Throne of Glass #5: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Read: 2 February, 2019

This book could be summed up as “You get a fey prince! And you get a fey prince! Everybody gets a fey prince!”

Nearly every important character gets matched up, and most of them get to bone. A lot. And the boning is.. eeeeeeh. It’s all about territorial marking and angry sex and wrecking beaches because the characters lose control of their powers while orgasming, and it really isn’t my thing at all.

Given that the sex scenes did nothing for me, getting through so many of them was a bit of a slog. Especially in a series that seems to have saved it up only to dump all of the sex out in one go.

I don’t know how much of the series Maas planned out when writing Throne of Glass, but this book has a whole bunch of Big Revelations. A lot of them work, and those are quite satisfying when they answer some mystery that’s been sitting in the background since the very beginning. Some, though, do feel like clunky retcon. There’s also more use of the “Aelin was secretly solving all the problems without telling anyone and while acting as though the problems were not being solved at all” plot device which is dangerous, to say the least. Sometimes, it results in a triumphant showing of her hands, as in the ending to Queen of Shadows. Sometimes, though, it reads like Maas wrote herself into a corner, and gave Aelin the deus ex machina trump card to get out of it.

Elide continues to be my favourite character. She’s so outgunned by everyone on Team Aelin, and yet she continues to hold her own. I even quite like her relationship with Lorcan. I’m not a huge fan of how Maas writes romance, but theirs works for me the best. And while she and Manon don’t get a lot of time together, their relationship continues to be one of my favourite aspects of the story.

Manon is still fantastic, and I even really like her with Dorian – as long as they aren’t having sex. As soon as they have sex, it’s all gross and angry and talking about what they could do with chains, and it just doesn’t seem to fit a relationship that is otherwise founded on mutual mercy.

A whole bunch of characters show up for the first time with obvious histories, which I assume were covered in the prequels. Having not read the prequels, I still never felt lost. The sudden influx of allies didn’t feel cheap, either, since there have been enough hints of Aelin’s past for these pre-existing relationships to be plausible.

There are still some repetition issues – everyone keeps either purring their statements, or saying them “too quietly” – but it’s still never as bad as it got in Heir of Fire.

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Throne of Glass #4: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

Read: 15 December, 2018

I’ve passed the series halfway mark and the books just keep getting longer! But while Heir of Fire felt unearned – the characters staying in a holding pattern through much of the book’s length – Queen of Shadows justifies its pages. 

Things I liked:
-Manon’s discovery of her inner humanity was interesting and heartfelt. While her interactions with Abraxos were the saving grace of HoF, it was her relationship with Elide that really made her narrative in QoS.

-Speaking of Elide, she’s just great. She’s a complex character, and her journey is an interesting one.

-Aelin gets some really badass moments in this book. Like, reallybadass.

-Aelin’s scheming. We get to hear a lot about how she’s such a great assassin in the previous books, but her rescue of Aedion was the first time I actually bought into the hype. Especially later on, when we find out the additional layers of that plan. 

-I’ve been a huge fan of Chaol’s devotion to Dorian. Intimate male friendships do not get enough love. In fact, I’d throw in friendships in general, because Aelin and Lysandra is a great relationship, too.

-Lysandra. Just, Lysandra. Even without powers, she’s badass and amazing. With powers, she’s magnificent. 

-The twist ending.

Things I didn’t like:
-Nesryn seems like she has potential as a character, but also feels like she was only added as a consolation prize for Chaol. I hope more gets done with her as the series continues, but this book certainly lets her down. 

-The way Chaol acts toward Aelin is annoying. I get what Maas was going for, and his reaction does make sense – especially when he questions the wisdom of a mageocracy. However, because we spend so little time with him, and spend so much time with Aelin, he just comes off as unreasonable and whiny. I’m not surprised that so many people were really angry with how this book treated him.

-The number of endings. QoS totally pulls a Lord of the Rings by giving us a fantastic ending, a nice fade-to-black, and then kicking right up again with another chapter. And another. And another. Each of these endings was great, but there were just too many of them, and my body just can’t process that many climatic tension releases in a row. It’s overwhelming, and it ends up lessening the impact of what should have been excellent triumphant moments. 

I’d put Rowan in a medium category. I’m really not a fan of that feral, aggressive, possessive masculinity. I do like the way Aelin keeps it in check, but not that she has to. 

Overall, I’d say this is my favourite entry in the series so far. It had the most plot, as well as the most interesting plot, and I’m getting pretty invested in how this will all turn out.

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