Reviewed by: Jo
Rating (out of 5): 4.5 stars
Note: While this review will be spoiler free, it will make reference to previous books. If you haven’t started this series yet, check out VBC’s review of book 1, Throne of Glass.
The last we saw of Aelin she was about to step foot in Terrasen for the first time in over a decade. Now, while she may have accepted her place as heir to its throne, it seem the lords who have been (loosely) running the kingdom in her absence aren’t all that willing to relinquish their power. Aelin and the others must set out to gather an army in order to prove she is worthy of her title as Queen.
But the politics of her nation are just the tip of the iceberg. With the King of Ardarlan dead and Duke Perrington revealed to be the ancient foe Erawan, Aelin must call on old allies (and some self made enemies) to continue her search for the wrydkeys before Erilea is ripped apart.
The Throne of Glass books have steadily grown in scale with each installment, and that trend doesn’t stop when it comes to Empire of Storms. My description above is brief because the plot and worldbuilding in this book are vast, and the book hits the ground running. We see more of Erilea than ever before and I love just how huge this world and its history have become. I loved that so many of the places and characters from the prequel novellas had real significance here, plus it was way fun to be back with the pirate king in Skulls bay!
This very much felt like the penultimate book, in the sense that there was lots of maneuvering of characters and resolutions to previous plot threads. Probably my favorite aspect was getting much more history when it came to Princess Elena, the first war with the Vlag and just how Aelin ties into it all. She’s finally beginning to understand the nature of her powers, and this being a Maas book, these discoveries lead to heartbreaking sacrifices.
That being said, I felt like she was pretty isolated here—not psychically but mental and emotionally, and not just from the other characters but me as a reader too. She had so many secrets and plans in the works that she kept close to her chest. In one sense this worked really well; the big reveals come off brilliantly and it felt like she was doing it to protect those around her in case her plans didn’t come together, rather than to prove how clever she was (something that feels like growth from her days as Celaena). But with the weight of the world on her shoulders, I felt like she was missing just a tiny bit of that swag I’ve grown to know and love.
In terms of character relationships, Empire of Storms’ cup runneth over. There’s something for everyone here: the heartwarming growth in trust and attraction between Aedion and Lysandra (who has fast become one of my favorite characters), the dark and conflicted dance between Manon and a much more complex Dorian, and the unwanted yet undeniable pull between Elide and Lorcan. There are so many ups and downs, breakthroughs and betrayals and I loved that each had a such a distinct place within the story.
I feel like I’ve barely even scratched the surface in this review when it comes to Empire of Storms. It was action packed, detail oriented, cheer worthy and crushing all at the same time. Basically it was epic. And after reading it I’m both ridiculously excited and just a tiny bit terrified to find out how things will be finally resolved in the last book.
Sexual content: sex, references to rape and sexual abuse