Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas

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Empire of Storms

Kingdoms collide in Sarah J. Maas’s epic fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series.

Empire of Storms – 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.

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.

In this breathtaking fifth installment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series, Aelin will have to choose what–and who–to sacrifice if she’s to keep the world of Erilea from breaking apart.

Book Review by A Page With A View

NO MAJOR SPOILERS!
This series means SO much to me, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to treat it any differently than other books I review honestly. I really didn’t think I would give this more than 4 stars until the end totally changed everyyyyyything.

First off, I would absolutely recommend reading The Assassin’s Blade before this book if you haven’t already! Most characters and locations from those novellas appear here.

The story starts out with Aelin and her court heading north to Terrasen where they meet with a few potential supporters at an inn before trying to waltz into Orynth. Aelin is told that the Lords of Terrasen don’t recognize her as queen and it’s all very infuriating. She swears that “no matter how far I go, no matter the cost, when you call for my aid, I will come. I’m going to call in old debts and promises. To raise an army of assassins and thieves and exiles and commoners.” Because war/annihilation is coming and Erawan is not messing around.

So it’s kind of like the breaking of the Fellowship in Lord of the Rings with how characters gets scattered around on various missions and eventually come back together. And speaking of LOTR… you know how while everyone freaking walked across Middle Earth the story kind of meandered yet wasn’t necessarily boring because the locations sounded pretty, little bits of action popped up here and there, and the characters were so wonderful that you’d be fine reading about them watching paint dry? The middle of this book reminded me of that.

A surprising portion of this story is carried by the POVs of other characters instead of Aelin. That decision makes total sense in the end, but I was initially wondering why I wasn’t connecting with her as much as I had in previous books. She spends most of the story making her own secret plans behind the scenes while everyone calls her out on not clueing them in until the continual big reveals.

Seeing her through other characters often made her seem a bit distant, callous, not focused on the bigger picture, and pretty much back to her Celaena persona. But by the end it all makes sense and she was still the incredibly brave, determined, selfless, AMAZING character I love. She gets even more complex and mature in this story and her whole journey is perfect.

So that decision to make the development of so many crucial plot points happen off-screen (off-page??) made the reveal at the end more emotional, but also made me kind of frustrated in the middle with how I couldn’t get a strong sense of where on earth Aelin’s head was or where the plot was even going. And because we didn’t get such a strong look into Aelin’s mind, her relationship with Rowan didn’t have much emotional impact for me.

I love them both as individual characters and do care about them together, but I’m just not as invested as I wanted to be. So I did enjoy this book overall, but wasn’t super emotionally attached like I was in Heir or Fire or flipping through the pages in a panic like I was in Queen of Shadows.

BUT THE CHARACTERS ARE SO AMAZING. All of them. They’ve all grown so much since the first book!!! I said in my reviews of previous books that I wanted to see more of Manon, Aedion, and Elide and I was not let down. The amount of character deveopment that secondary characters get here is AMAZING. So, so, so wonderful. If you thought my love for Manon was intense before, get ready for a whole new level. Her scenes had some of the best action and emotions in the entire book and I was fangirling so much.

Even though my biggest ship sadly did not sail in this book, I still loved where the those characters went. It was just fun to see how everything wove together. And I liked Elide in Queen of Shadows, but can we talk about how she becomes the most amazing & tough character ever here?!! She is SO cool and totally surprised me. Her POV and everything that happened in it was the most unexpected part of the book (and also maybe the best).

This book felt a lot like a chess board… it strengthens every player and moves them into the right position before the final battle of the next book. So it might not be the most gripping story as a whole, but it did an amazing job of building an impressive lineup of characters. Like I NEVER expected to care this much about Lorcan?! I loved how the most unexpected characters paired up for different missions or whatever and how everyone’s different stories wove together at the end! And Maeve just got bumped up past Umbridge level of loathing.

I just love Manon, Elide, Aedion, Lysandra, Dorian… oh my goodness HOW HAVE I NOT TALKED ABOUT DORIAN YET. It made me so happy every time he was referred to as “king” and I love how he’s getting more complex after everything he’s been through. He’s still so adorable. It did irritate me a bit how he’s also an equal king, but Aelin was running the show and kind of ignoring her friend. BUT there was a lot to cover here so I just hope he’s utilized more in the next book.

