Tuesday, September 8, 2015

look at her go: reviewin' reviewin': Queen of Shadows

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4)
Sarah J Maas


(warning! major spoilers if you're not caught up with the series!)

synopsis: 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.

Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.


okay hello everyone!! i have been in a blogging dark place for the past couple of weeks (and really months) because of various reasons, but since September 1 the reason that I have stayed away is because I was in avoid-spoiler mode. But I FINALLY finished this completely incredible 645 page addition to my favorite series, and I now I feel like I can both breathe again and also like I'm about to cry all the time. All this is to say that this is going to be a really rambly long review because I have so many thoughts and reactions

full review under the cut!! (basically where I have nothing bad to say about this book at all which is rare but I actually think it is literal perfection okay so if that bothers you sorry but here we go) 

If you've read my blog for any time at all, if you're friends with me on goodreads or if you know me in real life, then you should be well aware of the fact that I am completely, head over heels in love with this series. Like, to the point where my roommate had to physically take this book away from me so I could be a functional human being for a little while. So when I say that I had high hopes for QoS, that is a bit of an understatement. But, in the end, I have complete and utter faith in Sarah J Maas, and I am happy to say that she surpassed all of my expectations. She gave me what I wanted and everything that I didn't even know I needed, and she delivered it in a way that left me completely breathless. So let's just dive into the reasons why I loved this book. (in list form because it would be toooooo long without) 

1. Sarah took everything that was amazing about the first three books in this series and made it *that* much more awesome in this addition. It was badassery and violence and darkness and joy, and none of them were held back. This world is so deeply imagined, I can honestly imagine myself waking up tomorrow morning and being able to navigate the streets of Rifthold, and I actually really want to. The settings got deeper and real, the characters had some amazing develop-y moments, and the plot was so twisty and gorgeous, I just never wanted it to end.

2. The writing style. I usually find myself more appreciative of the language in contemporary novels, just because I feel like there is more room for pockets of linguistic beauty in those types of stories, but this series is a total exception to that rule. It is pure, melodic, epic poetry for the modern age, I daresay. I felt myself getting completely swept away in the words, and there are more than a few parts that I will be putting up on my inspiration board.

3. Our Fireheart. My love, Aelin Ashryver Galthynius, heir of fire, queen of shadows, all around complete and total badass. I think I would back Aelin up over people that I know in my actual life, that is how much I am obsessed with her. The things that Aelin has gone through break my heart to an extent that probably isn't healthy, considering the fact that she is fictional, but all the same, I find myself getting so invested in her story that it is difficult to separate fantasy from reality. I really think that she had her huge character development arc in Heir of Fire, so that wasn't what I was looking for in this novel, but it almost gave me something better. HoF was about Aelin accepting herself for who she is (and I think Rowan is a huge part of that, but more on him later), and then QoS is about her proving to herself that she has what it takes to take up her crown and be the queen that she is meant to be. We got to see this part of her for the first time, and I absolutely loved it. She was cunning and calculating, untrusting and even cruel when she needed to be, but she was also filled with some sort of buoyancy that, I think, comes from finally stepping into her own skin, shedding her many masks, and finding a way to love and be loved for real, for the first time in a decade. She is still brash and proud, but she is also kind and strikes the balance between softheartedness and steel in a way that only someone as brilliant as herself can. I absolutely loved the way she played with everyone, even Rowan, and that no one knew the extent of her network of plans except her. She also got to resolve a lot of standing feelings between herself and Chaol, and I was so happy that in the end, they stormed into the glass castle together, a sort of full-circle moment from the time he brought her in from Endovier. The part where she was fighting (and, consequently, saving) Manon had me literally squealing with glee, my two queens (fire and darkness) finally meeting. I honestly cannot say enough about Aelin, so I'll try to wrap it up here by saying something in re:shipping, but I will go to another paragraph for this.

above all, I am team aelin. do I *love* love love the boys in this series? only more than almost anything. But do I love Aelin more than i could ever love any of them? hell yes. not even a question. I want her to be happy, I want her to find love, but if it is best for her to be alone, then I am on board with that too. that being said, I was always a Chaolaena gal myself. Even in HoF, I had hope for a mending of the ways between those two. I love Dorian, but I honestly never saw anything but platonic feelings between he and aelin. I also loved Rowan, but I also saw him as more of a big brother, protector figure than anything else. At the end of HoF, I was honestly fine with Aelin ending up with no one, because I thought that was what was best for her. And that's what I want. That being said: QoS completely changed my POV. I will talk about this more when we get to Rowan's bullet point, but I just want to say here that I am 100% on board with the way the relationships went in this novel. I wasn't expecting it, but I am totally in love with it all the same.

