Sunday, May 8, 2016

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Mass

The queen has returned.

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 for her. 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.

The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series continues Celaena’s epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

Rating: 1/5 Stars


*Sighs* Well... I guess it's time I write this review, otherwise it's just going to stay there unwritten forever and bother the hell out of me... I really don't want to though, just thinking about this book again and all the romantic drama, the snail-slow pace and the endless descriptions of cream-colored stuff bore me as if I were reading the book again.

If you have read my previews reviews, you'll know that I'm not the biggest fan of this series. Hell, I'm far from it but a lot of people love it so much that I just wanted to read it and see what it was like. Queen of Shadows was the book that most people love (it won the Goddreads choice award for crying out loud!) but for me, it was the first of this series in which I couldn't give the rating more than one star. Beware for spoilers and a short rant.

Now, I'm pretty sure that this review is going to be a short one unlike the rest, and that is because in 600 pages of content NOTHING HAPPENS. This is just something I can't stress enough, in all of the TOG books Mass writes 90% of introduction or dances, flirting, cakes and candies and just keeps us waiting until the actual plot is revealed at the very last minute only for readers to find out it wasn't worth the waiting.

Same thing happens here, Celaena wants to find the amulet of Orynth, bring magic back and defeat the King. Time spent doing those actual things? Forty pages. Time spent doing the most awkawrd and cringe worthy flirting in the history of the series, destroying Chaol's characterization for the sake of a ship with zero chemistry, pretending Aelin is on top of things when she is actually being manipulated, and describing people purring or doing things with "feline grace" when they are people and not f*cking cats? 600+ pages. That's it, that's all there is.

The romance:

Most fans of the series absolutely love the romance. I've seen people claim that, even though they had lost faith in the Young Adult genre thanks to its mindless love stories, Queen of Shadows and Mass' abilities creating compelling relationships is what restored it. However, the romance has always been one of my biggest problems in this series. For one, I don't understand why these relationships happen; I never see the chemistry between these couples and don't even know what they see in each other that makes it such an epic love story. I mean sure, Mass loves to write paragraphs on how those feelings affect the characters, but you never get to see them. The style here is more "tell not show" and so even though there is no chemistry or logic between the pair, we are thrown a romantic relationship nonetheless.

Now, I knew before starting QoS that Rowan and Aelin would be together. Just reading HoF made it clear; not because I thought that Rowan and Aelin had super-hot chemistry or because they understood each other like no one else did. It was because Mass can't put a hot male character near Celaena and not have him being in love with her. Plus, Rebeca confirmed it when I posted my thoughts on a status update.

                            funny arrested development eye lucille bluth winking

That being said, I know that there is a lot of controversy regarding Rowan and Chaol but my thoughts are divided. I ahve to say, I was never a huge fan of Celaena and Chaol together, I like them all single just because the romance always makes my eyes bleed, but apart from that Chaol and Celaena simply weren't a pairing that I liked. I understood that when they separated it wasn't that they hated each other or anything, only that things had happened and even though they still cared for each other, their romance just couldn't be.
I understood that, even though Celaena said "I will always choose you." she still went ahead with a different relationship. I'm not one who believes in "true love forever", I'm not cold-hearted... at least, I think I'm not? But anyway, I know that people change and so do relationships. Sometimes people can evolve together, and even though they are not the same as when they started, they are still together. Other times, people change and go different ways. Shit happens, and you can't control it no matter how much you want to.

So, am I mad that Chaolena didn't happen despite Celaena's promise? No, because a lot of stuff happened in the time they were apart, hell, a lot of stuff happened while they were together too. That led to the characters changing; Aelin accepted her fate as Queen and Chaol... didn't do much because his characterization is not important once he loses his status as love interest, I guess?

