Sep 9th

Five Star Review of Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas

Posted in Reviews
Empire of Storms
5 Star Rating

Title: Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Date Published: September 6, 2016
Where I got the book: Purchased from Amazon
Synopsis from 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 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?

This review might contain minor spoilers, things that won’t change how you read the novel and things you probably saw coming. You should not read this review if you haven’t read Queen of Shadows though.

The two hardest parts of reviewing are deciding where to begin, and how to keep it coherent when you really just want to “fangirl” all over the place. While I am a huge fan of this series, I have my issues with it. I am not one to shout out, “Maas is queen!” and “the Throne of Glass books are perfect.” Rather, I am a sceptic where this series is concerned. BUT, this book—this terrible, terrible book—makes me want to scream out, Maas is Queen! It made me cry. It made me bite my nails. It made my heart beat faster! I fist punched the air and quietly squealed so my husband wouldn’t laugh at me. This is an epic book, a true work of literary art. It is along the same lines as A Court of Mist and Fury and Heir of Fire; the quality being far greater than the majority of her work. It brings tons of action, lots of romance, friendship, loyalty, epic quotes, a sense of reality in a made up world. I bled with these characters; I cried with them and my heart broke with theirs. I forged the beginnings of a relationship with all of them in Heir of Fire and this book cemented that relationship; made it tangible.

Let me make my thoughts on the previous books clear before I begin to tell you how much and why I loved Empire of Storms. Throne of Glass introduced a beautiful world with a terribly annoying and selfish main character. It was poorly written in my opinion. Crown of Midnight was much better, the writing improving and the characters developing. Heir of Fire was my favorite book in this series until now. It showcased true emotions, a powerful message and journey, and character development of which I didn’t think Maas was capable. Queen of Shadows was disappointing. It was well written but the action and character development left something to be desired. It felt like a filler book. Empire of Storms blew all of her previous works out of the water.

There are many themes that get downplayed or sometimes outright forgotten in the fantasy genre. Some of these are loyalty, friendship, family, and emotional growth. These are themes you are most likely to find in contemporary fiction, but this book has them in spades. Aelin’s group remains loyal to her no matter what she does, even when she screws up. She stays loyal to all of her people, her friends, the people of Terrasen, the people of Adarlan, the entirety of Erilea. No matter what the people of this land have done to her, she still feels responsible for all of them, and puts herself at risk to keep them all safe. Aelin’s loyalty to her friends is impressive. She makes sure to take care of every one of them, even the ones who have hurt her in the past. I loved watching the friendships develop and strengthen. Seeing Aedion and Dorian, Rowan and Dorian, Elide and Manon, and Manon and Aelin; all of these unexpected friendships. These developing relationships drive the story. I hope you don’t find this to be a spoiler, but EVERYTHING I WANTED TO HAPPEN, HAPPENS IN THIS BOOK!! I cannot explain well enough how much this book was the culmination of so many dreams of mine. The closeness found between Aelin, Aedion, and Elide, even though they’ve spent so many years apart, is a beautiful thing. It highlights that family is what you make it. The reunion between Aelin and Elide had me in tears. Dorian’s POV chapters include parts about him missing Chaol, unable to really enjoy some things because his friend is gone, or needing to make decisions and wishing he had his closest friend there to advise him. This really hit home for me. This is how I feel when my very best friends are away from me and it made the characters and story feel so much more real. The emotions running wild between Rowan and the members of his cadre are also brilliant. He spent centuries with them and as such, it’s hard for them to let go of each other. I can’t congratulate Sarah enough on how well she did infusing this book with these very important themes and making it matter, making it feel real.

It’s time to talk character development. I began this series having major issues with a lot of the characters; I hated Celaena, Dorian, Chaol, and Rowan at first. Their character development is the main factor that caused me to change my mind. The most important part of that development is the emotional growth. As a YA book, I expect there to be some adolescent emotions. At this point in the series most of the characters are older though, and they deserve to be given the opportunity to grow emotionally. Heir of Fire began the emotional growth process for Aelin and Queen of Shadows showed Dorian growing into his crown and adulthood in general. It is Empire of Storms, however, that gives us the most emotional growth. Dorian behaves as a king, forgetting his own pride and grief in order to save his kingdom and Erilea as a whole. Aelin was the most surprising. We saw her react childishly, and in anger, in the past. In this book she behaves like a queen, putting her people first and sacrificing everything for the good of the realm. I have to say I am truly impressed with her growth and how real it has felt. I am also surprised at how much I love her as a character now. Aedion shows some major growth as well. While it took him much longer, he begins to forgive those he has held grudges against. He also learns to trust others more, letting go of his need to be in control and in the know. Lysandra has grown a lot. While she was once very self-serving and in possession of false bravado, she now has faith in her own strength and talents and sacrifices much in this novel to help Aelin with her plans. Her loyalty to Aelin is amazing, enough to bring me to tears. To be honest, Lysandra and Aelin top the list of most selfless and biggest sacrifices in Empire of Storms. Elide and Manon also show a new side of themselves in this book. Manon learns to trust, to soften, and to love. If you’re a Manon fan, you’re going to love this book! She steals the show! Elide learns to be strong and that she is worthy, no matter her past. I love that we got more time with her in this book; she’s such an interesting character with a lot to bring to the story. Rowan did not start out as a character I loved, but that slowly changed. The main reason I love him is the way he treats Aelin. She is considered less than him because she is not full fae, but he never treats her as such. Where Chaol sought to change and protect Celaena, Rowan serves Aelin. He allows her to be a queen, to take risks of her choosing, and he loves and accepts her as she is, dark parts and all. I think their romance in Empire of Storms is entirely believable and fun to read. There are so many emotional scenes between the two of them and the new developments in their story are both heartbreaking and exciting.

