If you have been waiting in agony and dreading for a year or waiting in agony and dreading for seven months like me, Empire of Storms is worth the wait. Book 5 continues on with our badass queen Aelin’s journey and rallying allies to stop the demon king Erawan from devouring the world. Loyalties are tested and revelations are unearthed. Storms are coming.
And spoilers are coming…
While Crown of Midnight remains my favourite, EoS is better than Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows. It’s more plot-driven, forget suspense! Each chapter leads to something big and gives you heart palpitations. I love the Elena and the gods storyline – it tightens a lot of things together and I love that Aelin and Dorian’s ruling positions are unstable, that it’s not easy to hold them. It puts pressure on them and the story and my heart. The stakes build up and up. However, I got lost and confused at moments because some things weren’t clear.
For those who are Chaol fans, you might be disappointed that he isn’t in the book, but there are Elide, Lorcan and Manon to fill that empty void. They’re great additions to the story, but Chaol is irreplaceable. I can’t wait to read his novella and hopefully he has a major role in the sixth book.
There are a lot of strong female characters leading the ranks. The sweet Elide shows strength through her determination, her sharp mind, and loyalty. Lysandra….oh. my. god. I want to worship her. That moment she shifts into a sea dragon…she gained more respect from me. Manon. Manon. Manon. What I can say. She’s an amazing, badass witch. Her character growth is perfection, from a witch of ice and steel to a witch with a warm heart but still can kick ass. She grows to let others in. In fact, the interiority of these women was strongly felt.
Aelin is more like herself compared to QoS. We get to see more of Celaena in her this time, meaning she’s more relatable, human, arrogant, witty and an absolute pain in the ass. It helped to restore my connection to her – I couldn’t connect to her in the previous book. Though I wish she accepts Celaena instead of shoving that identity away. After all, Celaena Sardothien is the identity that mostly shaped her. It’s the identity that drew me in.
Ansel of Briarcliff, last seen in The Assassin’s Blade. I miss her. I’m so happy that she returns to aid Aelin, but I wish that she had a bigger role. She stays on the sidelines and we don’t get to know her further.
The other returning member of the golden trio: Dorian shows his epic powers – though I wish his training was shown more. I wanted to see him fail, get frustrated, attack Rowan and kick his ass [laughs], show triumph when he succeeds a goal. I wouldn’t mind ten whole chapters to dedicated to his training. I wanted to see him grow and really move on from the past like Feyre in A Court of Mist & Fury.
He is sort of a different character as expected after he was possessed by a demon prince and committed horrible acts. Yet he’s pushed to the sidelines. He doesn’t take charge (except for those kinky scenes, which I don’t mind hehe) and as a result, he comes off as a flat character. There but not there. Despite his pov scenes, I found it hard to connect to him. I felt that he didn’t matter, that no one, not even Aelin, care about him. Their interactions with each other aren’t explored much, barely exist, not like it was before. I hope he has a much more major presence in the next book.
On diversity. There are characters who are lesbians, gay and bi, but I wish they weren’t in the background and mentioned in a sexual and almost negative way. Disability is represented through Elide – though I understand those who point out ableism in regards to Chaol, who’s wheelchair-bound. Here’s hoping that we will see a lot of him rolling towards enemies and onto battlefields in a majestic wheelchair in Book 6.
On villains. Erawan has an unforgettable presence at the beginning. His haunting and surprising, dramatic entrances spark horror in you. However, he retreats to the background for the rest of the book and unleashes his minions in his place. The other main villain is Maeve. She sends a chill down your spine but her presence is mainly felt. It would be good to have the villains appear more often.
The one main thing I don’t like in EoS is the relationships. While the friendships are quite strong and I found Elide and Lorcan sweet together (yes I ship them), I found the rest of the romantic relationships forced. Almost everyone is paired up and horny – where are the singles and people who aren’t aggressively and sexually charged? The sex scenes are underwhelming and unnecessary, lacking emotional impact. Nothing like those in A Court of Mist & Fury.
I thought Rowaelin (Aelin and Rowan) being mates and married (because time was running out and so that Rowan would rule Terrasen in her place) was too much for me. I felt suffocated. It reminded me of Feyre and Rhys in A Court of Mist & Fury but that was well executed. Rowaelin being husband and wife doesn’t have an emotional impact – it overkilled the relationship for me. It felt like they didn’t have a choice in either marriage or choosing partners of their free own will and will they regret it if they survive in the end? The mating bond comes off as more restrictive compared to the one Prythian Fae experience in the ACOTAR series.
Additionally, I didn’t buy that Rowan and Lyria weren’t true mates nor did I buy Elena having any role in sending Aelin to Wendlyn because of Rowan. It takes the agency of several characters including Chaol (who sent Aelin to Wendlyn to protect her) away and I couldn’t help feeling that all this is to make excuses for how Rowan and Aelin interacted at the beginning and why they should be together.
Dorian and Manon. While I enjoyed their sexy times together, their relationship is random and lack romantic/deeper emotional chemistry. I can see them as two people having fun, friends with benefits, that’s all – the same goes to Aedion and Lysandra. Elide and Lorcan come off as a stronger couple – the probably only redeeming one. There’s chemistry, banter and a lot of respect between these two who’ve only known each other in such little time. Different temperaments but compatible. I’m going down with this ship.
Even though some things bother me, I love EoS. If you’re a fan of epic fantasy or a ToG/Sarah J Maas fan with doubts, give the book a chance 🙂