Source: purchased (paperback).
Genre: YA high fantasy.
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
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’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 is the review for the fifth part of the series so you can be sure there will be spoilers for the first four books. You can read my reviews for the previous parts here: 1+2, 3, 4. If you’ve been around here for a while, you’ll know that my relationship with Maas’s books goes up and down. I wasn’t too impressed by Queen of Shadows, so I was curious about Empire of Storms and the direction Maas will take with her story.
After much deliberation, I decided that there will also be SPOILERS FOR THIS BOOK. So if you haven’t read it and hate SERIOUS spoilers, you should quit reading this now. I warned you.
So. Here we are, one book away from finishing this series. We’ve been with Celaena/Aelin for a while now and I know I should be invested in her story and rooting for her but you guys, I don’t like her. She’s obnoxious. She makes me want to slap her face (even if she’d cut my hand of as a result). So her storyline was the one I was least excited to read about. Her inability to share her plans with her closest friends and supporters just came off as incredibly arrogant. And now we’ll spend half the last book trying to save her silly ass.
The fact that she and Rowan finally had sex did nothing to improve this book. I’ve said this before but it has to be said again: Empire of Storms is NOT a young adult novel. The series might have started off as young adult but this just isn’t it anymore. I think I complained about this in my review of Queen of Shadows already but this time, it’s even more obvious. Even if it makes me sound like a prude, my complaint is mostly about the sex, which, by the way, was really awkward. On one hand, you have these spectacular orgasms that defy the elements and shake the world and whatnot, and on the other, the obviously “adult” content is censored so there’s no actual naming of body parts and Aelin is forever “grasping him” in her hands and so on. Also, there was one instance that kind of made me want to throw the book against the wall: “Rowan had healed the bruise on the back of her knuckles from the blow she’d dealt the witch – and she’d thanked him by locking the door to their room and getting on her knees before him. She could still feel his fingers fisted in her hair, still hear his groan-” Yeah. I don’t really like a YA character thanking anyone for anything with a BJ.
I was much happier when the story switched to other characters. I love Manon Blackbeak and her coven, I think their friendships, while based on a strict hierarchy, are pretty great. I still think wyverns would make great pets and I want one. I also enjoyed reading about Elide, I liked how resourceful she was and how stubborn. I think we can expect great things from her. I was surprised, however, that Chaol was not present at all in this book. He’s mentioned, sure, but all we know is that he’s recovering from his injuries and might – at a later point – help Aelin and Dorian. That’s it. He has been successfully erased.
What I didn’t like was the fact that everyone gets paired off in this book. We have Aelin and Rowan (but we knew about that one), Aedion likes the shifter Lysandra, Manon hooks up with Dorian (oh yeah, that was awkward, their half-assed attempt at BDSM, lol), and Elide gets Lorcan, one of Rowan’s fae friends. There’s a very brief mention that Aedion is bisexual, which feels like a poor attempt at having more diverse relationships – but I really missed more info on Manon’s Thirteen, some of whom could have much more interesting sex lives than most of the other characters. There’s this overabundance of alpha males in this series – and there’s a lot said about their past relationships, I think the expression used is that they “gorged on women” at some point, which is just gross. Eh.
You might be wondering at this point why I gave the book three stars/hearts if I disliked it so much. Well, I’d be a liar if I didn’t tell you that I flew through it. It’s nearly 700 pages long and I read it in three days, which is super fast for me these days. Maas writes very readable books, there’s no denying that. I’m also invested enough in her other characters that I want to finish the series to see how their stories end.
I also kind of liked the last twist, Aelin’s backup plan wasn’t half bad (even if she really could have shared it with Rowan and Aedion at least), though I didn’t like all the gods and weird ancestors butting in – it just felt like choices were taken away from characters for no apparent reason. It’s kind of simplistic to say a thing happened “because the gods willed it”, so I hope Maas manages to wrap things up in a more satisfactory manner in the last book.
Oof. Yeah. If you made it this far, kudos to you! :)
Have you read Empire of Storms? What did you think?
Do you like the path the series is taking?
I’d love to hear from you! :)