I have always loved the land of Erilea and the world-building in the Throne of Glass series, even though some of the books had less world-building than I’d like, or less interesting settings. However, I loved everything about the settings in this book. We get to see places we previously haven’t visited; we also get to return to some locations we haven’t seen in a while. Both of these provided Maas with an opportunity to show us her excelling skill as a world-builder. The missing history of the realm was better explained and the gods and the religion they practice were explained a little more. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but there were some long awaited places I expected to see in this book that I didn’t, but there were some plot twists involved and I was still pleased. There are jungles, islands, and seas to be explored in Empire of Storms and I really enjoyed picturing them in my mind.

As far as the actual story goes, I was highly impressed. There is just the right amount of action, drama, and romance to keep the story interesting. Each aspect was given just the right amount of attention without one taking precedence over the others. We finally get answers in this book! Motivations, history, religion; there’s so much more to the story that we are finally getting to hear in this book. I love the way Maas does romance. It’s present, there are lots of characters involved, but it still doesn’t seem to overpower the story. Do I need to stress how awesome the drama was?! Did I mention I cried, often? The drama was 1st class in this book; motivational speeches galore, moving expressions of love and friendship, heart-stopping action, and heartbreaking tragedy. Empire of Storms is a truly epic fantasy novel. If you are a Throne of Glass fan it will be everything you want and more. If you’ve continued the series but are still on the fence, it will change your mind and draw you back in. If you haven’t started the series, YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE READ THIS! Seriously though, READ THIS BOOK NOW!!

Want to support an independent bookseller? Purchase Empire of Storms at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC

Empire of Storms
5 Star Rating

Title: Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Date Published: September 6, 2016
Where I got the book: Purchased from Amazon
Synopsis from 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 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?

This review might contain minor spoilers, things that won’t change how you read the novel and things you probably saw coming. You should not read this review if you haven’t read Queen of Shadows though.

The two hardest parts of reviewing are deciding where to begin, and how to keep it coherent when you really just want to “fangirl” all over the place. While I am a huge fan of this series, I have my issues with it. I am not one to shout out, “Maas is queen!” and “the Throne of Glass books are perfect.” Rather, I am a sceptic where this series is concerned. BUT, this book—this terrible, terrible book—makes me want to scream out, Maas is Queen! It made me cry. It made me bite my nails. It made my heart beat faster! I fist punched the air and quietly squealed so my husband wouldn’t laugh at me. This is an epic book, a true work of literary art. It is along the same lines as A Court of Mist and Fury and Heir of Fire; the quality being far greater than the majority of her work. It brings tons of action, lots of romance, friendship, loyalty, epic quotes, a sense of reality in a made up world. I bled with these characters; I cried with them and my heart broke with theirs. I forged the beginnings of a relationship with all of them in Heir of Fire and this book cemented that relationship; made it tangible.

Let me make my thoughts on the previous books clear before I begin to tell you how much and why I loved Empire of Storms. Throne of Glass introduced a beautiful world with a terribly annoying and selfish main character. It was poorly written in my opinion. Crown of Midnight was much better, the writing improving and the characters developing. Heir of Fire was my favorite book in this series until now. It showcased true emotions, a powerful message and journey, and character development of which I didn’t think Maas was capable. Queen of Shadows was disappointing. It was well written but the action and character development left something to be desired. It felt like a filler book. Empire of Storms blew all of her previous works out of the water.

