The Launch Event
Photo Credit to by Scott Beale/Laughing Squid (link)
I have to admit that when I bought my tickets for the Queen of Shadows launch event at the 92Y, I was nervous. I attended an event here earlier this year for Kiera Cass's The Heir where I left unsatisfied but we're talking Sarah J. Maas here . . . how could I turn that down?
Unfortunately, I experienced the same problems at this event that I had before. Basically, you buy a ticket just to attend the event (which was $15). Then you have to buy the book from Books of Wonder (they were the ones hosting) in order to get any of your books signed. All of this wouldn't be a problem BUT we weren't allowed to take pictures during the Q&A, and we couldn't take photos with Sarah during the signing either. You were only allowed to take a picture of Sarah while standing in the line, but not when it was your turn to get your books signed. Some might say that it's due to time constraints and that Sarah has a lot of fans—I have no idea what the actual reason is but I'm inclined to blame the venue because I've seen pictures of Sarah from her other tour stops and many others have been able to take pictures with her (and of her!) during their events. I don't blame Sarah at all for how this was arranged since I've had these same problems with this venue during the last event I attended as well.
Here is the only picture I could manage to take of Sarah:
My other problem with this event was with the Q&A itself. The person who interviewed Maas was a girl named Sasha who's a big book-tuber. I've never watched her videos or anything but I know she's a big deal and I can see why she was picked for this event. However, I felt that her questions focused on her friendship with Sarah. There were a lot of inside-joke type questions that a lot of people couldn't understand because felt they like a case of "you had to be there." Though I am grateful that these questions avoided a lot of spoilers of the books (I hadn't finished Heir of Fire when I was attending this event so I was worried) at the same time I just felt like I was sitting at the cool girls table but I wasn't part of the "in crowd." Now, not all of the questions were this way, but a lot of them were.
There was one question that I liked a lot and I loved Sarah's answer even more. Sarah was asked how she comes up with her names, and she said for the characters she plans to kill, she asks her friends the names of the people who bullied them in school and uses those names. If I ever write a book, I'm going to do the same thing haha.
I love going to Books of Wonder events and I don't mind buying my book at the store in order to get it signed. I love supporting local bookstores. At the same time, I am spoiled by the intimacy that is provided when the events are held at the actual store. When the events take place at Books of Wonder, the crowd gets to participate in the Q&A more, we can take as many pictures that we want, and you really feel like you get to communicate with the author. If it wasn't for the fact that the bigger authors are only going to be at 92Y when they come through town, I probably wouldn't attend any more events there.
Details of the Book
Hardcover, 645 pages
Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Synopsis: 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 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.
Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.
*WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!*
I'm so torn on how to feel about Queen of Shadows because even though there were a lot of things I liked, they were buried by all of the problems I had with it. First off, I'm angry with how much Chaol's character is destroyed in the first part of the book (Queen of Shadows is split into two parts), he acts like a total asshole and his hatred for Celaena/Aelin comes out of nowhere. I am a part of two ships in this series, so one of my ships sinking is not a game changer for me, but I feel like Maas took the easy way out by ruining his character to make room for Rowan and Aelin. Chaol and Celaena could have parted ways without giving him a personality flip. Chaol does eventually snap out of his craziness but you're not given any explanation for what exactly happened to make him come out of it. However, Chaol's character wasn't the only one destroyed. I felt like Aelin herself was stomping on her Caelena "persona", the character that we have all adored for the four previous books. I wish she would have just embraced both the Aelin and Celaena sides of her personality. In addition, this book is 645 pages and parts of it just drag. I think it could have been cut down by 400 pages and you'd still be left with all the great parts. I don't mind long books but in this case, it seemed unnecessarily long.
With all of that being said, the plot of this book (particularly the second half) is insane and you are not prepared for everything that happens. The characters (with the exception of Chaol) are awesome and they go through so much. The women in Queen of Shadows and throughout this series are real powerhouses and I just love them all (well—most of them haha).
I don't hate this book but it's definitely my least favorite out of the whole series. It left off in a happy place but if I know Maas, the characters have a lot more heartache before we get to the end of this series.
1) Queen of Shadows is split into two parts, and I really love Part Two: Queen of Light. The other 445 pages were building up for that last section and it was really intense. I couldn't but the book down at that point, I was just a crazed maniac devouring the book.
2) Rowan is so hot. Ugh, I could not get enough of him. Queen of Shadows allows you to get more into his head and let me just say—yum.
3) I love that after all this time, Sam's spirit is still present. There is a really beautiful scene when Aelin goes to visit his grave. If that doesn't leave you in tears, you have no soul.
4) I love Manon's character arc. We get to see her really transform and grow from the beginning to the end of the book. I'm curious about what might be brewing between her and Dorian as well ;P
5) I love Lysandra and Aelin's relationship. They are so adorable and relatable--they are an accurate depiction of friendships between girls.
6) The friendships between Dorian & Chaol and Rowan & Aedion are so cute. I'm a huge sucker for bromances.
1) The way this book ends feels like the series is over. If this was the last book, it would be a good ending but I just don't know how the books are going to go on from here. I'm worried that the next two books will just be stretching this out unnecessarily.
