This was the first time I had to wait a full year for a new SJM book, so of course I had high expectations for Empire of Storms. I was excited to finally read it, anxious to see what horrors my favorite characters would have to endure, hopeful that no one would die but too skeptical to accept that as a possibility, and clueless in regards to what I would be putting myself through. I wasn’t let down, not by a long shot, but I also wouldn’t call that a triumph. I put it down with my heart in pieces and the wait for the final book a pain I didn’t want to experience. Basically, it was just a perfect book. 😉
The story picks up right where Queen of Shadows left off, and the tension is palpable from page one. Throughout all 693 pages, it never really eases off. You just don’t know what to expect with this series, or anything Sarah writes. But as you read, you realize that every little detail matters. Sarah is a foreshadowing queen, almost like J.K. Rowling. Yes, I dared to make the comparison, and yes, I believe that to be true. She’s also a master of combining many subplots to form a complicated web that is the main plot-line; Aelin, Manon, Dorian, Elide, Lorcan, and so many others. Readers follow their journey and their goals, the individual to be eventually tied into one or many united goals. You think that drawing doesn’t have any significance? Wrong. You think that person is just a citizen in Rifthold or Wendlyn or wherever? Wrong. Everything is connected, everything has a purpose, and readers are just along for the ride. I was, at least, and I loved every word of it. Even the words that destroyed me were part of an overall fantastic story. ❤
I don’t even know where to start. There are so many characters I want to talk about, but bringing up some would be spoiling the book in some way or another and bringing up all would make this review close to never-ending. I’ll try to keep this as short as I can, but there are plenty of characters I just have to bring up.
Aelin is my #2 all time favorite female character ever for a reason, and I was definitely reminded why as I read. She’s the same sassy, arrogant young woman we’ve known and loved for a while, but now she’s past the guilt, the what-ifs. She’s going to take down all of the bad guys, take back what’s hers, and keep her friends and lover alive, by whatever means necessary. She really took advantage of her fire in this book, figuratively and literally, and became an even more epic fighter and formidable opponent because of it. I didn’t think either was possible, but it clearly is. She never was and never will be easily deterred, and her loyalty, dedication, and cunning make her a character everyone loves. At least, I loved her. I absolutely did, without any trace of a doubt. I think my favorite part of her personality was how emotionally driven she was. Her emotions didn’t cloud her judgement, they fueled her action. They weren’t shoved deep down to present a stony facade, but let loose to make her real and simultaneously intimidating and sensitive.
Rowan is easily one of the best male characters ever written, in my opinion. He manages to be a menacing immortal Fae warrior and a passionate, ever-loyal man, and slipping between the two seems so easy. His wind stokes Aelin’s fire, fueling it when he stands beside her in court or on the battlefield, and his presence can restrain her irrationality and calm her rage. He never belittles her or tries to keep her out of danger, but he backs her up and stands strong at her side. He’s sort of a Fae feminist, and I love it. I also love that even without Aelin, he’s such a complex character. His backstory explains so much, and it’s something so simple woven into something so unique. Readers originally learn of it in Heir of Fire, if I remember correctly, and even if you don’t initially like him, you will by the end of this book. I mean, I didn’t like him for 95% of HOF, and look at me now. XD
Aedion is very much the same loyalty-driven, victory-craving general he has been since we met him. He’s much more ferocious and passionate, though, and I must admit that sometimes I wasn’t a huge fan of that. I still love him to pieces, because when I think about it, it gives him flaws and therefore more depth and complexity. He’s strategic and sly, and an asset to Aelin in and out of battle.
Lysandra has changed from a timid girl in a brothel to an essential, courageous, and teasing part of Aelin’s court. Her character development is amazing, and she’s another favorite character. I admire how much she’s grown after enduring what she has, and that she still has the spirit to fight. Her ability is really cool too. 😉
Dorian used to be a cocky prince, but is now a quiet, sure king. He treads much more carefully than he did before, and the trauma he experienced in past books has made him vigilant but powerful and considerate.
Manon discovers that she does, in fact, have a heart and a soul, and isn’t an emotionless, immortal shell. She gets her first taste of real freedom and runs with it (well, flies, because Abraxos) and following her journey was one of my favorite parts. Many readers agree that in Heir of Fire her chapters bored them, and while I wouldn’t quite go that far, I’ll admit that they were my least favorite. I was intrigued, but very much preferred Aelin’s and Dorian’s chapters. Now I was desperate to know if she was okay, and what she was doing, and whether she healed. The Blackbeak witch has grown on me, and so has the rest of her Thirteen. 🙂 (Not Abraxos, though, because he was my favorite part of her HOF chapters from the moment he was introduced.)
