Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Published by: Bloomsbury
Format: 648 pages, Hardcover
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
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Mini-Review (1 of 2):
Ehrmergerd. WhAt eveN! Now that I’ve got that out of my system, let’s get to the serious things. It has been 4 days since I’ve finished reading Queen of Shadows. It took me so long to sort out my feelings and look at this book without bias (still impossible but I tried). When the book first came out, there were so many low ratings. I just couldn’t understand and wrap my head around it. I mean, it’s Sarah J. Maas! Her writing is exquisite and the first three books were so marvelous. It wasn’t until I was in the middle of reading it that I finally saw why so many people were bothered by it.
My thoughts about the book can be summarized into one sentence: Queen of Shadows was a grossly underwhelming disappointment of a book with a couple of wonderful scenes thrown in. That is literally the hardest sentence that I’ve written. SJM is one of my favorite authors and Throne of Glass is my favorite series. If it weren’t for that and those few amazing scenes, my rating would most likely be even lower. I have such a love-hate relationship with QoS, where my love for it stems mostly from its association to the other books. I will go over in detail the issues that I did have with the book to explain my rating.
The best thing about this book and probably its saving grace were the action sequences. I can honestly say that this was where SJM’S writing really shined in this novel. In particular, the final battle in the book was reminiscent to the beautiful and effective prose that SJM employed throughout the first 3 books. The action-packed scenes were so well written, you can visualize every punch, kick, and kill. Along with that, there were few points of view that I actually did enjoy. Even with my mediocre scoring of the plot, the direction of the novel and certain events were really great.
My main issue with novel stems from the apparent degradation of SJM’S writing. I was honestly so appalled that QoS was even a part of the ToG series – or that it came from SJM entirely. The deficit created by the writing seriously affected many aspects of the book, including the plot, characters and their development and romance, all leading to a diminished entertainment value. More often than not, I found myself rolling my eyes and getting angry over the drastic changes in the characters. I also felt like a handful of the characters backslided from the development that they experienced in the previous novels. The greatest drawback of QoS was that a lot of the plot and characters were adjusted for the sake of validating a romance subplot.
That concludes part 1 of my review on plot, writing style, action sequences, and entertainment. Part 2 will be on romance, ships, and characters. I will now continue to my detailed, spoiler-filled portion of the review. If you have not read Queen of Shadows and you don’t want to be spoiled, I strongly urge you to stop reading after the line. If you’d like to discuss or share your opinions or ask any questions, my comment box is open below!
I’m starting this spoiler review with the writing since it encompasses every single aspect of this novel. In two words, I’d describe SJM’s writing in QoS as mediocre and subpar in comparison to her other novels. The height of her writing in this novel came at the end, which I will go into detail later. Before going off into the things I didn’t like about the writing, I want to talk about the great things. SJM put in some amazing plot twists that I didn’t see coming and I really enjoyed them. I was genuinely surprised with Lysandra’s story with Wesley, Gavriel being Aedion’s father, Kaltain’s shadowfire, Asterin’s background story and a couple other things. Aelin’s plans for many of her missions were flawless and well thought out. I really enjoyed how dark this novel was and how serious the situations were.
The action was on point! Dorian’s breakthrough in the end and the death of the king: flawless. Aedion’s rescue: exquisite. Manon and Aelin’s fight: wonderful. Lysandra’s rescue: fantastic. Lysandra turning ghost leopard: perfection. So many amazing action sequences that kept me wanting more. They were the light of this book. It reminded me of the badarsery that was displayed throughout the series with even darker overtones. The action was largely responsible for a higher rate of entertainment. If it weren’t for that, I think that might have been a lot lower than 3-stars.
However, I felt that these were all overshadowed by the negatives in the book. For maybe 70-75% of the book, I was angry. Angry like that gif I put up there. I wanted to throw my book across the room several times. At times the writing was choppy and inconsistent. One scene is happy-go-lucky Rowaelin frolicking through Adarlan, not a care in the world, their attention solely focused on each other’s beauty. Then, a page later is the darkness and despair that every other character has looming over their heads. Thanks SJM for pretty much reminding me that Aelin has yet to do anything to save Dorian or any innocents from the king. Aelin was too busy parading Rowan around the city and showing him her nightgowns and not wearing underwear during missions. Wow. Totes not inappropriate at all and totes fitting to the plot and seriousness of the situation around them. Since I’m thanking SJM, I want to thank her for slowing down the plot and breaking things up for the freaking sake of making Rowaelin happen.
Don’t get me started on how repetitive things were. I get it. Aelin is super hot. Rowan is a sexy brute. You don’t need to remind me every other page and you don’t need to talk about it in different points of view. Seriously. Ever single character thought that Rowan was a god sent from above. Even Chaol said he was hot (WHAT?!). Furthermore, anyone else sick and tired of having a new love interest in every. single. book? What guy out there is resistant to charms of Aelin Galathynius? Apparently there is no one. Honestly, the book exponentially went downhill for me with Rowan’s return. Here’s the thing about it. Once he came back, the other characters weren’t of importance to Aelin or SJM for that matter. Aedion’s, Chaol’s, and Nesyrn’s presence drastically dwindle.
