Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I hate to admit it, but I think I’m tired of this series.
Had you asked me a couple of years ago, when I’d first started this, I’d have told you this series was great. It was fun, fast and action-packed, and had plenty of problems yet was easily addictive — in other words, it was crack.
Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight were very much like that, as the adventures of badass lady-assassin, Celaena Sardothien, and her friends — including a captain of the royal guard, a good prince with an evil king for a father, and a foreign princess — were a delight to read, and I eagerly awaited the day they would triumph over the insidious monarch and, essentially, save the world. The world expanded in Heir of Fire to include Ironteeth Witches (awesome!) and, most importantly, the Fae (kill me). And it is that faerie element to which I turn as being the point where this series began to lose me.
To be fair: I don’t hate faeries in literature. It’s more that I’m wholly apathetic to them; I don’t get particularly excited for them and, more often than not, I find them a nuisance. There are certainly exceptions to this general rule, and Ms. Maas herself has a faerie series (A Court of Thorns and Roses) which I particularly enjoy.
The issue with the Fae in this series is that Celaena’s time spent there in Heir begins to change her character in a way which I found particularly dull — and then top it off with the introduction of a new character whom I particularly dislike that becomes a (yet another) new love interest for Celaena. I don’t mind her having a healthy romantic life that involves numerous partners throughout her time, in fact I’m rather on board with it; but it’s what Ms. Maas feels she must do to the previous love interest in order to justify the new one that bothers me, as Ms. Maas writes what amounts to veritable character assassination as a result.
Queen of Shadows was the first time I knew I had to start admitting to myself that I wasn’t actually enjoying this series as much anymore, and this character assassination was one of the greater reasons. The other primary cause being that I could not justify the sheer size of that book, despite the satisfaction that came with the bulk of that novel’s finale.
And yet nothing compares to the slog that was reading this novel, ending in the most eyeroll-worthy (almost gag-inducing) groan of a cliffhanger I have ever read in a Sarah J. Maas novel. Perhaps my issue with the finale is the similarity to the ending of A Court of Mist and Fury, Ms. Maas’ other 2016 release that also involved the fae. (view spoiler)
So why does this book still get three stars from me? Well, because Manon and Aedion are great, and there are strong moments that shine through the slog. But my intense dislike of Rowan and everything to do with him makes Empire of Storms a bitter pill to swallow.
Just let it end. Please.