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Read a full Queen of Shadows summary right here! This page is full of spoilers so if you haven’t read this book yet stop here! If you need a refresher on what happened in Queen of Shadows…you are in the right place!

Wow…What a ride! This book was action-packed. And it’s apparent the author has been developing this intricate plot since book one. Aelin’s harrowing adventures continue as she attempts to gather her court to battle the king in the fourth installment of the Throne of Glass series.

Sarah J. Maas

4.8 stars on Amazon
4.66 stars on Goodreads
Add Queen of Shadows at Goodreads

The Throne of Glass Series recaps
#0.1-0.5 The Assassin’s Blade
#1 The Throne of Glass

#2 Crown of Midnight
#3 Heir of Fire
#4 Queen of Shadows
#5 Empire of Storms
#6 Tower of Dawn
#7 Kingdom of Ash

Point of View
The book is written in third person from a variety of points of view, including Aelin (predominantly), Manon, Rowan, Chaol, Dorian, and a few others.

This book is set in the fictional land of Adarlan and the mountains of Morath.

Main Characters

– Aelin – formerly the assassin Celaena Sardothien, but truly the long lost princess of Terrasen

– Rowan – a centuries-old mighty Fae soldier who is magically tied to Aelin through a blood oath

– Aedion – a successful general in the king’s army who is Aelin’s cousin

– Chaol – the king’s former captain of the guard, Dorian’s former best friend, and Aelin’s former love interest

– Dorian – the crown prince whose magical powers are currently harnessed by his father, the king

– Arobynn – the head of the league of assassins and Aelin’s former trainer and employer

– Manon – a witch from one of the three Iron Teeth clans who is heir to the High Witch

***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****

I try not to editorialize on this site, but I feel compelled to share the link to a review I read shortly after finishing this book. It mirrors the thoughts and feelings I had while reading this book. I wanted to share it to help explain why my rating is below the averages you’ll see among many readers on-line.

Hypable Review

What happens in Queen of Shadows?

Aelin and her court in Rifthold:

Aelin returns to Rifthold and finds Arobynn in a tavern. He tells her Aedion is imprisoned for treason and will be executed in three days. He will help her rescue Aedion if she will bring him a Valg creature. He also tells her where to find Chaol.

Aelin finds Nesryn, who takes her to Chaol. They recount what has happened while they were separated. They are sad about what the other has endured but are vocal about mistakes the other has made. Chaol knows how to restore magic, but he won’t share the secret with Aelin. This infuriates her. Chaol returns the Eye of Elena necklace, and Aelin returns the amethyst ring.

Arobynn sends Aelin’s old assassin uniform to her. He also sends Lysandra, a former nemesis. She has a letter her lover Wesley wrote before his death explaining what happened leading up to Sam’s death.

Chaol and Nesryn go to the Shadow Market for a covert meeting with some guards from the castle. They learn how the king’s soldiers will be set up during the execution banquet. Aelin shows up and almost blows their cover. She asks the guards a few favors to help her during Aedion’s rescue.

Chaol asks Aelin to make sure Dorian is unharmed during her castle raid. They argue about it, and Aelin lets Chaol know she has heard about his history with Nesryn from Arobynn. Chaol shares the secret of how to restore magic.

Meanwhile, Dorian has been living in darkness. Most of his memories are gone, and he doesn’t even know his own name. He knows something is living inside him trying to overtake his mind. He knows he can’t fight it much longer.

In the castle dungeons, Aedion is hiding the pain from the injury he incurred during his capture. He hopes to succumb to the fever and infection before his execution. He knows it’s to draw Aelin to the castle. Dorian notices how sick Aedion is and orders his wounds cleaned and the infection treated. Aedion begins feeling better and is made presentable for his execution day.

Aelin enters the castle with Madam Florine’s troupe of dancers. The dancers enter the banquet hall, tossing fistfuls of a black colored powder as they dance. In the finale, the dancers throw glass flowers on the ground. A substance in the glass ignites the black powder on the floor, and the banquet hall explodes in flame. Everyone flees. Aelin frees Aedion, and they fight their way out of the hall.

