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September 16, 2016

Review: Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas


Title: Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: September 6th, 2016
Genre(s): High fantasy, Young Adult
Source: Bought
Pages: 693

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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? 

It's been nine days since Empire of Storms came out and eight days since I tore through that 700 page monstrosity and finished it in one sitting. My instinct was to rate this book five stars. When I finished, my heart was so, so full. Full of love for these characters and where this story has taken them. But I've more or less calmed down now to be a little more objective than I was then.

There are many more POVs in Empire of Storms (though one is quite notably absent), and I think at this point of the war against Perrington, it's incredibly important. Early on, in EoS, it is established that Aelin cannot do this on her own, that she needs allies. EoS is all about securing those allies, moving them into place like pieces on a chessboard, for the final showdown.

I love how Sarah's books have a wealth of female characters, all strong in their diverse way. Lysandra, Elide and Manon, in particular, were three characters that got a lot more page time than in previous book and I loved every last second of it.

Hands down, my favourite part of the book was Manon and her development. In Heir of Fire, she was someone who gave zero shits about anyone but her Thirteen. Watching her retain her integrity and ferocity, while still change and set herself apart from the witches in EoS was amazing. I need more Celaena and Manon scenes now until the end of time. There were scenes between Manon and Aelin that I had been waiting for ever since I knew Manon and I am SO glad Sarah delivered.

Lysandraaaaaaaa. My heart hurt for her so much. All her love for her squad shows in the way she is the first to fight for them, never questioning, never asking for praise.  It's so hard for her to say the words, to openly express affection for her friends or a certain Fae who MAY OR MAY NOT be in stupid love with her, but her actions scream her feelings out loud. There is a scene involving a sea dragon that had me D E A D. There is no one more loyal to Aelin (except possibly Rowan) than Lysandra and I love her heart, her soul, her fire for how unequivocal her love is.

Elide played a more central role this book. Elide is set apart from the other books in that she is very....human, and doesn't have the physical strength that the others do? Aelin is Fae, Manon is a witch, Lysandra is a shapeshifter. But Elide comes from a history of being caged and crippled, and her strength is very much self-driven. And without spoiling anything CAN I JUST SAY SHE HAS A SHIP THAT IS QUITE POSSIBLY MY FAVOURITE SHIP OF THE SERIES. Just. Omg. I am a sucker for hate-to-love, but I also have an incredibly high bar for it; it's really hard to do well in my opinion, but this ship hit all the right buttons and checked all the boxes off when it comes to a hate-to-love that you can't help but desperately root for with all your rutting heart.

Need. Fanart. Now. Please. I am not the artistic one in the fandom I just read the books and scream over ~scenes~.

SO MANY FEELINGS YOU PEOPLE.

This book had an abundance of the Fae males: Lorcan, Rowan, and a couple of others whose names I will not reveal because spoilers. Rowan, in particular came into his own. I liked that he had more of his own role in the book. I don't particularly think he's a stunning character, sorry. I enjoyed the inclusion of the new Fae in the plot. Like I said, this book is very much about characters figuring out allegiances, and there were defnitely some warm squad moments. Don't you love it when a group of people with different agendas are THROWN together and along the way and over journeys they fight for each other and become a FAMILY and SQUAD and

I need a moment.

But this is sort of where my objective book-blogger-reviewing brain will talk about things I didn't like.  I'm reaaaaal sick of the hot-muscular-testosterone-fuelled-possessive-territorial Fae trope. It is not appealing, especially when Fae after Fae is like that. It is antiquated and yuck and pls no. Yeah, there were some personality differences between the Fae characters, but they were definitely the least fleshed out characters of the book. In this vein, I am slowly beginning to get a little queasy when it comes to SJM romance. She does the build up very well (see: Elide x Lorcan), but when it comes down to it, the sex is all fire and ash and magic and what not, and just....happening and I don't get why because um, why are they so horny when they're fighting for their lives?? There was also a Manon romance that I seriously questioned. Wtf you do not have to pair each and every main character in a book with someone. There were definitely parts of the book had that me rolling my eyes. I've noticed this shift in SJM's romance writing style post-Heir of Fire (around when she published ACOTAR).

I also think the complete exclusion of Chaol from the book was a mistake. I'm sure he'll return in the final installment, but the absence of his story was very glaring, and probably my biggest problem with the book. He isn't my favourite character by a long shot, but phasing him out was not natural and I'm sort of baffled at how he's barely mentioned in the book.

And finally, the ending of the book was one complete cliché. Yes, Aelin was the "lock", WHAT a surprise. Actually, it was a surprise, because I can't believe that this stereotype is being milked even now. Ruin and Rising, anyone? I am so over this unoriginal shit. -1 star for you.

My love for this book was very character based. The actions that they took, their motivations, the way the book ended had me on the edge of my seat because I was terrified for these people that had come together in the strangest of ways, that were willing to do whatever it took to make it out alive. But there were some pretty questionable plot decisions being made and I cannot believe that I am saying this, but the romance was my least favourite part of the book, overall. Le sigh.

Still. I cannot believe I have to wait a whole year for the next book.

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