Friday, October 7, 2016

Review: Empire of Storms

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
Throne of Glass #5
Published September 6th 2016 by Bloomsbury

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those don't.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin's journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?
Empire of Storms literally brings the storm and by that I mean a shit storm of anguish like WHY?!? Seriously, I need therapy right now. I need a support group. I need all my fellow Maas-fanatics to reach out. Tweet me, DM me, email me because we need to talk...we just need to talk it out and share virtual ice-cream while we cry and gush and rage and cry some more over this glorious mess of a book. And I mean mess in the best way possible here - just a freaking STORM of feels. Oh and in case it wasn't already obvious, this review shall also be a mess...but not the glorious kind.

Before I get down to Empire of Storms, I have to put this out there: this series will go down as one of my all-time favorite series. I have mad-love for Aelin and her journey, as well as every new character that has be strewn upon her path. That being said, I had a few minor issues with this instalment. Nothing to change my love for the series but small things that I'll touch upon in this review.

So, the story picks up very nearly after the events of Queen of Shadows and we're thrown right into the thick of things with multiple POVs - seriously, the list just keeps growing. We've got Aelin, Rowan, Dorian, Aedion, Lysandra Manon with new additions Elide and Lorcan rounding things out. Now don't get me wrong: I adore all of these characters and getting into their head was a real treat. BUT here's the thing. So many POVs means a lot of setup to start with. Maas needed to establish what was going on with everyone of them, which slowed down the pace considerably in the begining.  And as much as every single one of these characters had my interest, I found myself missing Aelin a lot throughout this instalment. These books are HER story after all but here she definitely shares the spotlight and here I definitely felt a distance between myself as a reader and her as the MC. I know she's not everyone's cup of tea, but I've adored her since Throne of Glass so despite my adoration of everyone else, I missed my fire-breathing bitch-queen. But more Rowan, Dorian, Manon, Lysandra, Elide and Lorcan was SUPER welcome so unless this book had been 1000+ pages, something had to give.

And despite being character heavy, Empire of Storms ended having less character development than previous books in the series. That's because there was So.Much.Plot. Elements coming together since the first books, the novellas. ALL OF IT coalescing freaking brilliantly, and in ways I never could have imagined. I was on pins and needles through revelation and revelation until I honestly felt blown away by it all. LOTS of stuff happens here. Characters are turned inside out. Some are still reeling from what they suffered previously and yet they face mounting darkness, dismal odds and true horrors the likes of which their world has never known. This isn't a light book, there's shadows every step of the way but it makes the bright moments shine all the brighter. There's more friendship here than ever, more romance and yes more sexy times. It does seem like Maas made every character a pair but I ship every single one so who am I to complain. All of us fans shipped these pairings so Maas gave us what we craved! Honestly though, this book needed every instance of lightness to tone down the living-nightmares that threatened to take over.

The ending though. Oh gods that ending killed it. It's easily one of THE cruelest endings I've come across and it is NOT ok. I am NOT ok. I barely survived the wait for this book but waiting for ToG6? I can't even think about it. At the same time though, I can't bear for ToG6 to come out because when it does that means that ultimate sacrifices will have to be made and I can't bear any of it.

The bottom line is that Empire of Storms isn't my favorite book in the Throne of Glass series but it's still one of the best books I've read this year so I'm not docking points in my rating for my minor issues. That might seem wrong to some of you but THAT ending can not be ignored.  I wonder if the book might have benefited from being split into two books but baring that, this book held my interest every step of the way and regardless of how many characters are now in play, I adore every single one of them. Now they ALL have to survive otherwise I'm doomed. And I'm serious guys, hit me up for a chat about this one because I need the support.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Previously...

26 comments:

  1. So I've been stalking your GR, too, for EoS updates, LOL, and missed the update that you finished! I'm happy to know that we can now discuss and give each other therapy! XD

    You summed up my feelings about EoS PERFECTLY; it's not my favorite installment in the series, either, but it's still one HELL of a book! I felt the pacing issue as well and also noticed a shift in focus towards the other characters. And a certain someone was totally missing. :'(

    I'm also really kicking myself for not getting around to The Assassin's Blade before reading EoS; I wasn't completely lost with the references, but I do think reading TAB beforehand absolutely would have enhanced my EoS reading experience.

    THE ENDING. Bloody. Hell. I only survived it by constantly telling myself there WILL be payback for that. There MUST be! XD

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    1. Heheheh, we're both total stalkers when it comes to Potter, Stiefvater and Maas :D Let the therapy BEGIN!

