queen of Shadows that we don't have POV's of, but are big parts of this story. We finally meet Arobynn, who is mentioned so much in the last three books, and it was not disappointing. He was totally as evil and ruthless as described, and his back and forth with Aelin really showcases the level of her intelligence, and ruthless plan-making. She takes "Know your enemy" to a whole new level. Spoiler ------> His ending, while brutal, is well deserved. He actually got off easy <-------. Lysandra quickly became one of my favorite characters, and I was so happy that Aelin and her become friends. I never really liked Nehemia's relationship with Aelin, because it felt forced and like she was using Aelin, but with Lysandra, it feels real and fun. Nesryn is also important, not only because of her skills as a warrior in the rebel cause, but she ends up being Chaol's only friend for a while. And I liked how her and Aelin click right away.
Spoiler ------> Shout out to Kaltain, who I really disliked in Throne of Glass, but she redeems herself here by fighting back, and destroying a very important weapon for the real enemy, Erawan.<--------
In the end, Queen of Shadows was a very climatic book for this series. It's non-stop story and character development, the action, and a touch of romance, this book was amazing, and lives up to the standards I set for Sarah J Maas after reading her Crown of Thorns and Roses series.
Where to Buy
Throne of Glass Box Set (Chapters/Indigo)
Nesryn: "How do we know she didn't come here on his orders?"
She winked at the young woman
Aelin: "If I'd come here on the king's orders, Nesryn Faliq, you'd have been dead minutes ago."
Chaol made it a block before Aelin silently dropped down beside him. He didn't flinch.
Chaol: "I should have known."
Aelin: "You really should have."
Nesryn: "The King's Champion and Aelin Galathynius. Impressive. I should be flattered she held a knife to my throat."
Aelin winked at Evangeline and said with a conspirator's grin as she led her through the rain.
Aelin: "You look like my sort of person."
Brullo: "Take off your hood."
Aelin looked up.
Aelin: "Why and no."
Brullo: "I want to see your face."
Aelin went still
Nesryn: "I saw her face last night, Brullo, and it's as pretty as before. Don't you have a wife to ogle, anyway?"
Aelin: "I think I rather like you, Nesryn Faliq."
Arobynn: "Should you decide not to fulfill your end of the bargain ... you'll find out very quickly, Celaena darling, how deadly this city can be for those on the run - even fire-breathing bitch-queens."
Aelin: "No more declarations of love or offers to walk over coals for me?"
A sensual laugh
Arobynn: "You were always my favorite dance partner."
Aelin: "You brought chocolate - as far as I'm concerned, you're my new favorite person."
Aelin: "We're such refined, genteel ladies."
Lysandra: "Please. You and I are nothing but wild beasts wearing human skins. Don't even try to deny it."
Chaol: "Touch him, and I'll make sure those bastards down there find Aedion."
Nesryn silently turned to them, slackening her bow. It was the only card he had to play, even if it made him a bastard as well.
The wrath Chaol found in Aelin's eyes was world-ending.
Aelin: "You bring my court into this, Chaol, and I don't care what you were to me, or what you have done to help me. You betray them, you hurt them, and I don't care how long it takes, or how far you go; I'll burn you and your gods-damned kingdom to ash. Then you'll learn just how much of a monster I can be."
Aelin: "How good's your accuracy, Faliq?"
Nesryn: "I don't miss."
Aelin's teeth gleemed.
Aelin: "My kind of woman."
She gave Chaol a knowing smile.
The commander of the patrol - the demon inside him - looked at her and smiled as though it already knew what her blood tasted like.
Aelin grinned right back at him, flicking her wrists and sending the blades shooting out of her suit.
Aelin: "Hello, gorgeous."
Then she was upon them, slicing and twirling and ducking.
Florine: "When you shatter the chains of this world and forge the next, remember that art is as vital as food to a kingdom. Without it, a kingdom is nothing, and will be forgotten by time. I have amassed enough money in my miserable life to not need any more - so you will understand me clearly when I say that wherever you set your throne, no matter how long it takes, I will come to you, and I will bring music and dancing."
