Monday, December 7, 2015

Queen of shadows by Sarah J. Maas

Queen of shadows is the fourth book in the Throne of glass series so this review contains ***SPOILERS*** if you have not read the first books in the series.  This series is best enjoyed in order so I suggest you read Throne of glassCrown of midnight, and Heir of fire before you read any more of this review.

She has been known by many names,  but the girl once known as Celaena Sardothien has now become the woman she was meant to be - Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen.  By accepting her heritage Aelin has become a target, not just because she is a threat to the evil that sits upon the throne of Adarlan, but also because there are some people who want to control her and use her for their own purposes.  For more than a decade Celaena was at the mercy of the games of men, first as the trained assassin lapdog of Arobynn, and then as the reluctant champion of the King of Adarlan.  It has been a life of pain, fear, and occasional bouts of excessive spending - and it was a life that has honed Celaena into a deadly and ruthless force of nature that is finally ready to assume the mantle of her throne.  

She can be bloody and ruthless, but Aelin is also someone who loves deeply and completely, who is loyal to her friends and is not afraid to make the difficult choices - for them, and for her.  With a war on the horizon it is time to rattle the stars and take back what belongs to her, starting with her friends and family.  Aelin may be ruthless, but the King of Adarlan is soulless and seems to be several steps ahead of Aelin and her allies.  With their resources stretched to the limits it is just as well that new allies arrive in unexpected forms.  They will need every resource they can gather because the King of Adarlan has plans in motion that will destroy not only Aelin and her newly formed court, but could destroy the world as they know it.  

In the cold and isolated Morath, Manon has her own worries.  Her grandmother has always demanded absolute obedience in all things, and Manon has always followed her orders without question, but that loyalty is being pushed to breaking point.  It seems as though Morath itself is testing Manon and her coven, the air seems to pulse with evil and there is something wrong with the food - for humans and wyverns.  With each passing day the doubts grow, the little whispering voice that questions what she has always known.  When an enemy makes the decision to spare Manon's life in the heat of battle, and one of her coven reveals a haunting secret, Manon discovers that the world is not as black and white as she once thought.  A war is coming, and it looks as though Manon may not be on the right side after all.

Queen of shadows is a beast of a book - at 645 pages it is not a read for the faint hearted - but it is also a must read addition to this amazing series!  I have read the series in a short space of time which has made it easy to keep the characters straight, but Sarah J. Maas has the uncanny ability to weave new characters into each of the books so that you get to meet people just when you need to and not a moment too soon.  With epic fantasy one of the drawbacks is that the vast cast of characters is often introduced in the first book in the series, so you are trying to get to know too many characters at once.  Maas has carefully managed the appearance of the characters, starting with the main characters of Rifthold in Throne of glass, before spiraling out to include the other immortal and otherworldly characters across the other three books in the series.  Queen of shadows is where all the characters are essentially brought together for the first time, and instead of being overwhelming it is like everyone has arrived just when they need to.

This is not a series for younger teens (here read 13 - 15 years old), but older teens will appreaciate the honesty with which Aelin sees the world and interacts with it.  There is violence here, the violence you would expect in the upbringing of an assassin, but there is also hope and tenderness underneath.  There is brutal language, threats of violence, and more than a little bit of profanity - but it feels genuine and legitimate rather than gratuitous.  Maas has created a world that is adored by teens and adults alike - not hard to judge by the fans that came out to her Auckland visit and waited for up to four hours for her to sign their books.  I am adoring this series, although I have to confess that A court of thorn and roses is edging out to the lead for my favourite book by Maas so far.  

This is an excellent series and highly recommended - but make sure you read it in order!

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Reviewed by Brilla

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