Empire of Storms
The fifth book of the Throne of Glass series, Empire of Storms is a nail-biting, page-turning, can’t-put-it-down adventure through Erilea. Once again, Sarah J. Maas draws us into her world as we follow Aelin, Rowan, Dorian, Aedion, Lysandra, Manon, and a few other (sometimes unexpected) characters in their fight against the Valg King, Erawan. After the events in Queen of Shadows, Aelin is dead set on reclaiming what is rightfully hers by blood—Terrasen. But to reach that final goal, she must overcome the seemingly unending number of obstacles in her path.
With Dorian safely secured in Rifthold and beginning his rule as King, Aelin, Rowan, Aedion and Lysandra head north to Aelin’s home in Terrasen. Before she announces herself to the people of her land, she agrees to meet with Terrasen’s surviving lords first. But when she learns that reclaiming her throne won’t be as easy as she originally thought, Aelin realizes she is going to have to make some adjustments to her many plans.
The world began and ended in fire.
Manon has had her world views challenged time and time again, and that isn’t going to stop any time soon. When the Ironteeth clan is sent to attack Rifthold, Manon and Abraxos, along with the rest of the Thirteen, journey as quickly as possible to ensure the attack goes according to her plans. But when she arrives, she is once again faced with a decision that will forever change her way of life. And one that ultimately risks the well-being of her Second, Asterin. Forced to choose between her loyalty to the Ironteeth clan as a whole, and the bonds she has forged separately with her Thirteen, Manon forsakes everything she has known to be true for the last 500 years, and sets out to find a new truth.
And Manon understood in that moment that there were forces greater than obedience, and discipline, and brutality. Understood that she had not been born soulless; she had not been born without a heart.
In order to continue the quest to conquer Erawan, a journey to a forgotten temple overrun with soldiers finds Aelin, Aedion and Lysandra in a battle of their own. Aelin gets the command to move on and head to the Stone Marshes to locate the lock, the key to Erawan’s undoing. The trio sets out to a place she hasn’t been to in years—Skull’s Bay—to confront the Pirate Lord, Captain Rolfe. There they meet up with the rest of her court members, along with a few surprise arrivals. While their time in Skull’s Bay is anything but peaceful, it is nothing compared to the trials ahead as the group makes their way to the Stone Marshes.
Elide is off on her own, desperate to make her way to Aelin and Celaena to fulfill the last request from Kaltain. Alone, running low on food and water, in the forest with only one goal in mind, Elide recruits an unexpected ally. Together they make their way across the continent, ultimately landing exactly where she needs to be. Aelin and her cohorts begin to finally understand all the pieces of this centuries-long puzzle and how Erawan became such a threat in the first place. Long-kept secrets are finally revealed and Aelin realizes her story may not end how she had originally hoped. But when an enemy from the past shows up unexpectedly, more strategies are unraveled and a cunning deception may be the last chance at maintaining their tenuous grip on hope.
The world will be saved and remade by the dreamers...
After finishing the previous novel, Queen of Shadows, I came into Empire of Storms with my guard up, preparing myself for a lot of buildup, but not a lot of resolution or action. Boy, was I wrong. I finally—finally—got some of my most burning questions answered, spent some time learning more about my favorite characters, and was floored with jaw-dropping revelations time and time again. Not to mention the males in this book are much less prone to spend their time pining after Aelin, which was a delightful change.
Some sections of the book were slow, admittedly, but it felt acceptable this time around. We needed those quieter moments to fully understand the character development, and to see relationships grow in a more fluid manner. Some of the conversations between characters were absolutely beautiful, and others made me want to scream out loud and curse them for their audacity. There is just something about Storms that felt deeply visceral, as though some of the individuals Maas has written were so tangible and real to me, that when they were hurting, I was hurting; when they were laughing, I was avoiding strange looks from others who wondered why I was randomly laughing out loud by myself. This, in my opinion, is one of the key markers that an author has created an immersive world with believable and relatable characters.
One of the things about the Throne of Glass series that has always stood out to me—and, in some respects, epic fantasy series in general—is the sheer depth of planning that goes into the various plotlines. While some events and revelations are somewhat predictable, for the most part, Maas has managed to throw in twists that I never saw coming. And these twists feel natural to the story. It makes sense that Aelin would have five million plans, and eight million backup plans, with hundreds of thousands of fallbacks and contingencies, just in case. But seeing everything come together so seamlessly and with such a fluid progression, I can’t help but be in awe of the magnitude of such a project, and Maas pulls it off with flying colors.
Empire of Storms is, quite possibly, the most action-packed book in the series thus far. With multiple storylines taking place at the same time, it's not surprising that each character in each section of the world would be going through their own conflicts filled with excitement and intensity. Fortunately, though, Maas doesn’t overdue it. In between these scenes of battle and gore and death, the quiet conversations, the intimate moments, the secret smiles—that is what sets Maas and Empire of Storms apart from other fantasy novels.
Even when this world is a forgotten whisper of dust between the stars, I will always love you.
Each character in the Throne of Glass world has been beautifully portrayed and crafted to such perfection, forming an opinion about each individual comes quickly and easily. Manon remains my favorite, but even though it may go against popular opinion, I must admit—I love Maeve. She is a cold, hateful, power-hungry queen, ruthless in her pursuit to claim what she believes she is owed. And I love it. Every scene with Maeve is a scene I could read over and over. And while I hate what she is within the story, and what she has done to Aelin, Rowan, Lorcan and the others, I love that Maas has expanded on a relatively known character in Fae lore, and made her into such a delightfully terrible individual.
No crown adorned her head, for all who breather, even the dead who slumbered, would know her for what she was. Dreams and nightmares given form; the dark face of the moon.
And while some (okay, most) of the intimate scenes in her other series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, might be a bit…explicit, Maas has toned it down for Throne of Glass and I can’t express enough how important that decision feels, especially in Empire of Storms. Even though we are dealing with possessive and testosterone-riddled fae males, the subtle insinuations and discreet scene-building with the characters fits more naturally in this world.
Overall, Empire of Storms is beautiful and gritty tale, expanding on the depth of the entire Throne of Glass world and paving the way for even more nerve-wracking plot developments. I feel like we are going to see some beloved characters die in the upcoming books, and as much as I love everyone and don’t truly want to see anyone’s demise, I would be disappointed if Maas gave us a perfectly happy ending with no heart-wrenching moments of sorrow. Aelin’s epic adventure is yet to be finished, but I’m confident Maas has plenty of twists and turns in store for us, and I cannot wait to see what happens next.
A storm is coming. A great storm.
Click the book covers below to read the reviews for the other books in the series!