Empire of Storms

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genres: Fantasy
Pub date: Sep. 2016 (re-read Oct. 2018)
Series: Throne of Glass #5

It’s pub day for Kingdom of Ash! I finished my re-read of Empire of Storms in perfect timing (last night) and I already picked up a copy of Kingdom of Ash this morning! Here’s my review for Empire of Storms and I’ll be posting my review of Tower of Dawn in the next day or two while I read my way through the finale!


This book destroyed me. Even though I’ve already read it and I’ve had that cliffhanger hanging over me for the last two years, it still killed me. I am now dead, thanks Maeve.

In all seriousness though, with the exception of the ending, I barely remembered anything from this book aside from a rough outline of events. I forgot so many of the details that it was almost like reading a brand new book! I feel like this series keeps getting more and more convoluted, but I kind of love it. I don’t know if the way everything has come together was intentional from the beginning, or if Sarah has just somehow been able to make it all work out as she writes each new book, but I really hope it’s the former. I love smart plots. It’s what makes Harry Potter such a beloved classic. Sure, it’s fun and creative and heartbreaking, but it’s also insanely detailed and super clever. Empire of Storms has a crazy large cast of characters, and while I’m not super crazy about each of them, together it makes for smart and well developed story.

I really can’t guess at how Maas is going to resolve all this drama in the final book. I wonder if we’ll get some new character perspectives. In some ways I hope not because it’s hard enough keeping track of the 800 million characters we already have, but I also don’t think I could resist getting Ansel’s internal monologue.

What I loved about this book was that this is the first time we actually get all of the characters together at once (except for Chaol, not really missed TBH). In previous books the characters have all been doing their own thing, which makes for a dynamic story, but not always a fast paced one. Empire of Storms has a slightly slow start (although barely), but once you reach like… 15 or 20% it is literally impossible to put this book down! I think it has to do with our characters finally meeting up with one another. There are less storylines to follow, more badass-ery, and it just makes the whole plot flow a whole lot quicker. Like the entire final 30% of this book is just one huge nail-biter.

I definitely think this is one of the best books in the series. I’m still on the fence for which is better, Empire of Storms or Crown of Midnight, but it’s hard to compare them since they are very different in structure. CoM is more of a traditional fantasy with just 3 viewpoints, whereas EoS is undoubtedly epic fantasy. I love them both. The stakes are so high in this book and we finally get to see the full might of Aelin’s power. I know there are people out there that don’t like Aelin because it’s like she can do no wrong, but I think that in the first 3-4 books (at least), she makes a million mistakes and Queen of Shadows and EoS are the first books where she starts finally pulling her life together. Should she have held her secrets so close to her chest in this book, maybe not, but her whole life has revolved around secrecy up to this point and she does start bringing some of the members of her court into her plans. Not all of them, but hey, it makes for more dramatic reveals!

I have to talk about Lysandra first. I expressed my love for Lysandra in my QoS review and my love for her continues to grow in this book. I would argue that Aelin trusts Lysandra more than anyone, maybe even Rowan. She entrusts Lysandra with so many things in this book and with the greatest task of all at the end of the book. It’s so refreshing to see their female friendship amongst all these possessive male relationships. And I like her (mostly) non-interest in romantic relationships. Lysandra has been taken advantage of by men her entire life and I think it’s very accurate that she would have little interest in pursuing anything with men and I’m really glad Maas didn’t just impulsively hook her up with Aedion, even though that’s obviously where things are headed. Either way, Lysandra is BADASS. I can’t decide what I love more, sea dragon or ghost leopard.

Second, I have to talk about Elide. I did not love Elide in QoS. I didn’t dislike her, she was just kind of boring, but I am totally into her in EoS and think she’s actually one of Maas’ most important characters. Every other character Maas has written has been extremely physically powerful. They all have either magic or insane battlefield skills. I love that Elide has none of those things, yet she is not powerless. Fighting is not the only kind of strength. Lorcan gets Elide out of a lot of her mishaps, but she saves herself several times too and I loved that she was clever and always planning her next move to get herself out of trouble. One of my favourite scenes is early in when she successfully bluffs her way out of the Ilken attack. I was waiting for Lorcan to swoop in and save her and I loved that she got away on her wits alone. She is a bit of a pawn in the story sometimes, especially at the end, but she offers something very different from the rest of the characters. And yes, I totally ship her and Lorcan and LOVED Lorcan’s growth in this book.