Lysandra: "The resemblance is uncanny. Gods, the fact that you went undiscovered for so many years boggles the mind. Even though he's a handsome bastard, it'd be like kissing you."
Aelin: "I could have lived without knowing that."
Nesryn: "Dorian Havilliard offers a better future, but the responsibility also lies with us. With how common people choose to act."
Chaol: "I won't abandon him."
Nesryn: "You're even more hardheaded than the queen."
Chaol: "Would you expect me to be anything else?"
A half smile
Nesryn: "I don't think I would like you if you were anything but a stubborn ass."
She stretched out her legs like a cat
Aelin: "I'm ready to accept your thanks for my spectacular rescue at any time, you know."
He couldn't stop the tears leaking down his face
Aedion: "Remind me never to get on your bad side."
A smile tugged on her lips, and her eyes - their eyes - sparkled.
Aelin: "Hello, Aedion."
Hearing his name on her tongue snapped something loose, and he had to close his eyes, his body barking in pain as it shook with the force of the tears trying to get out of him.
Aedion: "Thank you for your spectacular rescue. Let's never do it again."
Aelin: "You're exactly the way I dreamed you'd be."
Aedion: "You're a little taller than I'd imagined, but no one's perfect."
Aelin: "It's a miracle the king managed to resist executing you until yesterday."
Aedion: "Tell me he's in a rage the likes of which have never been seen before."
Aelin: "If you listen hard enough, you can actually hear him shrieking from the palace."
Aelin: "A minute of pleasant conversation, and then the territorial Fae bullshit comes raging out."
Aedion: "I waited an extra thirty seconds."
Aelin: "I honestly thought you'd last ten."
Aelin: "Chaol said you're even meaner than I am most of the time."
Aedion: "Chaol is already on his way to being throttled, and you're not helping."
Aelin: "Are you ashamed of what I've done?"
His brow creased
Aedion: "Why would you ever think that?"
Aelin: "Are you?"
Aedion: "Never. I could never be ashamed of you."
She doubted that, and when she twisted away, he gently grabbed her chin, forcing her eyes to him.
Aedion: "You survived; I survived. We're together again. I once begged the gods to let me see you - if only for a moment. To see you and know you'd made it. Just once; that was all I ever hoped for."
She couldn't stop the tears that began slipping down her face.
Aedion: "Whatever you had to do to survive, whatever you did from spite or rage or selfishness ... I don't give a damn. You're here - and you're perfect. You always were, and you always will be."
She flung her arms around him, careful of his injuries, and squeezed him as tightly as she dared. He wrapped an arm around her, the other bracing them, and buried his face in her neck.
Aelin: "I missed you. Every day, I missed you."
Her skin grew damp beneath his face.
Aedion: "Never again."
Aedion: "Rowan Whitethorn is a legend. And so is his - what do you call them?"
Aedion: "The six of them ... We used to tell stories about them around fires. Their battles and exploits and adventures."
She sighed through her nose
Aelin: "Please, please don't ever tell him that. I'll never hear the end of it, and he'll use it in every argument we have."
Aelin: "Are you suggesting that I don't care?"
Chaol: "You risked everything - multiple lives - to get out one man. I think you find this city and its citizens to be expendable."
Aelin: "Need I remind you, Captain, that you went to Endovier and did not blink at the slaves, at the mass graves? Need I remind you that I was starved and chained, and you let Duke Perrington force me to the ground at Dorian's feet while you did nothing? And now you have the nerve to accuse me of not caring, when many of the people in this city have profited off the blood and misery of the very people you ignored?"
Aedion: "Has anyone ever taught you humility?"
Aelin: "You didn't learn it, so why should I?"
Rowan: "Why are you crying?"
He tried to push her back far enough to read her face again.
But she held on to him, so fiercely she could feel the weapons beneath his clothes. It would all be fine, even if it went to hell, so long as he was here with her.
