Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas | Book Review/Rant

empire-of-storms

β€œIt is not such a hard thing, is it – to die for your friends.”

Blurb (Goodreads)- 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.

Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?


Thoughts- This is such a hard book review for me to write, because I have never been more disappointed by a book than Empire of Storms. This is especially heartbreaking to say because Sarah J. Maas has always been one of my favorite authors, but after this mess of a book, I’m not too sure.

To start out, I’d like to address the striking similarities between this book and Maas’s other 2016 release, A Court of Mist and Fury. I honestly felt like I was reading ACOMAF again, because the distinction between the tone and characters from both of her series have become blurred. Plus, the ending of EoS was almost the exact same plot as ACOMAF, just in a different setting, with ever so slightly different characters.

There has also been a substantial genre shift in the latest Throne of Glass installment. I am, and will always be, a fan of romance in books. However, when a series shifts from having the occasional pleasant YA romance scene to being downright NA erotica scenes at least once every 70 pages, it’s unfair to the reader. Not only did I find the majority of these vastly out of place and uncomfortable, but it creates a new tone for the series that I don’t, and I’m sure many other readers, care for.

eos-quote

In this book, not only is a main character completely missing from the entire book (Chaol is mentioned I believe once), but I no longer recognize or care for any of the characters Maas has created. Yes, this is the 5th book in the series, so they should be different and have grown, but people don’t shed personalities like snakes shed skins. Habits, quirks, little tendencies… they all stay behind, and I see none of those characteristics anymore. Let’s look at Dorian for example. Perhaps I’m remembering the beginning wrong because I read the first book so long ago, but the Dorian I remember is sweet, quiet, considerate. He’s the type of guy who brings book for Celaena to read. Now he’s the magic wielding (I refuse to believe he got control of his powers this quickly), sex crazy, and harsh person. The only character I really like anymore in the series is Lysandra.

Not only do I not care for the individual characters anymore, but the romances bore the heck out of me. I feel like I scanned 70% of this book because it was characters either having sex, or thinking about who they want to have sex with. I’ve never liked Rowan and Aelin to begin with, Elide and Lorcan was an interesting pairing that I don’t necessarily like, but don’t dislike either, and I thought Manon and Dorian had the chance to be really interesting, but instead I found them uncomfortable. I just don’t understand why every single person in this series has to be in a relationship. Why can’t it focus on the actual fantasy part every once and a while?

Before the book came out, Sarah J. Maas was getting a lot of hate for the lack of diversity in her series. I didn’t have any comment on it at the time, as I hadn’t read Empire of Storms yet, but now I certainly have some thoughts on it. What bothers me the most is not that this series lacks diversity (which it does), but how much it’s forced in your face that everyone is white, heterosexual (Aedion is bi, but he is still perusing Lysandra), cis, and extraordinarily beautiful. I was sick and tired of hearing how beautiful every single character is at least once a chapter, and I’m disappointed there aren’t a range of diverse characters present from such a large cast.

Honestly, I really only enjoyed the last 100 or so pages, and it’s the only reason this book is getting more than one star. In my opinion (please remember, these are my own personal opinions, you don’t have to agree but still be nice), Empire of Storms is a too long, romance novel with the occasional fantasy scene thrown in. There’s a pretty high chance I won’t finish the series, or maybe I’ll wait to see what people are saying about it.

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24 thoughts on “Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas | Book Review/Rant

  1. Great review! I liked the book in some places, but I totally agree that the sex scenes & all the romance was unnecessary. I like what you said about Dorian gaining control of his magic so quickly – with Aelin having to spend all that time with Rowan to control hers, it doesn’t make sense for Dorian to just understand his so quickly.
    I am not a Rowan & Aelin fan, and I do like Manon and Dorian together, but Dorian was really boring in this book.
    This book was far too long, but did have some really great scenes in it. I hope the next book is better!

