Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
Published: September 6th 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Goodreads Rating: 4.59/5
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Final Feeling: Angry
THIS FIRST SECTION CAN BE *LIGHTLY* SPOILERY. I HAVE A LINE SEPARATING IT FROM THE EXTREMELY WORLD-DESTROYING SPOILERS.
See, I’m actually starting my review telling you, the reader, that I love Sarah J. Maas and her brilliant brain. She is my top author, my only instant-buy author, my favorite go-to author. So it really pisses me off and frustrates me beyond belief when I pick up a copy of her highly anticipated book only to reread parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Do you know how frustrating that is? How confusing and saddening it is? This book was good but it wasn’t great. It suffered second book syndrome even though it was the 5th book in the series. Throughout the series we have followed Aelin through so much shit and then we get to this book, the fifth book, where Aelin is meant to take back Terrasen and be queen and defeat the evil forces. Instead, we went on a really long road trip to find some TOG deathly hallows that could defeat the evil Lord.
Literally. What. The. Hell.
So my warning for all of you who still have yet to read my review, stop and go read the book and then come back. It’s a really good book, her writing just keeps getting better. But this review isn’t full of fangirling.
We start off pretty much right where Queen of Shadows ends. The group arrives in Terrasen and they have to set up a meeting with a group of rebels who have been fighting the cause since forever ago. Aelin is essentially rejected as Queen within the first few chapters, regardless of everything she’s gone through. Darrow was a total piece of shit and I honestly got the vibe that we would be seeing his epic assassination somewhere in this storyline. It didn’t happen. In fact, a lot didn’t happen. It’s like we were completely led to this point where Aelin was going to finally be home in Terrasen and then that direction of the plot just cluster-fucked and was totally scratched. For the whole 693 pages of this book, that didn’t happen, we saw nothing of Terrasen because 98% of this book didn’t take place there.
Speaking of seeing nothing, where the hell was Aelin/Rowan in the first 40% of the book? We got like two chapters from their POV in the first half of the book. The focus of the series morphed into seeing EVERYBODY’S perspective and it became a lot of information to handle. There are SO many different storylines happening all at once and it’s partly great because *holy crap she’s brilliant* but it’s also a little much. I think the storyline would have been fine without some of these chapters.
Most of this book was an info-dump and I’m not sure it was in a good way. I’ve seen this done in one of the books from Morgan Rhodes’ the Falling Kingdom’s series but it’s still a lot for an author ask of a reader in a high fantasy book. Especially if the book is almost 700 pages, there’s almost no excuse for it. I have read this series four times and I was still struggling to remember all the names, plot twists, and places. This book seemed more like a lead up to the next book than a solid book in itself. What I really didn’t like was that so many vital things happened BEHIND the scenes, and it would just randomly spring up that “Aelin did ______ ___ months ago” “Aelin told ______” “This is the result of Aelin doing ______ in _______ on ______”. The results of all of these “secret” things Aelin did was just piled onto us at the very end of the book. I would have much preferred to have actively been kept in the loop as to what Aelin was plotting instead of just hearing about how great she is.
The romance was kind of tacky. I’m not sure why or when Raelin was morphed into this weirdly sweet “forever happy” pairing but it was a little cringe-worthy at some points. I am completely on the Raelin ship but he’s like 500 years old and she’s 19 and their sex read like fan fiction. What the hell happened to the 500 year old, pure blooded Fae who was a lethal killer? Why is he all laugh-y and chuckle-y and smile-y now? Why was his character just reduced to a shitty stereotypical YA male? Rowan is an excellent character with such depth, but it just seemed like something was missing in his character this book. He’s been reduced to a basic male when he could have had such a bigger impact.
And speaking of things missing, where the fuck were Chaol and Nesryn? You’re seriously telling me in 693 pages Cesryn couldn’t make a damn appearance? Freaking ANSEL* was brought back into the storyline and the wispy desert people and we couldn’t get a glimpse of Cesryn? They sailed to the south to get him healed and build up an Army and we got like two fleeting mentions of them in the book.
*who is that, you ask? The chick who backstabbed Celaena in the desert in book 0.5. Yeah I had to look it up.
I’m not sure what else I’m missing, so let’s talk about plagiarism – the reason I’m really pissed with SJM and EOS. Because I cannot be the only one in this gods-damn world who read chapters 64, 65, and 68 and DIDN’T see blatant copying from The Deathly Hallows.
Elena = Dumbledore / dead HP family knowing Harry Potter’s (Aelin’s) fate.
Nehemia = Weird Snape hybrid who was secretly helping Aelin always to save the world.
Manon = dead Voldemort horcux baby? (LOL)
Aelin = Harry Potter
Maeve/Erawan = Voldemort
Let’s start off the scene….
Aelin had a body that was not a body.
She knew only because in this void, this foggy twilight, Manon had a body. A nearly transparent, wraithlike body, but… a form nonetheless.
“What is this place?”
The mirror had transported them to… wherever this was.
