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Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass) Paperback – September 5, 2017
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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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!
I loved the inclusion of Elide in this story. Manon almost stole the show in Queen of Shadows, and Elide almost steals the show in Empire of Storms. She is on her mission to find Aelin, as set by Manon, and she runs into Lorcan. Lorcan is such a rough immortal compared to Elide’s sweetness. They are adorable together. Elide has views on murder and it is almost comical because WAR is happening for everyone. This almost pairing had me swooning out loud. They are the perfect for each other.
The evil in this story is so close to everything. It feels like we read a lot about the beasts being produced in Morath, but in this story we actually get face to face with some of them. There are flying things and sea monsters, as well as Faes in alliance with the bad guys. Did I mention all the battles in this story?
We do get a glimpse of Nehemia before, well you know, so that was a nice. We also get a whole lot of backstory into the wyrdkeys and the gods/goddesses that are responsible for them possibly falling into the wrong hands. So there are things explained for those of you, like me, who needed to know more of the backstory. A lot of reviewers have mentioned that some of the characters/scenes in this story are familiar to those that have read The Assassin’s Blade. I can’t say either way since I have have not read that yet, but it would make sense since people seemed to come out of nowhere for me.
I did have some issues with the beginning of this story. First, the story starts in the middle of somewhere with Darrow. I couldn’t for the life of me remember who the heck Darrow was and then it took me a while to accept “the court” that is Aelin’s squad working so well together. Also, certain love scenes seemed weirdly timed. All of a sudden it went from maybe to a full on YAS at the strangest time. Although I was so happy for it to happen I overlooked it, I know some readers will also be scratching their heads about timing of this.
I also have to say that I wholeheartedly AGREE with all the ships in this series, (I am totally gloating because all the ships I mentioned in my review for Queen of Shadows came to fruition). I am also pleasantly surprised to hear a certain character admit to being bi-sexual. I think I love him even more now, as if that was even possible.
There are 3 parts to this story, and I think they each get better than the one before. Maas leaves the story in such a way that I MUST read the next book, but still leaves us at a good stopping point. I wish I could say it was a safe stopping point, but that is just not how Maas works. This was a nice addition to the series, not quite my favorite, but a really nice addition. Sarah J. Maas is just bloody brilliant and this story is epic in it’s scope and delivery. I can’t wait for the next book!