Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas
Series: Book 5 of the Throne of Glass series
Genre: High Fantasy, NA Fantasy, Romance
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 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?
I always find it difficult to start my reviews and honestly feel like I have to go on an epic journey, complete three quests and slay a dragon before I can finish. However, this one is going to be particularly difficult for the sole reasons that I do not know I feel about this series anymore.
In order to explain it a little better – I held (hold? omg I don’t know) this series in high esteem for many reasons. First because it is important in a sentimental light as I read the first three books just before I started my Bookstagram (a little over year ago, kick-starting my book blogging escapades) and I entered the community talking about this series. Secondly, and probably more importantly, I LOVED the first three books. So much. I loved the world-building, the characters, and basically everything about the story. And I even loved Queen of Shadows. But unfortunately, I did not love Empire of Storms. And that hurts.
This book, and the series itself, has kicked up quite a bit of discussion in the lead up to its release and I will be the first to point out that it has many issues. However, I am the type of person that can still love and enjoy books whilst simultaneously recognising the problems with them – in this case, mainly the lack of diversity – and so I still standby my choice to love these books. But that’s a WHOLE other blog post in itself so I will try not to get distracted.What I’m trying to say is that the discussion surrounding this book has probably influenced my reading experience.
Since I can’t really gather my thoughts well enough to write a structured review, I thought I would do a little book talk/ discussion instead to lay out some of the main things going through my mind when I read this book! If you have any ideas of your own that you want to add, definitely let me know in the comments so I can talk about it with you guys!
If you didn’t read the title then BEWARE – SPOILERS AHEAD.
Also just a warning – this book has a lot of mature scenes in it and is definitely a New Adult book rather than a Young Adult book so just take that into consideration younger readers!
T H I N G S I L O V E D
- The World Building – This was one of the strongest aspects of the book – It was so exciting to travel to places that were previously unexplored in the series. Since we had three armies in three different places, it really added to the tension of the book and also the scope of the world as a whole.
- Aedion and Lysandra – okay I ship these two SO MUCH. I appreciate that SJM has made Aedion canonically bisexual and I feel like she is working towards having a more diverse cast of characters. I really enjoyed the pacing of Aedion and Lysandra’s relationship because I definitely do feel that the both need to time to find themselves before they start a relationship and I am excited to see where it goes! Also, the fact that Aedion is probably going to end up with a female does not negate his bisexuality, or make him “less bisexual” and if I hear it one more time I WILL FREAK OUT.
- The reunion – I love how all the characters came together in this book and developed relationships with each other. I really like books with a huge array of characters because the dynamics between them are always interesting to read about. I particularly love the little court that Aelin, Lysandra, Manon, Elide and Ansel make because THEY ARE ALL AWESOME. Obviously something traumatic is going to happen to one (or all) of them (and I mean beyond the trauma that was the ending of that book) because why would Sarah J Maas let her characters be happy?
- Fast paced plot – SJM’s writing of late has been so ADDICTIVE and fast paced because it’s honestly like reading a soap opera in book format and so it makes it really easy to get through 700 pages of text. However, as I mention below, this isn’treally that great when you expected a high fantasy and are instead delivered with this.
- Aelin dying to protect the universe – this is more a theory more than anything else because I am not actually sure how I feel about this particular plot line. On one hand, I didn’t see it coming and I feel like it added a lot the story BUT it added a lot to Aelin’s “special snowflake” syndrome as well so there is that. I think Dorian dying instead of Aelin (i.e. using his life force instead) is a little too obvious (also my heart can’t handle it) so I predict that Hollin might finally be useful and die instead since he is from the same bloodline.
T H I N G S I D I D N O T L O V E
- *sigh* where to begin…
- The Writing – The writing in this book was so off in comparison to the other novels. I don’t know what it was – actually that’s a lie, it was probably the abundant references to breasts and penises – but the writing felt really disjointed and just not as polished of her previous books.
- Sex scenes – Since this kind of flows on, whoa were the characters horny in this novel or what? Now don’t get me wrong. I LOVE relationships that have angst and sensuality to them but this book was over the top, even for me. Because there were so many relationships, it felt like every second page mentioned sex – even when a battle was raging around them. Priorities guys, PRIORITIES. I kind of felt… betrayed. I was expecting the epic fantasy that I had gotten from the previous books – the intricate plots, the political intrigue – but instead everything was overshadowed by lust and it felt more like erotica then high fantasy which was disappointing.
- Dorian – I just did not like Dorian’s characterisation in this book. It’s not that I don’t like Dorian because I LOVE DORIAN but I just felt, and I don’t know if it just me, that Dorian had very limited speaking roles in this book. Yes we had a lot of chapters in his perspective but most of it was just internal thought and I feel like Aelin took control of everything and everyone without considering the fact that Dorian is a king in his own right. I think Manon brought it up at one point and Dorian responded that he was under the protection of a friend but Dorian, come on man, you have just as much power as she does (both in a political and magic sense). SJM mentioned that Dorian would be a lot darker in this book but I failed to see it. Aside from one comment about chains (which really, wasn’t even that big of a deal), Dorian’s characterisation feels pretty bland. It didn’t help that he was sidelined by all the Fae male territorial bullshit that was going on and somehow made out to be lesser of a character because of the company he was in (DESPITE THE FACT THAT HE HAS MAGIC TOO).
- Character dynamics – I swear, half of Lorcan’s dialogue consisted of him calling Aelin a “bitch”. I GET IT LORCAN. YOU DON’T LIKE HER. Jeez. It was okay the first few times and then it just got to be a little too much to handle. Also, on the complete opposite side, I loved the female empowerment in this book. It was pretty obvious from the battles that Aelin and Lysandra were not only holding their own, but were pretty much the swaying factor in winning the fight. What I did not find necessary, however, was Aedion spouting “maybe you should let the males do something for a change” every time Aelin and Lysandra did something on their own. I get that it was annoying that Aelin was hiding things from you but how about instead of puffing up like a peacock and spouting your male dominance everywhere, you just do things together? URGH.
- Nesryn & Chaol – Can’t saying much here because they WEREN’T IN THE BOOK. On one hand, I understand that SJM may have not included them in the book because they were in a different part of the world. However, that did not stop her from putting in Manon’s chapters in HoF even though she basically had nothing to do with the Aelin’s plot at that time so I don’t find any suitable excuses. Also, she totally could have had Nesryn and Chaol assembling armies in the South, that all came together at the end of the book so *shrugs*, say what you want – I think Chaol and Nesryn could have been in this book if SJM wanted it to happen.
Saying all of this, I definitely will continue on with the series (ONE BOOK LEFT) in a hope that it will regain some of the brilliance that was the first few books.
Until next time,