by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury ANZ on 6th September 2016
Boffins, Dymocks, Booktopia, Publisher
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?
Reading Empire of Storms was hard. Really hard. In so many ways I love this behemoth of a series and what it has become. If someone had have told me five years ago that Throne of Glass would have extended well beyond princes and kings and assassins, I wouldn’t have believed them. But this whole entire series has just transcended into something so much more than the first book; something that’s equal parts a story of epic proportions and equal parts frustrating.
Please note: this review alludes to spoilers, but don’t actually mention them. If you’re not comfortable with that, because you’ve not read this series (WHAT?!) then maybe don’t continue. If you want to read my spoilery, incoherent thoughts, then click on the spoiler link down the end of my Goodreads review.
What I Liked
The Secondary Characters – Even though there are a multitude of characters in EoS, I much preferred them to Aelin and Rowan. But I feel like since Heir of Fire, the secondary (if you count anyone who isn’t Aelin secondary) characters are the brightest stars of this novel, even though the major secondary characters have a way of getting shoved off to the side (cough). While at times it does seem like the cast list is a bit too high, like I did in Queen of Shadows, I enjoyed seeing Erilea from the perspective of other people. Like Manon – oh my gosh, that woman is so freaking badass. Her entire history is laid bare, and I loved seeing her arc grow from the monster she was in Heir of Fire to who she is now. Seeing the vulnerable side of Lysandra change to a strong woman who was growing into her shifting ability, Elide grow a personality around Lorcan (who I totally ship even though I wish I didn’t). Every single character comes into their own in this book and it’s worth reading just for them alone.
Aelin Is Still Badass Crazy in a Good Way and We Get to See That Old Celaena Charm (Yay!) – I’m still getting used to ‘Aelin’, and I still don’t like her as much as Celaena, I think a lot of her vulnerabilities came through more and her days of taking shit are long gone. However in saying that, I think her transition from Celaena to Aelin was still too quickly done, and to forcefully deny a part of who you were is one of her downfalls. Celaena is a part of Aelin no matter what, and we get that through her cunning plans, and the more Aelin pushes that part of her life away, the more I don’t like the character she is becoming. She needs to be all-accepting of every part of her, and her life as Celaena shaped a huge part of who her person was and still is. Life could have easily have just swung a different way for her, Elena or no.
Girls, Who Run The World – Take a backseat boys, because we don’t need you. I loved how Lysandra and Aelin teamed up, how Elide grew her spine, and of course Manon not taking shit from even her Matron for the love of her Thirteen. I know a lot of people argue about the “feminist” part of these novels, but for me, at the end of the day, these girls are women of their own making, and (most of the time) no man shall stop them.
The World Building – Erilea is amazing. Maas has been able to weave such a rich tapestry of world history and geography that I don’t think rivals anyone (except maybe Tamora Pierce). When I read about where everyone is, the page comes alive. The imagery for the hot Stone Marshes, the Caribbean-esque jungles of Skull’s Bay…I feel like I’m immersed in this world that it’s easy to forget I’m not on Planet Earth. I just wish we got to see more than places we’ve already heard about.
The Insane Plot Twists (Well, Most of Them) – Yes, THAT ending. Except for the fact that there are so many inconsistencies behind the whole ending, I just love the way Maas creates a twist that will always leave me with my mouth hanging open.
(Most of the Time) I Love Sarah’s Writing – Maybe it’s because I’m in fierce study mode, but Empire of Storms was so poetic at times. That alliteration (roaring river rushed), the way she was able to entangle sentences…it’s one of the things I’ve always loved about this series, and that ties into the world building as well.
What I Didn’t Like
Too Much Romance – Okay, I get it. The world’s in chaos and you don’t know what the next minute will bring. But honestly, the fact that everyone needs to be paired up as if being in a romantic relationship is the be all and end all is getting a little old, really fast. What I, as a single woman, want to see is one, just one, character who at least doesn’t need to have a guy/girl in their life to make them worthy of something. Even romance was hinted at the end with some of the minor characters. Why can’t we be strong enough without someone by our side romantically? Why can’t things ever be platonic? And that’s one of the biggest issues I have with Maas and her books. Right from Throne of Glass.
The Relationship Between Aelin and Rowan – Ever since Heir of Fire, their relationship has always felt forced and strained romantically. They just don’t suit each other, and through the course of 2 and a half books, the reader is constantly having to be told about their “feelings” rather than the emotions coming naturally like it did with Sam, Chaol and even Dorian. Then there’s the whole blood oath thing, which shits me off to no end. If you want to understand more of why I will never, ever ship this couple, check out my spoilers.
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Angrier – Yes, I’m referring to that spoiler. I’ll talk more about that later. But I’m not happy about it. After reading the short that is in the special WH Smith’s edition, I’m even more mad about the whole thing.
So Many Plot Holes, I’m Surprised They Didn’t End up in China – Having completely binged the series, it seems really clear (at least to me) that there’s a division in how the plot was supposed to go from The Assassin’s Blade to Crown of Midnight. My biggest problem was that it feels like a different series, with different characters, and changes halfway through. That’s even after taking into consideration that these characters are older, that they are maturing, Life changes. But that’s not what I’m talking about. There are inconsistencies all the way through Elena’s story, and the Maeve arc just seems so…pointless considering there’s now only one book to go.
Was I Reading a Throne of Glass novel or A Court of Thorns & Roses Novel? -I don’t think even SJM knew at times. There was so much rehashing of ACOMAF language, dialogue and ideas (“A court of dreamers?” Come on! Give us a break, we readers aren’t stupid.) that it sometimes was hard to distinguish the two. Maas is too caught up in this Fae fantasy (excuse the pun), and it really showed in Empire of Storms. The lines were too blurred, and I think that’s why a lot of the inconsistencies were noticeable, because the story became too much about Fae and wasn’t as well rounded as it had been before.
A part of me can understand my feelings about this book, and looking about on the series. Empire of Storms certainly showed how incredibly massive the world of Erilea and beyond is, and I’m sure it has surpassed the scope of all our imaginations. However the inconsistent nature of terribly done subplots (read: Rowaelin) in order to fulfil a certain narrative are what truly stop Empire of Storms from being what could have been such a fantastic read.
Regardless of all that, Empire of Storms is one hell of an emotional roller coaster that never seems to end, full of twists and turns that will leave you speechless and desperately wishing it was next year already – but don’t wish too hard, because I’m not sure we’ll be able to cope with the end of this series.