Dorian’s storyline is interesting in EoS and I can’t decide if I like it or not. He is very passive for most of this book and to be honest, a lot of the time I kind of forgot he was there. He’s broken and recovering from what happened to him in QoS, so that’s to be expected, and I’m excited for where the story might take him in KoA. I like that Dorian ends up with the keys at the end of EoS because he has always deferred to Aelin in the past and I think it’s finally time for him to be one of the heroes of the story. I couldn’t decide whether I liked his darker side in this book or not though. He is definitely changed as a result of the Valg Prince and has a much darker side, portrayed most often with Manon, which I thought was realistic that he might have been a little corrupted by the valg prince, but I do miss the sweet Dorian from the first few books.

Try as I might though, I just don’t like Aedion. I find it hard to pinpoint what it is I don’t like about him. He’s too arrogant for me and I don’t like the emotional responses he has to things that upset him. He is a total asshole to Gavriel – I mean I can understand why he’d be pissed – but as far as I can tell Gavriel never really knew who he was and is blood-sworn to a psycho, so it’s not like there’s much he ever could have done about it. Plus Aedion does a 180 from QoS in his feelings about Aelin. In QoS, it’s like she could do no wrong, but in EoS he’s totally pissed at her all the time and I don’t like how he always reacts with anger. And then when he freaks out at Lysandra at the end for no one telling him about hers and Aelin’s plans – like you are not entitled to know everything or to everyone’s trust. When Lysandra was like, “I serve Aelin, not you”, I was like, “Yaaas girl, tell him”! He supposedly loves Lysandra and claims that he just wants her to be happy, whether it’s with him, someone else, or no one at all, but I still feel like he feels he’s entitled to her and it just irks me.

Anyways, I wasn’t planning to go through a detailed character portrait of everyone, but it’s hard not to because they are all such interesting people and it’s fun seeing how they’ve grown over the past few books. I won’t get into them all. I don’t think I have a whole lot to say on Rowan. The sex scenes are a little cringe-y, but overall I thought Rowan was toned down a lot in this book from the last and I liked him a lot more. PLEASE FIND AELIN FOR US ROWAN.

I also don’t have a whole lot to say about Manon. She was obviously BALLER in this book and I’m so glad to see her re-united with the thirteen. They are like the ultimate in girl power and I can’t wait to see what havoc they’re going to wreak in KoA.

In conclusion, my wish list for KoA is as follows:
– Rowan please find Aelin ASAP and save us all from the extended torture that has been the last two years. My heart has been trapped in an iron box all this time.
– More Ansel, maybe even an Ansel perspective? Love that fiery redhead!
– Dorian kicking some ass, becoming a hero in his own way and hopefully re-uniting his kingdom under a better banner than his father represented
– Manon and Asterin, I don’t care what they’re doing, I just think this is such a fun pair
– Happy Lysandra. Yes, Aelin made a huge sacrifice for her friends and her kingdom, but so did Lysandra. She is giving up everything and more than anything I just want to see her happy.
– Elide saving the day through some feat of wits, not strength. Also, even though I think Lorcan is a total coward for crawling after Maeve at the end of EoS, I hope these two can work it out because I love them together.
– Some alternative to “the queen that was promised” that doesn’t make us all blubbering messes at the end of this book

That’s all, it’s really a pretty simple wish list Sarah, my bad for not sending it to you earlier, please accommodate in tomorrow’s book release. JK, we all know we’re gonna be dead tomorrow because Sarah J Maas is going to kill us all with this finale.