4. Dorian. Oh my sweet summer child. Dorian's parts of the novel completely broke my heart. To the point where I actually had to put the book down at a couple points, because I was so sad and didn't think that he was going to make it through the book. However, spoiler lol, he does, and I was SO happy with the way that all went down. From the beginning, where Aelin couldn't bring herself to swing a sword and end his life, to his interaction with Manon that made him gain a little bit of himself back, to Chaol's complete and utter loyalty to his friend, never giving up on him. I loved that, in the end, it was Chaol's perceived demise that gave Dorian the strength to snap his figurative and literal chains and come into the king he was meant to be. I can't wait to see how he develops in further books, especially his friendship with Aelin and the fact that he has a lot of inner torment to face (from being possessed to killing his own father)

5. Chaol. I always loved Chaol. From Throne of Glass chapter 1, Chaol was my boy. I was a hardcore Chaolaena shipper for two and 3/4 books, but I have to say, those days are over. Firstly, he was already kind of getting on my nerves in HoF, simply because he thought he could pick and choose which parts of his friends to accept. He didn't want to accept that Aelin was fae or that Dorian had magic, so he just ignored it, and ultimately, it led to bad things for him. And I think it was what made him so angry in the beginning of this novel. And I REALLY wanted to slap him for all his awful judgements and accusations directed towards Aelin. However. I did think that he had an incredible arc in this book, that he went from angry and confused to someone who was confident and clear about his choices and place in life. I think he needed to let go of his blind loyalty and judgement and anger, and that was what allowed him to get past everything that happened, especially between him and Aelin, and become that 100% awesome person that we always knew he could be. 

6. Aedion. If Aelin gets Rowan and Faliq gets Chaol, then I want Aedion FOR MYSELF. Truly the wolf of the north, he is everything that I wanted Chaol to be (but infinitely better). I think that Aelin truly needed people who were unfazed by her past, who were willing to support her to whatever end, and between Aedion and Rowan, I think she found the perfect squad. I love how similar they are, two sides of the same coin, as is mentioned in the book, and I found it so comforting that he was just so glad to have Aelin back. It was also hilarious how cagey he and Rowan got when they first met, but by the end, I felt like I had found a new favorite bromance, BROS TIL THE END!!! I really hope that we get to see Aedion take the blood oath that he is definitely owed in the next couple of books, I also am looking forward to seeing what Sarah does with his newfound lineage and the fact that he is demi-fae. Love this strong, stupid man honestly until the end. 

7. ROWAN. It was a dead head between he and Manon for favorite new character in Heir of Fire, but without a doubt he is my favorite dude character. I could go on about Rowan for almost as long as I could go on about Aelin, but let's start with the relationship between the two of them. The way it was left in HoF, their relationship could honestly have gone any which way. Into deep friendship, a familial bond, a solider in a queen's army, or lovers. I would've been fine with any of these outcomes, but the minute Aelin mentions Rowan in this book, I knew that I wanted them to be together as more than just carranam. When Rowan blazed into this book, it got a million times better, and I loved how I could immediately tell that he was 100% in love with Aelin. I am trash for the ships where everyone knows how the two people feel *except* for they themselves, and that was what happened here. There's one part where Aedion is like: gods Rowan loves Aelin can she please figure it out already? and that just sums it all up so wonderfully. In the scene where Aelin is wearing the dress from the back cover of the book, and he just absolutely can't even function because he's so captured by her; the parts where he talks about her scent and how it drives him crazy; their one really AMAZING kiss in the middle of the book: it all made me weak in the knees. It is so important to me that Rowan doesn't judge Aelin, he completely accepts her for what she is, and she does the same for him. I feel like Lysandra in the end, when Rowan and Aelin are finally kissing, when she says "I want to find that," because I think there is something so pure about having someone that knows everything about you and doesn't shy away, even when the darkness threatens to take you over. There's also the fact that everyone and their mother in this book talks about how beautiful Rowan is, how he is so sweet in the fact that Aelin is what finally allows him to get over Lyria, and that he is so gods damned protective of her and eventually of her entire court. I just want to say that I am grateful that he exists and I could go on forever about how much I love him, but he's just amazing. 

