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
Sarah J. Maas | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Before continuing to the rest of the review, I just wanted to say that if you haven’t read the first part of my review, you can read it here. I went over the plot, writing, action sequences, and the overall entertainment value. In this part of the review, I will be discussing the characters and their development, along with the romance subplots and relationships. Thank you for sticking with the review, I know that splitting them into two is bit unorthodox. However, in doing so, I could be more specific in my reviews and help me give it the right rating. If I had to rate, Queen of Shadows based on today’s aspects, you can see that it would have been low.
I also want to emphasize that it wasn’t because I’m a Doraelin shipper that I rated the book this way. I felt this way despite all that. My preference over Doraelin in no way affected how I rated QoS. I read and loved Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire (HoF is my favorite) without having any Doraelin. What really bothered me was how the romance between Rowaelin was presented. It felt rushed, forced, and severely out of place. I also despised that a lot of the plot took a back step and became background while their relationship progressed romantically.
One of the best thing about this book was the show of true loyalty and friendship displayed, not out of an animalistic nature of some sort, but one of an actual relationship grounded in a solid foundation with years of camaraderie. If you didn’t know, I was talking about Chaol and Dorian. Their relationship really surpasses everything. They went through a lot of hardships in Crown and definitely in Heir but through it all they still have that love and respect. Many new relationships are formed here, some better than others, but it was great seeing old characters reemerge and develop. Some of the characters also went through such great development and growth.
While I did love the development that the characters went through in this book, they actually already showed that development in Heir of Fire. They took a step back here and then went through that development again. It was wholly unnecessary to revert back. Chaol had already chosen a side and was ready to fight with Aelin to save Dorian and the city. Aelin already dealt with the hate she had for Chaol, along with the blame over Nehemiah’s death. Manon already knew the wrongness of her grandmother’s ways and that she wouldn’t yield to others. Yet here, Chaol hated Aelin, Aelin blamed Chaol for … well everything. Manon followed everything her grandmother and the Duke told her without really questioning it. Alas, as I have numerously repeated in my previous review, the romance was one of the biggest issues for me.
That concludes my shortened version of my full review. 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 really enjoyed the emergence of old characters like Lysandra and Elide. Lysandra became a leading lady here and I’m not complaining. I love that her relationship with Aelin blossomed, even though I felt that her trust was gained way too easily — so much so that even readers don’t question it. Elide isn’t my favorite because she had that damsel in distress aura about her. However, she doesn’t stay that way. It was really great that she had witch blood in her, causing Manon to help her and protect her. We are also introduced to Nesryn. Actual cool character Nesryn was put in there as a ploy so that Chaol has someone to move onto from Aelin. Here’s the inconsistency, though. Nesryn was never mentioned by Chaol in CoM when Chaelin talked about past relationships AND here’s a guy who couldn’t make eyes with ladies at court or got nervous around them but apparently can have sex all over the place with Nesryn because that’s what their relationship was before ToG.
For most of her point of view, I wasn’t loving Manon. It was a surprise because I really liked her in HoF. Manon, who finally showed her humanity at the end of HoF was now again very hateful towards anything and good and blindingly following orders. She also kept repeating that nothing was more important than keeping the lives of witches safe, yet she was okay with letting the Yellowbloods give up their bodies for the Duke’s experiment. She also said that after Elide considered herself a Blackbeak that she would fall under her protection, yet she leaves her alone constantly in the hands of Vernon.
As for Aedion, I wish that he got to develop even more in this book. His reunion with Aelin was probably the height of his scenes in QoS. After that, his character importance was diminished. I was really disappointed that we didn’t see more of him here after his magnificent role in HoF and everything he’s done for Terrasen. Moving on to Chaol. The world must have ended because I’m saying this loud and proud: Chaol deserved better and I love him. If you know me at all, you’d know how much I despised Chaol in CoM and HoF. He disappeared when Rowan came back and was only brought back when Aelin needed his resources.
