Sarah J. Maas has been dominating the bestseller lists and the GoodReads Choice awards for the past couple of years with her Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses series as she’s been churning out novel after thick novel in both incredibly popular series each year. Empire of Storms is the fifth book in The Throne of Glass series with the sixth and final book expected out later this year. I devoured the first four this year and after finishing the fifth, I’m not sure how patiently I will be able to wait for that final book – because this series has become life consuming. Bloomsbury | September, 2016 | Hardcover | 693 pp
In Throne of Glass, Calaena, an infamous assassin, was pulled out of prison by Prince Dorian to enter a competition to become the king’s assassin and manages to win while also dispelling some dark magic from the castle in the process. In Crown of Midnight, she surreptitiously fights against the king by helping the people she was commanded to kill to escape, and her royal fae lineage is exposed. In Heir of Fire, she is known by her true name of Aelin and learns how to wield her gift of fire and stay in fae form through grueling lessons by Rowan, a fae prince. In Queen of Shadows, Aelin returns to Ardalan to fight the king and his dark magic, free magic and give it back to the world, rescue Prince Dorian, and begin a new war – all of which she accomplishes.
In Empire of Storms, the king is dead but he was just one piece to the puzzle, a pawn played by Erawan who is the dark lord of the Valg, a king of demons who seeks three stones to open a portal and flood the world with his dark army of death. Prince Dorian, who had a stone collar put around him so that a demon could take over his body, was saved and is now king while Chaol, the former Captain of the Guards, was injured and sent away to convalesce. Aelin has one stone, she needs to find the other two before Queen Maeve (Queen of the Fae) and destroy them before evil has a chance to reign. It is a battle that was first waged thousands of years ago, and continues to play out through direct bloodlines.
Aelin is aided by Rowan – her beloved tattooed fae prince, Lysandra – a shapeshifter, Dorian – a king without a throne, Fenrys and Gavriel – two of the fae who were formally a part of Rowan’s cadre, bound to Queen Maeve, and Aedion – her royal cousin. After discovering that she could not claim her rightful title as Queen of Terrasen because of formalities, she decides to play by the rules and summon an army of thieves, outcasts, assassins, and pirates. Instead of focusing on her position, she’s going to do what needs to be done to dispel Erawen.
While she seeks an army, Manon and Elide are still in separate story lines, on a path to converge. Elide is alone, desperately trying to get a message to Aelin and Calaena, who she doesn’t know is the same person, along with one of the stones in question. Manon was the one who helped her escape after it was discovered that Elide has witch blood. She comes across Lorcan, another blood-sworn member of the cadre and loyal to Queen Maeve, and he helps her in exchange for information.
Manon Blackbeak is the Ironteeth heir and wing leader of her Thirteen. She is a force to be reckoned with and my absolute favorite character in the series. Already struggling with the fact that the her matron leader might not be working in their favor, she chooses to save King Dorian – directly disobeying an order. The fallout is an execution sentence for Asterin, Manon’s first in the Thirteen – an execution Manon has to perform. Manon finally breaks.
Hand trembling, Asterin pressed her fingers to her brow and extended them. “Bring our people home, Manon,” She breathed.
Manon angled Wind-Cleaver, readying for the strike.
The Blackbeak Matron snapped, “Be done with it, Manon.”
Manon met Sorrel’s eyes, then Asterin’s. And Manon gave the Thirteen her final order.
Then Manon Blackbeak whirled and brought Wind-Cleaver down upon her grandmother.
I apologize for the spoiler, but this part gave me chills. Chills. And I loved it.
Eventually, the story lines of Elide and Manon intersect with that of Aelin, but it might be too late. Filled with spectacular battles on the high seas, sea dragons, Aelin’s monstrous fire power, accidental goddess summonings, hot and spicy scenes and some new pairings, cunning maneuvres, and things you won’t see coming – Empire of Storms is an insanely good read.
What began as a fun, exciting start with the first book has gradually evolved into multi-faceted, sophisticated plots with myriad intersections. Empire of Storms is reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings trilogy which I didn’t really see until this book: the fae are similar to the elves with their pointy ears, immortality, and superior fighting abilities – each possessing different gifts of magic. the towers that are built for the dark lord, the rings used to control men, Erawen who dwells in his tower in Morla with his army of valg mimics that of Sauron in Mordor with his orc minions, and the battles being fought every thousand years which evolve into myth and legend. Another great similarity is Aelin’s promise to summon a new army of oathbreakers, a fleet of seafarers with sea dragons who owned the waters – they had fled and dissolved after avoiding the call for aid. Aragorn does the same with the Dead Men of Dunharrow in The Lord of the Rings, and promises to hold their oaths fulfilled if they fight – this is Aelin’s plan. It’s a wonderful homage to The Lord of the Rings.
Before reading Empire of Storms, I would advise you to read The Assassin’s Blade which is a set of short stories that predates The Throne of Glass. These tales tie into Aelin’s new army by introducing characters who owe her debts and are called into action in this book. I did not read the The Assassin’s Blade and I wish I had. Although the book was long enough, these connections could have been explained better.
If you haven’t started this series – get to it. They are incredible. I have no other words.