Review: Empire of Storms | Sarah J. Maas



Series: Throne of Glass; #5

Paperback: 689 pgs.

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: September 6, 2016


Kingdoms will collide.

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius as war looms on the horizon. 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.

With her heart sworn to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become poised to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

“The world,” Aelin said, “will be saved and remade by the dreamers, Rolfe.”

Empire of Storms might just be my least favorite installment of the series. And it’s not because it was terrible; I actually enjoyed several character moments and action sequences throughout the book. It was because of this: despite being tremendously long, the progression of plot is tremendously short. I could literally sum up the entirety of this 689 page book in a paragraph or two. Empire of Storms, to me, was one huge delay.

Aelin and her court’s main focus in this book is to gather forces in order to protect Orynth against the Valg and to prove Aelin’s validity as a capable queen and leader of Terrasen. There is one divergence from Aelin’s mission that pertains to the larger issue of sealing the Wyrdgates so that no more Valg (or any other creatures) may cross the realms. Throughout all this mayhem, different groups of characters are eventually brought together in the end, forming the final cast of players in the war. These separate groups of characters follow their own paths that ultimately lead to Aelin. That’s it. That’s the book.

Manon’s storyline continues to be the most interesting, in my opinion, but I did enjoy Elide’s quest to reach her home and queen as well. Aelin’s journey, on the other hand, was just as interesting as the other two but Aelin, herself, put me off her narrative. In EOS, I found Aelin to be insufferable and her actions unacceptable.

Some of the lords of Terrasen challenge Aelin’s ability to be queen and I thought their arguments were valid. Aelin and her court (a shifter, a centuries-old warrior Fae, and a demi-fae) are strange, unpredictable, and volatile, and many of Aelin’s actions in the past may be construed as reckless and unnecessarily cruel (i.e. threatening to incinerate the innocent people of a city to save one person). For many intents and purposes, the lords have a point.

And in this book, I feel that Aelin once again proves her insufficiency by placing more innocent lives in danger in order to strong-arm a potential ally into joining her army. I’m not certain if Maas thought I would applaud this power move or not, but one thing’s for certain: I didn’t and I won’t. It just paints Aelin in an unpleasant light and I thought that decision was a disservice to her, supposed, character growth.

‘You will find, Rolfe, that one does not deal with Celaena Sardothien. One survives her.’

And not only that, I was completely unimpressed with Aelin’s craftiness in obtaining allies. I wish that we could see more of what goes into her plotting, so that she wouldn’t seem to be lacking a dimension in her character. Her whole mission is to find her allies, but as the audience, we only see one of these efforts. But by the end, she has accomplished her mission. I want to see how.

I was so distracted by Aelin’s behavior in this book that I had a hard time appreciating her and Rowan’s relationship. I still don’t care enough about their romance to really get into it, but at least it seems to be giving both characters a much needed dose of peace and happiness.

Even when this world is a forgotten whisper of dust between the stars, I will always love you.

Now that I’ve gotten my little Aelin rant out of the way, I can finally mention all the things I enjoyed about this book. As I mentioned before, Manon is my favorite character and her story really takes flight (pun intended) in this book. She learns some really vital information about her identity and in consequence makes some really huge decisions that lead her down a new path.

As for Elide, her mettle really shows in this book as she travels north. Lorcan joins her along the way. I am no fan of Lorcan, (his constant use of “bitch” to describe Aelin is sad) but I do enjoy his and Elide’s interactions. I’m not convinced that a romance between the two is well-deserved, but their scenes together are fun and less psychologically heavy than Rowan and Aelin’s.

There are also some really great battle sequences in this book, specifically one that stars Lysandra. And the ending holds a couple of surprises that promise some very upsetting events to come in the final book.

I didn’t hate this book, as it had some sections that were entertaining, but everything else in-between could have been shaved down or not been included. The plot barely went anywhere. Aelin’s character arc takes a dive for me in this one and some characters felt wasted in their roles (*coughsDoriancoughs*). Manon and Elide kept me alive in this book, and the ending really was a doozy, but I’m more excited to move on and see what has become of Chaol in Tower of Dawn.

MY RATING: 3.5 out of 5

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