They run through the gardens toward the wall. Dorian approaches. The demon inside him tries to kill Aelin, but she has protective Wyrdmarks on her skin. She asks Dorian to give her one sign he’s in there, but he doesn’t. She goes to kill him with her sword, but Nesryn shoots an arrow at the sword to deflect the swing. She has been spying on Aelin on a tip from Arobynn. Aelin and Aedion flee.

At the pick-up point, they hop in a carriage with Lysandra. Then they switch into a carriage with Chaol and make their way back to Aelin’s apartment. Chaol reveals he knows she almost killed Dorian. They argue, and Chaol says she’s not his queen. So Lysandra discovers who Aelin is.

Aedion wakes up in Aelin’s apartment. The cousins rehash everything they have been through in the ten years they were separated. Aelin is surprised he’s not ashamed of some of the things she has done, but he’s committed horrors, too.

Aelin and Chaol meet Arobynn at a new tavern. Arobynn has signed Aelin up to fight. She chooses a Valg demon commander as her opponent. Chaol is amazed at her new skills. She kills the demon pretty easily. Arobynn is mad she went for the kill instead of delivering the demon to him.

Aedion is slowly recovering, and he thinks Aelin is babying him. They discuss Rowan, and Aelin discovers the hero worship Aedion has for him. Aedion suspects Rowan might want to be part of her court and hopes he doesn’t steal his blood oath.

Chaol discovers the Valg soldiers sealed and burned the Shadow Market because those who rescued Aedion got their supplies there. Chaol greets Aedion and asks what he learned about Dorian while in the castle. Aedion urges Chaol to trust the decisions they will make. He says he can’t.

Aelin follows a Valg soldier into the sewer and watches him talk to a creature which emerges from the water. It looks like one of the creatures carved in the clocktower by the palace, and it has the voice of the king.

Aelin agrees to take Aedion to a bar to get some fresh air. On their walk home, they find Rowan. Aelin is overwhelmed with joy. The men size each other up and act territorial. Aelin drags Rowan into her room under the guise he needs a bath. They catch up while he bathes.

When they rejoin Aedion, Rowan asks who his father was. Aedion doesn’t know. Rowan can tell from his scent that it is Gavriel, another legendary warrior. Rowan mentions he’s blood-sworn to Aelin, and this infuriates Aedion. He storms out.

Rowan reveals he came back to Aelin because Lorcan is nearby. Maeve probably sent him to find the Wyrdkey. Aelin wants Rowan to sleep in her bed, just like in Wendlyn. Aelin gets up the next morning to make breakfast, and Aedion returns. They make up. She tells him he can swear the blood oath, too, if he wants to. Chaol arrives to go over maps and strategies with Aelin, and he sees Rowan for the first time. He seems slightly jealous.

Aelin sneaks out of her apartment at night. Lorcan is following her. She lures him into a nest of Valg demons and leaves him for dead. But he escapes and catches up with her. They threaten each other. Rowan shows up. Lorcan says Maeve let them walk away and still has plans for their defeat.

Lysandra arrives, and Rowan identifies her as a shape shifter. Aelin and Aedion are shocked. Lysandra says no one knows. She reveals she’s been stuck in this body since magic fell. She says Arobynn will call in his favor tomorrow. Aelin and Rowan catch a Valg demon to take with them.

Aelin, Rowan, and Aedion head to The Keep. Arobynn answers the door. All four take the demon down to the dungeon. Arobynn only allows Aelin in the torture room. His plan is to find out how the king controls them. The demon reveals the king slips the black stone ring on their finger, slices their skin, licks their blood, and then they are bound to him. Arobynn slices off the demon’s finger to obtain the ring and kills the demon. They join the rest of the group for dinner. The conversation is tense, and Arobynn witnesses the silent communication and close bond between Aelin and Rowan.

Arobynn reveals he knows Aelin has been quietly wrecking his investments all over town. Aelin says she will stop only if he gives her the Amulet of Orynth, her family heirloom and the third Wyrdkey. Arobynn obliges. He then acts like he’s going to kiss her but slips the demon’s ring on her finger, slits her palm, and licks her blood. He thinks he now controls her. Aelin plays along until they’re away from Arobynn’s men. The ring was a fake she planted on the demon after she removed the real one.