      Yeah, it was hard to compete with Hof and QoS to be honest but this book did GREAT nonetheless. I think there was a lot of stuff that needed to go down here and with all the characters it screwed up the pacing a bit but it made up for it in PLOT and ACTION. I missed Aelin a lot though and really seeing the character growth we've seen previously for ALL our beloved characters. And yes I missed that character too!! At least the new characters were awesome and Manon's evolution was EPIC.

      Ooooh I wish you'd read TAB firsthand too! You'll get so many of the references and know lots of the 'new' characters too!

      THAT ENDING KILLED. Like I'm still not over it, I haven't been able to pick up a book since. If I didn't have audiobooks during the commute right now I would NOT be reading at all because this book DESTROYED ME. There needs PAYBACK and EVERYONE needs to be safe ok?!!

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  2. I seriously cannot wait to get this book! I'm dying to read it but my nightstand pile is monstrous. I won't get to it for another month or so and I'm crying.
    Rebecca @ The Portsmouth Review
    Follow me on Bloglovin'

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    1. Oh my! A month!? Eeep, that sounds like forever! Oh I hope you get to it soon and I hope it'll be worth the wait for you :)

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  3. YES, I'm so glad to see you loved this! I also found myself missing Aelin through much of this book, as well. I loved having the multiple POVs, but at the same time I just wanted to go back to my favorite well-loved characters! Regardless, it was still a wonderful book. Great review!

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    1. Exactly! I WANTED to know all about ALL the characters but it made me sad that it was at the expense of Aelin! You're right though, it was amazing regardless! Thank you!!

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  4. There there, Micheline. I wish I could comfort you truly, but I admit I haven't even read Queen of Shadows yet! Though I can imagine how much Maas put you through the ringer with this one based off of the previous books... Anywho, this one sounds like a great penultimate book to the series despite the few qualms you mention. I bet it's hard setting everything up plot-wise the final book so hopefully you will get more character development in book 6!

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    1. LOL! Thank you Aylee, I appreciate it nonetheless. Seriously though: YOU NEED QoS in your life ASAP.And you're right about your assessment of the penultimate book in the series. There was a LOT of stuff to get to so it's still an amazing book, despite the few minor issues. Oh book 6 will be killer, I'm terrified!

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  5. Very glad to hear you enjoyed this! Unfortunately I did not have as good a time with the book, I just think that since the last two books the series has been moving in a different direction, one that I don't know if I want to follow. I love when series and characters evolve though, and I am happy that others are enjoying it even if it isn't meshing with me :)

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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    1. I'm sorry that that happened to you Mogsy. I know some people have fallen out of love with the series and that's never any fun. I'm glad it didn't happen to me with this series though because to me: Maas = LIFE :D

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  6. So, this is one of those series I just need to start reading, Micheline... I haven't been living under a rock, promise, and I have heard great things about it from many bloggers for ages, but still, I haven't picked it up myself.
    I'm mean enough to be happy because you are seeking therapy from fellow Maas-lovers to cope with the end of the series... Great review!

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

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    1. Yes I agree 10000% I have a feeling you'd really enjoy this series in all honesty Lexxie^^ I'm excited for you to get going here so we can chat about it all :D Thank you!! xx

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  7. Haha, it's always good to read a very enthusiastic review from a true fan! :) I do like this series but it just isn't my absolute favourite - and Heir of Fire was my favourite instalment so far. That said, I'm anxious for book 6 as well because I really want to know how it all plays out! As you said, this book was plot-heavy, so it'll take a masterful finale to tie up all the loose ends. Great review, Micheline, no worries about it being too messy! ;)

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    1. HoF was the best one in the series for me too^^ I'm SUPER anxious for ToG6, partly because I want to know how it all ends up like you said, and partly because I worry I might not survive it LOL! Thank you Kaja^^ xx

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  8. That ending really is a killer. I'm still devastated by it. I loved this book so hard and I loved how it all came together. All the hints and stuff from the novellas, it was just insanity. Waiting for that final book will be torture.

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    1. I am too Teresa^^ I haven't been able to pick up a book since I finished this like 2 weeks ago. If I wasn't doing audiobooks for my commute to and from work I wouldn't have read A THING. I. Just. Can't. ToG6 might just kill us all D:

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  9. Oh boy- I just finished Queen of Shadows and I am unsure if I am ready for this one. I love this series, and I adored Heir of Fire (like SO much), but I am not sure I am ready for Empire of Storms yet, although you've got me majorly curious. I binged on three Maas books in the last month though (I also read both books in her A Court of Thorns and Roses series), I might need a break... I think.

