The world will be saved and remade by the dreamers.
One can assume that because this series is one of my favourites it throughly gets 5 star ratings. But let me tell you – even though I absolutely adore this series I’m still treating it like any other book I review. I just can’t help the fact that it’s world and characters are simply amazing. After racing through the first four books I thought this book couldn’t hurt me more. In fact – it broke my very soul. Not because the story let me down but because Sarah J. Maas exactly knows how to hurt her readers. The book left me in tears and my sister had to hold my hand through the last 40 or so pages. Everytime I thought it was already bad, it got worse.
I am still amazed at how gracefully all of the books are woven together – every event leads to another and while I sometimes forgot certain things they appeared again in another part of the story. And to see how many effects earlier encounters and decisions have on the things happening in Empire of Storms leaves me speechless. The whole world-building is somehow intertwined with the plot and until now this is the most intense book of the series.
While the other books mostly had their scenes in Adarlan and in case of Heir of Fire in Wendlyn, I now got to see more of Erilea. Major parts of the books are held in places such as Skulls Bay and Eyllwe. Of course I was excited to read about such different places even though I was let down in my hopes to get a better view of Terrasen. But visiting a pirate’s island as well as the homeland of a beloved and well-missed character? It excused the lagging of Aelin’s home. Throughout the journey I got glimpses of the skies which the Thirteen rode with their mounts as well of the deep and lush seas through which Lysandra soared after the most epic shift.
The plot of Empire of Storms was incredibly intense and action-packed – not in the negative way. All of the action was reasonable and well paced. All of the events from the former books had been going on for so long by now that many of the schemes and mysteries were now revealed in the most epic ways. Still there are many questions without answers so far – those will surely be faced in the last book of the series. Said mysteries aren’t only from Aelin’s own past but straight from Erilea’s past, thousands of years before Throne of Glass takes place. More ancient thank anyone expected and equally tricking. There are new players introduced in this games – both old and new – some we already know and some we didn’t. But also many sacrifices found their way into this novel – some of them breaking my heart more than others. Like I mentioned before – I was broken by this book.
While Aelin already started to settle into her position as Queen, she now started to behave more and more like one. With an oncoming war she needed to use all of the assassin knowledge she had to turn them into battle tactics to rescue not only Terrasen but also her friends. Being used to work alone she also learns to trust her own court more while not fully understanding she also has to tell them more about her own plans. Still she is far from being the perfect queen. While she maintains her magic more than ever, she is still about to find out how to control it entirely. But she gets more comfortable with and actually starts to really enjoy it.
But not only Aelin got her character development. There are also many things revealed concerning the Wolf of the North, Aedion Ashryver. While he seems to get more and more comfortable with Lysandra – in fact her promises to marry her someday even if it’s under not-so-easy circumstances – he opens himself bit by bit. The biggest revelation is that he had many lovers of both genders and is in fact bisexual. Which just makes him more appealing to me since he talks about it so casually. While Aedion tries to maintain control over the court when Aelin doesn’t, the relationship to his father is a complicated one – and one of which I want to see more of in the next book.
While former supporting characters like Chaol, Nesryn and Evangeline don’t get many appearances in the book, at least Dorian seems to get a major character development. In fact he seems to change his behaviour from time to time – in all the good ways. The King of Adarlan slowly grows into his new role and when he starts flirting with Manon – who did an amazing job in helping to rescue him in Queen of Shadows – we get to see a whole other side of him. Manon shows him that it’s okay to sometimes be bold and brave while he teaches her that kindness is not the same as weakness. Also it seems to me that Dorian finds joy in BDSM – at least after what he does with his magic. Also he starts bonding with the fae-prince Rowan himself in a brotherly way.
Rowan manages to be a driving force of the court together with Aelin. But it is shown on more than one occasion that he doesn’t need her to interact with the other members of the court. He gives all of them the feeling of being equal and being worth something. He sees Aedion as a brother and teaches Dorian in his magic – at least as much as he is able to. And lastly his interactions with Aelin – not just as his queen, but also as his friend and lover. I yearend for their scenes and I was so happy to finally see them growing together more and more.
I heard from some readers that they didn’t like the sex scenes between the characters because they were too graphic and unnecessary. But I strongly believe that these people haven’t read A Court of Mist and Fury, because these scenes were definitely more graphic than the ones in Empire of Storms. And I also believe that those scenes were necessary – especially the first one between Aelin an Rowan. I don’t want to talk too much about why I think those scenes are important, because that would be a huge part of the story. But it meant something and showed a deeper bond running between the characters.
After all those things I mentioned by now, I didn’t lose a word about the ending of the boo. The ending that ultimately shattered my soul. There were so many revelations as well as whispered confessions of love – to lovers, friends and family – that killed me. Again I don’t want to talk about these too much since it will ruin it for people who didn’t read it by now. I don’t now how to say it in any other way than – it hurts. A lot. It still hurts few days after finishing the book and I don’t know whether this feeling someday will stop. But I still love this book so much and I will certainly read it again – just so I can endure the pain a bit longer.