Aelin: "I'm crying because you smell so rutting bad my eyes are watering."
Aelin: "Aedion, meet Rowan. Rowan, meet Aedion. His Highness needs a bath or I'll vomit if I have to sit next to him for more than a minute."
Rowan: "From tears to sass in a few minutes. I'm glad the month apart hasn't dimmed your usual good spirits."
Rowan: "Tell me everything."
Aelin: "I will, when you're soaking in the bath and don't smell like a vagrant."
Rowan: "If memory serves, you smelled even worse when we first met, And I didn't shove you into the nearest trough in Varese."
Rowan: "You made my eyes water for the entire damn journey to Mistward."
Aelin: "Just get in."
Aelin: "You haven't said anything about your magic."
Rowan: "What about it?"
Fingers in his hair, she leaned down to peer at his face.
Aelin: "I take it it's gone. How does it feel to be as powerless as a mortal?"
He opened his eyes to glare
Rowan: "It's not funny."
Aelin: "Do I look like I'm laughing?"
Rowan: "I spent the first few days sick to my stomach and barely able to move. It was like having a blanket thrown over my senses."
Aelin: "And now?"
Rowan: "And now I'm dealing with it."
She poked him in the shoulder
Aelin: "Grumpy, grumpy."
Rowan: "We need to talk."
Aelin: "Good talk or bad talk?"
Rowan: "The kind that will make me glad you don't have access to your power so you don't spew flames everywhere."
Aelin: "That was one incident, and if you ask me, your absolutely wonderful former lover deserved it."
Aelin: "If you're going to have a pissing contest, can you at least do it on the roof?"
Rowan looked at her, brows high
Aedion: "She says we're no better than dogs, so I wouldn't be surprised if she actually believes we'd piss on her furniture."
Aelin: "Every time I turn around, I feel like I'm one wrong move or word away from leading them to ruin. People's lives - your life - depend on me. There's no room for error."
Rowan: "You will make mistakes. You will make decisions, and sometimes you will regret those choices. Sometimes there won't be a right choice, just the best of several bad options. I don't need to tell you that you can do this - you know you can. I wouldn't have sworn the oath to you if I didn't think you could."
Rowan: "What in the hell is that?"
She kept going toward the bathroom, refusing to apologize or look down at the pink, delicate, very short lace nightgown. When she emerged, face washed and clean, Rowan was sitting up, arms crossed over his bare chest.
Rowan: "You forgot the bottom part."
She merely blew out the candles one by one. His eyes tracked her the entire time.
Aelin: "There is no bottom part. It's starting to get so hot, and I hate sweating when I sleep. Plus, you're practically a furnace. So it's either this or I sleep naked. You can sleep in the bathtub if you have a problem with it."
His growl rattled the room.
Rowan: "You've made your point."
Rowan: "Are all your nightclothes like that?"
Aelin: "So curious about my negligees, Prince. Whatever would the others say? Maybe I should issue a decree to clarify."
He growled and she grinned into her pillow
Aelin: "Yes, I have more, don't worry. If Lorcan is going to murder me in my sleep, I might as well look good."
Rowan: "Vain until the bitter end."
Aelin: "Is there a specific color you'd like me to wear? If I'm going to scandalize you, I should at least do it in something you like."
Rowan: "You're a menace."
She laughed again
Rowan: "Gold. Not yellow - real, metallic gold."
Aelin: "You're out of luck. I would never own anything so ostentatious."
She could almost feel him smiling at her as she fell asleep.
Thirty minutes later, Rowan was still staring up at the ceiling, teeth gritted as he calmed the roaring in his veins that was steadily shredding through his self-control.
That gods-damned nightgown.
He was in such deep, unending shit.
Aelin: "You can swear it right now if you wish."
Aedion: "Not now. Not until I see you crowned. Not until we can be in front of a crowd, in front of the world."
Aelin: "You're even more dramatic than I am."
Lorcan: "I'm going to kill you."
Aelin: "Ah, about this."
