“The world will be saved and remade by the dreamers.”
It was unexpectedly relieving to slip back into this world. Initially, I was dreading this sequel because there was just so much that could go completely wrong, but Sarah J. Maas seriously knows her stuff. She handled the situations she put my favorite witches through with excellence.
This review contains *spoilers*.
Right from the start, we get to hear from Elena Galathynius, which, finally. She’s one of my favorites from this series and getting to read more about her after all this time was just a truly epic beginning.
“Because for Terrasen, for Erilea, Elena would walk into the eternal darkness lurking across the valley to buy them all a chance.”
And speaking of incredible females, I love this piece of fanart:Source
Kaltain, Sorrel, Asterin, Manon, Elide, Aelin, Lysandra, Nehemia (!!!), Nesryn and Sorscha.
Part One: The Fire-Bringer starts out with Elide Lochan’s pov.
We follow her weeks after the events of the last book: Elide’s on her way north to find her lost queen—and to also find Celaena Sardothien (she does not know yet that her two quests were one and the same) so that Elide might repay the life debt she owed to Kaltain Rompier. Speaking of, Kaltain Rompier at the end of QOS was more badass than anybody I’ve read about before.
On her way through the hills in the forest (where Manon Blackbeak and the Thirteen had left her), Elide’s completely ravenous since she doesn’t know how to hunt or kill.
“She wouldn’t last long without food but couldn’t risk venturing into a village with the money Manon had given her, or toward any of the hunters’ fires she’d spotted these past few weeks.
No—she had seen enough of the kindness and mercy of men. She would never forget how those guards had leered at her naked body, why her uncle had sold her to Duke Perrington.”
The more I read about her, the more I realized how much I liked her character growth, which I truly don’t remember feeling previously but, as the saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Meanwhile, Aelin Ashryver ‘cloak-and-dagger’ Galathynius and her crew crossed into Terrasen three days ago. And at least another week lay between them and the city—“the once-glorious heart of her kingdom.”
For the time being, they’re all patiently waiting for the meeting Aedion has arranged between the fiery queen and the few lords he trusts.
When they arrive at the tavern for the meeting, Aelin has to remind herself to feel grateful for Lord Darrow (her late uncle’s, Orlon, lover). He had after all sacrificed for her kingdom; he had men and money to offer in the upcoming battle with Erawan.
And I was definitely not expecting this, but Lord Darrow was such an interesting addition to this sequel. He gave Rowan and Aelin the reality check they needed i.e. not everyone is crazy in love with you, which, finally.
I mean, it was truly hilarious seeing Aelin get off her high horse after he was done with the shading:
“As for why my court and I wished to meet with you today—”
“Court?” Lord Darrow raised his silver brows. Then he slowly raked his stare over Lysandra, then Aedion, and finally Rowan. Ren was gaping at them all, something like longing—and dismay—on his face. “This is what you consider a court?”
“Obviously, the court will be expanded once we’re in Orynth—”
“And for that matter, I do not see how there can even be a court, as you are not yet queen.”
She kept her chin high. “I’m not sure I catch your meaning.”
Darrow sipped from his tankard of ale. The plunk as he set it down echoed through the room. Beside him, Murtaugh had gone still as death. “Any ruler of Terrasen must be approved by the ruling families of each territory.”
This kind of stuff wakes me right up… where were you when I needed you in Queen of Shadows??Oh, and I especially lived for the shade he threw at Rowan:
“Oh, yes, we’ve heard of you. What an interesting turn of events, that when our kingdom is weakest and its heir so young, one of Maeve’s most trusted warriors manages to gain a foothold, after so many years of gazing at our kingdom with such longing. Or perhaps the better question is, why serve at Maeve’s feet when you could rule beside Princess Aelin?”
I’ve waited 84 years for this moment to come.
But after Darrow’s done with insulting her court, he informs Aelin that he doesn’t recognize her right to rule as the rightful Queen of Terrasen. And neither do the Lords Sloane, Ironwood, and Gunnar, who make up the remaining surviving majority of what was once her uncle’s court.
This leaves Aelin shocked to her core because after all she went through she remains a princess by blood—but not queen.
And, of course, Rowan-rutting-Whitethorn has to intervene because “I AM THE MAN.” Every time he inserted himself in conversations, I was just like:I mean, did anybody ask for your opinion…ever? Honestly, truly. To quote Rowan himself, how no one has ever cut out your tongue just to shut you up has always been a mystery to me.
