After training with the Fae in Wendlyn, Aelin Galathynius arrives in Rifthold, the capital of Adarlan, under her old pseudonym Celaena Sardothian: Master Assassin. Her purpose: to exact vengeance and free her family, friends, and people from the corrupt King of Adarlan.
Queen of Shadows is the fourth book in the Throne of Glass series, written by Sarah J. Maas. I will forever have a gaping black hole of 48 hours lost from my memory, during which I fell face-first into this novel and refused to surface until it was finished. *And cue the Category 5 Book-Hangover Hurricane*
You literally CANNOT put this book down! Why, you ask? Author Sarah J. Maas courted us in the previous installment, Heir of Fire, with intricate, slow-blooming character development, setting the stage for Queen of Shadows to be a non-stop rolodex of action, suspense, and all around bad-assery, making it a binge-worthy read!
My lifeboat throughout this entire series:
Aelin. Celaena. Queen of Shadows. Whichever alias you prefer, know this:
I ADORE HER. This is something readers rarely see in fantasy literature: a heroine who is complex, broken, terrifying, and relatable:
1) Her love of couture clothing equals her love of a perfectly weighted dagger...
2) She obsesses over libraries filled with leather bound books, yet can snap a man's neck with blinking an eye...
3) She isn't afraid to shed tears, bearing her scars for all the world to see, while at the same time exhibiting an unyeilding core of strength that draws a circle of loyal followers like flies to honey...
At the end of Heir of Fire, we see an Aelin who was stripped of all emotional blockades, piece by piece, layer, by layer, until she finally came to accept her true self, the identity she’s been denying for 10 years ever since the death of her parents and her kingdom: Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, the part-Fae rightful Queen of Terrasen, beloved of Mala Light-Bringer.
Maas unleashes this new, powerful Aelin onto all of Adarlan and its inhabitants, who hold on for dear life as her vengeance rips through the gutters and dredges of her past. The Queen has finally arrived! We see a new Aelin here: one with confidance, power, and a firm, unwavering purpose: before she can take back her crown and claim Terrasen as her birthright, she must free her cousin Aedion Ashryver, free her friend Dorian Havilliard, the Crown Prince of Adarlan, and liberate all of Adarlan by killing its king, and the Valg demon who inhabits his body.
Maas barely bats an eyes as she raises the curtain for newer characters in this series, all with rich, vivid histories: Manon (the icy Wing Leader of the Blackbeak clan of Ironteeth witches, and rider of the wyvern Abraxos), Lysandra (Arobynn’s courtesan of choice, cloaked in secrets while dreaming of freedom), Nesryn (Chaol’s apt rebel second-in-command), and Elide (a crippled servant girl who suspiciously keeps company with witches).
We also dive headfirst into the twisted character of the elusive King of Thieves, murderer of Sam, and Celaena’s old employer: Arobynn Hamel (who I could not stop picturing as Klaus from Vampire Diaries!!).
*At this moment, I'd like to acknowledge that I am blatantly avoiding any/all romance in this book. This was done so in an effort NOT to give away spoilers. If you've already read the book, you know. YOU KNOW. If you haven't... *drowns in feelings*
Part of the reason why I fell in love this series has to do with the author’s writing process. When interviewed during QoS's production, Maas explained: “Music—especially movie scores and classical music—is usually my main source of inspiration… With book four, which I’m working on right now, I was listening to Kanye West to get into Celaena’s head — eyes closed, just thinking about her, soaking in the music. I’m not an actor by any means, but when I’m typing, I act out my scenes. I keep a mirror behind my desk; I watch myself making expressions, and then I write them.” (be still my beating heart...)
EXCITING: Maas has recently begun posting playlists from her Spotify account onto her blog where readers can listen to the tracks that inspired scenes in her books (And yes, I've already listened to all her playlists...). As a musician, this SPEAKS TO MY SOUL!!! When I was 15, I would take tracks from the Gladiator soundtrack and use them as background music while reading Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon.
Sarah J. Maas is officially my new spirit animal.
Overall, this is by far the darkest Throne of Glass installment yet. The reader is exposed to corruption, demon possession, prostitution, countless executions, slavery, abuse of the worst degree…
All of us, to some extent, have a streak of darkness within; hiding, watching, waiting for the right moment to take hold and make our marionette strings rattle...
Watching helplessly as Aelin takes that streak and splatters it in an arching crescendo of death and destruction, I couldn’t help but ask myself throughout this book:
What if I was honed into a flawless weapon with a score to settle?
Would I bring the world crashing around my feet as retribution?
More importantly… would I enjoy it? At times, Aelin does.
"She was a whirling cloud of death, a queen of shadows, and these men were already carrion." - QoS
Aelin is broken. Her world was brutally ravaged, burnt to the ground with nothing left but ashes and despair. To save herself, she became Celaena. To save her people, Aelin was reborn. And Aelin wants vengeance.
We’ve got two more books left before the end!!! Join Aelin, Rowan, Chaol, and the rest of her court for the concluding arc of this incredible series!!