She shifted her wrist just enough for him to feel the blade she'd flicked free in the moment before she'd sensed his attack - the steel now resting against his groin.
Aelin: "Immortality seems like a long, long time to go without your favorite body part."
Lorcan: "I'll rip out your throat before you can move."
She pressed the blade harder against him
Aelin: "Big risk to take, isn't it?"
Aelin: "Honestly, Rowan, I don't know how you put up with him for so many centuries. Five minutes and I'm bored to tears."
Lorcan: "Watch yourself, girl. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not in a week, but someday you will trip up. And I'll be waiting."
Aelin: "Really - you Fae males and your dramatic speeches. I will never forget, not for one moment, what you did to him that day in Doranelle. Your miserable existence is at the bottom of my priority list, but one day, Lorcan ... One day, I'll come to claim that debt, too. Consider tonight a warning."
Rowan: "I wouldn't put it past Lorcan to return the favor you dealt him tonight. He forgets and forgives even less easily than you do. Especially when someone threatens to cut off his manhood."
Aelin: "At least I said it would be a big mistake. I was tempted to say 'little.'"
Rowan laughed, his eyes dancing
Rowan: "Then you definitely would have been dead."
She strode to Rowan, taking the heavy arm from him, and waved at the prince with the creature's stiff fingers.
Rowan: "Stop that."
She wriggled the demon's fingers a bit more.
Aelin: "It'd make a good back-scratcher."
Rowan only frowned.
Aelin: "I miss you. Every day, I miss you. And I wonder what you would have made of all this. Made of me. I think - I think you would have been a wonderful king. I think they would have liked you more than me, actually. I never told you - how I felt. But I loved you, and I think a part of me might always love you. Maybe you were my mate, and I never knew it. Maybe I'll spend the rest of my life wondering about that. Maybe I'll see you again in the Afterworld, and then I'll know for sure. But until then ... until then I'll miss you, and I'll wish you were here."
Manon: "If this Aelin Galathynius were indeed alive, would you try to run to her? Fight with her?"
Elide: "I would fight with tooth and claw to get to her. But there are lines I would not cross. Because I don't think I could face her if ... if I couldn't face myself for what I'd done."
Aedion: "She's going to kill him tonight, isn't she?"
Rowan: "After the dinner and whatever Arobynn plans to do with the Valg commander. She's going to circle back and put him down."
Aedion: "That's my girl."
Aelin: "You said you wanted to see me in this dress."
Rowan: "I hadn't realized the effect would be so ... You look like -"
Aelin: "A queen?"
Rowan: "The fire-breathing bitch-queen those bastards claim you are."
Aelin: "Don't forget your cloak. You'd feel rather guilty when all those poor mortal women combust at the sight of you."
Rowan: "I'd say likewise, but I think you'd enjoy seeing men bursting into flames as you strutted by."
She winked at him.
Rowan: You really threw a dagger at her head.
Aelin: I was a tad hotheaded.
Rowan: I'm beginning to admire Lysandra more and more. Seventeen-year-old Aelin must have been a delight to deal with.
She fought the twitching in her lips
Aelin: I would pay good money to see seventeen-year-old Aelin meet seventeen-year-old Rowan.
His green eyes glittered
Rowan: Seventeen-year-old Rowan wouldn't have known what to do with you. He could barely speak to females outside his family.
Aelin: Liar - I don't believe that for a second.
Rowan: It's true. You would have scandalized him with your nightclothes - even with that dress you have on.
She sucked on her teeth
Aelin: He would probably have been even more scandalized to learn I'm not wearing any undergarments beneath this dress.
The table rattled as Rowan's knee banged into it.
Rowan: You wicked, clever fox.
Aelin: And here you were, thinking the red hair was just for vanity.
Rowan: I shall never doubt again.
Rowan: "Tell me what you're thinking."
Aelin: "I'm thinking that the next time I want to unsettle you, all I need to do is tell you how rarely I wear undergarments."
His pupils flared
Rowan: "Is there a reason you do that, Princess?"
