I am completely shocked, to say the least. This book was a crazy mix of emotions, and I loved every bit of it. Empire of Storms is probably the best book in the series, at least in my opinion. Every character has finally come together, and I honestly could not stop reading.
We started the book with three different storylines, Manon’s, Elide’s, and Aelin’s.
After taking back the city of Rifthold from the clutches of the King of Adarlan and Erawan’s forces, it is time for our beloved characters to rebuild, regroup, and raise their own armies.
Dorian struggles with being alone at the beginning of the book since Chaol is off to Antica to heal his paralyzed legs, and Aelin is working towards being a Queen for Terrasen once more. After only being King for a little while, Erawan decides that Dorian is an enemy, and his city must be overtaken. Manon and her coven are sent to Rifthold to claim it as their own, causing Manon and Dorian to once more come face to face and see each other. Instead of killing Dorian as she was ordered to, Manon decides to spare him and tries to lead him out, only for Rowan to arrive and take Dorian out on a boat to Skull’s Bay to visit our favorite Pirate Lord, Rolfe.
While this is happening in Rifthold, Aelin meets with Aedion’s Bane, and they decide she is not fit for the throne after being away for ten years. Aelin makes a promise not to abandon Terrasen, even though they have abandoned her, and she swears to bring allies and armies to Terrasen. And so Aelin and her court set out to do just that.
As Aelin slowly makes her way to Skull’s Bay, Manon deals with issues from her coven and Blackbeak clan. Her grandmother sentences Asterin to execution because of Manon’s actions, and Manon decides that it is enough and turns on her grandmother. The thirteen escapes the Blackbeak Clan; however, Manon receives a brutal beating from her grandmother, who also states that she is the last Crochan Queen, and she has murdered her half-sister. Manon escapes by a thread, Abraxos being her savior.
Rowan and Dorian end up in Skull’s Bay before the rest of Aelin’s court, and they encounter Gavriel and Fenrys, two members of Rowan’s old Cadre. Gavriel and Fenrys inform them of Maeve’s whereabouts and what is going on from Wendlyn’s side of the war and the fact that they were sent to murder Lorcan. Eventually, Aelin and the rest of her court manages to get to Skull’s Bay, and to Rolfe’s surprise, Celaena Sardothien is not who she seems. Aelin is able to receive allegiance from Rolfe, and his men and the court finally set out for Eyllwe to find the Lock that the Wyrdkeys must use to return to the gate.
On a boat, sailing across the ocean to Eyllwe, Abraxos appears with Manon unconscious on his back and dumps her onto the ship. Manon joins Aelin’s court and turns out to be a useful companion through her experience and witch-blood.
As Aelin and her court make their way across the continent, Elide and Lorcan meet and journey to find the Queen of Terrasen. As they travel through Oakwald forest, and little villages, Lorcan learns more about Elide’s past and the fact that she is carrying a Wyrdkey to pass on to Aelin. Eventually, all of them meet in the marshes where the Lock is held, and everyone seems to think they have a claim on Elide Lochan. This was probably my favorite part of the entire book. It was nice to have a reunion between all of the characters. Manon and Elide were old friends at this point, so it was kind of adorable to see their interaction and relief that they were both alive, and Aelin turns into a really sweet character for this scene and explains to Elide what her mother sacrificed.
After the reunion, the court makes their way back to the ships to encounter Ansel of Briarcliffe from The Assassin’s Blade story. This was another reunion that I loved, and it made me downright giddy. Unfortunately, the feeling didn’t last long and was interrupted by no other than Queen Maeve of the Fae.
While being attacked by Maeve, Dorian figures out the puzzle surrounding the Lock and sends Manon and Aelin into it to see if it can help them with controlling the Wyrdkeys. Manon and Aelin discover a lot of information surrounding the prophecies and past and how it relates to Aelin. She is to be the one to forge a new Lock and end the Dark Lord Erawan.
Maeve captures Elide and causes Aelin to kneel before her with her power wholly depleted. Aelin is whipped and forced to go with Maeve in an iron coffin, and eventually disappears. The entire time this scene was happening, I was on the edge of my seat and could not take my eyes away from the pages. I was utterly in shock.
