Review ||| Empire of Storms, by Sarah J. Maas

What You Need To Know:

Title: Empire of Storms
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Number of Pages: 693
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, New Adult, High Fantasy, Action, Adventure,
Series/Standalone: Fifth Book in the Throne of Glass Series
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication Date: 6th September, 2016
Rating: Five Stars

The Plot:
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 act odds with those who do not.

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 looking on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down around her?

My Thoughts:
Before I even start going into my thoughts on this book I’m going to say one thing – spoilers. If you haven’t even read the Throne of Glass series yet; one, you need to jump on that bandwagon right now because sooner or later everything will be revealed and you’ll regret it immediately. And two, step away now because already the ‘plot’ section has revealed one major plot twist already so you need to just back away before everything is destroyed. If you’ve read the rest of the series but just haven’t got your hands on this one yet – don’t read any further than the end of this sentence, there will be many spoilers ahead.

You have been warned.

“A Storm is coming. A great storm.”

After the end of Queen of Shadows I had no idea where Sarah could take this. I literally sat there before I turned the first page thinking, what comes next? And because of this, I didn’t have any outlandish theories about what could happen or any expectations – unlike with the rest of the books. Anything could have happened and I wouldn’t be prepared for it at all. And I can tell you this now, Sarah did not disappoint.

“A court that wouldn’t just change the world. It would start the world over.”

As soon as the book started, I was hooked. By jumping straight into Elena’s action I knew that something was going to happen and that the whole book would be building up to this one moment. I had no idea what it was going to be but I knew it would be something big and linked to Elena herself. By seeing into Elena’s mind for those few pages I suddenly seemed to understand her a lot better and that she didn’t want all of this to happen; it just had to. Oh and that big something that I mentioned, it killed me. But more on that later.

“Power called to power among the Fae. Perhaps Aeliin Galathynius was unlucky the cadre had been drawn to Maeve’s power long before she had been born, had chained themselves to her instead. Perhaps they were the unlucky ones, for not holding out for something better.”

Sarah’s writing seems to have gotten so much better since Queen of Shadows. I thought Queen of Shadows was as good as it was going to get what with how easily the plot flowed and how interesting each individual scene and the character development that was interwoven with such kickass scenes. You can understand why I would think that. However, I was wrong. She’s writing in far greater detail and i’m able to picture the world more vividly thanks to her seemingly effortless writing style – she’s come so far since Throne of Glass and I feel like a proud hen! Because we can all admit that although the idea was breathtaking, the execution was sloppy. Long gone are the cheesy plot points such as love triangles and needlessly violence. Now they are replaced with stylised action sequences and well written plot twists. I applaud you, Sarah, you have blossomed into an awesome author!

“Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen, knew the time would soon come to prove just how much she’d bleed for Erilea.”

Before I go into the plot itself I want to talk about the different characters that we see. Let’s start with Aelin. Not only did her magic get a lot stronger in this book, but her Queenly side did as well. I was able to see the ruler that she would one day become what with her stern voice, her ability to talk to others and ask for guidance and her knowledge of putting her people before herself. In Queen of Shadows I was somewhat … cautious of rooting for her. Yes, I love her as a character but we’d seen her as this assassin for so long that I was somewhat cautious of saying she would make a good ruler. She was still reckless and there were moments when I didn’t know if she’d ever be a good ruler. Yet she developed over the course of this book and I was able to step back and think “yeah, she’ll be a good Queen if she gets through all this in one piece.” Also, it was really nice to see Celaena again. I forget just how much I love that character – the complete sassy know-it-all who oozes with confidence – and it was so nice to see her for those few pages with Rolfe. Aelin obviously still has that side to her but it’s not really as noticeable because she has a lot more responsibilities now. And I do like this more serious side to her, but seeing cocky Celaena again was just … brilliant.

“Why bother when a dramatic entrance is so much more fun?”

Rowan, in this book, seemed become a lot more human. Yes, he still had that Fae quality to him which we all love but as his relationship with Aelin progressed more and more he just seemed to become a lot more relaxed and caring. The sort of person that Aelin really needs. Yes he was still arrogant and possessive, because Aelin needs that too, but it made the climax at the end of the novel even more heartbreaking.

“He was hers and she was his and they had found each other across the centuries of bloodshed and loss, across oceans and kingdoms and war.”

I love Lysandra now. In the novellas I despised her and I think she is a rather perfect example of character development – she’s matured and finally has someone to look after. In fact, she is staring to become one of my favourite characters.

“‘Lysandra … Lady of Caraverre.’
‘There is no Caraverre,’ said Darrow.
Aelin shrugged. ‘There is now.’ Lysandra had settled on the name a week ago, whatever it meant, bolting upright in the middle of the night and practically shouting it at Aelin once she’d mastered herself long enough to shift back into her human form. Aelin doubted she’d soon forget the image of a wide-eyed ghost leopard trying to speak.”