Anyway, I'm not mad about that. I'm sad to see that Chaol was completely annihilated to make the author feel better about Rowaelin happening.
Look, I've said it in Ignite Me and I'll say it again, if you need to destroy a character for the sake of a ship, then that couple doesn't really belong together. It's easy, when two characters make sense together, you don't need to force readers into seeing it your way. You want to have Rowan and Aelin together? Perfect! But why did Chaol had to go from a blushing virgin to an asshole sex machine who did nothing but snarl and tell Aelin the truth of all the things he had done wrong. Same as with Ignite Me, because Chaol suddenly realizes that Aelin is not absolutely perfect in everything that she does and actually recognizes the mistakes she makes, he is turned into the devil.

Not to mention how now it was all Chaol's fault. I'm curious about knowing if the author remembered what happened in the previous book? That could explain why there were so many plot holes too, like the King being possessed that was supossed to be a huge revelation when it was in fact said in the previous book!
In Heir of Fire, Celaena realized that Nehemia's death hadn’t been Chaol's fault. It was Nehemia the one who had convinced herself her death mattered more than her life, and if she had been saved that night, she would have gotten killed some other time.
What happens here?

"There were perhaps only three feet between them now-three feet and months and months of missing and hating him. Months of crawling out of that abyss he'd shoved her into."

How did that even happen? If anything it had been Nehemia's death what had caused that, now it's his fault too?
She even gets mad at Chaol for leaving Dorian behind when she had done the same thing. Aelin knew Dorian had magic and what his father might do to him once he found out, did she help him? Nope! But Chaol, unarmed and surrounded by guards, who had no idea of demons or how to fight them was supposed to rescue Dorian and Aedion?

Aelin never thinks of anything but herself and what she wants, everything else is only important if it can be useful to her.

"'Did it even occur to you to send us a warning? To let any of us know about the king's collars?'
It was like a bucket of water had been dumped on her. She blinked. She could have warned them-could have saved them- could have tried. Later-she'd think about that later."

Want to guess what happens? She doesn't think about it again, in fact Aelin only recognizes her mistakes part ways and then goes back to behaving like a petulant child and crying every time someone didn't do what she wanted. Some Queen she's gonna be.

Even though Chaol was a dick, I can't hate him because I know that his real character wasn't like that, he was turned into a spiteful and pitiful copy of himself only so that people would root for Aelin and Rowan together. And even when he was an asshole, he still had some good points:

"Magic makes people dangerous."

Even though taking away all the magic had been a bad move, Chaol has a reason to be afraid of it and magic wielders.

"'And what then?' Chaol asked.
'Will you hold Rifthold hostage the way you did with Doranelle? Burn anyone who doesn't agree with you? Or will you just incinerate our kingdom from spite? And what of others like you, who feel that they have a score to settle with Adarlan?"

Aelin cries injustice and that Chaol is being mean to her, but this is exactly what she wants to do.


Now when it comes to Rowan... I have to be honest, about halfway through I started skipping the descriptions in his chapters and reading only the dialogue. Seeing a hundred year old dude creepily describing how a teenager made him hard and how lovely her "slender-yet-muscular legs" were got creepy real fast.


I was looking forward to seeing more female friendships, but the Aelin/Lysandra relationship was a letdown for me. There was just no thought put into it, Lysandra showed up in Aelin's doorstep one day and said she wanted to work with her. Instead of investigating her old enemy and see if she could be plotting against her with the other old creep that wants into Aelin's pants, what does she do? She says that it would be very easy for Lysandra to deceive her... so she's going to trust her.

I waited the entire book for Lysandra to betray her but no, they became BFFs right away and problem solved. Meh.

Manon was, again, the only bright star for me. Her and Asterin were brilliant, and I cried when her cousin confessed what had happened to her. Why can't the entire series be about them?

Saying that Queen of Shadows was a disappointment for me is an understatement. Purple-prose with endless descriptions does not equal story in the same way that forced interaction doesn't equal romance. I don't really look forward to the next book.

PS: If Manon and Dorian hook up, I'll f*cking riot.

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