Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas Book Review

Updated: Jan 24

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.


Violent High-Fantasy Thrilling

Some Steaminess Young Adult 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.

Favorite Moments

  1. Aelin destroying the club

  2. Evangeline giving Aelin what she needed to be able to trust Lysandra

  3. Aedion's rescue

  4. Aelin and Aedion talking for the first time in 10 years

  5. Aelin giving Aedion the Sword of Orynth, her father's blade


  7. Aelin washing Rowan's hair

  8. The nightgown

  9. Aelin going to Sam's grave

  10. Rowan's reaction to the dress

  11. Aelin telling Rowan she wasn't wearing underwear and his knee hitting the table

  12. Arobynn's death, and Aelin's full plans finally coming to light

  13. Aelin letting Rowan access to her throat, showing how much she trusts him

  14. Aelin freeing Lysandra

  15. The gold nightgown

  16. Aelin saving Dorian, and them bringing down the glass castle, and killing the King

  17. Kaltain's vengeance

  18. Chaol's life being saved by the amulet, and Nesryn and him deciding to figure out what is between him when they go to have him healed

  19. Manon telling Elide that Aelin, her queen, is alive, and has killed the king.

  20. Aelin making Lysandra a lady in her court


Where to Buy


Paperback (amazon)

Hardcover (amazon)

Paperback (Chapters/Indigo)

Hardcover (Chapters/Indigo)

Throne of Glass Box Set (Chapters/Indigo)


Google Play Books

Apple Books

Favorite Quotes

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 snorted

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 grimaced

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."

She sighed

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."

She snorted

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?"

Aelin: "Cadre."

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."