Aelin and Rowan hide the real amulet under a loose board in her floor. Aelin goes to the roof to wait out what she knows Lysandra is up to tonight…killing Arobynn. In spite of everything, Aelin has mixed feelings about it all. Rowan joins her. Aelin touches his face and wants to get more intimate, but he tells her not to touch him that way and leaves abruptly.

Lysandra lies next to Arobynn in his bed, and he is fast asleep. Because he trusts her completely, he never stirs as she reaches for the knife under his pillow and slits his throat with it.

Aelin, Rowan, and Aedion head to The Keep after word about Arobynn arrives. It is awkward between Aelin and Rowan. Arobynn’s top three men are trying to sort out what happened. Aelin asks to see the room, and it is a bloody mess. The banker arrives to read the will. Arobynn left everything to Aelin. The three men ask her to let them buy the house from her. She gives them three hours to raise the funds. Aelin, Rowan, and Aedion view Arobynn’s body. Aelin admits she switched the will. She decapitates Arobynn with her sword, just to be sure. Aelin is still being fairly cold to Rowan. He continues to fight his growing feelings toward her.

Aelin, Chaol, Aedion, and Rowan follow a tip to the catacombs under the old Shadow Market looking for hellfire. They find a temple made of the bones and confessions of sinners. They discover there is an ultimate Valg demon named Erawan. They believe the king hid him in the mountains of Morath. They also find the hellfire and re-hide it until it’s needed to destroy the clocktower.

Nesryn joins them and shares news about Morath. The king is building an army there with dark soldiers, witches, and wyverns. Lorcan appears out of the shadows and puts a knife to Aelin’s throat. He wants to know where the third Wyrdkey is. He says Brannon’s ring isn’t just sentimental to Maeve. It can grant immunity from the power of the Valg. Lorcan wants to exchange their Wyrdkey for the ring.

Rowan admits how terrified he was when he thought Lorcan would hurt her. He and Aelin want to be intimate, but he says they’ll wait until they’re totally alone.

Evangeline, the girl Lysandra is caring for, arrives at the apartment. She says the king kidnapped Lysandra because Arobynn’s will spoke of her shape shifter bloodline. Chaol and Nesryn bring additional news. The king is traveling to the Oakwald Forest to meet with the leader of his wyvern cavalry.

Manon and the witches at Morath:

Manon, the witches, and their wyverns have been stationed at Morath for weeks now, awaiting orders from the king via Duke Perrington. Kaltain is there with him and seems to be a puppet. The witches are getting restless. The duke wants Manon to choose a clan to be implanted with Valg stones to see if they can breed with each other. Manon doesn’t like this but knows her grandmother is expecting her to obey. Asterin questions Manon’s choices and is demoted.

A crippled human servant named Elide is in Manon’s room. She can tell the girl is hiding something. Manon scratches Elide and tastes her blood as she’s leaving the room and can tell she has some witch’s blood.

A clan of Yellowlegs comes forward to volunteer for implantation, and Manon lets them do it. Manon asks Elide to choose whether she wants to ally with the witches. Elide chooses to be a witch.

Manon questions Duke about why the witches aren’t allowed to see the Yellowlegs. She witnesses Kaltain being ordered to use her shadowfire on a soldier to torture him. Manon questions what else is going on in the mountain caves. Duke reveals that her grandmother is making weapons for him.

Manon orders Elide to find out what’s happening to the Yellowleg witches in exchange for her protection. Elide takes laundry down to the dungeons to sneak a peek. They have given birth once and are pregnant again. They are chained to tables and begging to be set free.

Manon does not agree to free them like Asterin wants, and Asterin is demoted again. Elide shares that she knew Aelin as a child and is holding out hope that she is still alive. Elide is slowly stealing supplies from the kitchen to escape and disappear forever.

Duke and Vernon tell Manon they want more witches to be implanted, this time from the Blackbeak clan. They see Kaltain’s shadowfire magic in action again. But Kaltain is retaking her body from the Valg demon inside.

When Aelin’s group and Manon’s group converge…

Aelin’s group heads to Oakwald Forest. The witches are already there waiting for the king. They see the size of the wyverns. They see Manon’s grandma arrive, and she warns Manon not to speak unless spoken to when the king arrives.