But seriously, the sheer scope of the worldbuilding in this series is phenomenal. I really can’t think of many other worlds I love this much… I mean, there are demon kings, Fae, witches & wyverns, pirate lords, princes, kingdoms & castles, magic, spirits with cryptic advice, swords & battles, ancient prophecies, politics, well-developed history & religion, multiple complex villains, and it spans all of these continents and cultures. THIS IS EVERYTHING I LOVE.

Now I know that a ton of people were losing their minds over the sex scenes in this book before it was even released, so let me just take a minute to weigh in on that. The main thing I heard about this book was that it was graphic and unnecessary. I’m pretty sure the people calling it graphic didn’t read ACOMAF. (See my review of ACOMAF in response to adults who say it’s not for teens).

The scenes in this book were tamer and felt like Maas tried to be descriptive, yet still vague with a younger audience in mind? So it mostly ended up being rather awkward… which brings me to the unnecessary point. I’m not against these scenes, but also didn’t really need them in the end. I was either laughing at parts or rolling my eyes at how pretty much everyone turned into a hormonal teenager.

It just didn’t fit the tone and honestly felt forced into the story in several places? I defended ACOMAF because the plot built up to those scenes and it meant something in the story, buuuuut I’m really not feeling that here. I honestly would have liked to see the page time used elsewhere…

There are a lot of things I wanted to see happen that didn’t, but I was equally thrilled with where the story ended up going in the end. I think a lot of fans need to acknowledge that even though we’re super wrapped up in this world, it’s not our story to direct. If you need it to go in an alternate direction, maybe go read some fanfiction.

And I adore Chaol, but honestly think cutting him out of this particular book was a really smart move. Based on where his mindset was in Queen of Shadows, he needs time to grapple with who he is and what he wants to do. The tone of his POV would’ve been seriously disconnected from the rest of this story both mentally and distance-wise (like he’s in an entirely different part of the world and wouldn’t have worked into the larger plot). I think it’s enough for the sake of pacing to know what he’s doing without actually having to see it. He’s still awesome and he’ll be back…

Also, I don’t know why Maas said fans would hate her after this book because that ending was AMAZING. (Not amazing in that I particularly enjoy what’s happening, but amazing in that this takes the story to a whole new level of intense. I don’t know if I’d go back and reread this whole story like I usually want to do right after I finish a ToG book, but I’m totally going back to that last 15%.

So even though I connected more with other books in the series, I’d still give it 4.5 stars overall for all of the strong characters and how brilliantly it set up everything. It’s possible I was a bit tired or just had too many expectations while reading because the longer that I spend typing this, the more I love the book. There were SO many amazing scenes. And the ending was emotional, but I’m not the wreck I expected to be because I’m mostly too excited at how awesome the next book could be now!

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Tightly plotted, delightful escapism.” – Kirkus Reviews on EMPIRE OF STORMS

“Fans devoted to the series (and there are many) will be eager for this installment’s cinematic action, twisty schemes, and intense revelations of secrets and legacies.” – Booklist

“Beautifully written prose and brilliantly crafted plots come together in this entry of the awe-inspiring fantasy series that will leave readers anticipating the next volume.” – SLJ on QUEEN OF SHADOWS

“Impossible to put down.” – Kirkus Reviews on QUEEN OF SHADOWS

“Fans of Tamora Pierce and George R.R. Martin, pick up this book!” – Top Pick, RT Book Reviews on THRONE OF GLASS

“Fans will delight in this gorgeous edition. . . . Action-packed and full of insight into Celaena’s character. . . . What a ride!” – Booklist on THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE

About the Author

SARAH J. MAAS is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series―Throne of Glass;Crown of Midnight; Heir of Fire; Queen of ShadowsEmpire of Storms and its parallel novel, Tower of Dawn; the series’ prequel, The Assassin’s Blade; and The Throne of Glass Coloring Book. She is also the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series―A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury, A Court of Wings and Ruin, A Court of Frost and Starlight, and A Court of Thorns and Roses Coloring Book. A New York native, Sarah currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and dog.

www.worldofsarahjmaas.com
www.facebook.com/throneofglass

Originally published: 24 August 2016

AuthorSarah J. Maas

Genre: Fantasy Fiction

Preceded byQueen of Shadows

Followed byTower of Dawn

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