Heir of Fire

Rating: 
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pub Date: Sep. 2014 (first read June 2016)
Series: Throne of Glass Book #3

I flew through this 600 page book in a whopping 3 days! I remembered Heir of Fire as my least favourite Throne of Glass book, but it was sooo much better the second time around. I remembered this being so slow moving, and it was for about the first 100 pages, but I was so much more enthralled in the characters.

The first time I read this I gave it 3 stars, I think I was disappointed that our 3 main characters were no longer together and I struggled to get invested in Manon’s storyline and I wasn’t really interested in Rowan. But since I already know these characters now and I know that Celaena is going to be in Wendlyn for the whole book, it was easier to settle in and just enjoy the story.

I loved Rowan at the beginning of this book for being so mean and not taking any of Celaena’s shit. She makes some of the stupidest decisions and no one ever calls her out on it, so I loved Rowan for not coddling her. But I also loved how their relationship changed and it even made me appreciate Celaena a little more. She is so broken in this book. She has always been broken in this series, but Nehemia’s death really did a number on her and she can only see herself now as a coward and nothing else. She never makes any excuses for herself when training with Rowan, but when Rowan realizes how shitty he’s been to Celaena and why some of the things he said to her may have triggered her, I felt empathy for her in a new way. This book has a very different pacing from it’s predecessors, but I feel like we got some more depth to Celaena’s character. It’s easy to be mad at her for running from her birthright, but when you get her full backstory towards the end of the book, it helped me to understand her character a little more. Plus I loved FINALLY seeing her embrace who she is and actively make a decision to do something good.

With each passing novel I love Dorian more and more, and I was sooo dreading the ending of the book throughout the entire thing. Dorian finally moves on from Celaena with one of the castle healers, Sorsha, and while I didn’t really care for Sorsha – I found her personality pretty lacking – I loved watching Dorian become a man and a king. Chaol is so caught up by the notion of honour that it’s almost paralyzing for him. He has no idea what side of the war he is on and his opinions of honour and duty prevent him from listening to his heart. I love how simple it is for Dorian though and I love when he called Chaol out on touting his love for both Dorian and Celaena, but not really being able to accept either of them. Dorian knows what his father is doing is wrong. He values his friendship with Celaena and accepts her for who she is because they were friends and that is what friends do. He is not threatened by her power or the ‘what if’ of the future. He believes in the love that Celaena had for him and that they will work things out between them when the time comes. Dorian is absolutely the king that Adarlan needs and it has been so wonderful to watch him become that person.

Poor Chaol is just trapped in this novel. My love for Chaol diminished with each book in my first read through because I was so enamoured with him in the first two books that I thought Sarah J Maas had forgotten who his character really was. But on the second read through, I think it was really me who didn’t see Chaol for who he is. Chaol wants the world to be simple. He wants to just be able to live his life serving the King and Dorian, he doesn’t want to have to deal with all the blurred lines of right and wrong, duty and honour. He made an oath to protect the King, which he wants to honour, but he struggles to realize that honour isn’t always about keeping promises. If you made a promise to serve a bad person, sometimes the honour comes from recognizing that mistake and taking action to make things better. He knows the King is a monster, but he can’t admit it to himself because then what does that make him. He keeps making decisions based on what he thinks is best for other people, and never on what is best for himself. I would say that one of his flaws is in that selflessness. Was it a good thing that Celaena went to Wendlyn? Yes, but I would be pissed if I was her and Chaol had made that decision for me. Chaol has a need to always be in control and that just keeps getting harder and harder for him.

I was definitely more into Manon’s storyline this time around, but it’s still probably my least favourite of the book. I was super invested in Celaena’s storyline in this book and I got frustrated whenever it would switch. I don’t really have a whole lot to say about the witches. There are some interesting dynamics with the different covens; I liked Asterin and I’m interested to see what happens between the Blackbeak and Yellowlegs covens (I honestly don’t remember). But I really didn’t care for the extended scenes about wyvern training. I personally didn’t care about all the drama with Manon and Abraxos, but I guess it serves to help us get to know Manon’s character. Everything that happens to the witches in this book is really just about setting the scene for the next book.

