Publication Date: September 1st 2015
Song I Played While Reading: Left Behinds by Hardwell
Rating: 4 stars
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.
Where the hell do I even begin with this?
Since this is the fourth book in this series, I'm not going to write anything non-spoiler-y except for this: This is series absolutely incredible. If you haven't picked up ToG yet, please do yourself the favor and do it. If you aren't the biggest fan of ToG (I wasn't completely enthralled by it, either), then at least push through to Crown of Midnight. This is my ALL TIME favorite series. Ever.
And if you have read Queen of Shadows... LET'S GET INTO THIS.
I seem legitimately incapable of writing a mature review for any of these books. I'M SORRY. I TRIED MY BEST TO MAKE IT AS SHORT AS POSSIBLE. But alas, my emotions got the best of me and they all came tumbling out.
I'm gonna try and go chronically here, since if I don't, I'll forget things. And that'll make me a very sad person.
SO. We open with our beloved Aelin (pronounced Ay-lin), already shit-deep into her plans, and about to meet Arobynn. Now, I was confused when I read in a review that Aelin was different than Celaena. "How can the same person be different if all she does is change her name? She was fine at the end of Heir of Fire." Which was also why I could never wrap my head around the face that "Celaena would always pick Chaol, but Aelin wouldn't." Like??? They're THE same person. Just because she accepted the fact that she's the Queen of Terrasen and wants to revive her kingdom doesn't mean she can't still be in love with Chaol. They have the same heart, the same feelings. Just the responsibilities have shifted.
So, wasn't it a shock to me when I finished reading the first page and could already tell a difference between Aelin and Celaena. And I mean a MAJOR difference. It was unsettling; everything leading up to her rescuing Aedion was a blur to me. My mind kept going, "Who is this girl? What the fuck is happening? SOS SOS SOS." I still can't fully wrap my head around it. And that was probably the most disappointing thing about this book, so much so that I cried. I got used to it as the book progressed, and by the end of course fell in love with Aelin, but still. It feels like theres something lodged in my throat whenever I try explaining it. And then my feelings were even MORE in at tiffy when she became Celaena again to go see Arobynn's dead body. Thats when I knew it was legit because I was literally giddy off that chapter. It's probably one of my favorite moments in the story.
Now let's get to the good stuff; the ships. This was the first red flag I saw when
And it's not that I didn't like Rowan; I LOVE him. L-O-V-E. He was the greatest thing that has ever happened to Aelin, and Heir of Fire was a god damn masterpiece. (Don't even GET me started on all the Rowan haters saying he's abusive.) But... Chaol. That's all I kept thinking, wanting to sob for my poor baby. Chaol is one of the most self-less characters I've ever read about. He risked his life to send Celaena away to Wendlyn, even though he loved her with his entire being and wasn't sure if he would ever see her again. Not only that, he also made a bargain to leave the castle, leave his best friend, and go live with his emotionally abusive father, just so she could safely leave. It absolutely blows my mind that people forgot about this part simply because he had issues accepting that she was fae and had magic. I was livid, and I gotta admit, some of that was directed towards Maas. She worked so hard to make Chaol this amazing character and had Chaolaena depicted as this HUGE thing.
"The rest of the world quieted into nothing. In that moment, after ten long years, Celaena looked at Chaol and realised she was home."
"It somehow felt as if it had always been Chaol, even from the very beginning, even before they'd ever met." How could she just dump him like that? HOW? He was literally getting shit on from every direction and it was so unfair.
But, I don't know if this was Maas's plan all along (since it sure as hell didn't seem like it), the second I read from Chaol's pov, I knew he had changed, too. And as I read and read, my heart broke. I love Sarah J. Maas, I really do, but I don't think I'll ever be able to forgive her for how she depicted him in this book. Maybe I'm being supremely biased and totally unfair, but god damn it, it hurt. He was angry and mean and judgmental and blamed Aelin for things that were so stupid. And vice versa, Aelin blamed him for things that were completely out of his control. These are two very mature adults, who have both gone through some major shit. So why the hell were they acting like two children? They had one common goal; save Dorian. It frustrated me to no end that they would tip-toe around the subject, never fully admitting it, and instead just keep heaping blame after blame upon one another. JUST TALK IT OUT.
Okay, I'M DONE. I'M SORRY. I JUST AM VERY PROTECTIVE OF CHAOL, OKAY?
Onto the two other males! (I swear this won't be as long, STAY WITH ME.)
I wasn't Aedions biggest fan in Heir of Fire, simply because I knew he kept a front up. He had to be the macho and dangerous Wolf of the North. Well, once we hit Queen of Shadows and Aelin rescued him (A+++++++ for that scene), he became one of my favorite characters. Not only because we got to see his softer side and the love he had for Aelin, but he literally turned into a puppy. A big, fluffy, golden retriever puppy. Maybe it's because he was joking around a lot and we actually got to see him, not just the Wolf of the North. But seriously he's one of my children now, SO DONT FUCKING TOUCH HIM, SARAH.
