Saturday, October 27, 2018

A Book Review of Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

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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 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.

Series: Throne of Glass (Book 4)
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; Reprint edition (September 6, 2016)
Page Count: 672 pages

This is my favorite book of the Throne of Glass series so far! I love it when all of the threads put into motion throughout a series collide. There were just so many epic parts in this book!

The Plot: Everything is coming together in this book. So many plot threads, so many things I've been waiting to happen finally commence. The plot is a wild ride with many twists and an epic conclusion.

The Characters: Celaena who now has embraced her true name as Aelin has really grown so much across the books and you really see that here as she finally starts sinking into her role as queen. I really saw how far Aelin has come in this book. She’s really taken ownership of her fae lineage and I really like the chemistry between her and Rowan. They’re really meant for each other. I love her cousin relationship with Aedion. I don’t see these enough in books as I’ve mentioned before.

All of Dorian’s chapters as he’s trapped inside the demon prince’s control are very intense. I love how Maas had them be very short for the majority of the time, so it was just getting a peek into what’s going on with him. 

In Assassin’s Blade, I disliked Lysandra a lot, but now I really enjoyed her as a character. She’s clever, kind, and a really deep character. I love how her and Aelin bond over chocolate. 

Manon’s plotline, at last, comes into play and merges with Aelin’s. I like her dynamics with Elide and of course, I still love Abraxos. He’s too good for Manon. XD 

The villains are terrifying and definitely very formidable opponents to the main characters. I especially hate Vernon and how he treats poor Elide. The Valg are just horrible and abominations.

The Setting: I just love the worldbuilding in these books and all of the cultural details like bringing stones to graves instead of flowers in Terrasen or in witch culture witchlings and being pregnant with a witchling is sacred. 

Epic Things: Ghost leopards are super cool. I love that the witches have all different colored eyes depending on clan and such. Is it weird that I find that a temple built with the bones of murderers and thieves is morbidly fascinating? 

The Theme: Kindness is a big one. Kindness given to characters books ago come into play. It just shows how much one act of kindness can impact others. 

Another big one that’s rung true throughout the books but I thought was encapsulated in this quote is art and how important it is.

“When you shatter the chains of this world and forge the next, remember art is as vital as food to a kingdom. Without it, a kingdom is nothing and will be forgotten by time.” ~Florine (Page 141)

Content Cautions: I don't recommend this for young teens primarily because of the language content. It's my biggest gripe of the book. Why is. There. So. Much. Profanity? There's 73 uses of d***, 59 uses of sh**, 47 uses of h***, 28 uses of a**, 24 uses of ba****d, 12 uses of pr***, and 10 uses of b****. Yeah, I counted. The swear words are in the hundreds. That's a little much. I get that some people swear a lot, but come on. Do we really need this much swearing in a novel?

There is significant violence with beheading, torture, people covered in blood, a severed head, nose bleeds, ear bleeds, branding, a child is mentioned to have been stillborn then burned, ripping bodies to the bone with claws, and a spine is pulled out of a person’s body then broken in half. Yeah. Ouch with that last one. Also, the process of the witches being implanted with demonic stones is very disturbing and again I really don’t recommend this book for young readers. No one under 16 I would say.

There is also significant sexual content with strong sexual tension between characters, kissing, lots of prostitutes, a lesbian couple mentioned, a character wears a scanty nightgown, and nudity that describes breasts. There’s also a conversation about boobs and Lysandra mentions how she hates how hers are so big because they make her back hurt, but for me, as a large chested woman, I’m like THANK YOU! YES, THEY’RE A PAIN!

Aelin frequently mentions how she’s irritated with fae territorial metaphorical pissing contests. One character gives someone the bird. Also there’s demonic possession if you haven’t figured that out by now.

What We Can Take Away For Our Writing:

1.) Changing a Character's Name - I actually had to remember that Celaena has changed her name back to Aelin when the book began since there was a bit of a gap for me between reading this book and the previous. But the name change really had great symbolism of change in the character internally. She’s not the same woman she was in the last three books. Maas did a good job of writing Aelin’s point of view so I could figure out that she is Celaena without her outright stating it.

How this applies to writing: Have you thought of your main character undergoing a name change? How will that impact him or her?

Conclusion: I would have preferred less content, but I have to admire the skillful writing and I love the dynamic characters. Five stars!

About the Author: Sarah J. Maas is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series (Queen of Shadows, Book 4, will be out in September 2015), as well as the A Court of Thorns and Roses series (out 5/5/15).

Sarah lives in Bucks County, PA, and over the years, she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much tea, and watches an ungodly amount of TV. When she's not busy writing, she can be found exploring the historic and beautiful Pennsylvania countryside with her husband and canine companion.

You can find her on FacebookTwitterGoodreads, and her website.

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