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    1. Thank you! Yes, I agree about the book being way too long. It did have some fantastic scenes, but they were dragged down by the crazy amount of romance. Maas seems to portray her romances as possession also, with Aelin needing Rowan to control her magic, and they’re constantly saying “you are mine” blah blah.

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      1. Yes! Great point about romance being portrayed as possession. Oddly enough with it being portrayed that way makes it seem like Aelin can’t do it alone – she must have Rowan (and have a romantic relationship with him) for her magic to succeed. Which brings up a host of really disturbing thoughts about what Maas is trying to say here. My word – I never looked at it that way before, but now I’m even more against this pairing than before! I’ll still read the next book – I’m too curious to see what happens!

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      2. Exactly! To me, Rowan and Aelin have never seem like a healthy relationship, and I’m just not a fan of that. I most likely will finish the series, simply because there is only one book left, but maybe I’ll wait a month or so after release to see what others are saying.

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  2. Oh, good lord she DID go there! I was scared to read this review, but yeah, it’s as bad as I fear. I mean, it’s okay to write NA erotica, but DON’T WRITE IT IN WHAT’S SUPPOSED TO BE A YA SERIES, DAMN IT.

    I read each of the first three books in a single night. I was madly in love. Then the love polygons and ridiculous miscommunication BS turned up and I honestly feel so betrayed. (Seriously, I took it so personally that it’s stupid.)

    AND YES! IT’S NOT JUST ME! EVERYONE IN THE SERIES IS GORGEOUS AND PERFECT WITH TOKEN DIVERSITY AND IT IS STUPID.

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    1. Yes!! I can’t believe the dramatic tone shift in the series! Betrayed is the perfect way to put it, because it’s pretty much what she did. I know the feeling, I adored the first three books of the series and QoS was just okay, but I don’t even know what this book was. It’s so not just you, every time it was mentioned how beautiful someone was, my eyes rolled πŸ˜‚

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  3. Uh oh. I’m hoping to read the second book, but I’m not sure if I want to buy more books if the story starts slipping again. I didn’t like the first book all that much, but so many people have told me the story improves over the next few that I’ve been motivated to stay with the series. But this one seems to be loved or hated 😦 You’ve mentioned a lot of the issued my friends on Goodreads have complained about in their reviews. I’m wary of this series again lol. Great review!

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  4. I had given up on this series after QoS since I really didn’t enjoy that one. I did read a lot of spoilers for this one out of curiosity and I was so confused. Sure, I didn’t like QoS and it already didn’t feel like the same series anymore, but this one sounds so different? Especially after reading your review :/ Also the fact that she shipped of a disabled character and along with him the only remaining non-white character… What the hell? I also agree that it’s unfair to the reader to turn it into NA erotica. What if you’re invested in the series but you’re not comfortable with those kind of scenes? It’s a big slap in the face. Great review though! Now I know for sure that I don’t want to finish this series haha

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    1. I’m so on the edge of even bothering to read the last one. Like on one hand, it’s the last one and I’m so close to finishing it. However, I disliked EoS so much, that I have no inkling to return to the world. Probably just going to read spoilers for it. Basically everything about this book really bothered me in some aspect 😒

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      1. Awww I feel ya 😦 I was in the exact same position after reading QoS but I started to lose more and more interest :/ And if the last one is going to be even thicker than EoS than it might be a waste of time if it’s just as bad :/ (and waste of money if you decide to buy it) Maybe look out for reviews of people who are on the same page as you after EoS? If they like the last one, you might too!

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  5. I know I’m kind of late to comment on this, but I’ve just finished Empire of Storms. I have to agree with you on a lot of things. It was sickening to see that the characters were always white and beautiful, it’s not like I didn’t like all of them, but I don’t know… I was just disappointed in that aspect. My first favorite characters were Nehemia and Chaol and it crushed me that things are downhill comparing to my expectations on them. And even more is that Sarah J. Maas writes really beautifully but again, this book had unnecessary scenes that I couldn’t handle… I’ve never read ACOMAF series, so I don’t see the similarity and I’m actually curious about what will happen next after the traumatizing end, but… I don’t know… there’s only one more book in the series so I might as well just finish it. I was hoping for something a lot better than having half of the story being about romance and sex and unnecessary pairing. This author is amazing, but she should’ve used her skills in a better way.

