BOOK REVIEW: Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5)
by Sarah J. Maas
Publication date: 6 September 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Goodreads: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?
Empire of Storms has left my thoughts, and especially my feelings, reeling. Once again, Sarah J. Maas did not fail to deliver a book that is jam-packed with action while simultaneously yanking on my heartstrings. I’ll do my best to keep this a spoiler free review but I don’t make any guarantees. If spoilers do make their way in, I’ll be sure to highlight them accordingly so that nothing gets ruined if you haven’t yet read the book.
Empire of Storms is where we see Maas’s grand plan for this universe start to take place. All the different plots points that have been touched on begin to come together at last. I loved having those ‘Aha!’ moments of realisation when I put together which narrative and character arcs were about to become entwined. All our favourite characters, with their own individual plots begin converging into one.
Speaking of our favourite characters, we see the return of some familiar faces, while others are conveniently absent. Chaol and Nesryn are mentioned but we never hear from either of their perspectives. Empire of Storms is multiple perspectives overload, but it worked for me. Maas wrote in a way so that each point of view counted. Empire of Storms was more than just Aelin’s story. It was Lysandra discovering herself and her strengths; it was Elide finding her way back to her queen; it was Manon rebelling against everything she’d ever believed in.
Aelin just continues to grow and wow me. She’s grown and accepted her role as Queen of Terrasen while still managing to be the Celaena that we all know and love. One of my favourite things about Aelin is that despite being on her way to holding the title of most powerful Fae and magic wielder in the kingdom, she’s still so relatable. She has her weaknesses and vulnerabilities but that just brings out a very human aspect to her.
Lysandra is a complete queen in her own way. She is a complete badass and utterly loyal to Aelin. She risks her life time and again for her queen, not once wavering or questioning what Aelin asks of her. One scene especially had me flipping the pages as fast as I could, needing to know how the action would unfold. I loved her interactions with all the other characters while she was shifted into the form of one beast or another.
Elide very quickly became one of my favourite characters. She has no gifts that make her stand out when compared to the Fae or witches. Now that she’s on her own without Manon’s protection, she’s forced to fend for herself with what few skills she possesses. But she’s quiet, cunning and charming. A different kind of force to be reckoned with. She pairs up with Lorcan pretty early on in the book and despite him being an incredibly powerful Fae male, we see Elide rise up to become his equal. She refuses to take any shit from him. They grow to trust each other and I loved seeing their relationship develop.
Manon has had one of the most obvious of developments in the series. When we first met her, she was a loyal soldier, following orders without question. In Queen of Shadows we began to see her slowly deviating from what her grandmother expects of her. And now, we have a witch who is thinking for herself. Her loyalties have begun to shift. Manon is a fierce leader who cares for her wyvern, Abraxos, and her Thirteen above all else. She will do whatever it takes to protect them, even if it means defying everything she stands for.
Despite all the strong females that we have in this book, the story is saturated with romance and steamy moments. We see each of the women paired up with someone of the male variety. Besides Aelin and Rowan’s romance, I don’t think any of the other pairings were necessary at all. It is very possible for a character, especially a female character, to be happy and whole without being in a romantic relationship. But in saying that, I did really like Elide and Lorcan and they’re probably one of my favourite pairs in the book. [Kind of a spoiler? Highlight to read] There may be some bias though as they did play into one of my favourite tropes, aka the fake boyfriend/husband trope. [End spoiler] We also see a a small number of queer characters popping up which I thought was a good attempt on Maas’ part to bring some diversity into the universe.
Sarah J. Maas did not pull any punches and Empire of Storms was possibly the darkest and most brutal of all the books in the series so far. The reader is treated to a front row seat of the violence. Throne of Glass fans will not emerge from the book dry-eyed. Some small part of me wishes that I hadn’t started reading the series until after it was completed but alas, I now must painfully wait an entire year to see how it all wraps up.
I’ve linked my reviews for the other Throne of Glass books but keep in mind that they were back when I first started reviewing so they definitely aren’t great.
Have you read Empire of Storms yet? What did you think?