Dorian’s points of view were just downright painful — so much despair and self loathing. Dorian had such an amazing plot around him. He was the prince of the kingdom that decimated Terrasen, yet one of his best friends was Aelin. He had raw, infinite magic, but was possessed by a demon who was slowly eating away his humanity, yet his story arc wasn’t explored in the depth that it should have been. Dorian was merely acting as a subplot and a ploy to show the apparent awesomeness that is Aelin. Why don’t we actually give him a plot that expands the brilliant humanity and gentle nature that you so happily displayed in ToG?
It was harder for me to connect with Aelin here because her cold detachment to everyone else except for Rowan and Lysandra. Seriously though, almost everyone disappears after Rowan’s return unless Aelin needed them. I understand that you would do anything to get back to Terrasen and help your people but please stop acting like you want to save innocents when you’re barely helping save said innocents. Gone is the Aelin from the previous books. Now welcome the actual legit “fire-breathing bitch queen” (devoid of emotional attachment to other people who are not in her court) that SJM kept reminding you ALL. THE. TIME. Great! Let’s just change her name from Aelin to that why won’t we.
Rowan. How I liked you in HoF. I loved that he was that guiding compass of wisdom for Aelin. I love the friendship that they formed in understanding the burdens of being Fae. His Point of View here: pointless. There was nothing important there that actually added to the plot that couldn’t be told from someone else’s point of view. His POV was degraded to a horny 17-year-old raging with hormones, ready to take Aelin to bed. I’m sorry aren’t you like 300 years old? Is that fact suppose to impress me? Moving on.
Then we have our antagonists. I really wished that the king was just evil and not had a Valg inside him. Honestly, I believe that he was already evil. How is it that no one, not even his wife — the queen, noticed the change in demeanor? It must mean that there wasn’t a noticeable difference because he was cruel all along. I was glad that Dorian was the one to end his life, especially after the display of torture and whipping a couple of scenes before his death. However, I do like the twist that the evil leader in charge was really inside the Duke. Who would’ve guessed that Erawan was inside the Duke!
Rowaelin is the bane of my existence. All I wanted was a platonic relationship with one guy. I was so happy to see that because YA never really has this. It’s like having a boy-girl friendship is taboo. I would not have minded them ending up together had their relationship actually been built at a steady pace. What happened to not being able to hurt your mate? How many times did Rowan beat Aelin, not just for training but for being a loud mouth? What excuses do you have for the way he treated her? No matter how arrogant or annoying someone is, there is never any justification to beat them up and say that they shouldn’t even be alive.
I expected that down the road it would happen because yes, you always develop feelings for someone you’re that close to. But this was 0 to 100. There was brotherly friendship feelings at the end of HoF to I want to screw you so bad every minute, every hour of the day in QoS. Where the heck did the romantic feelings get developed? Please tell. I must have missed a novella in between HoF and QoS where they suddenly feel different for each other. They were shoved down my throat, I thought I was going to choke and throw up Rowan and Aelin.
Sam’s graveyard scene was supposed to be emotional and personal, and it was, then she brought along Rowan – who didn’t even know Sam. How about taking Lysandra? That would make more sense. Or how about going alone? To really grieve. I know the importance of having someone there who has gone through something similar. I know you needed Rowan to help you cope with those feelings, I get that. But you could’ve gone to him after. Give Sam your personal time. I know that this is an extreme view that no many people would agree to but I really hated that scene with Rowan.
Chaelin was disastrous. Okay SJM, I got that they were over at the end of CoM. You didn’t need to stoop to insults and the blame game to show that they are completely over. You’d never guess that they once were in love and had formed a friendship. Aelin still blames him for Nehemiah, Dorian, and manhandling her in Endovier. Nehemiah’s death was instigated by Nehemiah alone and you fully accepted that in HoF. Dorian risked his own life so Chaol can escape and get help, had he not left, he’d be dead and what would happen to the countless lives of people he saved during QoS. Manhandling her in Endovier. HAH why is that even an argument? Was she not called the most notorious assassin? Was he not captain of the guard, in charge for protecting his charge, brother, and best friend? How was he supposed to know that you were actually good. Grave was an assassin too and I’m sure you’d want him manhandled.
