|Throne of Glass stack + Aelin print designed by JemlinC|
Series: Throne of Glass (Goodreads)
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Age Group: YA
Source: Waterstones (purchased)
So much happened in this book and my love for this series only gets stronger and more intense as the Throne of Glass series progresses! Something that I have noticed so far about all the books is that the beginnings are usually a bit slow to develop and it can take a few chapters before the action begins to take place. This doesn’t spoil the books in any way, at least not for me, but I mention this so that readers are aware and advise them to stick with the books because once the action picks up you do not want to miss it. As the series goes on and I continue to review them I’m finding it harder and harder to keep my reviews as free from spoilers as possible because so much has changed for Celaena since A Throne of Glass so I will advise to read with caution as there will be minor spoilers.
The one constant strength for me throughout all the books, and especially in Queen of Shadows, is Celaena’s personal development. If you are a long time fan or a new fan of the series then you will be aware of the burdens Celaena has had to carry. These burdens have only increased and become heavier since the previous book, Heir of Fire, when Celaena’s true identity was revealed (Aelin of Terrasen). To go from being an assassin to a young queen with a kingdom to save is a heavy burden for anyone, and Celaena does struggle with it, but importantly with the support and love from her close friends they help her too overcome her struggles and burdens.
‘She could forgive the girl who had needed a captain of the guard to offer stability after a year in hell; forgive the girl who had needed a captain to be her champion. But she was her own champion now. And she would not add another name of her beloved dead to her flesh.’
That leads me to the best element of this book and for me that was the multiple relationships that were developed. Though more importantly, it was the individual developments of particular characters too. The strongest and most beautiful individual developments for me were Manon, Lysandra and Rowan. Whilst the relationships that stood out for me were Celaena and Lysandra’s, Celaena and Rowan’s as well as Manon and Elide’s. I desperately want to discuss so many of these characters and their story arcs but then I’d honestly end up writing a uni length essay and nobody really wants that. So I’m going to focus on Manon’s development as well as the relationship between Celaena and Rowan.
I think you would find it very difficult to argue with any hardcore fan of this series that Maas is in no doubt a fantastic writer of strong, fierce, and independent women! Manon is certainly no exception to this strongly worded statement. When we first met Manon in Heir of Fire she was a blindly loyal and unquestioning follower of her Grandmothers. However, following events in the previous book this is no longer the case. From early on in Queen of Shadows Manon is suddenly lost and beginning to doubt her unquestioning loyalty and this is what makes her development in this series so interesting. There is a fantastic couple of scenes which I think really highlight Manon’s beginning developments. If what has started in Queen of Shadows continues to get stronger in the next few books than her individual story arc is for me is one to watch closely. I think something that’s very important about personal development for characters is that it cannot happen without the right people present in their lives to challenge them and for Manon the two most important and willing challengers in Queen of Shadows are Asterin and Elide. In one particular scene Manon states that Elide cannot understand her struggles because she has not lived them. However, Elide very quickly responds that actually she can relate because she too has faced the same struggles and so openly challenges Manon exemplifying for me the strengths of their developing friendship and Manon’s personal journey too:
“Is your broken kingdom worth it?” Elide dared to ask. […] “I do not expect a human to understand what it is like to be an immortal with no homeland. To be cursed with eternal exile.” Cold, distant words. Elide said, “My kingdom was conquered by the King of Adarlan, and everyone I loved was executed. My father’s lands and my title were stolen from me by my uncle, and my best chance of safety now lies in sailing to the other end of the world. I understand what it is like to wish—to hope.” “It is not hope. It is survival.” Elide gently rolled a bandage around the witch’s forearm. “It is hope for your homeland that guides you, that makes you obey.”
Finally Celaena and Rowan’s relationship has already come so far since the previous book, Heir of Fire, and I am totally in love with how much they mean to each other and the support they have and give to one another. What’s fantastic about the multiple perspectives given to us in this book is that we are finally able to see what goes on inside both their minds and honestly reading from Rowan’s perspective had my heart melting. There were so many moments that had me laughing, almost in tears of laughter a lot of times, and others that had me weak at the knees because of their emotional vulnerability. Celaena can absolutely look after herself but that doesn’t mean she’s immune to weak moments, because no one is, and to have Rowan look out for her is absolutely fantastic especially when she willingly asks for his help. Sometimes a persons strength comes from being able to ask for help. Rowan truly cares for Celaena and this example that I’m going to share and leave you with proves that:
‘Rowan had thought he knew fear. He had thought he could face any danger with a clear head and ice in his veins. Until Lorcan appeared from the shadows, so fast that Rowan hadn’t even scented him, and put that knife against Aelin’s throat.’
Celaena Sardothien is cloaked in her assassin's hood once more. She is back in Rifthold, but this time she is no one's slave. She must delve into her most painful memories and fight for her survival, while resisting a smouldering passion that might very well consume her heart. And she will face her former master, the King of Assassins, again - to wreak revenge for a decade of pain...
‘There were two men in this city responsible for destroying her life and the people she’d loved. She would not leave Rifthold until she’d buried them both.'
‘[she] reminded herself that she’d been trained to kill with her bare hands long before she’d ever learned to melt bones with her fire. She did not need the extra strength, speed, and agility of her Fae form to bring down her enemies.’
‘There were many, many debts to be paid before she left Rifthold and took back her throne. Starting now. Fortunate that she was in a killing sort of mood.’
‘Everything—everything was for Dorian, for his friend. For himself, he had nothing left to lose. He was nothing more than a nameless oath-breaker, a liar, a traitor.’
“I hear hell is particularly nice at this time of year.”