Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas // Book Reviews

Hey hey!

I have a big review for you today: Empire of Storms, book #5 of the Throne of Glass series. This is a spoiler free review for THIS book, but it will spoil you for previous books in the series. You have been warned. I have reviews for previous books in this series if you’re interested in my thoughts:

And now, let’s begin!

28260587Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Series: Throne of Glass (#5)
Genre: Fantasy
Publication: September 6th 2016 by Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Pages: 693
Source: Borrowed

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius as war looms on the horizon. 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.

With her heart sworn to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become poised to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

In this breathtaking fifth installment of the New York Timesbestselling Throne of Glass series, Aelin will have to choose what—and who—to sacrifice if she’s to keep the world of Erilea from breaking apart.


GENERAL THOUGHTS

I’m conflicted about how I feel about this book because there were some really engaging parts, but then there were some aspects I can’t deny I hated. There are a lot of references to the happenings of the prequel novellas, The Assassin’s Blade, so I highly recommend reading them before tackling this one (also those stories are amazing). I wish there was more of a recap of what happened in the previous book, because it took me a while for understand what was happening and get into it. I have many thoughts. Some may be a bit unfair or blown out of proportion. It’s a bit of a negative review for a 3-star rating.

PLOT

This novel is essentially Aelin gathering forces with her little gang for this impending war. Tensions were high, but I was disappointed in the event choices because I kid you not when I say that death is impossible when you come from the said elite gang (royals only). This made it difficult to share in the fear of the characters because there are so many build-ups to potentials, characters getting injured in every single way, but magic and luck always prevail. It was repetitive, and eventually boring. There really needs to be a difference between resilient and invincible.

I found that the lack of significant and game-changing scenes didn’t convince of the high stakes I was supposed to sense. We’ve been given ground work for this (suspected) epic war for two huge books, and I still feel as though there hasn’t been much progression. I need more direction in this series. I need more risks. This didn’t help me find Empire of Storms to be a compelling read.

This series has really become fae-focused and personally, I don’t like it. The tone is completely different. We learn a bit more about the past and Elena’s story. Honestly, I couldn’t follow it, and found it the whole “fate thing” difficult to understand.

The ending was upsetting and emotional. I congratulate Maas with her endings because they’re always intense, action-packed, and creates good point to start the next instalment. And it does redeem the rest of the novel, but it still feels like a waste because the plotting could have been much better. I want to read and enjoy the WHOLE novel, the WHOLE story. Prepare for the cliffhanger.

CHARACTERS

There was much more development of the secondary characters, but in terms of the main characters from what I call “the original trilogy”, it’s been a downhill journey with them. I understand that characters change over time, and with experiences, but this “development” is so inconsistent. How can I empathise with characters I don’t even know anymore? I really don’t like this “recreation” of the old cast into these attractive royals that can’t die.

Pretty much, every character has a point of view at some point in this novel which first of all, I thought was unnecessary. Secondly, with so many POVs, I should at least know what was going on, but I found myself lost at times and there was so much hidden from the reader. I just think that it made the story disconnected and could have been used more effectively.

Aelin (I’m still sticking with Celaena though): I didn’t like this girl AT ALL in Queen of Shadows. This book didn’t really help with her case in my eyes. I don’t like her attitude. Her snark is often inappropriate, and many attempts of sass fell flat. She’s also involved in a trope that I personally despise. This meant that heaps of crucial plot points were off-page. This annoyed me so much because it felt like a cop out of creating suspense and revealing major plot points.

I was super frustrated with her because I couldn’t figure out the direction of the plot or her logic. When these plot points were eventually dumped, it felt lazy and underdeveloped. The shock value of these surprises was still there but they didn’t make me emotional in a good way. I was just angry because it came out of nowhere.

She’s not even being private anymore. Purposely withholding information from her court with this stupid arrogance annoys me so much. I know that Aelin has trust issues, so she’s wary even with allies – reasonable, but she literally shares nothing. She has no experience in politics, yet she believes that everything she thinks about is right. Anyone who opposes her view will be personally threatened. There is no indication of diplomacy whatsoever. I understand she’s still young, and she’s learning about the role. Her responsibilities carry a lot of weight, but she never consults anyone. Don’t get me wrong – I like independent characters. Scheming? Fine. Being resourceful? Great! But refraining from sharing any bit of information eventually gets super infuriating.

It annoys me that everyone praises her about caring so much for her court, her people, Terresan, and being such a great queen – completely infatuated by her. All I can see is her claiming everything as her birthright, being power-hungry and destructive, no matter the expense. It’s nasty. What’s worse than that is that she’s not learning from her dangerous behaviour. As readers, I think that even if Aelin doesn’t share information with her squad, we should get a sense of what is going through mental monologues. Instead, we get point of views about how majestic and powerful she is.

Rowan: this guy has become so needy and obsessive. I find him insufferable. I wouldn’t mind it if he disappeared or be pushed into the background. I mean, is he really that important to the storyline? The change would be less sexual tension which could be compensated by the numerous relationships in this series.

Lysandra: I was really excited to see her continued development in this book because we got to learn more about her beyond superficial qualities, and her shapeshifting is awesome. BUT, this novel contains a lot of male POVs that describe her sooo… she kind of reverts to the “sex symbol” she was escaping from. We say some growth and sea dragon scene was epic, but I wanted more.