One of the main goals I was working towards was for him to get killed off or, at the very least, break up with Aelin. That would’ve been the only time Rowan left me satisfied…
And speaking of satisfied, the Ironteeth (including Manon Blackbeak and her Thirteen) were on their way to sack Rifthold before either sides could even blink. Dorian Havilliard would be their target. Dead or alive.
But unknown to the others, Manon has her eyes set on a different goal when she comes in at the exact right time to rescue Dorian’s ass.
“He knew her face before he remembered her name.
Knew the white hair, like moonlight on water, that spilled over her dark, scalelike armor; knew the burnt-gold eyes.
Knew that impossibly beautiful face, full of cold bloodlust and wicked cunning.
“Get up,” Manon Blackbeak snarled.”
A century of training and instinct had barreled into Manon, so when she comes out her haze she realizes just who she killed to save the boy-king. Beheading one of Iskra’s sentinel was some hardcore shit.
“She didn’t have a heartbeat to spare to marvel that Abraxos had not balked at the fight, that he had not yielded. Her warrior-hearted wyvern. She’d give him an extra ration of meat.”
Amongst everything, Manon feeling like a proud mother was a definite highlight.
But on a more bleak note, Rifthold, the city that had forged and broken and sheltered Aelin, was officially torn down. The walls of the stone castle were bathed in blood.
And everything after that had gone to shit.
- Asterin is to die at sunrise as punishment for Manon’s blood-shedding of a witch.
- Rifthold had fallen, its king vanished and the city sacked by witches.
- Aelin, now traveling with Aedion and Lysandra for the coast, plans to raise hell and reclaim her rightful throne
- We get to see that the war had taken its toll on Dorian, he’s tired of feeling as a failure to both his city and people.
And as a result, Dorian makes his way with Rowan to the Dead Islands to secure an advantageous ally with the Pirate Lord (Rolfe).
Also, since we’re on the topic, when Dorian asked Rowan this next question, it made my blood boil.
“The first time you met Aelin, did you know … ?”
A snort. “No. Gods, no. We wanted to kill each other.” The amusement flickered. “She was … in a very dark place. We both were. But we led each other out of it. Found a way—together.”
What?! You were literally abusing her physically and emotionally!! “Dark place” my ass… this stone-cold bastard crawled out of the pits of hell and is here to drag everyone down with him.
But circling back to the main plot… one of the most EPIC scenes in this series happens then with the Thirteen. Manon Blackbeak became my absolute favorite after reading just how incredibly cunning and clever and fierce she is.
We had last left her with the knowledge that her Second is to be killed at dawn, so I was truly anticipating what would happen but never – NEVER – would I have guessed what actually went down.
At the start of this chapter, I was in literal tears for both Asterin and Manon, and some passages felt like they were purposely rubbing salt into my wounds:
“Never again would Asterin ride the winds; never again would Asterin soar on the back of her sky-blue mare. Manon’s eyes slid to the wyvern across the aerie—shifting on her two legs, awake when the others were not.
As if she could sense her mistress’s doom beckoning with each passing moment.”
Tears welted in my eyes after this.
“And in the east, slipping over the mountains like molten gold, the sun began to rise.
A hundred years she’d had with Asterin. She’d always thought they’d have a hundred more.”
By then, I was close to weeping. From both rage and bone-deep fear.
… But we were so close to knowing whether Asterin will get executed or not (I even put my hand on the page so as to not accidentally spoil myself). And damn, I’m still in utter awe.
“Hand trembling, Asterin pressed her fingers to her brow and extended them. “Bring our people home, Manon,” she breathed.
Manon angled Wind-Cleaver, readying for the strike.
The Blackbeak Matron snapped, “Be done with it, Manon.”
Manon met Sorrel’s eyes, then Asterin’s. And Manon gave the Thirteen her final order.
Then Manon Blackbeak whirled and brought Wind-Cleaver down upon her grandmother.”
I was too stunned, I literally had to bite down my tongue to hold off a scream. She’s a force of nature, a warrior equal to none. And best of all, she fucking cares for her Thirteen.The battle that followed truly left me speechless for a long, long while. The knowledge her grandma so viciously (though, with a smile of absolute triumph) imparted upon Manon’s true heritage was just twist after twist.
“You are a Crochan. The last of their royal bloodline with the death of your sister at your own hand. You are a Crochan Queen.”