The king’s group noisily approaches. Lysandra is in a prison wagon. Dorian’s eyes go straight to Manon and hold there. She thinks he would be beautiful if it wasn’t for the black collar around his neck and the coldness in his face. Manon thinks the king looks like pure cruelty; she doesn’t want to bow to a man like this. She is mouthy to him, but he likes her superior attitude. He asks her grandmother to see the weapon, and they make Manon stay behind.

The demon thrashes inside Dorian as Manon approaches. He regains a bit of control over his body in her presence. When Manon asks his name, he can answer her. The demon returns in full when his father returns, but his memories of Manon linger.

Aelin rescues Lysandra from the prison wagon. Chaol whisks her away into the woods. Aelin and Aedion witness Manon’s grandmother slap her. Manon pleads her case about what’s going on at Morath, but her grandma will not listen.

Chaol secretly goes to kill Dorian, but The Thirteen are there to greet him. Rowan tracks Chaol by scent. Manon is surprised to see Rowan. She hasn’t seen a Fae in a long time and knows he would be a lethal opponent. She turns Chaol over and doesn’t wish to take any prisoners. Aelin says that makes her smarter than Baba Yellowlegs. The witches run toward her, only to be trapped by an invisible wall Aelin constructed using Chaol’s blood in the grass and Wyrdmagic. Aelin and her court flee.

The witches track them down at a temple in the middle of a ravine with a series of decrepit bridges connecting it to the land. Rowan gets shot in the shoulder with an arrow. Aelin and Manon fight an epic battle on the island. Asterin and Aedion want to join them, but they won’t let them. The island begins to collapse beneath them as they fight. As Manon is about to fall into the ravine, Aelin turns back to save her. She carries her over the bridge to safety. Manon owes her enemy a life debt.

Rowan is not in good shape. They take him to the only healer they might possibly trust…a midwife at Nesryn’s father’s farm. Chaol apologizes to Aelin for causing this mess when he went after Dorian.

Manon tells the king there was an attack but says they killed them all. She asks the king if he will use shadowfire with the weapons. They are giant transportable battle towers lined inside with ancient mirrors. The mirrors can amplify any power the king chooses to use.

Elide’s Uncle Vernon captures her while the witches are still gone. He has figured out that she has Blackbeak blood and locks her in a dungeon cell.

Duke summons Manon when she returns to Morath. She reads reports from around the kingdoms and realizes Aelin is friends with Dorian and must’ve been there to try to rescue him. Since Duke provided her with information, he requests another group of witches for implantation.

Asterin asks for a private meeting with Manon and tells her a secret from years ago. She fell in love with a mortal man and got pregnant. She carried the baby full-term, which is rare for witches. But the baby girl was stillborn. Manon’s grandmother was furious. Asterin was heartbroken, but she healed and came back stronger than ever. She begs Manon to disobey her grandmother and not let the witches be impregnated. Manon feels a thread tugging at her. She and Asterin take off for Rifthold before heading back to Morath.

Lysandra thanks Aelin for rescuing her. She’s surprised they did so. She gets another surprise when Aelin presents her with paperwork from her boss saying she and Evangeline are free from all debts.

Rowan is slowly recovering. One night he smells Lorcan on the roof. He goes up alone to speak to him. Lorcan offers the ring he stole from Maeve in exchange for the Amulet of Orynth. Rowan makes the exchange. Aelin is anxiously awaiting Rowan’s return inside. Their plan worked, and Lorcan didn’t realize the amulet was a fake.

There is only one tiny wall left in Dorian’s mind before total takeover by the demon. All he can remember is one word…Manon.

Chaol and Aelin finally settle things between them. He has dreaded this conversation, but it goes well and he feels at peace. Aelin tells him Nesryn is interested in him. Later that night, Chaol and Nesryn discuss final battle plans. Nesryn leads him into a city temple. She tells him about the South Continent, where her father is from, and how the best healers in the world reside in a city there. They hope after this is all over they can figure out where to live together.