Aelin: "Is there a reason not to?"
He flattened his hand against her waist, his fingers contracting once as if debating letting her go.
Rowan: "I pity the foreign ambassadors who will have to deal with you."
Tern: "You can't just toss us out. What will we do? Where will we go?"
Aelin: "I hear hell is particularly nice at this time of year."
Manon: "We're not whores for your men to use."
Perrington: "You are sacred vessels. It is an honor to be chosen."
Manon: "I find that a very male thing to assume."
Aelin: "Your father should fire Nelly. Opium addicts are piss-poor employees."
Nesryn: "She makes good bread."
Aelin: "You know, I bet the men around here would cut out their snarling if you'd turned into a ghost leopard and snarled back at them."
Lysandra's brows rose
Lysandra: "Ghost leopard?"
Aedion: "Do me a favor and never turn into one of those."
Lysandra: "What are they?"
Aedion shook his head
Aedion: "Devils cloaked in fur. They live up in the Staghorns and during the winter they creep down to prey on livestock. As big as bears, some of them. Meaner. And when the livestock runs out, they prey on us."
Aelin patted Lysandra's shoulder
Aelin: "Sounds like your kind of creature."
Aedion: "They're white and grey, so you can barely make them out against the snow and rock. You can't really tell they're on you until you're staring right into their pale green eyes ..."
His smile faltered as Lysandra fixed her green eyes on him and cocked her head.
Aelin: "Thank you. For all that you're risking - thank you."
Nesryn: "Love live the queen."
Rowan: "We'll face this together. As we have in the past. To whatever end."
Rowan: "I kept thinking about how you might never know that I missed you with only an ocean between us. But if it was death separating us ... I would find you. I don't care how many rules it would break. Even if I had to get all three keys myself and open a gate, I would find you again. Always."
Aelin: "No one else. I would never allow anyone else at my throat. No one else."
Rowan: "Not yet. Not now."
It was an effort to remember speech with him looking at her like that. Like he might eat her alive.
Rowan: "I want to take my time with you - to learn ... every inch of you. And this apartment has very, very thin walls. I don't want to have an audience when I make you moan, Aelin."
Oh, by the Wyrd. She was in trouble.
It was foolish to even start down this road, when every other man she'd let in had left some wound, in one way or another, accidentally or not.
There was nothing soft of tender on his face. Only a predator's glittering gaze.
Rowan: "When we get back, remind me to prove you wrong about every thought that just went through your head."
She lifted an eyebrow
He gave her a sly smile that made thinking impossible.
Rowan: "I'll even let you decide how I tell you: with words -"
His eyes flicked once to her mouth
Rowan: "- or with my teeth and tongue."
The wing leader studies Aedion again.
Moran: "Your brother?"
Aelin: "My cousin, Aedion. Almost as pretty as me, wouldn't you say?"
Aelin: "Swords are boring."
She palmed two fighting knives
Manon sheathed Wind-Cleaver along her own back. She flickered her wrists, the iron nails shooting out. She cracks her jaw, and her fangs descended.
The queen looked at the nails, the teeth, and grinned.
Honestly - it was a shame that Manon had to kill her.
Aelin: "You're too good a fighter to kill. If I die because of you, I'll beat the shit out of you in hell."
Aelin: "I saved my enemy's life today. They tried to shoot my ... Rowan through the heart. And I saved her anyway."
Chaol: "I know."
Her scream when that arrow had gone through Rowan ...
Chaol: "I'm sorry."
She gazed up at the stars - toward the North. Her face was so cold.
Aelin: "Would you truly have killed him if you'd had the chance?"
Chaol: "Yes. I was ready for that."
She slowly turned to him.
Aelin: "We'll do it - together. We'll free magic, then you and I will go in there and end it together."
Chaol: "You're not going to insist I stay back?"
Aelin: "How can I deny you that last gift to him?"
Manon: "We need to proceed carefully."
Asterin: "What are you planning?"
Manon: "Something very stupid, I think."