She was fire, and light, and ash, and embers. She was Aelin Fireheart, and she bowed for no one and nothing, save the crown that was hers by blood and survival and triumph.
Queen of Shadows was a special book in this series for me. I had to deal with a major reading slump while going through it – without blaming the books for it. But since I definitely wanted to join Aelin on her journey, I plunged myself straight into Erilea and fought against the slump. And let me tell you – it was worth it. Every single page of it. I’m still not quite sure whether I am able to write this review – I finished the book a few days ago and I still cannot comprehend it. The world of Throne of Glass just got amplified and I desperately want to live there – even though I’d probably die there. But everything I learned from the first three books just got better and more intense – it was just like the tip of the iceberg.
Celaena herself finally became Aelin – even thought he whole atmosphere of the book became darker and more grim. Not just at the beginning but also throughout the whole book. The pace gets faster and there is so much going on in this book. It was impressive to see how much the demeanor of Aelin changed when she needed to fulfill her expected duties as queen or when she needed to fall back in her life as Celaena Sardothien. The most important part – for me – was when she rescued the one witch that tried to kill instead of letting her die. It was not weakness but mere kindness she showed at this point of the story. And while some say she is the ruthless fire-breathing bitch queen many call her, I believe otherwise. Aelin knows exactly when to be hard or unforgiving but at the same time she also knows when to be kind and selfless. She freed Lysandra and her little ward from their work and made the former a Lady to thank her friend for everything she did – even Aelin actually needed the money to rise an army for herself. Not only was her character development breathtaking but also how it was written by Maas. Her style notably increases with every book.
This can also seen within the development of the other characters. For example my beloved Chaol. The former Captain of the Royal Guard had to fight with his own demons during the book. He went through a personal hell and didn’t let anyone near him. He needed to pick up the shards of himself to them anew. And while it seemed he blended more and more into the background throughout the book before, he now had his moments. He overcame his fear and disgust for magic to save his most vital friend. It was clear that he would do anything to get Dorian back and see him on the throne of Adarlan. So he quite literally sacrificed himself for his friend – but managed to stay alive but broken. But what hurt the most was when he asked Aelin to see her magic after the battle was over. And how he seemed to accept it more and more.
Speaking of Chaol I also need to say something about Dorian. He was never my favourite out of the male characters to start with, but seeing him captured in his own body was bad. I wanted to see him freed – of the collar as well of his father – and I would have given everything to ensure that. But what ultimately helped to free him was one of the purest kinds of love I have ever read about. Dorian freed himself after he thought his best friend was dead. Everything Aelin tried before to get him back was of no use. Only the thought of Chaol being dead led Dorian to the point to gain control over his own body. If that’s not love I don’t know what is.
Net to the original trio there were also many moments I fell more in love with the other characters – especially Aedion, Lysandra, Rowan and Manon with her Thirteen. While some people seem not to like Manon’s chapters, I devoured them one after another. I lived the witch from the beginning and I wanted to know all of her story. Same goes for Lysandra – Aelin’s former-enemy-turned-to-best-friend -, Aedion my beloved Wolf and Rowan. I can’t find the words to express how much I love all of them and I don’t even want to try right now since I know I’m not able to.
All in all this book was a major part of Aelin’s journey – without saying too much about the plot and what exactly happens – and its greatness took me out of my reading slump. With everything that happened, Empire of Storms – the following book – can only get more intense and I can not wait to read it.