Review: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4) by S.J. Maas

“Ten years of shadows, but no longer. Light up the darkness, Majesty.”
Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ (4.5/5)

What’s This Book About?

Genre: Young adult (YA) Fantasy

Synopsis: No masters. No limits. No regrets.

Celaena Sardothien is cloaked in her assassin’s hood once more. Back in Rifthold, but no longer a slave.

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.

What I Thought:

I may have enjoyed this even more than Heir of Fire! I did prefer the second half of the book, but even though the first half dragged slightly, it remained engrossing thanks to the introduction of two captivating new POV characters, Elide and Lysandra.

Our protagonist, Aelin (aka Celaena), grated on me during most of Part One, but I’m not sure if that’s more from Maas simply over-using the words “lethal”, “predatory”, “wicked smile/smiled wickedly”, “killing calm” (etc., etc.) in so many of Aelin’s chapters. Seriously, you do not need to stress how lithe and dangerous and prrrrrowlery she is in every. single. scene. It did my head in to the point in which I just skimmed a lot of Aelin content so I could get back to Elide and Manon’s chapters. However, that soon changed roundabouts halfway through the book, and for the rest of Part Two, I L O V E D her.

This book was also far funnier than I’d expected, while maintaining some powerfully touching moments. Notable moments included Sam’s grave, Chaol and Dorian’s brotherhood and the unwavering love and loyalty that Aelin and Rowan give to each other.

“Tell me that we’ll get through tomorrow. Tell me that we’ll survive the war. Tell me -” She swallowed hard. “Tell me that even if I lead us all to ruin, we’ll burn in hell together.”
I really enjoyed the focus on female friendships, between Lysandra and Aelin and with Manon and Asterin too.
Across the ravine, cut off entirely, the golden-haired witch was on her knees. “Manon!
I don’t think you’ve ever groveled for anything in your life, Wing Leader, the king had said.
But there was a Blackbeak witch on her knees, begging whatever gods they worshipped… Asterin – that was the golden-haired witch’s name. She screamed for Manon again, a plea to rise, to survive.

I was moved nearly to tears, and I’m so happy with Aelin’s character development over these four books. I’m really enjoying reading all these strong complex female characters roaming around Erilea!

There were two main narrative strands – Aelin’s in Rifthold and Manon/Elide’s in Morath – and the Morath one was my favourite. Brilliant but nauseating, and those chapters were the ones that really hooked their claws into my interest and kept me eagerly reaching for the book any time I had spare to read. I especially liked the hints about why exactly golden eyed witches are so special…I’m very excited to learn more in Empire of Storms! I did find that the mini-chapters with Dorian/the Valg prince became repetitive after a while. They were so similar to each other and seemingly unnecessary.

The plot twists were entertaining, if not always mind-blowing. The biggest was completely unexpected, though I didn’t quite understand how it all lined up with Adarlan’s history which made it less convincing. There were some other inconsistences, e.g. when Rowan describes how ‘silent’ Aelin is, yet her daggers are clattering all over the table. And also some other immortal characters (nameless for fear of spoiling) who find carrying a human heavy, even when they’ve supposedly regained their incredible strength? Just some little things that distracted me from immersing myself in the action.

Question: are there any non heteronormative folk in Erilea? I sensed potential chemistry between Elide and Manon that could have developed into a pairing, but I already know all the current ships so I guess I’ll just accept this sapphic disappointment. Amongst the ever-growing cast, there remain hardly any notable characters of colour, apart from the tokens Nesryn and Nehemia. Both of them read very white to me, aside from the colour of their skin. I can barely think of anything memorable they’ve said about their own cultures, other than Nesryn recalling that she was bullied for being an immigrant. One of the major characters is soon travelling to the Southern countries though, so I await what Empire of Storms will serve up on this front.

Thanks for reading! Have you read any of the Throne of Glass novels? Let me know your thoughts!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s