Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas, AKA The Ultimate Book Hangover
Before I purge myself of what can only be the cumulation of hours with an elevated heart rate and spiked blood pressure, let me be clear: THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD. So steer clear from this iceberg of destruction, because I’m plowing through full steam ahead. You’ve been warned.
Fellow Throne of Glass fans: Welcome.
It’s been a helluva journey, folks. One that binds fans everywhere out of love for these incredible characters, out of love for the richly dense world of magic and fantasy, out of ship wars over the true “canon couplings”…and lastly, out of support for the crippling book hangovers we live with over the span of a year.
We have been waiting on Empire of Storms, the 5th book in Maas’s Throne of Glass series, for over a year now. Plenty of time for George R.R. Martin-esque catastrophe to befall our favorite characters - if anything resembling a Red Wedding occurs in the last book, I might lose my frickin mind.
While I definitely haven't bothered hiding my love of Sarah J. Maas in all her nerdy splendor, I was TERRIFIED that something horrible would happen in this book… Second to last books are notorious for leaving you with cliffhangers of Mt. Doom-sized proportions. In particular: Rowaelin-shippers need to tread carefully... The Chaol/Dorian bandwagon from Books 1 and 2 gave us a bad case of whiplash and Ship-PTSD, so….
I don’t trust anything.
Not until the last damn sentence in the last damn chapter.
This book was a chunk to process. A MASSIVE CHUNK.
Let’s put in perspective: Here’s a photo of my hardcover copies of Queen of Shadows and Empire of Storms.
Queen of Shadows is 672 pages. Empire of Storms is 704 pages.
Maas and her publishers decided to use thinner paper when printing in order to make it fit. So even though it appears thinner then QoS, it’s actually a fattie in disguise. Hehehe.
Things That Made me Fan-girl HARD:
- WITCHES. Holy cow. In HoF and QoS I skimmed the Manon sections, hurrying to get back to Aelin. But in EoS, I was SHOCKED to find that Manon’s storyline (along with Elide and the Thirteen) kicked ASS. I literally screamed, jumping up and down in my chair when Manon saved Asterin from execution after they rescued Dorian in Rifthold, and then again when the Thirteen swooped in and saved the day against Maeve’s armada at the Gulf of Oro. BOOM. BAD-ASSERY. If I could be a character in this series, it would DEFINITELY be a witch. A Blueblood. Because they’re not so uptight and eternally cranky like the rest.
- Abraxos is a giant golden retriever teddy bear, and I want one.
- Elide and the way she was completely unimpressed with Lorcan’s “I’m so dark and broody and evil and don’t want any friends” attitude. Nothing he did fazed her. If anything, she came even more into her own as a formidable foe - amongst all of these immortal/demi-immortal/magic-wielding crazies.
- Lysandra, who apparently can turn into ANYTHING. I’m pretty sure she could turn into Sarah J. Maas at this point and write the last book for her. It’s insane. I’m not sure if the others in Aelin’s crew realize just how much weight Lysandra pulls with it comes to battles. She took on 5 sea-wyverns. Enough said.
Things That I Wasn’t 100% Sold On:
- Dorian x Manon… There were definitely bread crumbs laid in QoS. We got the hint that at some point these two would run into each other. And I know that a lot of fans were convinced that Manon was asexual or a lesbian. So I braced myself for either outcome. No matter what, it would be interesting. But what I didn’t expect was for them to sleep together. It was… weird. Dorian was acting very “50 Shades” and Manon was… not Manon, and then it was a “Hit it and Quit it” scenario that was just odd. *awkward shrug*
- Couples, Couples, Couples, as far as the eye can see! It felt like Maas was making sure all of the major characters in this installment had a very specific love interest carved out in the plot. EVERYONE had a bae. I’m not against romance, but it seemed a little forced. The only characters that didn’t have their brains clogged with pheromones were Gavriel (poor guy just wanted to be a daddy) and Rolfe. Even Fenrys was making pining oogly-eyes at Aelin from afar (which did NOT go unnoticed by Rowan, btw… good luck with that one, buddy).
- Namless is my price - So at the long, convoluted revelation where we learn about Elena’s massive mess-up that landed Aelin - and the rest of Erilea - in Valg-infested trouble, we learn that one of Mala’s descendants must pay with their life to forge a new Lock in order to seal the Wyrdgate. Aelin and Dorian are both viable Mala-infused candidates, but because Dorian “wasn’t ready”, Aelin got the short end of the deal. Um… I think he’s ready now?? Have you seen him lately? The boy’s been eating his magical wheaties. Tag him in, Coach!
- Sex scenes - There are technically two in this book, with a few added bits and pieces here and there that are somewhat steamy. The Throne of Glass series is listed as “Young Adult” fantasy, and there are significant differences between Young Adult and New Adult, one of which being the presence/level of graphic sex scenes. In Queen of Shadows, these were hinted at with Aelin and Rowan, but they never got further then some light petting and kissing. In Empire of Storms, however, they are full-scaled sex scenes. I’m a huge fan of Maas’s other series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, which is listed as “New Adult” fantasy. With this labeling, I knew what to expect going in. But with the Throne of Glass series, I did NOT expect that to pop up. While I’m not uncomfortable with sex scenes in books (within very tight parameters), I am uncomfortable with some of the younger fans being exposed to it.
Things That Resembled Other Things:
- Maeve has officially become Dolores Umbridge in my mind
- Both Court of Mist and Fury and Empire of Storms end with the main female protagonist being taken prisoner by the enemy
- Both Court of Mist and Fury and Empire of Storms reveal “mates” of some sort - although Maas was especially cryptic and tight-lipped in EoS, using terms like “claiming”, “coupling”, and “marking” to throw us off. Rude.
- Harry Potter was asked to sacrifice himself at the right time in order to destroy Voldemort. Aelin was selected to sacrifice herself in forging a Lock to seal away Erawan and his Dark Forces with the Wyrdgate. Hmmm…. sounds mighty familiar, no? Donde esta la Horcruxes?
- Terrasen is Scotland/Ireland!!!!! OMG this totally hit me when I read the bonus short stories and they were talking about the lilt of Terrasen accents!
- Both Court of Mist and Fury and Empire of Storms talk about “dreamers”:
Lastly, I've loved sifting through the mass amounts of Goodreads reviews from angry fans enraged that Chaol wasn't in this book. And it's HILARIOUS. Guys, I respect your commitment to Chaolaena. Truly. But that ship has obviously sailed. And on the real, his name sounds like a VEGETABLE.
Overall, I give this title 4/5 stars (1 star less then usual due to a few eyebrow raises). But I am still 100% a diehard Throne of Glass fan, and I'm SO down for the last book!!