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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 who 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.
Empire of Storms is the penultimate book in Sarah J Maas Throne of Glass series, and it is a masterpiece that not only lives up to but also exceeds the standards created by the previous books. Maas somehow ups the ante in everything that has been happening, which has created a highly addictive, rollercoaster of a book. It’s unpredictable, but not in a way that’s off putting. Somehow, it all makes sense and everything ties in together.
I would say my favourite thing about this book is probably the character developments and dynamics. Aelin continues to grow and develop as a major power player, who somehow delights in tormenting her companions by only letting them know about her plans at the last minute, but also has them and their safety at the heart of her plans. She is simultaneously shown as being incredibly independent to the point of frustration for Rowan and Aedion, but she is so dependent on both of them that she does certain things purely to protect them. However, despite her apparently becoming all-seeing to a certain extent in terms of her planning, and then having contingency plans to back up all of the other plans, the events at the conclusion of the novel show that she isn’t all-seeing and makes her seem a little more human, because I must admit throughout Queen of Shadows and the start of Empire of Storms, I found that Aelin’s planning skills were starting to border on being a little unbelievable and unrelateable.
Character developments within this book aren’t just limited to Aelin. I would say that Dorian and Manon seem to have changed the most throughout Empire of Storms. Readers see completely different sides to both of them that haven’t been seen before. In Manon we see a softness that causes a major plot twist that I wasn’t really expecting to happen when it did. I think I was expecting it to happen at some point in time, but Maas made it shocking. In Dorian however, there is an edge that definitely wasn’t there before, and I really enjoyed reading this. Considering what he has been through, particularly in Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows, I loved that we saw that it affected him because I feel like sometimes author’s aren’t always good at showing how events can shape characters, and it was amazing the way Maas handled what happened to Dorian to keep him as the character we know and love, but also show that he has changed, as anyone would have if they had been through what he went through. I am also a huge fan of what Maas did with Manon and Dorian, which once again wasn’t completely unexpected, but it felt like a really natural progression and result of their growth as characters.
Back Cover Artwork. Photo Credit: http://worldofsarahjmaas.com/post/147394712079/the-stunning-back-cover-art-for-empire-of-storms
In terms of continuity with the rest of the series this keeps everything going and adds on without feeling forced. I found that I was reminded of certain things that appeared in Throne of Glass or the prequel novellas that I had kind of forgotten about. A lot of depth has also been added to previous events and choices made by Aelin that I had barely noticed first time round, like the fact she dyed her hair red and fought under the name Ansel of Briarcliff at the beginning of Queen of Shadows. I won’t say why this is important, but this seemingly inane fact played a big part in one of the major twists at the end of Empire of Storms. This also ties in with what Maas tends to do with Aelin’s plans and the reveal of them. As I said previously Aelin takes great delight in revealing her plans to her companions whenever she pleases and, as a reader, I can never pick what’s going to happen either. Maas keeps it as a surprise for the readers by not really mentioning anything about it at all, and it gets revealed to there readers when Aelin explains to the rest of her court how she did it. All of a sudden little throw away lines of text that I tended to note but then disregard make sense. The initial reveal is always a shock, but then as it gets explained and I think back to the part being discussed I would literally have an ‘aha’ moment and honestly, I think this technique is amazing. I’ve gotten used to sometimes being able to guess plot reveals and twists in other books so I love that this keeps it fresh. The only thing I ever knew for sure in Empire of Storms was that Aelin would always have something up her sleeve and some plan going. This in turn made the ending even more shocking as I was not expecting it at all.
Though I don’t want to give too much away, this ending also made Maeve, the Fae Queen into a much bigger player in the next book than I thought she was going to be. Whilst with everything I knew from the previous books it was obvious that she was going o have some role in Aelin’s quest to get the wyrdkeys and the lock needed to get rid of them, I always thought she would be a lesser player in comparison to Erawan, but now, I really don’t know which one is going to turn out to be the worst out of the two. Plot wise this is great, because it raises the stakes even more than they were already raised in this book with its reveal about wyrdkeys and what Aelin needs to do to end it all. It also sets up the next book to be an absolute mammoth of a book, which to be honest I didn’t think was completely possible with the size of Empire of Storms, and I cannot wait. Even though it will be bittersweet because obviously it will be the conclusion of this series, I am honestly so excited for it.
4.75 out 5
Till next time,