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Drive Back The Darkness

The rebel forces in Queen of Shadows, the fourth book in Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, make some serious progress—and some unfortunate discoveries.

Drive Back The Darkness

BOOK REPORT for Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas

Cover Story: Better
BFF Charm: Platinum and Heck Yes
Swoonworthy Scale: 8 (With a Caveat)
Talky Talk: A Little Too Tidy, but Still Maastery
Bonus Factors: Friendships, Abraxos
Anti-Bonus Factor: Bait and Switch
Relationship Status: Still Holding On

Danger, Will Robinson! Queen of Shadows is the fourth book in the Throne of Glass series. If you have not read the first three books in the series—Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire, or the novellla collection, The Assassin's Blade—turn away now. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. If you have read the first book, however, feel free to continue below. I will refrain from major spoilers in my review, but there might be hints at plot points and details about the story.

Cover Story: Better

Instead of looking like amateur fan art, the girl on this cover actually looks like a girl*. And a pretty badass one at that.

*Is this an actual model? The skin tone throws me off, but she’s leaps and bounds more realistic than the ladies on covers of the previous books in this series.

The Deal:

Celaena Sardothian has returned to Adarlan to claim what’s rightfully hers—and she’s doing so as Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But just because she’s embraced her true name, and true birthright, doesn’t mean she’s ready (or able) to simply stroll to the castle and wrench control away from the King. Aelin’s got a list of things that need to be taken care of first, a list that includes freeing her cousin, Aedion Ashryver, from imprisonment; finally dealing with Arobynn Hamel, Adarlan’s King of Assassins and her former mentor/tormentor; saving Crown Prince Dorian Havilliard, if possible; facing Chaol after leaving on not so great terms; and returning magic to the world.

All in a day’s work.

BFF Charm: Platinum and Heck Yes

I’m very glad that Aelin and I became friends when she was simply an assassin vying for the “honor” of being the King’s Champion, because now that she’s a Queen out to take back her throne—by any means necessary—there’s much less of an opportunity to get into her inner circle. In Queen of Shadows, Aelin continues to grow and mature into the Queen she’s meant to be, but there’s also quite a few scenes in which she falls back into Celaena’s old ways and kills a bunch of people for the hell of it. It’s nice to see that power isn’t changing her into someone unrecognizable and—you know—not so stabby.

I’m also adding a BFF charm for Manon, who becomes almost as important of a character as Aelin in this book. She’s ruthless and terrifying and bloodthirsty, but also stuck in a horrible place in which she wants to change, but isn’t sure how to go about it without getting herself or the people she loves killed. That said, I don’t exactly want to be friends with her—I want my blood in my body, thanks—as much as I just want to see her become something better than her upbringing.

Swoonworthy Scale: 8 (With a Caveat)

Never let it be said that I’m not willing to admit when I'm wrong. It’s obvious in this book that Team Chaol is a losing one, and even though I’m not ready to jump ship over to Team Rowan completely, I can see that the relationship he and Aelin have is a pretty deep and meaningful one. And OK, fine, the longing the two have for each other is totally tangible and super hot.

Here’s my caveat, though: As much as I really like all of the guys (on a character level) that Aelin’s had relationships with in this series, however, I still feel like it’s been too many, too fast. There’s dating, and then there’s Aelin’s life—where pretty much every eligible bachelor is stumbling over themselves to be with her. It’s a little much.

Talky Talk: A Little Too Tidy, but Still Maastery

While reading, I had to remind myself multiple times that Queen of Shadows isn’t the final book in the Throne of Glass series; it’s not even the penultimate book. The characters in Queen of Shadows continue to be up to Sarah J. Maas’ excellent standards (i.e., awesome, complex, all too real), but the action and plot suffer a bit. There’s a whole lot of build up to the book’s climax, but the resolution leaves a lot to be desired, particularly after the build up of certain individuals throughout the series. I appreciated the twist, but felt a little let down at the execution.

Bonus Factor: Friendships

Back in Rifthold, Aelin discovers that many of her judgements on people when she was Celaena aren’t holding up. Particularly in the case of Lysandra, the consort Aelin hated so blindly for so many years. I love seeing the two of them realize they have so much in common and are so much better suited to be allies than enemies. And learning that Lysandra’s a [REDACTED]? That’s just brilliant.

Bonus Factor: Abraxos

I want an Abraxos. Someone get me an Abraxos.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Bait and Switch

I touched a little on this in Talky Talk (above), but I’m frustrated by the ease of the resolution with a certain character (being vague because spoilers) in Queen of Shadows. Perhaps I just missed the foreshadowing in the previous books, but the ease with which his storyline was resolved seemed too abrupt and too forced—particularly when there are still two books to go in the series.

Casting Call:

I cast Celaena, Chaol, Dorian and Nehemia in my review of the first book in the series, Archer Finn in my review of the second, and Rowan and Manon in my review of the third. To them, I’ll add:

Chris Hemsworth as Aedion

When I think of a “giant, handsome, blond guy,” I really have trouble picturing anyone else.

Bridget Regan as Lysandra

Elizabeth Gillies as Kaltain

Nazanin Boniadi as Nesryn

Relationship Status: Still Holding On

You might not be perfect, Book, but you can’t shake me that easily. I’m in it to win it.

.. You are going to win it, right? I will be MIGHTY upset if we’ve spent all this time together only to be defeated in the end.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book as a gift from a friend (who bought it with their own money), and received neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Queen of Shadows is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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