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Survivors: Queen of Shadows Review

Title: Queen of Shadows
Author: Sarah J. Maas

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.
"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." 

The SJM (Sarah J. Maas) scorpion has struck me again. Another 'Throne of Glass' book, finished in the span of three days. If you've read anything over 500 pages within a matter of days (not weeks), you know those words, scenes, and characters consume you until the very last page and maybe even afterwards.

Truthfully, I fully expected to be done with these books after what happened to my favorite character in Book 2. Yet. Here I am, two books later and wishing I could wipe Queen of Shadows (QOS) from my brain, as to savor it all over again. Every fast paced brawl, sarcastic joke, and touching little moment slayed me. 

This book picks up where 'Heir of Fire' left off, Celaena proclaiming her dramatic transformation into Aelin and heading back to Rifthold to handle business with help, of course.

In spite of the near-complete shift of characters (besides my precious Dorian and Chaol), Sarah J. Maas weaves in new characters without overwhelming you. I also now understand why I wondered if QOS was even part of the same series when I snuck a peek, back during my 'Throne of Glass' days. But this new ensembleof queens, witches, rebels, fae princes, courtesans, and shapeshiftersthis ensemble who fought alongside one another, for each other, and sometimes, with each other, kept me verbally exclaiming their amazingness every other scene.

At the core of it all stood Aelin. While every character has their flawsand Aelin has many—she also harbors this complex mixture of ferocity and wit that I find refreshing. Even after everything that's happened, she still relies on her inner circle, jokes with them, but understands there's a part of her forever altered from those she's lost. (The Sam grave scene...stop my bleeding heart.)

Further, I like that this book wasn't the Aelin show. We're given more insights about Manon and the Thirteen, Chaol and Dorian's Bromance, Lysandra's journey, Aedion's reunion with his cousin, and even Kaltain, who is another underrated MVP. Maas packs so many amazing supporting characters into these 645 pages that I'd spend paragraphs giving them each the love they deserve.

Of course, there are crusty characters for certain, besides the obvious antagonists who need no mention. Rowan Whitethorn--I'm not sold on his sexy protecting act undercutting the abusive behavior from 'Heir of Fire.' In the same way, I'm saddened to see Chaol's trajectory. I understand the logic behind his disrespect towards Aelin, but his actions seemed...callous for someone ready to jeopardize his life for her no less than several months ago. I'm hoping Maas will revive him in his novella, being released this September.

All in all, nothing sold this book quite like the Women Empowerment! (Go Girls!) I'm all for women leaning on other women, protecting each other, not competing but instead enjoying each other's company, forgiving each other, and not being tokens among a sea of fierce male warriors. We've shifted away from 'Scoff, the King's Champion is a girl child' to 'watch how many seconds it takes them to handle business.' Plus, there are so many, all with backstories and different personalities--Aelin, Lysandra, Manon, Nesryn, Asterin, Sorrel, Ghislane, the other Thirteen, Elide, Kaltain, and even little Evangline. If only Nehemia were present to be a part of it, sigh. (I still haven't recovered.)

If I could offer any criticism, I'd urge for continued diverse representation. I think these epics could be even richer with a more varied mixture of people and cultures. It's one of the reasons why I'm excited for Chaol and Nesyrn's exploration into the Southern Continent.

Nonetheless, I loved Book 4. I fawned over the characters, the 'to the rescue' scenes, and the plot twist at the end. The two songs that reminded me of this book represent the dueling nature of its pages: a constant battle between raucous and lively then somber.

Song Credit: 1- Survivor (Hardwell & Dannic ft. Harris) | 2- Primavera (Ludovico Einaudi)

I'll be bidding my time with other authors until Book #6 lands on the shelf. Having seen other's opinions of Book #5, Empire of Storm, I know my heart will fair better if I wait until May of next year to read it. I still have the prequel, the Assassin's Blade to read, but the simple mention of Sam turns me weepy, so I might hold off on that too. For TV lovers, Hulu has announced a show, interestingly named Queen of Shadows! As long as it gets a better treatment than Delirium, a failed adaptation attempt from FOX, then I'll be a happy, devoted watcher. 

Overall, to someone who's never ventured into this series or the third book, I would recommend them while also acknowledging there are problematic aspects. 

For the characters alone, this book warrants a solid five stars, or as we like to say around here, a piping Matt Bomer. When you pile on the action scenes, the relationships formed, and the sweet, sweet demise of two vain, conniving antagonists, it shatters the scale. I didn't touch SJM's writing techniques in this review, for sake I might write you to a fast boredom. 

If you have read Book 4, what are your thoughts? Favorite characters? Scenes? Did you find anything crusty with it?

Reading on, I plan to soothe my soul with a fluffy book next, one with cuddly romance, little angst, and the cutest happily ever after to ever after if anyone has any suggestions.

Then, and only then, will I tackle the second Red Queen novel, Glass Sword. Let me know your thoughts. Have a good weekend and happy reading!

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