I needed a minute after that… which was impossible to get when Manon decides to jump off the stone ledge of the balcony to escape her grandmother’s wrath. She rolls off it into the open air where Abraxos, her gentle, warrior-hearted mount, flew.
#And that’s what you missed on Glee.
I seriously never thought I’d say this, but I want the next book to focus more heavily on the witches. All my favorite chapters were the ones where Manon or Elide were the lead. Hence why part two – Fireheart – was my favorite part.
I was especially interested to see where Elide and Lorcan would end up. I’m always weak for couples in stories that start out as fake-married/ dating, but I was hesitant with this one because of Lorcan’s past and loyalty to his blood-sworn queen, Maeve.
But, at the start, Lorcan proved himself time and again—he perfectly teamed up with Elide to slay the world and everyone standing in their way. Their togetherness made me the happiest I’d been in awhile. But… they parted ways towards the end, which made my heart break a bit.
Though, I’m still holding on to the promise they made to one another: that no matter what, they’ll always find each other…
Also, I feel like Lorcan’s character was the perfect way for Maas to hold Rowan accountable for his destructive behavior towards Aelin in Heir of Fire:
“Lorcan had trained enough warriors to know when not to push. He’d tortured enough enemies to know when they were one slice or snap away from breaking in ways that would make them useless.
So Marion, when her scent had changed, when he’d felt even the strange, otherworldly power hidden in her blood shift to sorrow … worse, to hopelessness…”
Lorcan knew when to not push Marion (aka Elide) for more information, he knew when to stop. So according to that, Rowan should and could have known when to not push Aelin further down in Wendlyn, but did he? Nope… and was he held accountable for his abuse? Nope.
And since I’m on a roll about the negatives of this sequel, there’s one last thing that I simply cannot leave out:
She said quietly to Ren, “Thank you—for helping Captain Westfall this spring.”
A muscle flickered in Ren’s jaw, but he said, “How does he fare? Aedion mentioned his injuries in his letter.”
“Last I heard, he was on his way to the healers in Antica. To the Torre Cesme.”
I could not believe it when they removed Chaol from this sequel… I’m still shocked. Does Sarah J. Maas truly hate his character that much???
I needed to see how Chaol was faring being away from everyone? How was he feeling? What’s going on with him and Nesryn? What’s going on with him and his father? So many question left unanswered… what happened!!! I mean, the ten times (if that) he was mentioned (mainly by Dorian) were such weak attempts at trying to make it sound like he’s better off being away from his true friends, which, no.
“You know,” he said, “sometimes I wish Chaol were here—to help me. And then sometimes I’m glad he’s not, so he wouldn’t be at risk again. I’m glad he’s in Antica with Nesryn.”
“And the Queen of Terrasen is your friend?”
“There is no one else I’d want guarding my back.” Other than Chaol, but … it was no use even thinking about him, missing him.”
So in honor of all that, here’s a list of the things I want in the last book:
- Chaol’s presence.
- More Manon and Elide.
- More Lorcan with Elide (this is a necessity for my calm and peace).
- Ansel of Briarcliff friending it up with Manon Blackbeak.
- More flashbacks featuring my favorite princess, Nehemia. I seriously still have chills from that memory we saw of her, young and strong and wise, speaking and working together with Elena.
- Read about Manon’s journey to find the Crochans.
- Have some fucking peace in the finale.
But despite its flaws, Empire of Storms had one of the most epic and enthralling endings that made my heart soar, strain and crash all at once.
As you might’ve guessed, for the majority of this sequel I didn’t really care for Aelin—until I reached that gods-damned ending she got.
“Nameless is my price. To buy them a future, she’d pay it.
She’d done as much as she could to set things in motion to ensure that once she was gone, help would still come. It was the only thing she could give them, her last gift to Terrasen. To those she loved with her heart of wildfire.”
The Queen of Terrasen had sacrificed so much and here she was willing to do it all over again so as to not bring someone else in harm’s way. I had so much love and respect in my heart in that moment.
And Sarah J. Maas truly knows how to end her books in such a way that, after reading close to 700 pages, I was left wanting more and more.
“Aelin Galathynius had raised an army not just to challenge Morath … but to rattle the stars.”
Also, shoutout to my past-self for not looking up any spoilers before starting Empire of Storms.
This song was the greatest to listen to:
Sia never fails to impress me.