*As this is the 5th book in a series, there will be spoilers if you aren’t caught up!*
“Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen, knew the time would soon come to prove just how much she’d bleed for Erilea.”
Synopsis from Goodreads: The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t. As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear. Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?
Feelings: I will always love Sarah J. Maas’s books. The last 4 in this series swept me up and I couldn’t fully express my love for them, which really is a testament to Maas’s ability to tell a story and develop characters. Her world building went to new levels in Empire of Storms, with more appearances by spirits and now some gods, the introduction of new lands, and the meeting of worlds. We have new bad guys. We have new good guys.
When Aelin was Celaena, she was one of my favorite characters ever. By book 5, I care less about her and am far more invested in the supporting cast. Now, there are quite a few characters who run together in my mind (like everyone in the cadre…beautiful, strong, love Maeve, troubled…they’re the same) BUT then ladies in this story are awesome. They’re there for each other (even Manon in her own way) and supporting in ways that the male characters just can’t hang.
Issues: The whole Lock thing threw me. As I was reading, I kept thinking…How is this going to work? There are so many elements that are going to have to come together just right in order for this to work. If it was any other author, I’d be like NOPE THIS WON’T WORK.
When this series started, the world was fairly small. At this point, there are so many people and places that were mentioned in passing that are now major and I feel disjointed. Where are we? I had to check the map more times in this book than any other book with a map that I’ve read before. Who is this person? I had to rack my brain through 8 million pages of previously read text to try and remember them.
When the gods kept showing up…then the mirror thing (which totally felt like a pensieve from Harry Potter)…I honestly was just getting lost. I had to re-read a large number of paragraphs. I’m not dumb…there were just so many new elements and connections across books that it took me a minute to catch up.
Where was Chaol? How did he go from a vital character in the first 2 books to a nobody who literally isn’t even in book 5? He’ll probably show up and save everyone everywhere in the end, I just can’t understand how he went from hero to zero so quickly.
Characters: I love Manon and Dorian’s connection in this book! I’m one of those rare people who thought her chapters were fascinating when we were first introduced to Manon, so I’m glad that she’s part of the main crew by book 5. Her knowledge and background adds so much complexity! She and Dorian are both so strong and have the survival of a people group on their shoulders. I was genuinely concerned about the survival of The Thirteen! Those witches don’t play. I’m really interested to see where Manon’s storyline goes as she and her witch crew take up their new mission. And Dorian tags along.
Aelin is STILL keeping secrets from everyone everywhere. I did really enjoy the scene where she taps into her Celaena personality traits to surprise Rolfe and Rowan. It was like a moment of relief because Aelin is so troubled, but Celaena was always really free and kind of whatever. This book series has grown and changed so much that I feel like I don’t connect with Aelin anymore, like I don’t even know who she is. Her relationship with Rowan takes an ultimate right turn at the end of this book and I’m really uncertain about where this is all going, especially with Lysandra’s role as a shapeshifter. (I know that doesn’t make sense if you haven’t read the book, but I don’t want to be specific and spoil anything!)
LYSANDRA IS QUEEN. Or at least, she should be because she is incredible. Her gifts are insane and she’s SO intelligent. In Queen of Shadows I could instantly tell that she would be important, but I just thought it would be so that Aelin had a female companion in her crew. But no. She was vitally important to the survivial of everyone. I love her and Aedion’s bond, how slow they’re moving and how understanding they are. It’s totally different than the other love stories in this series.
Elide and Lorcan…I was NOT sure how that would all turn out, but I didn’t think it would end the way it did. Elide was such a sweet balance to Lorcan’s fury and I’m glad that she got some more page time. Lorcan…Lorcan is softening, but he’s still infuriating.
Final thoughts: When I think about this series as a whole, it feels like there have been 10 books. The story has changed SO MUCH. I have some concerns moving forward, like what’s going to happen when this war is over? Is Aelin actually fit to rule? All she knows how to do is fight. What will all her friends do when this ends? I just don’t know. There’s only 1 book left. Ultimately, I thought this book was good. It had some really strong moments, especially when it comes to characterization, but plot holes and questions are preventing this book from being amazing for me.
Also, make sure you read Assassin’s Blade before you pick this book up!
Goodreads rating: 4.65/5
Amazon.com rating: 4.7/5
My rating: 4.5/5
Happy reading! – Caitlyn