There are many themes that get downplayed or sometimes outright forgotten in the fantasy genre. Some of these are loyalty, friendship, family, and emotional growth. These are themes you are most likely to find in contemporary fiction, but this book has them in spades. Aelin’s group remains loyal to her no matter what she does, even when she screws up. She stays loyal to all of her people, her friends, the people of Terrasen, the people of Adarlan, the entirety of Erilea. No matter what the people of this land have done to her, she still feels responsible for all of them, and puts herself at risk to keep them all safe. Aelin’s loyalty to her friends is impressive. She makes sure to take care of every one of them, even the ones who have hurt her in the past. I loved watching the friendships develop and strengthen. Seeing Aedion and Dorian, Rowan and Dorian, Elide and Manon, and Manon and Aelin; all of these unexpected friendships. These developing relationships drive the story. I hope you don’t find this to be a spoiler, but EVERYTHING I WANTED TO HAPPEN, HAPPENS IN THIS BOOK!! I cannot explain well enough how much this book was the culmination of so many dreams of mine. The closeness found between Aelin, Aedion, and Elide, even though they’ve spent so many years apart, is a beautiful thing. It highlights that family is what you make it. The reunion between Aelin and Elide had me in tears. Dorian’s POV chapters include parts about him missing Chaol, unable to really enjoy some things because his friend is gone, or needing to make decisions and wishing he had his closest friend there to advise him. This really hit home for me. This is how I feel when my very best friends are away from me and it made the characters and story feel so much more real. The emotions running wild between Rowan and the members of his cadre are also brilliant. He spent centuries with them and as such, it’s hard for them to let go of each other. I can’t congratulate Sarah enough on how well she did infusing this book with these very important themes and making it matter, making it feel real.

It’s time to talk character development. I began this series having major issues with a lot of the characters; I hated Celaena, Dorian, Chaol, and Rowan at first. Their character development is the main factor that caused me to change my mind. The most important part of that development is the emotional growth. As a YA book, I expect there to be some adolescent emotions. At this point in the series most of the characters are older though, and they deserve to be given the opportunity to grow emotionally. Heir of Fire began the emotional growth process for Aelin and Queen of Shadows showed Dorian growing into his crown and adulthood in general. It is Empire of Storms, however, that gives us the most emotional growth. Dorian behaves as a king, forgetting his own pride and grief in order to save his kingdom and Erilea as a whole. Aelin was the most surprising. We saw her react childishly, and in anger, in the past. In this book she behaves like a queen, putting her people first and sacrificing everything for the good of the realm. I have to say I am truly impressed with her growth and how real it has felt. I am also surprised at how much I love her as a character now. Aedion shows some major growth as well. While it took him much longer, he begins to forgive those he has held grudges against. He also learns to trust others more, letting go of his need to be in control and in the know. Lysandra has grown a lot. While she was once very self-serving and in possession of false bravado, she now has faith in her own strength and talents and sacrifices much in this novel to help Aelin with her plans. Her loyalty to Aelin is amazing, enough to bring me to tears. To be honest, Lysandra and Aelin top the list of most selfless and biggest sacrifices in Empire of Storms. Elide and Manon also show a new side of themselves in this book. Manon learns to trust, to soften, and to love. If you’re a Manon fan, you’re going to love this book! She steals the show! Elide learns to be strong and that she is worthy, no matter her past. I love that we got more time with her in this book; she’s such an interesting character with a lot to bring to the story. Rowan did not start out as a character I loved, but that slowly changed. The main reason I love him is the way he treats Aelin. She is considered less than him because she is not full fae, but he never treats her as such. Where Chaol sought to change and protect Celaena, Rowan serves Aelin. He allows her to be a queen, to take risks of her choosing, and he loves and accepts her as she is, dark parts and all. I think their romance in Empire of Storms is entirely believable and fun to read. There are so many emotional scenes between the two of them and the new developments in their story are both heartbreaking and exciting.

I have always loved the land of Erilea and the world-building in the Throne of Glass series, even though some of the books had less world-building than I’d like, or less interesting settings. However, I loved everything about the settings in this book. We get to see places we previously haven’t visited; we also get to return to some locations we haven’t seen in a while. Both of these provided Maas with an opportunity to show us her excelling skill as a world-builder. The missing history of the realm was better explained and the gods and the religion they practice were explained a little more. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but there were some long awaited places I expected to see in this book that I didn’t, but there were some plot twists involved and I was still pleased. There are jungles, islands, and seas to be explored in Empire of Storms and I really enjoyed picturing them in my mind.

As far as the actual story goes, I was highly impressed. There is just the right amount of action, drama, and romance to keep the story interesting. Each aspect was given just the right amount of attention without one taking precedence over the others. We finally get answers in this book! Motivations, history, religion; there’s so much more to the story that we are finally getting to hear in this book. I love the way Maas does romance. It’s present, there are lots of characters involved, but it still doesn’t seem to overpower the story. Do I need to stress how awesome the drama was?! Did I mention I cried, often? The drama was 1st class in this book; motivational speeches galore, moving expressions of love and friendship, heart-stopping action, and heartbreaking tragedy. Empire of Storms is a truly epic fantasy novel. If you are a Throne of Glass fan it will be everything you want and more. If you’ve continued the series but are still on the fence, it will change your mind and draw you back in. If you haven’t started the series, YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE READ THIS! Seriously though, READ THIS BOOK NOW!!

Want to support an independent bookseller? Purchase Empire of Storms at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC

By Kate Woods

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