Aelin and Rowan share one kiss the night before they go into battle. The next morning, Aelin sees a message written on a banner from Manon meant for her. It says that the human is still inside Dorian.

Rowan and Aedion carry an urn of hellfire in the sewers below the city and the catacombs below the castle. They realize Lorcan has lied about killing all the Wyrdhounds. Some of them are waiting there to attack.

Aelin leads Chaol through the city as a prisoner. When they get to the castle, the king’s guards who have been Chaol’s spies are skewered on the castle fence. Guards escort the two of them through the castle, but no one searched them for weapons. They make it to the king, who is seated on his glass throne with Dorian beside him. Dorian recognizes their faces, but the demon snaps those thoughts away. Aelin brings the king supposed seal rings of the king and crown prince of Wendlyn. She says Chaol was waiting for her upon her return to Rifthold and she captured him when she realized he was no longer loyal to the king.

The king reveals he knows who she really is. He makes his guards leave and says to stop pretending Chaol is a captive. Aelin asks where the Wyrdkeys are. She tries to keep him talking to buy Rowan and Aedion more time to blow up the clocktower. The king says he knows she has the third Wyrdkey. He gives Dorian magic lashings. Chaol tries to help him, but the black magic prevents him. Chaol asks the king to hand over Dorian.

Rowan and Aedion fight the Wyrdhounds. They know they’re behind schedule as the clocktower strikes noon.

Aelin reveals her Eye of Elena necklace. The king wants it. She says to let Dorian go or she’ll destroy it and then Erawan will stay locked up forever. Aelin takes off running. The king sends Dorian after her. The king moves to follow them, but Chaol steps in his way.

Dorian chases Aelin through the castle. She climbs higher and hopes the tower is destroyed soon so she can fight his ice with her fire. She jumps to a glass-covered bridge high between two castle towers.

Chaol tries to kill the king to release Dorian from his bond. The king fights with black magic, and the Wyrdmarks drawn on Chaol are failing. It appears that the king destroys him with one final blast.

Aelin and Dorian continue to fight on an icy castle bridge suspended high in the sky. She tries to jog his memory, but only the demon is there. He stabs her in the side.

Rowan and Aedion have killed four Wyrdhounds but three remain. Neither can get to the fuse to blow up the clocktower. Lorcan shows up to help them. They beat the remaining three. Aedion blows the explosives and destroys the tower. It traps the three men in the tunnel between debris and Valg soldiers, who have just arrived.

Manon and Asterin feel the return of magic return as they’re flying back to Morath. It is in chaos because of the effects of magic.

Manon looks for Elide and rescues her from the dungeons. She knows there will be consequences for defying Vernon. Kaltain cuts something out of her arm, gives it to Elide, asks her to give it Celaena Sardothien, and helps them escape. Kaltain blows up the mountain of Morath and sacrifices herself in the process. The Duke survived the blast and has new battle plans for the witches. Manon tells Elide on her own to head north.

Aelin slipped Athril’s ring on Dorian’s finger as he stabbed her, and it is enabling him to fight the demon. The demon uses Dorian’s power to send ice daggers at Aelin, but her power has returned. She counters with fire. They continue to fight. Aelin’s wound has healed. Dorian finally sees through his own eyes and sees Aelin.

Rowan, Aedion, and Lorcan are trying to fight their way past the Valg. They think it’s hopeless, but then a ghost leopard appears. It is Lysandra in a new shape shifter form now that magic is freed. She helps them fight their way out.

Aelin’s magic is building, and the demon inside Dorian begins fighting her again. The king shows up and says Chaol put up a good fight but is gone. Chaol’s death and the flashing ring on his hand brings Dorian fighting out of the demon’s hold. He snaps the collar from his neck. Aelin and Dorian fight together against the king. Aelin nears burnout. The two clasp hands and their magic intertwines. They fracture the king’s power. When it is drained, they hear him speak in a foreign voice…his own. He says everything he did was to keep Dorian safe from Duke Perrington. The two of them opened a crypt in Morath when they were young, and Erawan took over the duke’s body. Erawan’s minion took the king’s body.

