I have to give a big thank you to Emma from emmmabooks, for making an amazing video of this Books of Wonder signing! I was able to screenshot Sarah signing my actual book, and it means so very much to me. Thank you! ♥
#0.1) The Assassin and the Pirate Lord ★★★
#0.2) The Assassin and the Healer ★★
#0.3) The Assassin and the Desert ★★★★
#0.4) The Assassin and the Underworld ★★★★★
#0.5) The Assassin and the Empire ★★★
#1.) Throne of Glass ★★★
#2.) Crown of Midnight ★★★★
#3.) Heir of Fire ★★
#4.) Queen of Shadows ★★
This book was actually a lot better than I was expecting it to be (thanks, fake spoilers on Twitter). It wasn’t without its flaws, they were there, mostly surrounding Aelin as a character, but I was overall happy with this installment and I’m super excited for the next book!
In preparation for Empire of Storms, I read The Assassin’s Blade and I cannot stress enough how important it would be to read this novella bind-up before reading this book! Two characters from the novellas make very important cameos in Empire of Storms.
This book seems to be pretty polarized so far; everyone either loves it or hates it, but I feel like I completely fell in the middle. I did go into this book with pretty low expectations, because I was very disappointed with Queen of Shadows, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Manon is six stars on her own. Seriously, she is everything I could ever want from a main character, and more. Sadly, she is only about 33% of this book, but, man, did I devour that 33% with a smile on my face.
Overall, I really liked this book, but it felt too long with not enough content to keep me completely entertained. Yes, some really big things happened and some really big questions got answered, but there was still a lot of downtime. SJM is amazing at building worlds that completely draw you in, but sometimes her characters, and their actions, and the things they say, completely draw you out of that world.
This review is going to have spoilers throughout. I would recommend you not to read this portion of the review unless you have read Empire of Storms and all the previous installments in this series!
I’m just going to start this review off with the biggest dark cloud of this book: Chaol, and his lack of everything in this book. Yes, it is true, Chaol is not in this book whatsoever, which is very upsetting, but it’s not even the main issue. The main issue is that he is not in this book because he is now disabled, unable to walk, so instead of SJM doing something really awesome to represent a non able-bodied person, she deemed him not worthy of this book, and sent him off to get healed, so he can come back for the conclusion abled-body. Like, if that doesn’t put a terrible taste in your mouth, I don’t really know what to tell you.
Yes, you can go back and read my previous reviews and see how Chaol was my favorite character. Obviously I shipped him with Aelin. Yes, I think Rowan is abusive and even though he wasn’t problematic in this book doesn’t make his actions in previous books okay. Obviously I know Chaol and Aelin’s ship burned to a crisp in Queen of Shadows, but all of these things have no impact on me thinking SJM really missed an opportunity to have diversity and representation in this book.
Also, the only thing I ship in this world now is me with Manon. ♥
Another thing SJM likes to do that is somewhat upsetting is that she pairs everyone together, in all her books. Don’t get me wrong, some of the pairings are completely amazing and believable (be still, my Manon and Dorian heart), but it’s unrealistic that in this world, on the verge of destruction, everyone pairs up and falls in love with someone. Like, can’t people just be friends? Can’t people want to see more than just one person? I noticed this in A Court of Mist and Fury (which I still gave five stars to, because close to perfection reasons), but I felt like I was being hit over the head with it in this book!
The star pair is obviously Aelin and Rowan, which weren’t as annoying as they were in Queen of Shadows. Rowan proves he loves her more than anything, and Aelin tells him she loves him while trying to be a strong, independent woman.
Their sex scene was laugh-out-fucking-loud-able. Like, it was so good she…. combusts into flames? Like, please, Lord, I do not have time for this.
You know whose sex scene was amazing? MANON AND DORIAN!!!!! I pretty much only lived those three days while reading this book for that sex scene. Everything, it was everything.
Where Aelin and Rowan’s first sex scene was overhyped and unrealistic for young girls who are waiting for “the perfect time”, Manon and Dorian’s sex scene was so much more realistic and so much more sexy! Seriously, I’ve always liked Dorian, but he went up like ten top favorite character slots after seeing this side of him.
Thank you, SJM, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you, senpai .
Like in Queen of Shadows, Manon and Abraxos were my favorite, hands down. Manon’s story-arc is so good! If SJM is really expanding this universe – give Manon the spinoff series! If I were just rating this book off Manon’s chapters, this would be a six star book. I cannot wait to see how Manon and the Thirteen are going to fit into Rowan’s armies. I foresee lots of amazing things.
The other chapters that surprised me were Elide and Lorcan’s! When the first chapter was in Elide’s perspective, I was so surprised, but fell in love so fast! Yes, this is another pairing, but this one was a joy to read about, and I found myself disappointed every time a chapter started with Aelin or Rowan’s point of view, and not Elide or Lorcan’s.
Redemption stories are always the best stories, and Lorcan was no exception to this. Seeing Elide find his worth and helping him see it was pretty emotional. I wonder how Lorcan is going to handle his new life and, hopefully, it will not annoy me.
This book had so, so much more going on than just these characters and their evolution; so many questions got answered about the Dark Lord and why Aelin has the powers that she does.
Was I the only one that was getting major Harry and Neville vibes from Aelin and Dorian? Like, please Aelin, girl, go bleed on that lock and leave my little cinnamon roll, Dorian, alone.
There is, also, some heavy foreshadowing in this book about conceiving an heir. I, like Rowan, thought Aelin was pregnant every other chapter. I definitely think there will be an heir before this series is over.
I will say that this marriage sure didn’t pack the same kind of punch it did for A Court of Mist and Fury. I actually really disliked how those two endings seemed similar, sort of. I understand it was “necessary”, but that didn’t save it from feeling bad.
I know this book ended on such a freakin’ cliffhanger, but we officially have an end goal, no clear path on how to get to it, but we have a conclusion in our sights.
Also, Maeve just forgetting about the keys was so unbelievable. I’m happy it worked out that way, but it was unbelievable.
Lysandra is going to play a very powerful role in the the next book, and I’m very curious how it’s going to pan out. Aedion was pretty annoying at the end of this book and just generally throughout it, so, hopefully he fixes his shit, because I didn’t care for this pairing at all, solely because of him.
Overall, I just don’t think I like this series as much as A Court of Thorns and Roses. I wish I did, but I just have too much of a personal disconnect with Aelin. Manon is everything, but I’m constantly reminded that Aelin is the true star in this book, so she doesn’t redeem it for me. I liked this book, but I didn’t love it, and a lot could have been cut out of this. A seven-hundred page book was really unnecessary, and it felt very unnecessary at parts.