If i’m going to talk about Lysandra then I should really talk about Aedion. Now people may hate me for this but there were moments when I couldn’t stand this character at all. He annoyed me and I just wanted to slap him – especially when he doubted Aelin. Yes, I know that he was a leader long before she even decided to get her throne and that he is used to having to survive with the Bane but he really shouldn’t doubt her. She’s been able to survive, by herself, for as long as he has. But I still did enjoy him, primarily the feels he started to have for Lysandra and the stony side to him in regards to his father. I’m glad that he isn’t perfect. None of the characters are perfect and it just makes it so much more believable.

“The world will be save and remade by the dreamers.”

One thing that I especially enjoyed was Manon. To know that she didn’t agree with everything that was planned out for her and that she’d just have to go with this dark nature that Witches are stereotypically given. I liked her a lot more because of that. Though I didn’t like the reveal of her heritage, yes I understand why Sarah did that but I felt like it was very cliché and could have been performed far better.

“And Manon understood in that moment that there were forces greater than obedience, and discipline, and brutality. Understood that she had not been born soulless; she had not been born without a heart. For there were both, begging her not to swing that blade.”

If i’m talking about Manon then Dorien should come next, really. Once again, I really didn’t enjoy his character. I felt sorry for him in Queen of Shadows, he was beginning to repent in my mind and then suddenly he becomes the man we see now. Somewhere between the possessed and originally character we met. He’d been in love in the previous book and it’s now like he completely forgot about that love as he lusted after Manon. That section of the book is one that I would have not included if it was me. Just a bit of a no really.

“I wonder if the gods have weighed the costs of that storm. And deemed the casualties worth it.”

Briefly I will mention Chaol as well because he isn’t actually in this novel at all. He’s off in the Southern Continent, healing and finding allies. I know that so many people were complaining about the lack of Chaol but I was rather glad he wasn’t there. He changed a lot during Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows and I just ended up not enjoying him anymore. It was rather refreshing not having him around really … please don’t kill me for saying that.

“I’m going to call in old debts and promises. To raise an army of assassins and thieves and exiles and commoners.”

Now onto the plot! From the beginning there was a large sense of foreshadowing which obviously you didn’t know about at the time but as things began to unfold, you remember different things that have been hinted at. And although I didn’t predict what would happen at the end, I can see the hints towards what was going to happen. With the actually writing of the plot, I do feel that this is one of the best things Sarah has written. It was filled with tension and suspense that built and built until these little twists, that I wasn’t expecting, just suddenly appeared. Another part of the plot that I thoroughly enjoyed was the linking between all the different view points. There were characters spread all across the world that we know of and when a new chapter began in a new view point, I didn’t have to worry about who I was reading. I just sort of new. And then ending it so that all the characters from every different view point in the entire book joining in one place. It proved that there is only one more book left and that there is a need for everyone to be together for such a dramatic event. Also, the fact that every single principle character is linked to an individual God, it just shows how greatly they medal with the world.

“Where are our allies, Aelin? Where are our armies?”

There was a lot of sex in this book. I understand why that is and it does create a large sense of realism in YA or New Adult novels because people will have sex. But why was there so much of it. I can understand with Rowan and Aelin because the tension has been there since … well sort of since Heir of Fire and you could guess that it would happen eventually. And it really worked with their story and it made the final events of the book even more heartbreaking. But why did Dorien and Manon, and Lorcan and Elide have sex. Well, okay, Lorcan and Elide don’t. They have a large amount of foreplay and then … things happen. But what I want to know is why did side characters have to have sex. No, no, no! I wasn’t interested in them, so why? Give them fluffy scenes if you must but that detail of sex just didn’t suit their relationships at all. I can understand with Aelin and Rowan – and they are the principal romance so it makes a lot of sense – but why everyone else? It’s my main problem with this book!

“‘Firelight,’ he said onto her mouth. ‘Buzzard,’ she murmured onto his.”

Finally the rest of Assassin’s Blade was used. For those who don’t know, Assassin’s Blade is a prequel revolving around the various Novellas that Sarah wrote to evolve and support Celaena/Aelin more. I’d really suggest going and reading it if you haven’t already because you know more about her. You learn about Sam – and will have your soul destroyed completely – and why Celaena was sent to Endovier in the first place. But you also see how many debts are owed to Celaena and the army that she could eventually have if everyone paid in their debts. The first character we see is Captain Rofle who, coincidentally, is one of the very first characters that we read about in Assassin’s Blade. So I was thinking that finally we getting to see more than Arobynn Hamel and Lysandra, maybe it’ll expand even further. There had to be a reason for all those novellas and now almost all the characters have returned.

