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Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass) Paperback – September 5, 2017
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"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
"Celaena is as much an epic hero as Frodo or Jon Snow!" - Tamora Pierce, New York Times bestselling author on HEIR OF FIRE
"Maas shines as a brilliant storyteller. . . . The most exhilarating installment yet." - RT Book Reviews on HEIR OF FIRE
"An epic fantasy readers will immerse themselves in and never want to leave." - starred review, Kirkus Reviews on CROWN OF MIDNIGHT
"A thrill ride of epic fantasy proportions." - USA Today on CROWN OF MIDNIGHT
"With assassinations, betrayal, love and magic, this novel has something to match everyone’s interests." - Top Pick, RT Book Reviews on CROWN OF MIDNIGHT
"A thrilling read." - starred review, Publishers Weekly on THRONE OF GLASS
"A must-read for lovers of epic fantasy and fairy tales." - USA Today on THRONE OF GLASS
"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 Shadows, and Empire of Storms--and the series' prequel, The Assassin's Blade; as well as The Throne of Glass Coloring Book, A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury, and A Court of Wings and Ruin. A New York native, Sarah currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and dog.
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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!
Maas brilliantly makes each of her characters into something they weren't before. They all develop organically into new people, but these new developments make perfect sense. For example, Aelin begins the book heading North of Terrasen in order to help build herself an army. She finds that the people are not so inclined to back her up, considering she's been gone for over 10 years, but was actually always present with her sworn enemy, the late King of Adarlan, playing as his puppet assassin as Cealena Sardothien. Many don't take too kindly to her history, and many of those that she encounters find more reasons to not back her up, than to do so.
Based on the Aelin we've grown to know, we would think she would blow up into a vengeful tirade, spewing her new found power of fire, stopping close but short of a tyrant. However, that Aelin is not there. She's become ever more calculating, less hot-headed, and deathly more focused on saving her people and land. She not only fights two wars against both the Dark King Erawan and her Aunt Meave, Queen of the Fae, she does more than crosses blades in these wars. She uses her mind as well as her muscle in order to produce an end result she wants. From page one until the very end result, Aelin orchestrated EVERYTHING. It's that type of sleight of hand intellectual reflex that has me blown away with her character growth.
Prince Rowan, once sworn to Queen Mauve, now sworn to Aelin, serves his Queen in every way possible. When we first met him in Heir of Fire he was disassocitive, broody, and not the most likeable character. Aelin has helped to transform him into something more vulnerable, to the point where he will freely show some PDA with Aelin in front of others. While some of his old cadre (old Fae friends/associates sworn to Mauve) would see this as a weakness, this is in fact far from the truth. Prince Rowan will stop at nothing to protect Aelin, even if it means protecting her from herself. He's still a fierce fighter, but now, he has a worthy cause to fight for---a future with his Queen.
Aedion goes through some pretty hefty transformations that mainly deal with things that come out from the plot itself. I won't discuss everything, but Aedion grows to accept who his parents are and what that means. He's every bit as fierce as Aelin can be, and he becomes one of her most loyal soldiers. He also finds a budding romance with a shapeshifter by name of Lysandra. Their relationship was very sensitive, on account of Lysandra's history. She has been defiled by many men, and Aedion is very cautious with her at first, as he should be. Lysandra was a very refreshing character to read about. Her ability to transform into almost anything was pretty epic. Lysandra's fight sequences were some of the best of the series, and she reminded me of a mini Aelin. She's also completely devoted to Aelin, almost to a fault. It's a magical experience to see such a fierce and brutal character, rife with molestation, loss of power, and a dehumanizing childhood, turn into a character that is able to finally allow love to blossom.
King Dorian has the biggest transformation in the entire series. A fair warning to those about to read Empire of Storms, this will not be the same character you grew to love. His innocence is gone. His power is his own. The killing of his father by his own hand, seeing the love of his life Sorscha murdered because of his father, and the months of being held hostage inside his body by a Valg Prince has changed Dorian forever. He is darker, less talkative, and more of a man of action. He has become sadistic and this leads him to a very surprising romance (although I approve) with Manon of Blackbeak. He's become as cold as the ice he wields, and he has now become a force to be reckoned with along side Aelin. He is after all, the King of Andarlan. King Dorian begins to realize the position he is now in, and you see him push his weight around when you least expect it. However, he's very quiet during heightened situations, especially when it comes to plotting along side the other characters. You knew when he decided to speak, his words would change the dynamic. I'm not sure if I personally love his more sadistic side, what I do love is that he recognizes his power. I look forward to seeing how he'll wield it in the future.
Lorcan, another Fae male that's apart of the cadre. Also, the same person who Aelin and Rowan tricked at the end of Queen of Shadows into thinking he took one of the wyrdkeys from them for his Queen. He's known as the Fae male who trained Rowan into what he is now. He's a character filled with vengeful hate, and it becomes amplified 100 fold when he realizes that he was tricked. However, a long his journey he meets Elide who is also on the run. Manon helped her escape her uncle and the tower she was held captive in, and now Lorcan and Elide travel together. To be brief, Elide melts away the ice around his heart, and helps to provide him with a worthier reason to fight. Their romance was the one that had me the most excited, because it really did feel like it was straight out of Beauty and the Beast.
Manon of Blackbeak has the most intense storyline out of them all. I fell in love with her since she was first introduce, and this new installment has just solidified that. Monon, still ever fierce, but we see some major things happen to her. I don't want to give anything away, however I will say that Manon has always known that something wasn't "right" with how her people were living. Some secrets are revealed, some major ties are cut, and we find Manon no longer in a position of power. Until...that is...when she crosses paths with Aelin again.
They're plenty of other characters I can discuss but these are the ones that had the most affect on me. Empire of Storms exceeded my expectations with every aspect of the book. It had the perfect dialogue, right amount of plot twists, and pages upon pages of cinematic fights. The ending will leave you in pieces, as I'm still trying to find all of the pieces of myself. Consider this book a rollercoaster, which has a long death drop and it keeps on dropping even as you turn to the last page. I still haven't reach the bottom yet. And yet, I know I won't until the next book comes out. Sarah J Maas has just written the best in her series, possibly even the best book of her career. Do check it out!
Things you should know about this book:
1) Contains a cliffhanger, or two, or three - lets just say practically everyone is left hanging off a cliff in this book
2) Contains sex - though I thought it was tastefully done and overdue
3) Contains a whole bunch of Aelin not telling anyone anything until the last moment - that girl needs to work on her communication skills
4) Shows the point of view from: Aelin, Rowan, Aedion, Lysandra, Elide, Lorcan, Manon, and Dorian
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I think it may be one of the best ones yet in the series, although I'm sure the final book will blow our minds out of the water. Happy reading!!!
Most recent customer reviews
This book destroyed me. I cheered when my baby, Abraxos, appeared (legitimately out loud cheered) and wanted to cry at those fateful words.Read more