Now, Rowan. My boo. Like I said, the second him and Celaena turned their hate-filled gazes onto each other, I knew this would be the greatest duo in YA history. I called it from the very beginning. And since Aelin and Chaol definitely aren't working out anymore, Rowan is the next best thing, and my god, the gasp that came out of my mouth when Aedion smelled pine in the street was literally ground breaking. I've never in my life gasped that loud before from a book. I WHOLEHEARTEDLY APPROVE OF ROWLIN.
I also wholeheartedly approve of Lysandra. I was extremely wary to see how this would work out, since I read The Assassins Blade and knew their scary history. But, sweet baby Jesus, she broke me when she burst forth as a ghost leopard and defended Aedion and Rowan. Like, sobs. I love her. So, so, SO much, way more than Nehemia. I wasn't at all thrilled with the Eyllwe princess, so I FULLY approve of this new friendship.
One of my dreams was to see Manon and Aelin fight and GOOD LORD, IT WAS SO GOOD. I SENSE A BLOOMING FRENEMY-SHIP HERE AND I'M SO HAPPY IT OCCURRED. That scene was b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. You know she's gonna team up with Aelin against the Valg bastards. YOU KNOW. And seriously, I would've been gung-ho for Kaltain to be in there, too. She was incredible and also made me cry with her little finale show. HONESTLY, ALL THE WOMAN IN HERE ARE SO BADASS AND COOL AND BEAUTIFUL. #GIRLPOWER
And finally, we have Elide and Nesryn. You know Aelin is gonna get weak-kneed when she figures out who Elide is. And then probably want to rip Vernon apart. Nesryn, too, was a cool character, but both these ladies definitely took a backseat in this book. Nonetheless! I'm still excited to see how they develop. *grumbles about Chaolryn* I GUESS I'M OKAY WITH IT.
I need to end this review ASAP. If anyone is still with me here, bless your sweet heart. All the action scenes were absolutely incredible and vivid and SO GLORIOUS. Arobynn and the King are dead. I didn't think it would happen in one book, yet Maas manage to do it beautifully and not make it feel rushed. That's apparently something people are complaining about? I thought the pacing of this book was perfect!
Once I hit page 635, I was done. I started sobbing. Seeing Aelin, Dorian, and Chaol in her room again ripped my heart to shreds. Absolutely tore it apart. I felt nostalgic for those good ol' days, before everything went to shit in a hand basket. I've never experienced nostalgia in a book before and SERIOUSLY I DONT WANT IT TO EVER HAPPEN AGAIN. I was mess. I ran into the living room and cried in moms lap, then laid down with QoS wrapped in my arms and stared at the wall for at least an hour. I was zombie. And then I went to bed because I was so done with life. I still am. Bless you, Sarah J. Maas. Even though I gave you hate earlier, I wouldn't change anything for the world. This story has taken root in my heart and I know for a fact that it'll never go away.
"Manon dug her legs into Abraxos's scarred, leathery hide, and his Spidersilk-reinforced wings glittered like gold in the light of the fires far below. "Fly, Abraxos," she breathed.
Abraxos sucked in a great breath, tucked his wings in tight, and fell off the side of the post.
He liked to do that- just tumble off as thought he'd been struck dead.
Her wyvern, it seemed, had a wicked sense of humor."
"Aelin said hoarsely, "I'm in."
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 chocolates- as far as I'm concerned, you're my new favorite person."
"The woman closed her eyes for a moment, and when she opened them, steel gleamed there. "When you shatter the chains of this world and forge the next, remember that art is as vital as food to a kingdom. Without it, a kingdom is nothing, and will be forgotten by time. I have amassed enough money in my miserable life to not need anymore- so you will understand me clearly when I say that wherever you set your throne, no matter how long it takes, I will come to you, and I will bring music and dancing."
"I'm beginning to admire Lysandra more and more. Seventeen-year-old Aelin must have been a delight to deal with.
She fought the twitching in her lips. I would pay good money to see seventeen-year-old Aelin meet seventeen-year-old Rowan.
His green eyes glittered. Aroybnn was still talking. Seventeen-year-old Rowan wouldn't have known what to do with you. He could barely speak to females outside his family.
Liar-I dont believe that for a second.
It's true. You would've scandalized him with your nightclothes- even with that dress you have on.
She sucked on her teeth. He probably would have been even more scandalized to learn I'm not wearing any undergarments beneath this dress.
The table rattled as Rowan's knee banged into it."
"She looked at them, at the three males who meant everything- more than everything.
Then she smiled with every last shred of courage, of desperation, of hope for the glimmer of that glorious future. "Let's go rattle the stars."