This review will contain spoilers for the rest of the Throne of Glass series, up until Queen of Shadows. If you have not read up till Queen of Shadows, read at your own risk.
Aelin Galythinius needs to find an army if she wants to win this war. Empire of Storms begins with Aelin and the ‘gang’ (by which I mean Rowan, Lysandra and Aedion) entering Terrasen and finding out that things aren’t going to be quite as easy as Aelin walking up to a throne and pronouncing herself the Queen. Terrasen has been beaten down since the assassination of Aelin’s parents and has grown poorer and poorer since it’s been under Adarlan’s rule. To put it simply: they aren’t in the best place for a Queen who is going to war. With this in mind, and Dorian in potential danger, the ‘gang’ head south to see if they can find allies there.
Manon is not having the best time. Under scrutiny for the collapse of one third of Morath, Manon needs to do her best to get into her Grandmothers good graces again. But her inner conscience keeps rearing it’s ugly head and ends up getting her in a lot of trouble…
Dorian is being a sweet cinnamon roll, too pure, pacing around his castle with not much to do.
And Chaol is presumably a-ok, chillaxing in the southern continent.
Meanwhile Elide is walking. And walking. And walking.
I had a lot of fun reading this book, and you can tell Sarah had fun writing it. Getting to see the characters interact more (we finally have a lot more time for conversations, yay!) and be generally more fleshed out was really great. I am now 100% committed to all of these characters, and I don’t want anything to hurt any of them (except Maeve, she can go die in a ditch somewhere).
But this book, more then any of the rest of the series, grated me a bit. Sarah’s writing style has gotten more and more frilly, she adds a lot of explanations that I felt were unnecessary, and also a lot of conflict that was unneeded. I do feel like this book could have been shorter, which was a frustrating feeling to have whilst reading.
I’m also concerned about how all the female characters, no matter how complex their backstories or how unique their ethnicity, are blending into one. In this book we see Aelin become more snarky and sarcastic then ever, but we also saw both Lysandra and Manon taking on these traits, and sometimes it felt out of place. All these characters are strong and independent, I just worry that Sarah feels by making them seem unworried and sometimes downright bitchy (in Aelin’s case) it will make them seem stronger. I did struggle with some of Aelin’s more dramatic moments in this book, and I much preferred reading about Manon or Elide.
There’s a similar problem with the men, a lot of the time Maas is focused on writing about how physically strong they are, how big they are, how brooding they are. I hope this calms down in the next book.
But I really loved this book overall, even if it wasn’t technically perfect. The characters and the world have become so dear to me, I can’t even begin to explain. Sarah has created a cast of characters that would make me smile any day.
I know lots of people will be complaining about the lack of a certain character in this book (cough, Chaol, cough) but the book series was never about Chaol, it was about Celaena/Aelin and Chaol happened to be part of her life for a while, and now he is not. He probably will be in the next book, he isn’t gone permanently, and to be honest I don’t see how Maas would have slotted him in to an already packed book anyway.
Sarah has given me a lot of food for thought, I’ll be brewing over that ending for a while to come for sure. I can’t wait for the next Throne of Glass book to come out next year!
I’ve given this book 4.5/5 ice creams, I had to deduct half a star because of the reasons mentioned above, but Dorian can do no wrong in my eyes!