“The cocky smile widened. ‘Hello, bitch,’ Ansel purred.
‘Hello, traitor,’ Aelin purred right back … ‘Meet Ansel Briarcliff, assassin and Queen of the Western Wastes.”

The final battle was one that I had been expecting but it didn’t take the form that I initially thought. I knew that Maeve was going to do something and I knew that she wouldn’t just bow down to Aelin. It wasn’t her style at all and she had to strike revenge for Aelin stole Rowan from her, her second strongest warrior. She wasn’t just going to let that go. And I loved Rowan’s action in that battle. How he stripped away his pride and went straight to all his cousins and simply said, ‘I need help’. And although they all said ‘we will see’ you knew that something was going to happen. Sarah wouldn’t have put there, for one, but it shows that they wouldn’t just abandon their family. That even though they are all immortal, family still means something to them all. To having a third of Maeve’s army attacking those that had previously been their allies, it immediately showed me that something was going to happen. You wouldn’t just give this break, this hope, for no reason. The battle took a lot out of all of the characters and to have Aelin and Manon – possibly the two strongest fighters – both absent as we learnt about what will eventually need to happen. Show’d that Rowan will be able to lead by himself. Something that was obviously put in place for a reason. It showed that although Rowan couldn’t give Aelin an army unlike some of the other suitors that were already offering themselves up to her, he would still find a way to defend her and Terrasen in the long run. Which, I feel, is going to be a key part of the final novel.

“Rowan had no possessed an army of his own to give Aelin. To give to Terrasen. So he had won an army for her.”

Now we are on to the ending. Firstly, the events with Manon and Aelin in the mirror. To me this resemble Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings greatly. Mainly because of the task that would ultimately end one persons life. The heir who would sacrifice themselves to create a lock that would keep Perrington and all of his Valg out of this world. It was rather cliche but I was still shocked because I new straight away who would be the one to sacrifice themselves. Dorien wouldn’t have the guts. I’m sorry, but he wouldn’t. Whilst Aelin would happily do that so that the world could be at peace oncemore. That’s who she is.
But then everything happened with Maeve. I forgot about Maeve. I mean, I still remembered her character and everything that happened regarding her in Heir of Fire. But I forgot why I disliked her. When she was first mentioned in this book, I could remember the anger I felt towards her but couldn’t remember why I felt such anger. She’s a ruler, she’s just protecting her lands. Now I can remember how much of a bitch she is. Like I hate her so much. I can’t put it into words how much I actually hate her! I didn’t, whilst at the same time I did, expect her to attack in such a way. I knew that the cadre would be used. Even if they do not wish to work against her, there were still three members of the cadre with Aelin and Maeve can control them however she wishes. And Manon taking Elide and the Wyrdstones made a lot of sense. She saw where things were going and she acted to keep the future safe – something that was slightly out of character but she seemed to understand what was going to happen to Aelin then and eventually would so she was rather nice really. Keeping quiet drew all attention from, yet Aelin was given the brute force of it all. My heart is still broken over the fact that she went so willingly. She did it to keep everyone safe and yet she could have likely found an other source to her power. If she hadn’t have been so exhausted then that wouldn’t have happened, she would have destroyed Maeve in a heart beat. But suspense and a cliffhanger was needed and now I don’t know how i’m going to wait a year to know how the series concludes. That image of Aelin being taking away is one that still kills me but what makes matters worse is what happened moments later with Rowan.

“Where is Aelin?
Where is my wife?”

I’m wondering whether Aelin knew that she was going to be taken. I know that she knew she would have to die and that’s the reason why she married Rowan and why Lysandra had perfected the look of Aelin. But I also wonder if she thought Maeve would do what she did. Because it means that to the rest of Terresan and the world, Aelin Galathynius would still be ruling and would have a strong husband by her side. When really, she was ensuring that even if someone discovered that Aelin wasn’t around, Rowan – someone she trusts above all others – would be there to rule over her kingdom. And the fact that no one – out of that inner circle – realised at the end of the book that Aelin wasn’t there just shows how believable that performance is.

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

My mind is going to be on these events for a year and I will be tearing away at them again and again because no doubt Sarah has included many subtle hints to what is to come.

“The Queen of Flame and Shadow, the Heir of Fire, Aelin of the Wildfire, Fireheart ….
She burned through each title, even as she became them, become what those foreign ambassadors had hissed when they reported on a child queen’s growing, unstable power in Terrasen. A promise that had been whispered into the blackness.”

An excellent penultimate book in a series which everyone will enjoy due to its masterful writing and plot.

Book Total of 2016 – 78


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