Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas: Let's Talk about POV

A few days ago I finished reading Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas which is the fourth book in the Throne of Glass series. This was a highly anticipated book by both myself and a ton of other book-bloggers. I even had the release date written on my calendar (#booknerd). In short, I enjoyed the book. It was witty and also had serious moments. I liked the plot and sped through it pretty fast (considering that it's 648 pages long!). It was nice to settle into a fantasy book and get comfortable.

However, there are some elements of the book that I wanted to discuss. These two literary features aren't necessarily specific to QoS, but I wanted to use my recent reading experience as a basis for this two part discussion. So if you haven't read QoS yet, don't worry, there will be no spoilers (although there will be minor spoilers from the previous books) and the discussion won't hinge entirely on knowing the plot.
Let's Talk About Point of View 
In both Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows, Sarah J Maas chooses to tell two different stories (that will eventually connect). One story follows Celeana/Aelin's story and the other follows the witches, mainly Manon's, story. In QoS, each of these story lines are developed by even more POV breakdowns, such as Chaol, Dorian, Rowan and in the witches story, Elide. 

 Switching POVs in a book is a risky move for any author, especially if the POVs are telling seemingly separate story-lines. Readers tend to have strong ideas on whether they like the switching or not. To be honest, most readers (i.e. me) dislike the perspective shifting. So why do authors do it?! The answer is in the pro-con list. The answer is ALWAYS in the pro-con list. 
-Expands the breadth of the story by giving a fuller plot 
-Expands the depth of the story by allowing a deeper understanding of other major characters 
-Tries to appeal to more readers with different stories/characters that they may enjoy more

-Disrupts the flow of the story
-Too much information. Feels like the author is indulging in their world-building 
-Readers are attached to a certain character and don't care about other POVs, making the story seem boring when not on their preferred POV

The trick to an author successfully changing POVs throughout the story is to make the reader care about ALL the characters/story-lines and to switch at natural points in each of the stories. This is no easy feat. Nobody likes it when a chapter ends on a cliff hanger and the next chapter starts with a completely different character. That being said, I believe that an author can take a literary feature that so many people dislike and change they're minds about it, if they write it well

So here's the question: Did Sarah J Maas change my mind about switching POVs?
I'm coming around. I hated reading about Manon's storyline in Heir of Fire, because I was already established with Celeana, Chaol and Dorian from the first two books. However, during Queen of Shadows I started to care more about Manon. Maas softens Manon a bit, which makes her much more likable. The witches story-line also starts to connect with the Celeana/Aelin story-line, which helps me appreciate the breadth of the story more. So yes, I'm beginning to appreciate it. 

Originally I was going to talk about both of my thoughts surrounding Queen of Shadows in one post, but I had more to say about POVs than I anticipated, and I really want to do justice to my other thought. So be on the look out for a post related to the symbolism in Queen of Shadows that will be going up in a few days. Let me know what you thought of QoS (if you've read it yet) or what you think of the series in general. Do you like books with switching POVs? Any good/bad ones you've read lately? Let me know all your responses in the comments. Let's discuss!

Reading: Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Listening: Ascend the Hill
Watching: Just finished season two of The 100 (feel free to fangirl in the comments)


  1. Ahh, I agree, readers usually have strong opinions about POV switching. xD I confess, I used to hate it with FIRE, but now, after getting through 4 Game of Thrones books, I'm kind of converted?!? I still don't like it though, because I feel like most books do it as a "ohhh and you don't get to find out what happens yet because FILLER TIME!!" I hate fillers. -_- Ergh, lemme gnash my teeth and break a melon. I think you're spot on though: you need to care about ALL the different POVs and then no worries.

    *whispers* I hate Manon, just because I find her boring and I don't care about her because I'm here for Celanea and Dorian and Chaol!! BUT. I'M GLAD YOU LIKE HER. :D

    1. Anytime I even think of filler, I get annoyed. Especially filler POVs. I'm too scared to tackled GOT (there's so MUCH of it), but I can see how a series like that might convert you.

      As for Manon, I HATED her to in HOR, but slowly, slowly she's growing on me.

  2. This is a really good post! I must be one of the very few people who likes dual POV, particularly because I like seeing the world from multiple perspectives - I just dislike multi-POV in first-person, as the characters sometimes blend into one for me!

    Great post!


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