The thing the bothered me the most about the writing was the inconsistency within the book and the series. Additionally, the previously developed characters in the series pretty much took 5-steps back. But I shall delve into that more in the second part of my review. So. Inconsistencies. Aelin says things like how much Dorian means to her and how she doesn’t want to add another name of a loved one on her back, yet she was ready to kill him without trying any other alternative. But no worries, let’s hang out and eat breakfast with your court. If I remember the conversations about the amount of food they now eat because of her court, then it was in the book too much. Who gives a crap about your freaking breakfast! What is that adding to the plot? You know what Dorian’s eating? The freaking blood of innocents that the Valg is making him eat. (Okay, that was a low blow. I admit but I’m on a warpath right now and there’s no end in sight). Aelin, do you care about Dorian or do you not? And I shall quote you from Crown of Midnight.
“Now she had no choice about what she had to do. What she would do to protect Dorian. It was what she’d realized last night: she did have someone left—one friend. And there was nothing she wouldn’t do to keep him safe.” -Aelin
You spend a good chunk of the book doing nothing for his rescue mission and you have the audacity to tell Dorian that you came back for him HAHAHAHAH.HA.HA. ha NOPE.
*calls 911* hi police. yes. please come over asap. a liar’s pants are on fire. –extremely disgruntled Anjie
SJM introduced us to Arobynn as the undefeatable Mr. Big Bad Wolf, whom the king would be stupid to go against. Even Aelin was worried that Arobynn would actually hurt the 300-year old trained-in-battle Fae. Here’s the secret though — apparently Arobynn’s kryptonite all along was a beautiful inexperienced killer that he just bedded. Wow. That was an easy and quiet death. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad that Lysandra killed him but after your big talk of how deadly Arobynn was, this is what we’re dealt with? Oh, yes please SJM, give me some more anticlimactic deaths!
Oh here’s one of my all-time favorite inconsistencies. Aelin and Rowan apparently are the ones for each other despite the fact that there was absolutely zero indication of a romantic relationship in HoF. I think I laughed so hard at the absurdity of them telling each other that they make each other want to live — about how Aelin has not been happy in the past 10 years or Rowan finally finding the one he was looking for all these centuries. Wait … what is that? Oh, that’s just the sound of Sam literally rolling over in pieces in his grave and Lyria joining along. Thank you for diminishing the importance of Sam’s character and the whole Fae mating thing.
Okay, here’s my last point because this has gone on long enough. Remember a couple of paragraphs ago about how I talked about Aelin’s willingness to kill Dorian? Here’s a guy who was always loyal to Aelin and loved her no matter what. A guy she once believed was the only friend left she had in the world and she was so quick to say, “off with his head!” Moreover, she’s ready to kill anyone who stands in the way of her quest to take back Terrasen. Then, there’s the king who killed her family, tortured and enslaved her and did many other atrocities and yet she actually hesitates and questions why Dorian would kill his father after he pleads innocence? Oh, please. Give me a break. And authors please stop making villains innocent the minute before their death. Just stop.
We shall continue this conversation in part 2 of my review but enjoy a snippet of my favorite scene in the book. Favorite Moment
s: My favorite moment in this book was the last battle. You can picture every single thing that happened. This is where the writing makes sense and all that is left is action and purpose. You have Aedion and Rowan underground, fighting Wyrdhounds, trying to blow up the clocktower. Chaol is fighting the king trying to give Aelin time to bring Dorian back from the abyss the Valg trapped him in. Then magic returns and the world explodes as the battle between Aelin and Valg-Dorian ensues. If the book was written as magnificent as this scene, it would have been 5-stars. The book is made infinitely better when the king comes along and mouths off about killing Chaol, effectively breaking Dorian from his possession. It doesn’t stop there! Dorian and Aelin combine their powers to become the most powerful entity in existence. This scene was powerful, breathtaking, and the best thing that has ever happened in this book. This is what anticipation is made of.
His name was Dorian.
Dorian Havilliard, and he was the Crown Prince of Adarlan.
And Celaena Sardothien– Aelin Galathynius, his friend … she had come back for him
[…] Dorian lifted his hands to the Wyrdstone collar — cold, smooth, thrumming.
Don’t, the demon shrieked. Don’t.
There were tears running down Aelin’s face as Dorian gripped the black stone encircling his throat.
And, bellowing his grief, his rage, his pain, he snapped the collar from his neck.
They joined hands.
So the world ended.
And the next one began.
They were infinite.
[…] They were the beginning and the ending; they were eternity.
They held tighter to each other, past and present and future.
[…] A wall of night knocked them back. But they could not be contained.
The darkness paused for breath.
[…] Infinite—Dorian’s power was infinite.
They were full of light, of fire and starlight and sunshine. They overflowed with it as they snapped the final tether on the king’s power and cleaved his darkness away, burning it up until it was nothing.