Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Whoaa mama! This is one beast of a review to tackle, so please bear with me while I break from my usual format. I think I'm going to break this one up into a bulleted list to organize my thoughts.
I've given the previous Throne of Glass books a mix of three and four star ratings. I probably shot myself in the foot coming from A Court of Mist and Fury, which was my favorite read of the year, but something has been consistently absent from these books for me. Now take that with a grain of salt, because I'm not typically a reader of high fantasy, but time and time again with these I find myself falling in love with the characters and not the plot, and EoS was no exception.
- This world is unforgiving. There is no easy way out. Innocent people will die. The heroes will suffer. Lordy I can't tell you how happy I am to see genuine struggle in a YA!
- M A N O N. If my status updates didn't key you in, she is my HOMEGIRL! She only gets more interesting by the page! Even as her allegiances shift, she is, in her heart of hearts, a cruel killing machine, and Maas never shies away from that. Throw in her flower-loving wyvern and you can chalk this girl up to one of my all-time favorite characters!
- Aelin! Holy sh*t! I've spent this series going from thinking she's a Mary Sue to hating her to just being sick of her, but this more than anything is her book. All of her experiences and growth comes together to make her into the rebel queen that she needs to be. If you aren't liking her in this book, trust me, you just need to stick it out.
- So many of the supporting characters! Dorian, Lysandra, Fenrys, Gavriel, Lorcan, Elide - they all have stand out personalities and contribute their fair share to forwarding the plot. Aside from just the relationships, I love the kick ass friendships that arise in weird directions. Lysandra and Aelin? Kick ass my ladies. Elide and Manon? Sign me up. Even Fenrys and Gavriel's odd relationship with the crew always left me wanting more.
- No Choal. Thank you thank you thank you!
- Wyrdkeys and pendants and heirlooms, oh my! I get the Valg and the Ilken, I get Erawen and I was following along with the Wyrdgates, but there are way too many significant magical objects to keep track. I seriously kept forgetting what the Eye of Elena did or why it was important. And now Lorcan has this ring from Maeve? And throw a lock in there? I'm already learning a complex world and cast of characters, so I honestly gave up on following any of this magic mumbo jumbo.
- Rowaelin. Ugh. QoS really had me rooting for them. I even was getting past the blatant physical torture he put her through. But the sickening PDA constantly? We. Get. It. Aelin's life is in serious turmoil, so if she needs a hug from her boy toy, so be it, but Rowan had no regard for just like, decency? And Maas was constantly addressing how everyone could smell their arousal. Um, eew? Did I sign up for a fantasy novel or some weird voyeur porn?
- On that note, the sex scenes, and not because I didn't feel they had a place. Avoiding spoilers, I actually loved that there were intimate scenes between people other than just OMIGOD SOULMATES. What irkied me was that they all read like Maas copy-pasted the same chapter. If I remember to cite the exact quotes later, I'll add them here, but I remember two different couples having the description along the lines of, "He kissed one side of her mouth, then the other." Am I missing something? Do people just do that and I've been kissing wrong? Cause that seems real specific to happen twice in separate couples. (On a side note, this makes me sad that the next ACOTAR book will likely be more of the same copy paste scene. Sigh.)
EoS was a hell of a sequel to build on all that's happened in ToG, which I've been desperately marathoning to jump on this bandwagon for the release. Aside from falling more in love with Manon by the freaking second my precious baby, I thought this continued to be an amazing cast of characters. Plot wise? About a 70/30 split between edge of my seat vs. scanning for the next mention of Manon's name.