Overall there are so many new characters in this book. Honestly I’m even more excited for Queen of Shadows when the cast will grow further. I liked getting introduced to Aedion and getting to understand his character, but I am so excited for Arobynn to finally re-enter the story in the next book. It never really bothered me in my first read through that he’s not in any of the books, because he’s only every mentioned in relation to Celaena’s history, but now that I’ve read The Assassin’s Blade, I’ve been dying for him to re-enter the story. He and Celaena have so much unfinished business and it’s been killing me to read 3 whole books with no resolution on how they left things at the end of TAB. I’m also dying for Lysandra to enter the story again for all the DRAMA.

We get a brief intro to Rowan’s cadre in this book and we meet Maeve for the first time, who we all know is freaking Undesirable No. 1. Maeve is like the Umbridge of this series. She’s not the main villain and she’s not as classically evil as the main villain, but you hate her SO MUCH MORE. She’s barely even in this book and she still made me feel so much rage at the end.

So in conclusion, I am definitely knocking my 3 star rating up to at least 4 stars. My main criticisms would be that it was too slow at the beginning and that overall, a lot of what happened with the witches just wasn’t really that important to the rest of the story. But I know there are some pretty die-hard witch fans out there, so many this storyline was a highlight for other people, it just didn’t really do it for me.

I did not find this book boring this time and I was totally on the edge of my seat for the last 200 pages. It’s crazy that I’m 4 books in and yet, I feel like this story is just about to get started. I can’t wait for Celaena to get back to Adarlan and wreak all kind of havoc! I’m heading on vacation now in a few days though for the rest of the month, so I’m going to have to wait a few weeks before I read the last 3 books. I’m debating reading QoS, followed by ToD, and then EoS… anyone have opinions on this order? It’s not the publishing order, but since ToD and EoS take place simultaneously, I kind of want to finish with that killer cliffhanger from Empire of Storms. Would love to hear your thoughts!

Crown of Midnight

Rating: 
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pub Date: Aug. 2013 (first read May 2016)
Series: Throne of Glass Book #2

OMG, I knew Crown of Midnight was my favourite book, but this was even better than I remembered! There is so much action in this book and I was totally hooked from start to finish!

This was everything that was good about the first few books, multiplied by 10! The stakes are higher, relationships grow closer, and more secrets are uncovered. What mysterious evil is hiding in the depths of the castle? What is this new secret society? What is going on with Dorian? Will Chaol ever realize his feelings for Celaena? How did the King conquer the continent so quickly? What secrets is Celaena hiding about her past?

Crown of Midnight is just so juicy and dark! We get the sense from the start (of the series) that Celaena is running from something, keeping her secrets close to her chest, only looking out for herself and reluctant to be anyone’s hero. In this book she is forced to address some of her demons and finally make a stand for something. She secretly acts against the King in her own way, but Nehemia, Elena, and the rebels keep pushing her to be something more. When her whole world is torn apart in the middle of the book, she is forced to finally take an active role in discovering what the King has really been up to in the last 10 years.

While there’s still many unknowns about this world, we finally start getting some answers in this book about wyrdmarks, wyrdkeys, and wyrdgates. We get a glimpse into another type of magic and learn that magic may not be totally wiped from the continent after all. I loved the mystery element of this book and I thought it was a lot more compelling than the mystery of the first book, and frankly downright creepy (all those winding hallways, iron doors, and disembodied eyes give me the shivers).

I love the relationships in this book. I loved watching Celaena and Chaol’s relationship grow, and later Celaena and Dorian’s relationship. Plus I loved the friendship that grew between Celaena and Nehemia. I love that Celaena’s most important relationship is a friendship, I just wished both women were able to be more honest with one another. They both held their secrets so close to their chests. Although that said, I think Nehemia wanted to confide in Celaena, she just knew that Celaena wasn’t ready yet. Celaena does drive me a little bit bonkers sometimes though in that she makes some of the stupidest decisions (what she does at the climax of the novel is the biggest facepalm ever), but she was also grieving her friend and probably having PTSD flashbacks to what happened with Sam, so I guess it’s somewhat excusable.

