Empire of Storms, by Sarah J. Maas
I've been working my way through the Throne of Glass series for the past few years, and thought I would do a review of the entire series after I finished the finale, Kingdom of Ash, buuuuut, I couldn't help myself, I wanted to talk about this one. The series itself has been a slow burn for me, it started out quite frankly as kind of a mess, but it's grown on me to the point that I'm all in. I must know how everything is going to be wrapped up. After reading this book, it's fairly clear that in the end, every single wildly attractive person in the book will be paired off into heterosexual relationships and having tons of sex. Haha, just kidding, except probably not. There was a lot of sex in this book.
So, I have often lamented the lack of sex in young adult fiction (although I'm really unclear where the line to young adult is any more. I would definitely not put this series in Throne of Glass in the YA category, and yet, it is? But the new adult category doesn't seem to fit either, and has such a negative connotation that nobody wants to be seen there so really, where do the massively popular books like these fit in? I'm genuinely interested so please enlighten me!). Back to sex - I'm fine with it in books. I usually think that most books don't have enough sex in them. Empire of Storms absolutely had enough sex and I was there for it. I was surprised that some reviewers found it too like erotica but I didn't mind at all. However, there is a but.
BUT! The male dominance and the possessiveness towards "their" women is not cute. Why are we constantly told that if a man is aggressively jealous and treats us like their property, they must truly love us and this is the highest compliment we could be paid and therefore there is nothing better we could possibly get in a relationship? Is this Maas' kink? If it is, that is totally cool, but I think it needs to be spelled out a little bit more obviously in that context. Otherwise, it is dangerous. Because every time a young woman reads a book like this and sees that as the apex of true love, it can give her the wrong idea about what love is and what is romantic and appropriate and what is not. See also: Twilight.
Now that I got that off my chest, what I loved about the book is how you can get swept away into this epic story. I sometimes forget how much I love a good fantasy epic. I love the world maps and the continents and the armies and the allies and the strategies and how the players come in to play. It's cool and fun and I relentlessly enjoyed this massive book from start to finish. One thing, though, Aelin, is enough with the secrety-secrets. She's starting to seem like an asshole. The whole "I didn't want to let anybody down" excuse was limp and she really needs to at least be trusting her inner circle by this point. The ending was fraught and obviously everyone is torn apart by circumstances and you know they're just going to fight their way out of it because that is what one does in a fantasy epic. And that hope is why I love them so much.
My unpopular opinion of the hour: Aelin and Rowan are boring. So boring. I liked them much better when they hated each other. It's not that I don't want them to end up together or anything, but I started to skip through scenes with them because literally nothing new was added. Pass.
Now I rarely start shipping fictional relationships, although when I do I feel it deep in my soul. For a while, Katniss and Peeta were my life, and I am still basically monogamous to Aly and Nawat (bragging rights to anyone who knows where they come from). But I did start to ship Elide and Lorcan. Not sure how that will carry on as he becomes all possessive yuck with her as they enter into a relationship, but I'm still with them for now. Almost immediately from the beginning of the book I got interested, and wanted all the scenes to be of them.
Or of Manon, who is clearly awesome. She's much better with the Thirteen than with Dorian, though, so she should stick to being cool and flying around on her wyvern than hanging out with sadsack prince on the ship.
In conclusion, I'm invested in this series and will absolutely be seeing it through to the end.