Eventually, Rowan shows up in the marshes where Aelin was captured, and Lorcan fills him in on what happens. She had slipped the two Wyrdkeys into Manon’s pocket. Rowan asks him where his “wife” is, and it becomes clear that Aelin has made plans for all of her court, except for herself.
Aelin finally becomes a Queen worth fighting for in this book. Although she does have her ups and downs, she does become an influential person through her magic and shows the world that she is capable of leading. Many things happened that could have made her lose her cool, or even become outraged, but she held her ground well, and she finally rose as a Queen. She also became a person who didn’t just think about herself. Back when I read The Assassin’s Blade, I kind of thought she was a selfish character who only thought about what was best for her. However, she shows that she cares for each character, and she doesn’t want to lose them. Along with that, she respects Rowan enough, not to mention the mating bond that has grown between them to cause him no pain. I think that when she does eventually get her crown, she will become a selfless, loving, and strong Queen, and that’s precisely what they need.
Rowan is probably one of my favorite characters in this book because of the respect he shows towards his fellow court members. He knows where each person’s strengths and weakness lies and how to use it to their advantage. Not only did he teach Dorian how to control his magic, but he also trusted in each character to use it to save them. Rowan has always been a character that was easy to love through his “Fae arrogance,” or his protectiveness over his friends, however, he develops all of this through his love for Aelin and his growing love for the rest of Aelin’s court.
Aedion is someone who doesn’t change much in this book, but it does seem he’s become a little more confident in his skills as a General, and less in awe at the fact that Aelin is alive and with him once more. I have to admit there were times when I didn’t like him as much, like when he fought with Aelin in the ruins of the marshes, and I think he kind of deserves to feel wrong about what he said to her because she always has a trick up her sleeve. I feel like he kind of just wanted to blame someone for the attack, and she was the most natural person to blame, and it made me lose a bit of respect for him as a character. I’m definitely hoping he makes up for it in the next book.
Gavriel and Fenrys were side characters that I absolutely loved. They added an excellent addition to the team that Aelin had formed, and I hope they play more significant roles in the last two books.
Lysandra was a character that I’ve grown to love over the past two books. She proved her trustworthiness at every opportunity, and I respect her as a person. Her shapeshifter powers are so cool, and honestly, I think that it is one of the most exciting types of magic in the entire series. Her loyalty is something I respect the most, and she has grown a lot from her small part in The Assassin’s Blade.
I loved Manon in this book. From the beginning, I wondered where her relationship with Dorian would go because it was obvious that it would be the two of them from the moment they met. She surprised me in many parts of the book, and I’m glad she’s finally away from the Blackbeak clan and with Aelin and the Thirteen to fight for the right side of this war.
Elide was a character I didn’t love reading about in the last book, but it became more interesting in this one. I still find her point of view a little annoying just because she isn’t as strong as the other women in the series; however, I think she will play a more significant part in the last two books and maybe grow into a better character.
Finally, Dorian was captivating in this book. After being enslaved by the Valg prince, I think his biggest concerns were keeping the collars off his neck. His relationship with Manon, however, was incredibly fun to read about. I knew it was coming, and I’m glad that he has someone as trustworthy and fascinating as her to be with, especially after Sorscha.
“Unleashing a cry that set the world trembling, Prince Rowan Whitethorn Galathynius, Consort of the Queen of Terrasen, began the hunt for his wife.”
This book took place all around the continent. We started our journey with Aelin at the edge of Terrasen territory; for Dorian, it was back in Rifthold, and Elide was in Oakwald forest. All three of the different storylines converged in the marshes halfway through the second part of the book.
Aelin traveled back to Skull’s Bay to see Rolfe the Pirate Lord, and I loved having the past come up like that. Although, it was incredibly sad at times when Aelin remembered her time with Sam in that very city.
The marshes sound like a horrible place if I’m honest. The beasts that travel under the water sounds terrifying, and it just seems like a frigid, wet place that I don’t think I’d ever want to see.
As usual, Sarah J. Maas surprises me with her fantastic writing and development of the setting, characters, and storyline. I honestly think she will always be an excellent writer, and these books just prove it.
I recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy, magic, romance, and a lot of action. This series never fails to surprise me with its fantastic storyline and captivating characters. I can’t wait to read the next book, and I think that is the best one so far.