With this review of Empire of Storms, my Throne of Glass talk will come to an end until later in 2017 when the final book comes out! Or whenever I get around to reading the novellas.
As always, spoilers are below.
Aelin Galathynius' fight for her throne is just beginning. She's lost friends, gained allies, and now she finds herself needing to increase her followers while proving her worth in order to become Queen. The Valg demons have taken over her world even further, and Aelin must hurry to find the wyrdkeys and locks that can banish them before they destroy everything.
Witches attack from the sky, ships battle at sea, unlikely teams form, and Fae queens and Valg kings control events behind the scenes; the action in Empire of Storms builds until everything collides in the most dramatic ending yet.
Empire of Storms improved Aelin’s journey to regain her throne, at least when compared with the previous Queen of Shadows. Aelin trusted her team in this installment and was more open with them overall, minus some events at the very end.
Overall, I really liked the action. The scenes with Manon and her grandmother and Lysandra as a sea dragon both had me so tense I could barely move until I got past them. Maas truly does get better with every book, each one had new characters and twists that kept the story interesting. And even though I complain about the way some Aelin traits are handled, I do like the character - she's just not my favorite ever. She’s feisty, an amazing fighter, and dedicated to defeating the evil in her world. Aelin’s easy to root for and keeps the action going. Also, Empire of Storms was my favorite cover of the series, I loved the fire and gray tones.
However, it wouldn't be a Throne of Glass review if I didn't have at least one issue and for this book there were two main complaints.
My first problem was that Maas gave EVERY single character a partner. It was unnecessary and frustrating that so much time was spent on these pairs. Of all the couples, the only ones I like are Rowan/Aelin and Elide/Lorcan.
I do not like Manon and Dorian as a couple at all. Period. Never. I do NOT want to see them fall in love. Manon is too strong and independent, she's the Blackbeack heir who used to kill men without a second thought for crying out loud! How does it make sense for a woman like that to fall for Dorian, who I like but is really just a spoiled prince? Manon’s character seemed too submissive in this book because of her sudden love life. She should've been flying away on Abraxos to find her Thirteen. Instead, she was stuck on some boat so Maas could create another pair to ship. (Dorian aside, I still loved Manon the most.)
I love both Aedion and Lysandra individually but there's no reason to put them together just for the sake of it. Chaol and Nesryn weren't in this book, but it’s understood that they’re in love somewhere and I don’t think that’s necessary.
Elide and Lorcan as a pair was strange to me at first but then I loved it, probably more than Aelin and Rowan. Both of them were so alone and bitter, yet Lorcan could keep his promises for her. He came back for her, looked out for her, and his cold little Lorcan heart melted a little for her. He did her laundry. Gah! I ship it.
My second issue with Empire of Storms was how Rowan was suddenly the most worshipful and attentive man in all the world. I loved him in Heir of Fire when he wasn’t falling at Aelin’s feet like everyone else; his tough love gave her a firm foundation when she’d never had that. But in this one, the guy practically starts drooling every time she looks his way. It was just too much.
Maas added in a new Fae trait called Settling. Basically, Settling meant Aelin would either come into her full Fae form in a few years and be immortal or stay half human and eventually die. Seeing as how this hadn't been mentioned previously and it was always brought up in the context of Aelin and Rowan’s relationship, I think we can safely bet that Aelin will be Fae. Convenient how that works to keep her with Rowan, right?
Another thing that seemed forced was the concept of “mates.” Why wasn’t Sam Aelin's mate? Or Chaol? If Aelin knew she was Fae then she should’ve wondered at some point if she was meant to be with either of them, but she wasn’t concerned with a mate until much later when we the readers finally learned it was even an option. I believe Maas just really, really loves Rowan and played up mates, fire and ice (which has been done already by the master GRRM), and Settling when needed in order to make Aelin and Rowan the new Romeo and Juliet. It's Maas' prerogative but I think their relationship could be less dramatic, and then it'd be stronger.
Empire of Storms gets a 4 out of 5 from me. Even though I’ve complained about several things while reading this series, I truly did enjoy it overall. It’s easy to read and get lost in and it’s fun. Not every book has to be Nobel Prize worthy (YA rarely is) and now I’m happily waiting in line with every other Throne of Glass fangirl for the final book.