The king says he sensed Dorian’s power as soon as he was born, so he built the towers to try to protect him. He suspects it didn’t work on Dorian because his blood was used in the spell. He asks Aelin to kill him for all he’s done. He tells them Chaol is injured but survived. She is glad she slipped the Eye of Elena in his pocket to protect him when he stayed back to fight the king.

Dorian delivers the killing blow. The glass castle shatters at Dorian’s battle cry. The bridge they’re standing on explodes, and they fall. Aelin uses every last bit of power to prevent the glass from pummeling Rifthold. She feels wind (magic from Rowan) come up beneath her and give her a soft landing onto the grass. She passes out, and when she wakes up Dorian is beside her. And beside him is Chaol.

Aelin moves to the edge of the castle grounds to tell the people assembled there that their king is dead but the prince lives. She says he is in mourning but will emerge as their leader soon. She makes threats to keep the city safe from looters until Dorian is ready to rule.

How did Queen of Shadows end?

Aelin, Dorian, and their companions hole up in the castle to rest and recover. Lorcan visits Rowan and says he knows Aedion’s father is Gavriel and says that the battle is far from over.

When Aelin awakes, she visits Dorian. He is struggling with the things he did while he wore the collar and the weight of his new responsibilities as king. Aelin says she will be there for him when he needs her. Their kingdoms will be allies.

Dorian is beside Chaol’s bed when he wakes up. He is paralyzed. Dorian thinks he should go to the healers at the South Continent. Dorian names him the King’s Hand. Chaol and Nesryn talk about making the journey to the healers. Aelin appoints Chaol as Ambassador for Terrasen to the Southern Continent. She wants him to try to woo them to join with Terrasen and Adarlan while he’s there.

Aelin, Rowan, Aedion, and Lysandra say their goodbyes and leave the castle to begin their journey. After three weeks, they set foot on Terrasen soil.

There you go! That’s what happened in Queen of Shadows, the fourth book in the Throne of Glass series.

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crown of midnight
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What should you read after the Throne of Glass Series?

Here are a few suggestions for what to read after Throne of Glass. Click for more info (paid links): Legendborn, The Cruel Prince, A Curse so Dark and Lonely, Serpent and Dove

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31 thoughts on “What happened in Queen of Shadows? (Throne of Glass #4)”

  1. Thank you so much. This really helped a lot remind me of what happened before going into Empire of Storms.

  2. Oh my gosh, thank you! I really appreciate this summary, it helps a lot. I needed a Queen Of Shadows refresher so I can read Empire Of Storms while remembering everything that happened beforehand. And it seems I did forget quite a bit before reading your recap. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  3. OMG!!! This helped me so much since EMPIRE OF STORMS is now sitting on my bookshelf ready for me to read! Thank you so much!

    P.s– Do you need any help writing a summary for some books? I read a lot and was wondering if I could help in the book community.
    thank you again for this review!

    1. Thanks for pointing out an important detail I didn’t include! I added a little bit to the paragraph which begins “Manon looks for Elide and rescues her…” to mention this fact. I don’t go into details about what it is since it isn’t spelled out in this part of the book. Thanks again! 🙂

  4. This is soo helpful! Now I’m ready to read Empire of Storms that’s sitting in my lap right now.

  5. I want to thank you for the amazing recap! I also have Empire of Storms waiting for me and I needed a refresher! Sarah J. Maas is my favorite author and I want to relish reading Empire of Storms! I also had forgotten a lot!

    1. I’m so glad this was helpful to you!!! Maas’ books have so many characters and so much going on that it’s impossible to remember it all! Happy reading on Empire of Storms! 🙂

  6. Hi Sara/Stacy,

    You are doing a great job. This site has helped me a lot …
    I really love to visit this site again and again. Please keep writing such recaps.
    Once again thank you so much.


  7. Thanks for the summary! I started to read this book last year and I have spaced out my reading. I have Empire of Storms that I’m about to read rn. Thanks! 🙂

  8. I was thinking about reading Empire of storms but couldn’t remember what happened on this one. So thanks a bunch for this well written recap! 🙂

  9. thank you so MUCH!! This was so helpful I just got Empire if Storms from the library and I forgot what happened in QoS because of COVID-19 I appreciate it a lot tysmmmmm😆😭🤦🏾‍♀️

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