    Great review, I loved seeing how excited you were for this one.

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    1. I'm 100% sure that you are NOT ready but I wasn't either. When you do read it feel free to join our support group LOL! Maas is like a drug and there is no cure. Thank you and I can't wait to see what you think of this one^^

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  10. OMG YES! You said everything I was thinking about! Crown of Midnight will always be my favorite because of Chaol and so I am not going to start with that ship dying BUT I will say that I support Maas' decision with Chaol.

    HOWEVER, I feel like Empire of Storms was a way to lengthen the entire series. It may be that Maas still has a lot to say or because she is making a lot of money or the decision is publisher driven, I don't know but I think that this book is just.... I don't know.. I feel like it is a "filler" book just to lengthen the series, you know?

    Not that I don't like it! I rated it 4 stars because of so much character arcs that don't necessarily had to be there.

    I loved how she introduced Manon in Heir of Fire. That was very smartly done, but now, we have a deluge of characters that it was so hard to keep up!

    Of course now I have new faves.... LYSANDRA and MANON and ELID! <3

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    1. My favorite was HoF with QoS coming in a close second. I definitely was one the Chaol ship but Rowan just won me over ♥

      From what I heard, ToG was always a planned 6-book series so I don't think that EoS was a way to lengthen the series. I do think that the series probably changed a lot since it's inception and that with all the characters and POVs it made this one more...bumpy.

      Personally I LOVE ALL the new characters but the downside is that so many characters means less time with Aelin. Agreed though: LOVE Manon, Lysandra and Elide ♥

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  11. You summed up so many of my thoughts here! I still LOVED this book, but it isn't my favorite in the series. I continue to LOVE Aelin (I like her more and more as time goes on) but the myriad of POVs did get a bit jarring, and as you said, this book was so PLOT heavy (so many battles, so much physical location movement from the characters, etc.) I think it was really a book that needed to set up for ToG6. Not every book is going to be perfect and this was certainly wasn't, but Maas is still was of my favorite authors!
    -Cristina @ Girl in the Pages

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    1. I agree with every.single.thing you said here Christina^^ LOVED EoS but it's not my favorite in the series. HoF and QoS are hard acts to follow though, we can't deny that! Yup, it definitely was a full house of characters and as much as I missed Aelin, I wouldn't change anything because I'm loving ALL the new characters. It just affected the pacing at the start there....but it's like you said: this book was necessary to set up ToG6. How are we even going to survive that one?!

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  12. I remember when Manon first came on the scene that it really discouraged me because I was being taken away from our girl to read about someone that I absolutely had no care in the world for. I'm so glad that I stuck with it though since she became such an integral part of the company and I love where her story went. I guess due to that, I didn't mind all the meandering POVs and closer look at each of the side characters in this one. It looks like this one got you with that aspect though and I felt it more in Heir of Fire. THAT ENDING THOUGH. I really don't know how I'm going to survive reading the last one with how bad those last moments in this one got to me. Are you kidding me? How could she possibly deserve that after all she'd already been through and then when more secrets were revealed about how it'd been set up for that very possibility...GAH. Maas is an artist though IMO with how everything in the past had a place and those revelations were one after another after another.

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    1. Me too Jaclyn but then Manon was MADE of awesome so I didn't mind...even though I did really miss Aelin. It's basically the same thing for me here: I adored all the new characters but I still missed Aelin. THAT ENDING was incredibly cruel and I honestly don't know how we're ever going to survive this series ending?! I agree 100% though, Maas is a genius so I feel confident that she'll give us an ending worthy of that

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  13. THAT ENDING, I KNOWWWW. Also: "I found myself missing Aelin a lot throughout this instalment. These books are HER story after all but here she definitely shares the spotlight and here I definitely felt a distance between myself as a reader and her as the MC." THIS. I seriously cannot agree more, this was my biggest issue with this book and it made me pretty sad. I love all the characters but I feel like we are being distanced from the MAIN character.

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    1. I STILL CAN'T EVEN WITH THAT ENDING. I haven't picked up a physical book since finishing this 2 weeks ago. Without my commute-time audio book, I wouldn't be reading at all because I CAN'T GET OVER IT. I am NOT ok.

      I'm compleltely with you one missing Aelin. A lot. But at the same time, I was rivited by all the new characters...I just wish it hadn't been at the expense of our heroine ♥

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