Goodreads Choice Award Winner, Best Young Adult Fantasy, 2015 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 just to see her again. 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.
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First off, I should point out that yes, this is book four of the series, and I've read none of the previous three. Also, there's a good bit of Grimdark about this, with everyone doing or having done awful things, and mostly willing to do more awful things. And at the end, we have a resolution to the story within this book, but no resolution of the larger issues, and much more bad stuff to come in future volumes.
So, really, at some point, I should have been overcome with the desire to throw it against the wall, except for two things. One, it's the audiobook. Two, I loved it.
Aelin Galathynius (guessing on the spelling of the last name), rightful heir to the throne of Terrasen (another spelling guess) has quietly returned to Rifthold, the capital of the bitter enemy who killed her family and conquered her kingdom. She wants revenge on the King of Adarlan, but he's not the only target of her vengeance. She was hardly more than a child when she fled her family's killers, and she's just nineteen now, but she's packed a lot into those years. She trained as an assassin under Rifthold's king of the assassin's guild, under the name Celaena Sardothien. Part Fae herself and possessing Fae fire magic, she traveled to the Fae lands and learned the use of her magic there--and made a valuable friend in Prince Rowan. She's back now to rescue her friend and cousin General Aedion and her friend Prince Dorian. She needs to know if Chaol Westphal, captain of the guard, is still a friend. She's been through horrors, she has done horros, and she has more to face and do before she can hope for anything vaguely resembling peace.
This is a dark and bloody story, but I like Aelin, Rowan, Aedion, Chaol and his second, Nesryn, and Aelin's old rival Lysandra. Along with the darkness and blood, Queen of Shadows has romance, male friendship, female friendship, and male-female friendship, all treated in adult, satisfying, compelling way. Because, as I mentioned, I've read none of the previous three books, there's a lot I was trying to pick up as the story went along, but Maas salted in enough background in unobtrusive ways that if I didn't always know exactly what was going on at first, I was picking up enough to enjoy continuing to listen.
I received a free copy of this audiobook from Audible in exchange for an honest review.