Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .
She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. 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.
Whoa – I mean, whoa! Queen of Shadows blew me away, more than any of the earlier books did. The complexity to the plot, the characters, the writing, the twists – it was pure entertainment, I tell you. I am going to be very spoiler-y during this review, because I can’t help my fangirling heart. So, we start with Aelin back in town as Celaena, back to getting her revenge on those who did her wrong (about time, gurl!). All that pain, self-realization and healing during Heir of Fire, brought Aelin anew from the girl that she used to be. She is a fire-breathing-bitch-queen, hell yeah! And because she is this radically new person, I am going to segue into a not so important but hot topic in the fandom right now – the sinking of the Chaelin ship. Technically, it was a Chaolena ship, since Chaol and Aelin were never meant to be, unlike Chaol and Celaena. She is not that girl anymore, and naturally they can’t get back together. She has fallen for Rowan, her carranam, and her oath-bound, and boy was their romance a slow burn. There was so much tension between them that I was lamenting the loss of the platonic relationship I was so happy about in HoF. And I’m seeing a trend with Maas – whenever Celaena lets go of a guy, he takes it rather well, and somehow immediately finds a new love. I’m not complaining, really, because who doesn’t love HEAs, but really? Dorian, after Celaena, nearly was intended for Nehemia, and then got Sorscha; Chaol suddenly has an ex-flame who is back in his life.
As for the ship I was rooting for, well, I was devoted to Samaena from the start (I had read the short stories first) and despite that, I was okay with Chaolena. Rowaelin will take some getting used to, though I much prefer their banter than their flirting. Rowaelin’s Brute-Brat was reminiscent of the Winchester’s Bitch-Jerk, and that shows how much I had treated them as a brotp. As for the other romances, I definitely was pleased to see new ships arise – that’s all I am going to say on that matter. The plot also saw the return of Arobynn Hamel, that creepy monster who I hate more than the King of Adarlan. He plays his hand against Aelin, and learns that you really should not mess with such a cunning and smart woman. And Aelin is pretty smart in this book – not that she wasn’t earlier, but here you could see her combining her assassin skills and her strategic mind, making her such a perfect ruler. She single-handedly plans most of the takedowns in this book, going up against even a Fae – tricking enemies in to targeting each other. I loved how she just went on conquering – she is my Queen of Everything!
The Manon arc was so much more than blood and death this time around – she starts to question her life, their purpose, their limits. Manon is definitely a great ally for Aelin, but things are not yet in place for them to work together. She also becomes a true leader, not just bending to her grandmother’s will at all times. There were times, though, that she was so brutal to Asterin, that I cried. And Asterin – oh, her story was also brought up in this book, as well as Elide, a new character hailing from Terrasen. Dorian is shaken, to say the least, and the immense burden on him and the things he went through – it was painful, but not as much as Kaltain. She was a contradiction – broken but strong. The writing flowed beautifully between all these characters’ POVs, and made such a intricate web of stories, all culminating in that epic nearly-100-page climax, that was breathtaking.
While I enjoyed the hell out of this book, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how happy I was that Sam was finally avenged. Though I am a bit confused as to why Maas suddenly decided to suddenly make Aelin speak so much about it in this book, while there was barely any mention of him until Heir of Fire. It just, seems, kinda out of the thread, though I was definitely glad that he was mentioned, if only so late in the series. Another was Chaol and Aelin’s break up – that was brutal, like We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together and The Story of Us combined. They are at each other’s throats in the start – she blaming him for Nehemia (his loyalty) while him being distrustful of her powers and fearing her retribution over the kingdom(her bloodlust). He was right to be worried about Dorian’s safety, but the vitriol between them seemed a little excessive. Well, they anyway got through it, and all well that’s end well, I guess. And the ending did have a lot of happy times, along with distant dangers to come – but thankfully it was not a cliffhanger. Whew!