I FINALLY FINISHED A BOOK, GUYS! It’s only taken me more than a month… 😅 I was really hoping this book would end my reading slump, and guess what? It did! I’m already reading the next book, Tower of Dawn. (I’m only five pages in… but that still counts, right?) If you’re looking for action, adventure, romance, sassy pirates, witty banter, and a whole lotta feels, look no further! (But if you haven’t read the other Throne of Glass books, do that first, because they’re great. And also because you’ll be very, very confused if you don’t.)
Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis here! 🙂
What I Liked: I really can’t remember when I finished reading Queen of Shadows, but it must have been February or March. So it was definitely nice to return to Erilea and revisit some of my favorite fictional characters. This book was jam-packed, not only with epic battles and confrontations, but also with important moments that moved the plot forward and showed us how our protagonists — and their relationships with one another — are changing as the war against Erawan begins to intensify. While the ending was heart-wrenching — and an especially painful cliffhanger, since the next (and final) book won’t be published until next fall 😭 — it sets up the imminent final clash, and it increases the pressure to collect the remaining Wyrdkey and do whatever is necessary to defeat Erawan and seal the gate once and for all. Overall, I liked that the plot moved along at a steady pace, that nearly every character faced some sort of challenge or obstacle that inspired change or growth (I’m a sucker for good character development! 😁), and that there were little unexpected surprises throughout, keeping me on my toes as I read. I found this book easier to get into than Queen of Shadows, perhaps because the characters are so close to the final battle and the stakes are so high. Overall, I think it’s a strong installment in an already strong series.
What I Disliked: This isn’t something I disliked, but I do want to say that I’d recommend reading The Assassin’s Blade before this book, since there are quite a few references to stories in that collection. That being said, I wasn’t a big fan of the sex scenes in this book. 😕 Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy a good sex scene, and Maas has written some fantastic ones. (*cough* A Court of Mist and Fury… *cough*) But something just felt… off about the ones in Empire of Storms. I’m not going to be specific, because SPOILERS, but I think this book was giving me a totally different vibe, and I didn’t feel like those scenes moved the plot forward in any meaningful way. That might be the only thing I actually disliked, other than wanting more background information on some things. But I’m holding off on that since I have yet to finish Tower of Dawn. Something else I’ve heard is that the exclusive stories (one included in the Barnes & Noble edition of this book, and another in the Target edition… and there might be one more?) are very good, and many people I’ve talked to have said that they would have liked to see those appear in the actual book. I haven’t read them, so I’ll have to update this when I do. But I would recommend reading them, if possible. On the other hand, I know it can be difficult when different stores have different versions of the same book, and one bonus story is in one book but not in the other, etc. I have a lot of feelings about this, mostly because not every reader can afford to get their hands on every exclusive edition of a book, and international readers may not have the opportunity to read these exclusive stories… 😟 BUT if you do have the opportunity to read them after finishing Empire of Storms, definitely do.
I feel like this review was all over the place, but a) it’s a loooong book, b) SO MUCH HAPPENS OMG, and c) I didn’t want to be too spoiler-y. 😂 TL;DR: If you’ve read the other books in the Throne of Glass series and enjoyed them, I think you’ll enjoy this one, too. Sure, it’ll rip your heart out, throw it on the floor, and repeatedly stomp on it. But it’ll also fill your heart with joy and hope and fuzzy feelings. So, to quote Ron Weasley circa Prisoner of Azkaban, “You’re going to suffer… but you’re going to be happy about it.” 🤣
**UPDATE: Okay, so I’ve read the two bonus stories. Here are my thoughts. (And I’ll be divulging some details about each one, so there are spoilers ahead, though they won’t be huge, plot-related ones.)
Exclusive Story — Target Edition of EoS: This story is actually a deleted scene from Heir of Fire, so Aelin still goes by Celaena, and she’s still training with Rowan at Mistward. It was fun to see their relationship beginning to change (so many ~feelings!~), and we got to see a tiny glimpse or two of Emrys and Luca! I can sort of see why this was cut from the book, as it reads more like a short story and doesn’t seem integral to the plot. But it has a lot of great moments, including Celaena/Aelin baking Rowan a chocolate hazelnut cake! I FLAILED AT THE CUTENESS. 😍 (But then there was a twist ending re: the cake that made me cackle.) Overall, I thought this was a sweet story.
Exclusive Story — Barnes & Noble Edition of EoS: I think this story takes place before the events of Empire of Storms, when Aelin, Rowan, and the others are forced to venture into a Terrasen village to restock their supplies. We learn more about Rowan’s family, which is helpful considering certain other parts of the book. (No spoilers! 😁) Much like the other story, there’s plenty of cuteness between Aelin and Rowan. But probably the most touching part is Aelin’s interaction with the girl she meets in the village — Phedre. As the note at the beginning of the passage says, it’s an encounter that will stay with Aelin long after it’s over. And it gives the reader a glimpse of how the people of Terrasen are feeling now that magic has returned and war is yet again on the horizon. I think this would have fit nicely into the book (at only a few pages long, it wouldn’t have added a great deal to the length), mostly because of the foreshadowing it contains. It also has an adorable ending.
About the Author: Sarah J. Maas
More Books by This Author:
Throne of Glass
Crown of Midnight
Heir of Fire
Queen of Shadows
Tower of Dawn
The Assassin’s Blade
A Court of Thorns and Roses
A Court of Mist and Fury
A Court of Wings and Ruin