I was totally looking forward to Aelin and Aedion’s relationship in this book! Sadly, I wasn’t all too impressed. Their reunion was almost everything that I expected. It was wonderful and they finally caught up with each other and accepted each other’s flaws and mistakes. Then Rowan came and Aedion disappeared. Aedion, your cousin who has fought in your name his entire life, is just not that important anymore now that Rowan is here. Then to freaking say that his loyalty is questionable because she didn’t know what side he really was all these years, as if you haven’t done any atrocious crimes to survive. And wait, you’re meaning to tell me that Aedion is actually a part of your court? That’s surprising considering how much you actually let him get involved in the plans. Again, Rowan knew more of what’s going on that Aedion. Sometimes even Lysandra knew more.
*hi customer service, yes, i have a complaint. there has been great disservice given to most loyal Aedion fix it pls* -Extremely disgruntled Anjie
Then there’s Lysandra and Aedion and Dorian and Manon. Please stop. Not everyone needs to be paired off. Just because Dorian remembered Manon and his name when he was possessed shouldn’t be evidence of a romantic ship happening but more evidence that SJM’s writing wasn’t on point. How can a stranger break through to Dorian when his own best friends couldn’t? Please. Unbelievable. My only explanation: the Valg cowered in fear of Manon (like Roland’s Valg) giving Dorian the upper hand.
This ends my full review of Queen of Shadows! I hope that you enjoyed it. Before I go, here’s a little glance at my favorite relationship in the novel!
Favorite Relationship: Dorian and Chaol are the epitome of bromance. They should be everyone’s Brotp. If Rowaelin is was bane of my existence, Chaol and Dorian’s relationship is the reason for my existence. I got to admit that I wasn’t all the convinced of Chaol’s loyalty to Dorian throughout the events in CoM and HoF. All he did was ignore Dorian and continued to be afraid of his raw magic. All of this is erased with his constant attempt to save Dorian and his unwavering loyalty and belief that he will come out on top and become the king that Adarlan needs. Without Chaol, if he had died at the end of HoF, just as Aelin suggested should’ve happened, there wouldn’t have been anyone fighting for him. He was constantly reminding Aelin about saving Dorian. Chaol tried to see if Dorian was still alive and when he thought he wasn’t, he wanted to end his misery. Then Chaol finally stepped up and fought the king himself to give Dorian a chance to live. Have you also noticed that the times of Dorian’s greatest display of power happened when Chaol’s life was in danger? He used his powers to save him from Aelin in CoM after Nehemia, from getting killed by the king in HoF, and finally Dorian avenging Chaol when the king said he killed him
“Like a beast snapped from its leash, Chaol flung himself against it, roaring Dorian’s name, the blood crumbling from the cuff of his jacket with each attempt.”
‘Please,’ Chaol said hoarsely to the king, and her heart cracked at the word, at the agony and desperation. ‘Free him. Name your price. I’ll give you anything.’
“The king kept approaching, and Chaol held his sword before him, not yielding one step. […]
Chaol spread his arms wide as the darkness hit him, shattered him, obliterated him until there was nothing but light — burning blue light, warm and welcoming. Aelin and Dorian had gotten away. It was enough. When the pain came, he was not afraid.”
“‘What did you say. About Chaol. […] Did you kill Chaol?’ The light at Dorian’s hand burned and burned —
But the collar remained around his neck.
‘You,’ the king snapped — and Aelin realized he meant her just as a spear of darkness shot for her so fast, too fast —
The darkness shattered against a wall of ice.”
“Chaol’s face crumpled.
‘I didn’t realize I looked that bad,’ Dorian said, his voice raw.
He knew then — that the demon inside the prince was gone.
Dorian surged from the chair and dropped to his knees beside the bed. He grabbed Chaol’s hand, squeezing it as he pressed his brow against his. ‘You were dead,’ the prince said, his voice breaking. ‘I thought you were dead.'”
“‘I’m not going back to the Southern Continent.’ Not now that he’d gotten Dorian back, not now tat they’d all somehow survived. […] ‘I’m not leaving you. Not again.’
Dorian’s mouth tightened. ‘You never left me, Chaol.’ He shook his head once, sending tears slipping down his face. ‘You never left me.'”