I alluded to this in my review of the Throne of Glass, but I’m shocked to discover that my re-read has turned me into a Dorian lover! I never spared Dorian a thought in my first read of this series, but I actually love him in my re-read! Even more than Chaol, who I always loved before – I’m shocked! Granted Dorian is pretty mopey in the first part of this book, but omg he is such a good friend to Celaena, I can’t help but love him! I think I used to see him as a threat to Celaena and Chaol, but now I just see him for the caring prince that he is. We’ll see if this love carries through in the next book, but I am 100% aboard the Dorian fan-train! Side note though, can we talk about the fact that Celaena and Chaol are only actually together for 1 WEEK in this book?! I thought it was way longer than that, how tragic.

I am lamenting that I’m now finished the first 3 books (including prequel). I know that the series is going to change a lot going into Heir of Fire and that it becomes very different from what we experienced in the first few books. Heir of Fire is my least favourite book of the series. I remember it being so slow and just not caring about Manon at all. But now that I know where the series is going and actually like Manon, I’m interested to see what I think of this on the re-read. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was my least favourite Harry Potter book for many years, but when I re-read it later after finishing the series, I actually appreciated it a lot more, so I’m hoping that happens with HoF. Fingers crossed!

Throne of Glass

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: Sarah J Maas
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pub Date: Aug. 2012 (first read May 2016)
Series: Throne of Glass Book #1

I am so into this series! I wondered if time might diminish my enjoyment, but Maas has totally sucked me right back into Erilea. I’m already 100 pages into Crown of Midnight and I can now confirm that these books make so much more sense having read The Assassin’s Blade first.

I can’t believe this first book was ever passed off as a Cinderella retelling. I didn’t know it was a loose Cinderella retelling when I first read it and upon the second reading I can say it had a ball that Celaena was forbidden to go to and went to anyways, and that’s about where the parallels end. But no matter because in my opinion this is classic YA fantasy. It’s an overdone trope, but I love that there’s a competition in the first book that poses as the main thread to the story, but is really only a introduction to the world building. It is obvious that there is something way more sinister at work in the castle than just the King’s Champion competition and I loved the mystery element of Celaena trying to uncover the truth.

Celaena bugged me a bit in my first read of Throne of Glass because she’s so obsessed with both her beauty and the beauty of others, but I’ve kind of accepted now that beauty is important to Celaena and that’s okay too, so I was able to let go of that hang up in my re-read. I struggled with how quickly she became interested in Dorian and Chaol though. After the traumatic ending of TAB, I thought she would be a little more hung up on Sam and I was sad to see that none of the drama from TAB was addressed in this book. (fortunately it seems it’s going to be addressed in Crown of Midnight though, so that’s good).

Celaena’s ego has always bothered me. We’re constantly told she’s the best at literally everything, yet it doesn’t really seem that way the number of times she’s gotten herself into scrapes. Now though, I kind of see how her ego is really her major character flaw. I appreciated the final showdown between her and Cain when she finally had to rely on other people – Elena, Nehemia, Chaol – to get her through the duel.

What I like most of Throne of Glass is that you can tell the story is just getting started and that there’s so much more to this world than what is presented in the first book. I love books with scope and depth and I think that’s one of the reasons why this series stands out among other YA fantasy series.

I also love the secondary characters. Nehemia, Dorian, and Chaol are all fantastic secondary characters and I love the depth that Maas brings to their characters. I was totally surprised by my second read through of this book though because I used to be a huge Chaol fan in the first few books and always kind of dismissed Dorian as a wealthy, spoiled, womanizer. But I loved Dorian in this re-read! He has been raised by a crazy, brutal, tyrant, yet he has so much empathy and kindness. He genuinely loves his kingdom and wants to work with other nations rather than rule them like his father.

It was a bit slow getting back into this book, but I totally flew through the second half and I know I am going to devour Crown of Midnight in a few days!