Elide has one of the best character arcs ever. She’s no longer the weak, cowering girl we met in Queen of Shadows. She’s become a strong, determined young woman, very similar to Aelin but without the magic…at least as far as we know. Who knows what we’ll learn in the final book? But anyway, she has a goal in mind and is going to accomplish it: be reunited with Aelin and her court. After everything she experienced growing up and getting out, the way she pulled through just amazed me. I love and admire her a lot for it, especially since she did it all with a severely crippled leg. She’s just an awesome character, like everyone else I’ve mentioned so far. 😀
Lorcan went through something fairly similar to what Manon did. The two biggest differences, I think, were their loyalty situations and that I didn’t grow to love the Fae the way I did the witch. His change of perspective and loyalty was gradual, but once it happened he stuck with it. I really liked watching it unfold (even though I was reading), especially since I never imagined he would grow like that. And as much as I’d like to say it stayed that way, I can’t. I can’t say why, but I’ll just say that he needs to redeem himself.
Old characters returned and new ones were introduced, and I loved or hated them all with a passion, depending upon which side they fought for. Since this section has already gone on for a while, I’ll just leave it at that. 😉
Returning to the world of Erilea after a year away was wonderful. Readers are swept away to Rifthold, Perranth, Skull’s Bay, Eyllwe, Terrasen, and everywhere in between. All of the different environments, kingdoms, and atmospheres were described in a beautiful, vivid, and sometimes brutal way, and I enjoyed it. The Throne of Glass world is one that can sweep you off your feet and out of reality in seconds, and to that I’m no exception. I could imagine each area of their world as clearly as if I were traveling with Aelin and company myself.
And this is where the book delves into the pool of New Adult. Because while all the different friendships and other connections are glorious, the mature content warning isn’t there to look pretty. There were a couple of scenes (I can’t remember the exact number but I’m thinking 2-3) that I skipped over. I loved all of the romances in this book, continuing and developing, because as you all know, I’m a hopeless romantic. They’re all fantastically written, of course, but I just love fictional couples. That aside, though, if you’re younger like I am proceed with caution. I’m not going to give an age limit because I believe each person knows what they can handle, but be warned. Otherwise, enjoy the book. Even with those select scenes I skipped, it was nothing less than phenomenal. ❤
I’m not going to name the couples, because even though one is obvious and many others have most likely already been named or guessed, I don’t want anyone to get spoiled. 😉
My immediate reaction to the numerous twists and heart-wrenching turns this book threw at me was this: give me all the cookies and chocolate, because I’ll need them to cope. Since I finished reading at roughly 10 pm last night, I couldn’t stuff my face with either sugary treat, but as I write this I’m making up for it with a ton of cookies. (Read: only 3 small ones.) XD My point is, this book absolutely destroyed me, particularly the last 100 pages. If I thought Queen of Shadows was bad, that the later Vampire Academy novels were bad, then those were just appetizers leading to this excruciating entreé, and for once I don’t want to taste dessert. I have no idea why my mind thought to use weird food metaphors, but let’s go with it. It fits, to be entirely honest. I thought the beginning and middle of this book were full of surprises, but mostly bearable. Now I know why: to catch readers unaware by throwing a horrible, heartbreaking cliffhanger at them. Exactly what bibliophiles crave, for some reason… so you should read it! 🙂
This was without a doubt my longest review yet, but Empire of Storms is worthy of every rambling word out of my mouth… or, I guess, off of my keyboard..? I don’t know, but you get my point. This fifth book in one of my most beloved series was worth every day of the year-long wait, and I don’t know how I’ll manage to hold off until the final book comes out. I also don’t know what I’ll do when this series is over, but we’ll deal with that when it happens. All of that aside, this book did destroy me more than any other book ever has, but that just shows how well it was written. An average or poorly written book could never provoke feelings in a reader, much less ones as long-lasting and major as the ones I feel nearly a day later. I’m going to stop rambling now, but my point is this: Empire of Storms made me feel a whirlwind of emotions, positive and negative*, and it’s easily one of the best books I’ve read all year. ❤
* Meaning only that it broke my heart into a ton of tiny pieces, and that isn’t a happy feeling.
my rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Have you read this book? Is it on your TBR? If you have read it, what did you think? I’d love to know! Tell me in the comments! 🙂
I’m off to continue reading Bloodlines by Richelle Mead. 😀 I hope you all have a fabulous day/night! ❤
Until next time…