Queen of Shadows
Sarah J Maas
Warning: as this is a reread, I am giving more spoilers than I normally would. I’d advise not to read if you havent’finished Queen of Shadows yet!
I genuinely reckon you could have ended the series on this book, and have it be satisfying (enough) for your readers. Luckily, we still get two more to completely wrap up the Throne of Glass series, and undoubtedly see Aelin take the throne of Terrasen. How she’ll get there, though… Ever since reading A Court of Mist and Fury, the second novel in the Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy, I know Sarah J Maas is up for anything. Although we can be quite sure Aelin will reclaim her throne, I cannot predict how she will get there, and that has me so excited.
Queen of Shadows continues the multiple storyline-goodness that we saw in Heir of Fire as well, only now the players are coming together and their stories entangle as they meet (again), and are forced to either work with or against each other. I love how integral their interaction is to further the storyline. Aelin rescueing Manon, who repays her by her crucial information on Dorian, case in point. Here you can also see how Sarah J Maas has grown, as more and more throughout the series the action flow naturally from one another. Where in Crown of Midnight things happened just because characters had to end up somewhere for Heir of Fire, sacrificing logic in the process, here it is very well balanced. Aelin saves her enemy, after trying to kill her quite spectacularly, for a reason even the most cynical reader could understand.
As this book could possibly be read as an alternate ending, you see something you might not necessarily have picked up on in the previous books: Sarah J Maas loves it when things work out for her heroes. There is, I’m telling you straight up, nothing wrong with it and I love that about these books. There are real consequences to their actions, but you don’t have to be afraid your favourite characters will die with their storylines unresolved (*cough*thanksverymuch,LiesofLockeLamora*cough*). The drama lies within the emotions the characters feel when confronted with themselves, the other players and their situation. A great example is that of Aelin and Lysandra when the plot moves into the final act for Arobynn. I’m going to miss that son of a bitch. He was a horrible human being, but like Aelin, you do love him.
Chaol finally hits rock bottom only to claw his way out. His problem has always been that he believes what the king has always said. Everything out of the ordinary is unnatural and will hurt him, the country, and most importantly – Dorian. It has taken Chaol so long because it actually is magic that is hurting Dorian. Serving Adarlan was a good fit for Chaol when things where indeed that simple, but in Queen of Shadows he finally sees that he is still protecting his country and Dorian by following Aelin: only now he’s protecting them from the right person.
A bit of that is reflected in Aedion’s story. He has been living with his memory of Aelin for a long time, and his idea of how it will be when they are reunited. Most of it does happen, but Rowan taking the oath is a bitter pill to swallow for the man who is virtually Aelin’s twin. This oath was the only thing he had to hold onto when he was conscripted to fight for Adarlan against his own. In his heart he has always been true, but he has not actually proven himself to the real Aelin. But he sees, as Chaol does not, where Aelin is coming from and accepts that. He can reshape himself far more easily. It does help that he has done the exact same things as Aelin to survive, and can’t judge her for any of it unless he intends to judge himself, and he does not. He knows the cost, where Chaol is only learning that.
It is Dorian who actually wins me over during this book, even though he is hardly in it. The struggle for him to keep his mind and have Aelin realise in time that he can be saved, had me on the edge of my seat. Manon’s message had such a strong impact on me, therefore. It is actually Dorian who I would love if he were a real person in my life. I am so curious to see where the next book is going to take him and Manon. I love how Dorian could still, potentially, possibly, become a threat instead of an ally. He has magic that matches Aelin’s and together they would be unstoppable, even if they have the combined forces of Erewan and Maeve against them. I’m assuming that will be it, but Sarah J Maas proves in A Court of Mist and Fury that she is certainly unafraid to turn the plot upside down.
What I loved most about Queen of Shadows is the king of Adarlan, though. I did not see it coming, and it was just done so beautifully. You can understand his actions when you think he is this despicable human being, and you can understand them when proves to be something other. From this you can glean I do believe him. It was just a moment executed superbly. His confession, and how Dorian did not realise its importance in his hurt, Aelin who did. It shows so well who these people are and what you would actually do in such a situation. When someone has hurt and betrayed you so profoundly as the king did his son, would you stop to listen to things that you consider to be lies to confuse you? No one would. And it means there is still some mystery as to the grand plan of Erewan, who has three quarters of his home base in tatters. Is anyone dying to see how the Blackbeak Matron wil react? I definitely am.
The only minor issue I had with this book – and exceedingly minor it is – is that I felt we knew too soon what Rowan was feeling for Aelin. It took me the entire book of Heir of Fire to truly accept they were just friends, and I was overjoyed when they became more, but I would liked to have seen it unravel a bit more slowly than having us see Rowan’s thoughts. I felt that fight was surrendered too easily, but probably because the book is already quite substantial. As far as predictions for the future go: I can see so much still having to happen. I would love an Aedion / Lysandra hook-up. I’m also assuming we will see Chaol again, hopefully being more productive than he has been up until now (even though it wasn’t that bad). I will miss Arobynn, but as we are moving out of Rifthold, his story did have to conclude. We’re going world scale right now. Guys, I am seriously counting the days until September. I will take a holiday when Empire of Storms releases, and readreadread without sleep and with much tea until I finish the entire thing.
WAKE ME UP WHEN SUMMER ENDS. Never thought I’d ever say that in my lifetime.
I must though, because not only will Empire of Storms release this fall, Samantha Shannon’s newest book in The Bone Season series will too, as will Scott Lynch’s fourth Locke Lamora novel, The Thorn of Emberlain. What new installments are you dying for to release soon?