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.
My rating: ★★★★★
The reason this book is my favourite in the series is because of the pacing. It is honestly non-stop – my eyes were glued to the page and I just couldn’t stop reading! I reread this book in less than a day and only two sittings, so that is a testament to how much I loved it. Even though this was a reread for me, I still found myself just as much on the edge of my seat compared to the first time I read it! I felt like there were no slow moments at all, and as soon as one part of the story wrapped up, another part opened. It was so great!
My favourite moments in the book was all of the scenes where Aelin and co. rescue multiple characters that need saving. I also loved the reuniting of Aelin and Aedion, and Aelin and Rowan! One of the best things about this book was the progression in friendship between Aelin and Lysandra. I thought it was so beautiful and sent a really good message that they were both on the same side the whole way through. The scene where Lysandra is kidnapped and everyone is all together trying to free her is probably my favourite in the whole book – Manon and Dorian meeting, followed by the escape and temple collapse, were so fast paced and intense and I loved every second of it.
The finale of this book is definitely my favourite in the wholes series too. It is so epic and a culmination of events from the past three books, and I breathed a massive sigh of relief when it was all over. While I described Heir of Fire as the book that constitutes the turning point of the series, Queen of Shadows is definitely the one where things won’t be the same after, – it truly kicks off the second half of the series with the biggest bang!
Aelin was absolutely phenomenal in this book, as per usual. She is one of my favourite female characters in all of fantasy because she is so well rounded. It was so great to see her come into herself more as Aelin, rather than any of her other aliases, in this book. I really liked that she utilised her skills as Celaena in this book to get further in her plans, and she is just so intelligent it blows everyone else out of the water. I said this a bit further up, but I love that she developed a friendship with Lysandra. More than that, I loved that she apologised to her for just assuming things about her life, rather than just asking about them. I think that set a really important message and shows that although she is cocky and sarcastic a lot of the time – she is also really thoughtful, can tell when she’s in the wrong and is so good at heart. Lysandra is also so much fun, and such a good friend for Aelin. I also grew more attached to her this time compared to my first read – her story is really heartbreaking and like Aelin she is such a good person too. It was great seeing her feel like she belongs and becoming more of a part of their little group.
The way her relationship wrapped up with Chaol and grew with Rowan is something else I need to talk about. I was actually a lot more okay with it this time around, compared to the first time I read the book? Something about knowing they are endgame makes me more tolerant towards it, and I actually really liked Rowan in this book. I liked that we had more of his POV, and that he explains that he didn’t realise how much her missed and needed her until she left Wendlyn. I think that makes a lot more sense than just flipping a switch and their friendship becoming romantic, which is how I saw it the first time I read it. With Aelin and Chaol, I winced a couple of times in their reactions at the beginning, but I feel like by the end of the book they both each had closure and were on civil terms, which was great to see. It was also really nice to see Aelin and Aedion reuniting – I thought it was so touching. While I’m not the biggest fan of Aedion by the end of the series, and he is probably one of the most annoying people in the whole series, he has been through a lot by this point, and his loyalty and love for Aelin and his country is so strong I can’t help but be happy for him. Now we must address the Fae in the room, and that is Lorcan. He is one of my all time favourite male characters, so to see him harming the squad definitely made me sad. The amount of times I was frustrated with him was honestly in the dozens – I understand he is tied to the blood oath at the moment, but I just hate that he is on the opposite side to the others… for now. He did come through in the end though, and I’m so excited to read Empire of Storms because him and Elide are my favourite thing about that book.
As for Dorian, the main reason I didn’t want to reread this book is because he is in so much pain the whole way through this book – it broke my heart. Although he was freed by the end of it, that is not something you come back from lightly, and to be honest I’m still reeling from the end of Heir of Fire, so it’s going to be so hard reading him coming back to himself in Empire of Storms. The one piece of goodness in this book for Dorian was him meeting Manon. I thought it was the greatest meet and greet and it already hints at such a fun dynamic between them. I’m so excited to have it progress! I also liked Manon a lot more in this read through – her coming to terms with her emotions and finally doing the right thing (most of the time) was so relieving to see. The confession scene between Manon and Asterin was so beautiful and tragic, and I think it made clear to Manon what her priorities should be. Last but certainly not least, we have Elide – one of my favourites in the series, it was so great to finally read her POV. She is such a strong character, and has just been put in such an awful situation her whole life. It was so great to see her still have hope, and in turn pass that onto Manon and finally be protected. I loved her ending and was so glad when she was free, because that means she can meet Lorcan!!!
Is this book on your TBR? Are you hoping to read the rest of the series before you pick this up? Let’s chat in the comments below!