On to the fifth week of book discussions in the World of Sarah J. Maas! This has been the best way to countdown to a new book for me, ever. Usually I am in agony, and instead I am reading furiously (both with these books and with other books too.) I am now devastatingly behind on reviews for all the books I have read… how do I get out of that hole? Literally, I have 15 reviews to write. Shh. Don’t tell.
This week’s discussion / fangirling is on Queen of Shadows which is where my heart went crazy for Aelin and Rowan, as well as for Aedion. And Manon, officially. I liked her in HoF, but in comparison… QoS is where she HOOKED me. I really struggled with the witches in HoF my first time through, but Queen of Shadows will make you fall in love with Manon. Promise.
As in previous weeks, note that if you haven’t read the books, there will likely be spoilers. Disclaimer end.
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 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.
The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series continues Celaena’s epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.
My quick summary:
Celaena is now Aelin. (Surprise!) And she has returned to Rifthold in Adarlan to kick some ass. But she doesn’t have her magic. And her carranam (soulmate) Rowan is allegedly waiting for her word on another continent. She meets up with Arobynn (ugh, that jerk) and Chaol, in order to figure out what has happened since she left and also to figure out how to save Aedion (her cousin, aka the Wolf of the North and former glorious soldier of the King of Adarlan) who is in prison in the castle. Chaol and Aelin sorta make good with each other, and it turns out that Chaol is sorta maybe interesting in seeing Nesryn, who is a girl that he had a thing with the summer before he met Celaena/Lillian/Aelin. (It’s a weird explanation that SJM added, and many fans are not a fan of the Chaol/Nesryn thing. Just saying.)
Dorian is freaking possessed by a Valg prince. Which is really annoying. He has a collar on that has allowed this to happen, courtesy of his father the King.
Aedion is freed from prison. Aelin and Aedion have cousin moments and its all very sweet. Lysandra, whom Aelin previously hated, becomes an ally. Arobynn is a nightmare. Chaol is moody. And now everyone’s attention turns to getting the Valg out of Dorian. But also… ROWAN TURNS UP. AND THERE IS MUCH REJOICING. Now, Aelin and Rowan aren’t technically together as a couple, but they are clearly headed in that direction, or at least have a great affection for each other… especially considering Rowan was willing to come to a world without magic and be stripped of his own magic just to come and protect her. Why has he come? Well, Lorcan, one of his cadre who is still sworn to Maeve, was sent after her. So there’s that. There’s lots more stuff about the wyrdkeys, figuring out how to restore magic, saving Dorian, making good on the deal with Arobynn (in exchange for the help of getting Aedion free), a whole bit with Dorian getting lucid whenever he is near Manon, a wicked Manon vs. Aelin battle, they learn about Erawan (the ultimate boss to destroy, as far as we know to date), Arobynn is killed by Aelin, Chaol decides to try to kill Dorian while he is possessed but doesn’t, Asterin (one of the 13) breaks my heart when she tells Manon about her past, Rowan tricks Lorcan, Lorcan tricks Rowan, Rowan confesses to Aelin that he would like to show her affection but not while they are living in an apartment with several other people (YAY), Aelin confronts the King, the King is killed, Aelin and possessed-Dorian have an epic battle along the rooftops of the castle, Dorian is freed from the Valg prince, and the Glass Castle is destroyed as the powers of Dorian and Aelin unite to shatter everything, everyone needs a ton of rest to recover, Dorian becomes King, Aelin makes plans to go north to Terrasen and reclaim her throne with her court (Rowan, Aedion and Lysandra), and Chaol is paralyzed but also named Hand of the King and sent to the Southern Continent to find the healers there. WHEW.
That’s as fast as I can summarize it. SO MUCH HAPPENS IN THIS BOOK. And the books, as you probably know if you are reading this, just get longer and longer. I don’t even know how I will write one next week for Empire of Storms.
The couple of this book? Clearly, it is Rowan and Aelin. They are a power couple. They are THEE power couple of the ToG-universe. If they are not your favorite ship, I am so sorry. They are just clearly meant to be. Rowan accepts her for who she truly is… Chaol could barely wrap his head around the fact that she was Fae. Rowan gets her in a way no one else ever will… well, except for maybe her cousin Aedion who has a brotherly-love and protective guardianship of Aelin, after all… they are all they have left of close family. I think this book is great at showing Rowan’s resistance to his growing feelings. They are both fighting their ideas of who their past loves were. Aelin is still healing from Sam, and Rowan is healing from the loss of his former wife (and child) who died hundreds of years before. He had never expected someone like Aelin to come along, to be someone who was his carranam, and perhaps something more. All signs point to “mate” which is sacred among the Fae, but they have many steps to deal with along the way.
The best moments of Queen of Shadows for me?
Honestly, this book is filled with wonderful moments, which is why my summary is so long. The emotional high for me actually came with the shattering of the glass castle. Everything builds and builds and builds to that point until you just can’t take anymore building and then it has this beautiful release where you believe everything is going to be okay again. The whole end of the book really makes you feel like FINALLY things are going in the right direction.
If I had to pick a second favorite moment, it is, without question, the battle between Aelin and Manon. Two such badass women that you are sure one of them will not survive… and in fact, one of them would NOT have survived, and the other one wouldn’t have really had a true victory. But by one saving the other, they found a small thread of a bond which echoes forward through the story.
To me, Queen of Shadows is aimed to fix everything short of defeating Erawan (as far as the reader is concerned because we don’t know all the other challenges… yet.) It is an emotional rollercoaster. You get to see Aelin’s cunning nature as well as her challenges in accepting who she is and what she plans to do. You get to see her fall in love, and also have her faith shaken a few times.
Some of my favorite QoS quotes:
“You make me want to live, Rowan. Not survive; not exist. Live.”
“She looked at them, at the three males who meant everything—more than everything. Then she smiled with every last shred of courage, of desperation, of hope for the glimmer of that glorious future. “Let’s go rattle the stars.”
“But I think … I think that whole time, all those centuries, I was just looking for you.”
“Whatever you had to do to survive, whatever you did from spite or rage or selfishness … I don’t give a damn. You’re here—and you’re perfect. You always were, and you always will be.”
“What if we go on,’ he said, ‘only to more pain and despair? What if we go on, only to find a horrible friend waiting for us?’
Aelin looked northward, as if she could see all the way to Terrasen. ‘Then it is not the end.”
“Hello, Sam,” she breathed onto the river breeze.”
“The Wing Leader said from behind her, “Do you believe monsters are born, or made?”
From what she’d seen today, she would say some creatures were very much born evil. But what Manon was asking… “I’m not the one who needs to answer that question.” Elide said.”
Oh man. Elide. Kaltain. Manon. Asterin. Abraxos. The Thirteen. You could write a whole paper just on all of that as well. But for now, goodbye for another week, and onward to Empire of Storms. Only a few more weeks until ACOWAR! Anyone else doing a re-read of ACOTAR and ACOMAF in prep? I think a lot of us are. So if you are, you’re not alone.
Until next week 😉