“Your guess is as good as mine, witch”
Had time stopped beyond the mists? Had Maeve held her fire upon learning she was not present- or attacked anyway? Aelin had no doubt Rowan would hold the lines for as long as possible. Had no doubt he and Aedion would lead them. But…
Whether the witch mirror was the Lock she’d sought, she’d expected it to have some immediate reaction to the two Wyrdkeys she’d snuck into her jacket.
Not… this. Not absolutely nothing.
So the Wyrdkeys are the Deathly Hallows.
The mirror of Elena is basically showing them all these collected memories. Something like the penseive in Dumbledore’s office.
“I think.” Aelin breathed, “we have been been deliberately misled about what we must retrieve.”
“Why?” Manon said with equal quiet.
“I suppose we’re about to find out.”
A memory- that’s what this was. But what was so vital that they had been sent to retrieve it when the whole damn world was falling apart around them?
Aelin and Manon stood in silence as the scene unfolded. As the truth, at last the truth, now wove together.
(start reading pg. 603)
“Please” Elena breathed.
The three-faced one said, “Tell Brannon of the Wildfire what occurred here, tell him the price his bloodline shall one day pay. Tell him to ready for it.”
The one with three faces studied her. “Mala’s bloodline shall bleed again to forge the Lock anew. And you will lead them, a lamb to slaughter, to pay the price of this choice you made to waste its power here, for this petty battle. You will show this future scion how to forge a new Lock with Mala’s gifts, how to then use it to wield the keys and send us home. Our original bargain still holds: we will take the Dark King with us. Tear him apart in our own world, where he will be but dust and memory. When we are gone- you will show this scion how to seal the gate behind us, the Lock holding it intact eternally. By yielding every last drop of their life force.
(memory of Nehemia and Elena talking, long long ago)
“It is Mala’s bloodline that will pay, not your own.”
Her back stiffened. “You have not answered my question.”
Elena wished she could hold back the words, keep them locked up. But this was the price, for her kingdom, her people. The price for these people, this kingdom. And others.
“In the North, two branches flow from Mala. One to the Havilliard House, where its prince with my mate’s eye possesses my raw magic- and her brute power. The other branch flows through the Galathynius House, where it bred true: flame and embers and ashes.”
“Aelin Galathynius is dead,” Nehemia said.
So Dorian Havilliard is basically Neville Longbottom. Compliments though, mature Neville is likely as good looking.
The words hit her like stones. “The Queen Who Was Promised” Aelin said. “But not to this world. To the Gods-to the keys.”
To pay the price. To be their sacrifice in order to seal the keys in the gate at last.
Aelin has to die to save everyone.
“The witch mirror’s power is fading: it will not hold you here for much longer. Please- let me show you what must be done. How to end it. You won’t be able to see me after, but… I will be with you. Until the very end, every step of the way, I will be with you.”
Manon only put a hand on her sword as Aelin swallowed and said, “Show us, then”
So Elena did. And when she was done, Aelin was silent. Manon was pacing, snarling softly.
But Aelin did not fight it as Elena leaned in to kiss her brow, where that damning mark had been her whole life. A bit of cattle, branded for the slaughterhouse.
Oh. Oh! You mean like the lightning bolt scar? The cursed life? The pig prepped for slaughter?
Nameless is my price. To buy them a future, she’d pay it.
She’d done as much as she could to set things in motion to ensure that once she was gone, help would still come. It was the only thing she could give them, her last gift to Terrasen.
Elena stroked her cheek. Then the ancient queen and the mists were gone.
So… this is where I pause. Because as much as I love SJM, I don’t approve of this. There are blatant resemblances to the Deathly Hallows and I really don’t think it’s possible to look away from it. Believe me, I tried. I expect this from other authors, I’ve even seen this before. But from Sarah? She’s brilliant and creative and twisty, why do this? This kind of blew EoS for me. What do you think of the resemblances? Do you think it’s plagiarism? Heavy inspiration? Nothing at all like Deathly Hallows? I’m a huge SJM fangirl (seriously, no joke) but I’m not okay with it. It seemed like a really weak cop out.
I had a lot of problems with this storyline. Only one thing I predicted happened and it wasn’t really in a good way, like everything else wasn’t. The ending for me wasn’t that gut wrenching. The whole time I was just wondering, where the fuck is Rowan? His mate was being whipped to SHREDS and he couldn’t sense it? He couldn’t hear it? He couldn’t see it? She was whipped like 900 times, how did he not get there in time?! How did he not freak the fuck out the moment he landed? How did his Fae senses not answer all of his questions and more the instant he was in range? How did he not see her being dragged to the ships?
ALSO, HOW THE FUCK DOES SJM HAVE THE AUDACITY TO MARRY AELIN AND ROWAN AND NOT SHOW US??? SHE LEGIT PULLED AN ______ AGAIN AND I CANNOT COMPREHEND. *flips table* #allbowtoKingRowan #myGrace #bowing
I’m raising my fists to the literary Gods just wondering how this even happened. This glorious book just… wrong… somehow. I don’t know. Did you read Empire of Storms? How did you like it? The writing was excellent, and you see her growth as a writer, but this book was almost sloppy in a really non-sloppy way. Aelin and the Deathly Hallows should not have happened.
4/5 angry stars.