8. Manon. Gods, I am such trash for Manon. I love her so much, and I can't even really put my finger on why. I mean, of course she's beautiful, wholly lethal, willing to do whatever it takes to be ruthless and what she thinks is best, and riders of the cutest wyvern in the aerie, but there's something intangible that is magnetic about her. even when she's making totally shitty decisions, I couldn't help but kind of still be on her side. She was in a terrible situation at Morath (which, PS, scares the shit out of me) and she still tried to be the "best" Blackbeak that she could be. However, it was in the end, when she confronted the horrible truths about her life, that I really felt the most connected with her. With Elide, when she was kind and gentle-ish, with Asterin, when she learned some terrible secrets about her friend, with her life debt to aelin, and the fact that I just KNOW that she is going to join up with her in the next book, that was all incredible. THE FIGHT BETWEEN AELIN AND MANON. y'all i like couldn't even feel my legs when i was reading that part. I have been waiting since the page that Manon was introduced on for the two of them to meet, and it was everything I could've hoped for. I love all the deadly girls in this book, it makes me hope that Manon, Asterin, Sorrel (etc x13), Elide, Lysandra, Aelin and maybe Ansel can all team up and be like Taylor Swift's bad blood video: Erilea edition. It also makes me wish that Nehemia was alive to see it. 

9. Lysandra, or as I like to call her, THE BIGGEST DAMN SURPRISE OF THE YEAR. I really love how Sarah J Maas brings everything back into the spotlight eventually. Like, oh, you think that Lysandra is gone? No honey! She's back with so many layers that you would *never* see coming!
“You and I are nothing but beasts wearing human skins.”  <---- this quote was the one that I actually underlined in my copy of this book, and at that point, I didn't even know the implications! I loved how Lysandra had been through so much, but she still knew kindness, as we saw in reference to Evangeline, and she was just as cunning and ruthless as Aelin at times, all the while being selfless and charging into danger without a second thought. It was when Aelin gave her the seal ring and made her a lady in the end that I actually started to cry in earnest. She so deserved what she got in the end, and I was so happy for her on so many levels. I cannot wait to see where this friendship goes in the next couple of books! (also, can i just say that Lysandra's jeweler was the real MVP of this book?)

10. Elide, Nesryn, Asterin, Sorrel, Evangeline, etc. CAN WE GIVE THESE LADIES SOME SHOUTS? bravery and loyalty don't even begin to cover it. I can't wait to see what Celaena's reaction when she meets Elide (with the Wrydkey!!!) and how Elide's magic/witch blood manifests. I can't wait for Nesryn to get it with Chaol and meet Yrene Towers at the Torre Cesme. I can't wait for Asterin and Sorrel to kick some Perrington booty with Manon. And I can't wait to see Evangeline and Lysandra get to live normal lives. Love these ladies, all of them.

11. On evil. The scene where Aelin was having dinner/playing games with Arobynn left me absolutely breathless. That was some incredible tension building, and I definitely thought all was lost there for a while. I was so proud of Lysandra, that she was made of enough steel to end his reign of terror once and for all. As for the King of Adarlan (is there a reason we never know his name?), I thought it was an incredible twist, his "Have you come to save me at last, Aelin Galthynius?" And I am so apprehensive to see all that that implies for Perrington. We lost some of our favorite bad guys, but we gained some that are altogether worse, and the battle is far from over for our favorite court.

12. Some parts that I loved: The one where Aelin wore the dragon dress and Rowan literally couldn't get ahold of himself. The one where Aelin switched the wills and the boys figured out just how brilliant she is. The one where Lysandra turned into a LITERAL leopard and would attack Aedion on the road to Terrasen. The one where Aelin got to go back to Terrasen, and Rowan says that he's been looking for it all his life. The one where Dorian rips of his collar and joins with Aelin to create this unbreakable wall of pure magic. The one where Lysandra and Aelin get to eat chocolate together. The one where Manon and Aelin fight (and will eventually become besties). The one where Kaltain literally burned all of the shit. The one where Rowan said that he didn't want anyone to hear when he made Aelin MOAN (i swoon). the one where Aelin freed Aedion and he just smiles as she unleashes hell. The one where we get to see Fleetfoot!! And so much more.

13. Was this book everything that I hoped for and more? yes. do I feel like this super long review has still failed to capture everything I love about it? yes. It was poetic and brilliant and luminous, and has definitely cemented this series as my top 2 along with Harry Potter. I already have the urge to reread it, just so that I can sink my teeth into everything that happened once more. I am already depressed that I have to wait another year until book five, I want them all to be in my hands now, also they are going to look so pretty when all six books are out.

what did you guys think? if you made it to the end of this incredibly long and rambly review, gold star! tell me if you agree with my assessment of everything! who is your favorite new or newish character? tell me your theories for book five!!


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