1) The death of Celaena and the rebirth of Aelin. The transition of our main character from Celaena to Aelin was very abrupt. Heir of Fire focused a lot on Celaena rediscovering herself as Aelin while still being the Celaena we all know and love. But Queen of Shadows immediately starts with Aelin and all of the other characters hating "Celaena." First off, I don't find Aelin and Celaena to be different. In fact, I didn't notice any type of personality change. Second, I love Celaena so it was crushing to deal with all of the characters judging "Caelaena" as a monster when I have been in love with her since The Assassin's Blade (I read TAB before Throne of Glass). At one point when Aelin has to slip into her Celaena persona, this is how Rowan describes her:
"Rowan didn't know what to make of it. A whirlwind of hate and rage and violence, that was what she'd become. And none of these piss-poor assassins had been surprised--not even a blink at her behavior. From Aedion's pale face, he knew the general was thinking the same thing, contemplating the years she'd spent as the unyielding and vicious creature. Celaena Sardothien--that was who she'd been then, and who she'd become today.
He hated it. Hated that he couldn't reach her when she was that person." (pg. 386)
As far as I understand, it was Celaena who was in love with Sam. It was Celaena who we've been following for four books. There needed to be more development into the transition from Celaena to Aelin, one that did not involve spitting on the character we have all gotten to know over the course of this series.
2) The murdering of Chaol's character. Before I get into this point there is one thing I need to make clear: I am both a Chaolena and Rowaelin shipper. Therefore, I'm happy with either of these ships being endgame. I don't care who you ship Aelin with, there is no denying that Chaol was vastly different in personality in Queen of Shadows in comparison to his personality throughout the other books in the series. Although he struggled with his feelings for Celaena and his own moral code, he never hated Celaena before this novel. Yet from the beginning of Queen of Shadows, he seems to loathe her without any logical cause. Some might argue that he was going through something, but Maas took it too far. She needed to give her readers more evidence of his internal struggle, but even in his POV, you get the feeling that he just hates everything about Celaena/Aelin. It isn't until Part Two of the book that Chaol stops acting like a nonsensical jerk.
In my opinion, Maas made Chaol into a raging asshole in order to make it easier for Aelin and Rowan to become the main couple. I would have been fine if Celaena/Aelin broke up with Chaol (which she pretty much did at the end of Crown of Midnight) and they just had a tense relationship while she moved on to being with Rowan. Considering how much time Chaol and Celaena spent apart before seeing each other again, and Celaena never being able to trust him after Nehemia's death, I totally see why she moved on to Rowan. I just wish that Maas didn't feel the need to mutilate the Chaol that many of us has loved since Throne of Glass.
3) I usually don't mind long books but it felt like it took forever for anything substantial to happen. I think the plot of this book could have been whittled down to about 200-300 pages. At times, it seemed like there was so much going on, but in general, a whole lot of nothing happened. For me, I became really sucked into this book about 60% of the way through it.
4) Rowan and Aedion are two awesome characters but when it comes to hanging around Aelin, it's like they don't have anything better to do then follow her around. Rowan has such an amazing backstory and I was hoping we would get even more of that but instead we got a lot of him just following Aelin around (of course I didn't mind that but I wanted more!).
5) I love Nesryn as a character but I can't say that I like her as Chaol's new love interest. First off, if they had messed around prior to this book, why has Chaol never thought of or mentioned her? Second, this adds to the trashing of Chaol's and Celaena's former relationship. Just like how quickly Aelin has moved on, I think this relationship is happening too quickly. In general, the only way the relationships seem to end in this series is either by death or by a character switching personalities.
1) Lysandra heaved a sigh. "Oh, thank the gods. Now I can talk to someone about clothes without being asked how so-and-so would approve of it, or gobble down a box of chocolates without someone telling me I'd better watch my figure—tell me you like chocolates. You do, right? I remember stealing a box from your room once when you were out killing someone. They were delicious."
Aelin waved a hand toward the boxes of goodies on the table. "You brought chocolate--as far as I'm concerned, you're my new favorite person."
Lysandra chuckled, a surprisingly deep, wicked sound--probably a laugh she never let Arobynn or her clients hear. "Some night soon, I'll sneak back in here and we can eat chocolates until we vomit."
"We're such refined, genteel ladies."
"Please," Lysandra said, waving a manicured hand, "you and I are nothing but wild beasts wearing human skins. Don't even try to deny it."
2) "You will make mistakes. You will make decisions, and sometimes you will regret those choices. Sometimes there won't be a right choice, just the best of several bad options. I don't need to tell you that you can do this—you know you can. I wouldn't have sworn the oath to you if I didn't think you could.
3) "I miss you," she said. "Every day, I miss you. And I wonder what you would have made of all of this. Made of me. I think—I think you would have been a wonderful king. I think they would have liked you more than me, actually." Her throat tightened. "I never told you—how I felt. But I loved you, and I think a part of me might always love you. Maybe you were my mate, and I never knew it. Maybe I'll spend the rest of my life wondering about that. Maybe I'll see you again in the Afterworld, and then I'll know for sure. But until then... until then I'll miss you, and I'll wish you were here."