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    1. Yeah, I agree. Everything went downhill pretty fast. Chaol and Nehemia were my favorites as well, so it was disappointing to see their character arcs undervalued. Yes, Sarah J. Maas definitely could’ve put her talents in a different aspect of story telling!

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  6. Ahh yes I do understand what you mean after reading this- I want to sure what you meant about genre shift. But I do agree that the erotica posts were jarring- and not Maas forte. I do get what you mean about characters- especially since I’m not invested in Rowan, do can’t really get behind the pairing with aelin- but I do think Dorian was bound to change drastically after the events of the last two books. Great review!

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  7. This is really late, but can I just say…. Yes. Yes to everything.

    Your review resonates with me. The romance, the sex, the characters, the dragged plot… You noticed everything I did, and it’s nice to know that there are other people out there who view things the same way!

    I don’t like Aelin or Rowan either; I thought I was alone in this! To me, their condescending/self-righteous/contemptuous attitudes are beyond unattractive. They’re the “leaders”, but why? Just because they’re the most powerful? They don’t actually have the kind of qualities you’d want in a leader… Oh man, I could go on for days about why I don’t like them, but I’ll spare you that rant. I do like Nesryn, Manon and Asterin in addition to Lysandra, though, and Chaol and Dorian are growing on me. I’m totally indifferent to the other characters. And I agree with what theorganutanlibrarian said about our little princeling being bound to change drastically after everything.

    I disliked Qos more than EoS, but I’m definitely going to finish both the ToG and ACOTAR series because I’m simply the stubborn kind of person who refuses to leave books unfinished.

    Great review! I’ll be looking out for others in the future.

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    1. I love comments, no matter the time so no worries! Ugh, Aelin and Rowan’s attitude towards others annoys me to no end, they act like they are 100 times better than everyone else, even when they SO aren’t. I agree, they severely lack the qualities a leader should have. I always enjoyed the Blackbeaks, but I also felt a bit like this book ruined them. Part of their appeal was that they have no emotions, especially no feelings of love. However, then we had that whole mess with Manon and Dorian. Ah, I actually liked QoS a little bit better, but I understand where you’re coming from. I’m definitely finishing ACOTAR since I am still enjoying that series as of late, but I haven’t made up my mind about ToG. Thank you! πŸ™‚

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      1. EXACTLY (tried to like your comment but I don’t technically have an account, so). The way Aelin & Rowan treat others makes it extremely hard for me to have anything but dislike for them. Maas has interesting stories and a lot of talent for sure, but she also has extreme favoritism with certain characters. Aelin & Rowan are tremendously arrogant/self-righteous/condescending/etc.—all characteristics I’d consider personality flaws. Of course, characters should be flawed, it gives them dimension. But when the author pretends these flaws are strengths or writes their characters as being perfect and faultless… It’s an extreme turn-off. I agree about the Blackbeaks, though I did like the new dynamics we saw between the Thirteen and their version of sisterhood. I parallel them with a wolf-pack in how they’re simultaneously ruthless and loyal to each other. I was kinda for Manon & Dorian, but when I really think about it, their “relationship” is kind of random.

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      2. Oooh, definitely agree about the characters! It bothers me as well when problematic character traits are treated as something that’s not. What’s worse is when they’re praised! I truly do love Maas’ writing style and the stories that she crafts, her characters are just growing to be insufferable.
        I found the IDEA of Manon and Dorian to be really fascinating, especially seeing Dorian in a relationship after Sorscha. Then, it turned into this super odd dominatrix like situation and I was put off immediately. Manon’s thought then trailed to Dorian more than her Thirteen, which completely goes against the pre-established mythology and personality of the Blackbeaks.

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