Publication Date: September 6th, 2016
Song I Played While Reading: Left Behinds by Hardwell
Rating: 4 stars
Kingdoms will collide.
The long path to the throne of has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius as war looms on the horizon. Loyalties have been broke and bought, friendships have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don't.
With her heart storm to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become posted to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.
In this breathtaking fifth installment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series, Aelin will have to choose what- and who- to sacrifice if she's to keep the world of Erilea from breaking apart.
I'm going to warn you all right now: if you haven't read Empire of Storms, or any of the other Throne of Glass books, leave. I''m not even going to bother with the a spoiler-free opening, since this is the fifth book in a series that is, quite possibly, the biggest series on the market right now. (Remember the good old days when Throne of Glass was quietly enamoring us? Yeah. Good times. (I promise I'm not a snob, oh my god.))
I've come to realize that writing a review for any of these books is... difficult, to say the least. This is probably going to be long-winded and random and full of fangirl moments. I'm literally incapable of capping this review to a couple paragraphs. So that's another warning: this is going to be LONG. If anyone reads this entire thing, high fucking five for you and can we be friends??
We're going to start with something that has been plaguing me ever since I read Queen of Shadows, which was the identity crisis I went through as Aelin shed Celaena's skin and fully embraced her Fae heritage. I still have trouble figuring out how and why they're two completely different people, but they are. It broke my heart, to be honest with you. Throne of Glass used to be that series for me; the one I thought of everyday, the one I pushed on everyone to read, the one that I literally worshipped. It was my Harry Potter. I don't remember if I talked about this in my QoS review, since I was in denial and was forcing myself to think of all the good things. My rating went from 5 stars, to 4.5, and then finally to 3 as I realized the scope of my feelings.
To sum up my feelings: I'm only now just starting to come to terms with it. It's a slow and painful process, since there are moments (like last night when I was laying in bed and staring at my bookshelves) when I look at the first three books, cover proudly facing out, and think about how much they mean to me. And then I look at Queen of Shadows, and how I've stacked it normally, shoved in with the others on my favorites shelf, and I get sad. A little mad too, with some confusion thrown in there as well.
So, while I still greatly admire Aelin and all that she's gone through, and how strong, badass, and kind she is, I've moved my focus on to the other characters, who essentially saved this series for me. If we had only gotten Aelin's POV in these last three books, I don't know what I would have done. My ratings would've probably stuck around 3 stars or under, just because I've lost that connection with her. But god bless SJM for making this story revolve around more than just Aelin and her struggles. We've got Manon and her Thirteen, who I've loved from the moment we were introduced to them in Heir of Fire (I CAN'T BELIEVE IT WAS THAT LONG AGO). Then we've got Aedion and Rowan, two supportive, loyal, feral Fae who constantly knock the wind out of me with their devotion to Aelin and Terrasen. Lysandra was, and is, willing to impersonate Aelin for the rest of her life just to help Terrasen thrive again. Like, what??? WHAT???? Excuse me while I go fucking sob in a corner.
Elide, who I wasn't overly thrilled with in QoS, fucked me up. I ship her and Lorcan together so badly that I could scream. I know it's an overused, cliche plot, but I'm a romantic fool. Give me ALL the badass-Fae-warrior-falls-in-love-with-a-human tropes. It's my undoing.
And then finally... we have Dorian. Since Throne of Glass, I've been content in my like for him. He didn't stand out to me, but he was good, you know? He was struggling to find his place in his kingdom, didn't really know what he stood for, and was a lady's man. Cute, but nothing special. And even with that black collar around his throat, I only felt vaguely bad for him. I had more important people to think about, like how Aelin and Manon were going to meet for the first time, or how Lysandra was actually a fucking queen and deserved her own kingdom to rule.
We get Empire of Storms Dorian. A darker, sexier, more intense version of the Dorian we once knew, and I was hooked. I was donezo, from the moment he used his powers to slaughter those witches when they were attacking Rifthold. Sign me the FUCK up, because not only do I ship Manorian with an icy passion that rivals Elide and Lorcan (Elican? Loride?), but FLAWLESS CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. People are bitching about how SJM has ruined yet another character, but honestly, what did they expect? He had a Valg demon possessing his body for months. He watched the women he loved loose her head. If you don't think that won't fuck a guy up, and change him even a little bit, then you need to leave. So what if he falls for Manon mostly because she's a badass witch who definitely wouldn't loose her head as easily as Sorscha did? Let the guy fucking live and mend his broken heart. Not everyone can be pure and naive for their entire life, least of all Dorian.
Even with my complaints, Empire of Storms is a monumental feat. SJM's writing is out of this world, and she knows just how to keep you guessing, wondering what's going to happen, before flipping around and doing the opposite of what you expected. I loved seeing everyone coming together at the end. It broke me a little, knowing that if Galan and Ilias had come just a little bit sooner, everything could've been different. But knowing everything that we do, this final book is going to be explosive. I'm already getting goosebumps just thinking about it.
"I love you. There is no limit to what I can give to you, no time I need. Even when this world is a forgotten whisper of dust between the stars, I will love you."
"The only sounds were the tapping waves, the whimpering of the injured, and the groan of the mighty bow as he knocked an arrow and drew back the string. Farther and farther. His arm strained, but he honed in on that dark speck flapping away.
"A gold coin says he misses," Fenrys rasped.
"Save your breath for healing," Aelin snapped.
"Make it two," Aedion said behind him. "I say he hits."
"You can all go to tell," Aelin snarled. But then added, "Make it five. Ten says he downs it with the first shot."
"Deal," Fenrys groaned, his voice thick with pain.
Rowan gritted his teeth. "Remind me why I bother with any of you."
"You will find, Rolfe, that one does not deal with Celaena Sardothien. One survives her."
"Maeve smiled slightly. "What a joy, to learn that your usual good spirits remain undimmed in such dark days."
"How could they not, when so many of your pretty males are in my company?"