Book: Empire of Storms
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy
Synopsis: The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t.
As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.
Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?
My rating: 4-ish stars? 3. 5?
This book. THIS book. My brain and my body are a mess of feelings.
(Please be forewarned, there may be slight spoilers.)
Empire of Storms is the fifth book in the Throne of Glass series. The first book, Throne of Glass, was published in 2012. The next books came in 2013 (Crown of Midnight), 2014 (Heir of Fire, The Assassin’s Blade), and 2015 (Queen of Shadows). That’s a book (or two) a year all in the same world with the same characters – until 2015, when Maas published the first book in her new series, A Court of Thorns and Roses. The second book in that series, A Court of Mist and Fury, came out in 2016. So, in 2015 and 2016, Maas was writing two distinct series at the same time. This is where my main issue with this book is, and why I can’t confidently give it a solid four.
I’ll give you the good stuff first. Then once I’ve squee’d about the things that ripped my insides up, I’ll dig into the bits that I struggled with.
I couldn’t stop reading.
I started Throne of Glass just after Christmas last year and have read all of them, including the prequel book of novellas, The Assassin’s Blade), this year. I really like the world and the characters and have felt connected to Aelin’s struggles. This book continues those struggles in an epic way.
This book is LOOOOONG. It’s the longest in the Throne of Glass books and it covers a ton of ground fast. Even though I read all of the other books in the past year, I still missed some of the connections. There are a lot of throwbacks and mentions to all of the other books, including The Assassin’s Blade, which is actually pretty integral to this story. Make sure you’ve read it before you read Empire of Storms.
The characters’ arcs are getting more and more intertwined (hello Manon and Elide!). I loved how Manon and Elide came into their own and grew as characters. To be honest, I think Elide’s storyline is my favourite. I love that girl! Her arc is really fun and I enjoyed seeing her come into her own, realize her strength, and use what she has to help herself (and others). It was also neat to see Rowan’s cadre again and learn more about them.
This book moves fast and covers a lot of ground. The stakes keep rising. The battles are getting weirder and fiercer. There were so many ups and downs. I experienced emotional rollercoasters while reading. I cried…many times. I worried, and then had my worries assuaged, only to suddenly be worried about something else. I was afraid of what Maas would do…
Maas builds up the intensity with lots of battles and puzzles and character movement. But then…
And this is where I struggled the most. In the middle of super intense drama, Rowan and Aelin would get it on. Like, A Court of Mist and Fury get it on. I suddenly felt like I was reading the other series. Until now, the Throne of Glass and ACOTAR books felt distinctly separate. Yes, they were similar worlds with similar technology and both had Fae. But, the tone of the books were very different. Throne of Glass, although still quite dark in places, felt lighter, safer, for a slightly younger or less-appreciative-of-smut audience. The focus was on the mystery to be solved, the battle to be won. Relationships, although an important part of the story, were not the feature or major plot points. In the ACOTAR books, relationships are central to the plot and the books are more adult, with racier scenes and more intense relationships. In Empire of Storms, it felt like these two series are bleeding together. The whole fae lovers things with the mates and whatnot, felt like it was taken from ACOMAF and brought over into Throne of Glass. At many points in the book, it no longer felt like a Throne of Glass novel.
Plot-wise, I felt like we’ve been on a roundabout route to something that could have, probably, been dealt with a much simpler way. I won’t say much more, because if you’re reading this and haven’t yet read the book I don’t want to ruin the plot for you. But it felt a little silly and like a lot of lives were wasted when things could have been explained to Aelin a lot sooner.
And Maeve, yeah…I still don’t get her. She seems such a stereotype. She’s cold and cruel and feels kind of plopped into the story. Who is the bad guy? Erawan or Maeve? I thought we were battling Erawan. He’s the one threatening Erilea. I liked the Maeve villain in Heir of Fire, it made snese to have a villain in Wendlyn. But suddenly she is involved in Erilea and wants the wyrdkeys. She’s had how many years to get them for herself? The plot just seems to be getting muddy.
And then there’s Dorian and Chaol.
Dorian is growing and changing as a character should, yes. But…it felt like he changed too much and his character fundamentally altered, especially when it comes to his interactions with Manon. I like that they bonded over the last few books. But…has Maas taken it too far? It hasn’t been that long since Sorcha died. Again, if you’d read it, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
And Chaol…he is not here. Anywhere! I get that he’s away with Nesrin trying to find someone to help him after the events of Queen of Shadows, but we get nothing. We get snippets of all the other characters in and around Aelin’s storyline. But we get nothing, nada, of Chaol. Come on! I liked him.
Finally, the ending of Empire of Storms is dark. Very, very dark. I have to wonder if Maas went too far. It was interesting and definitely sets up for another book, but it was daaaaaaark. Super dark.
Overall, I did enjoy this book. It was an experience to read it, emotional at times, joyful at times, frightening at times. I’m invested in the story. I want to know the outcome. I want to see Aelin succeed and remove the threats to Erilea and instill peace. But… I’m getting tired. This series has so many characters now, so many intertwining storylines, so much drama. And with the extra layer of the morphing tone, it just doesn’t feel the same as it used to. I’m hoping that the sixth novel, coming out in 2017, will be a solid closing to the series.