Dorian: I don’t like how he has changed. This is what happens when you hang out with the new gang too much. I understand that change is certain under new circumstances, and I think he deserves to be happy after everything he’s gone through. However, turning him into his “sex tease” character who contributes very little to the plot besides another possible romance irritates me so much because I don’t see the foundation. It’s like he’s gained a completely transformed personality which I can’t agree with. He displays this new type of cockiness and arrogance which doesn’t suit him, and contrasts with his old charming self. Also, I’m not comfortable with this pairing. Characters alone are fine, but the portrayal of their relationship disgusts me.

Manon: she was great for the first half of this book, but then one thing lead to another, sexual tension happened, and ugh. I loved her “older sister” protectiveness of Elide. What even happened? I was really warming up to her in the last book. I liked seeing how much she grew since Heir of Fire, but the second half of this book just reduced her into a romantic plot device where she is controlled by her lust, and I am not a fan.

Elide: I kind of ignored her in the previous book, but I grew to like her character for the FIRST HALF. And then (predictably), she falls under the spell of every character in this series i.e. falls into the infallible, ferocious, protective, and sacrificial love upon meeting the next character of the opposite sex they meet.

Asterin: Manon’s second and my fave. I think she’s the only character that hasn’t been as trashed as the others. I will riot if something happens to her. I realised she was one of the few characters that I would be devastated about dying.

The Thirteen are awesome. I love Manon’s love for them.

Abraxos is great. All the wyverns are great.

I’ve also forgotten who Kaltain is.

Chaol: I am bitter about his complete absence in this novel. We get two mentions just for confirm he still exists (which weren’t kind words either). Lorchan even got a point of view. I believe that he could have been in this novel or somehow included without being forced. He’s Dorian’s best friend and right hand man. Just saying.

I can’t help laughing any time someone growls or purrs. Please stop.

Also, can we not have a tragic backstory for every “misunderstood character” to justify their bad actions, and the fact that they treat everyone like trash.

RELATIONSHIPS

I appreciate that a lot of effort has gone into character development throughout the series, but a lot of this build-up is thrown away for the sake of romantic pairings. It’s a shame that almost every healthy or interesting relationship has been manipulated into lust and sexual desire. Why is eVeRytHiNG sexualised?

One of my biggest problems that has emerged from this series’ new era of fae everywhere is the toxic representation of masculinity. I find the way males describe females is really gross (not just fae). I am not a fan of the Maas’ version of fae nature, especially the inherent possessiveness. It seems like a weak explanation for their jealousy or reason as to why they have such sexual thoughts, that ultimately leads to their “protective”, and controlling nature.

I also hate their kind of terminology. All this ownership and “claiming” is a big nope from me. Also, what’s up with the use of maleness as an adjective? Why does every dude use lust to psyche themselves up before going into battle? Why is every male tan? This may just be a personal preference, but this pretty much summarises my feelings on this book since it predominantly focuses on fae, and their behaviour. Essentially, I don’t find this romantic, nor can I support these harmful relationships.

There. Are. Too. Many. Pairings. I do not care for basically any of the ships because they’re so redundant, and it’s gotten to the point where as soon as a male and female come into close proximity, there is a guaranteed romance. Another guarantee is that as soon as “sexual tension” comes on page, I want to shriek because the ~imagery~ isn’t appealing (to me). Honestly, the sex scenes weren’t as bad as I thought they were going to be. They weren’t as graphic as many people warned, but some of it really felt out of place (and kind of gross).

I was hopeful for the formation of some awesome, powerful friendships, but I could think of a single iconic platonic relationship. I would have loved the camaraderie between the gang if there were more focus on that, and less sexual attention on their physical features. Maybe, my expectations were super high, but I wanted interactions that weren’t always arguments or characters attempting to demonstrate their superiority.

Rowaelin AKA the couple that is Aelin x Rowan: short version: I hate them together and I’m not fans of them individually either. Sorry not sorry. I just don’t care for their romantic relationships. Despite the constant flirting, *whispers* there’s no chemistry. And it especially when they’re supposed to be focusing on something serious, and they’re doing other… stuff. I feel that saying “they’re mates” is such a cop out, instead of expression the connection in the relationship. I’m still upset that they didn’t stay platonic.

WRITING STYLE/PACING

The plot did move along, but the actual events weren’t that great. It was still entertaining, considering the fact that I flew through this. Maybe I was skimming because I was on a deadline, or I enjoyed it and have a tendency to point out the negative aspects. It didn’t drag as much as Queen of Shadows and I was so grateful. I believe these massive books could have been condenses and still have the same effect. I used to really enjoy Maas’ writing, but the passages in this novel felt awkward. Attempts to build tensions felt repetitive and created melodramatic scenes. This is strange but I felt that the writing had a very specific outcome in mind, and I felt manipulated.


I’ve pushed myself through the last two instalments of this series, so I don’t know whether I will continue reading it. Maybe I’ll just get someone to tell me if anyone actually dies at the end because my care factor has shrunk a lot. How did this series turn out like this?

3 stars

Goodreads   Purchase *

Emily x

LET’S CHAT

What do you think about the series at this point? What are your feelings about the relationships? Comment below!

* I am a Book Depository affiliate

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2 thoughts on “Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas // Book Reviews

  1. I was a bit meh about Throne of Glass so I wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to continue the series, but seeing your 3/5 rating definitely makes me think I made a good choice not continuing. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

    Like

    • I can see now why many people have given up on the series. Looking at the problems that have accumulated in this series for me and especially in this novel, I don’t think I’ll be continuing the series either (even though there’s like one book left). I think I might have been a bit generous with my 3/5 star rating, but I did enjoy it to an extent. Thanks for getting through this review Zoe!!

      Like

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