Book Review: Empire of Storms (TOG #5) by Sarah J. Maas

My heart. Is. In. Pieces.

5/5 stars

cover empire of storms

No spoilers for EOS, but I can’t avoid spoilers for the previous books. Sorry!

synopsis for reviews 2

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?

Add it on Goodreads.

my thoughts for reviews 1

This book was amazing. There was not a second of this book that did not completely enthrall me. And that ending—I SOBBED.

I knew this book would break my heart, and right on schedule, it did. But that’s not to say that EOS only broke my heart. It made me laugh, grin, and curl up into a ball of happy feels just as often as it destroyed me.

I love Aelin. Her character is a force of nature. She’s brilliant and brave and strong and selfless, but most of all, I believe in her. She’s not one of those incredible characters that is too perfect for real life. Even when she is raising armies and battling the forces of evil, she still feels human. She is larger than life and intensely realistic at the same time.

Elide also became a stand-out character for me in EOS. I had liked her in QOS, but it wasn’t until this book that I truly fell in love with her. She is a great compliment to Aelin, strong and determined like the queen, but with a very different underlying personality. I loved that she is simultaneously an introvert and a hero, a combination you don’t see a lot of in YA.

Lorcan was an interesting addition to the story; I didn’t expect him to be a part of the plot, but I ended up enjoying his presence. I am fascinated to see what happens with his character in the next book after that ending.

Manon’s character grew on me a lot. I had always liked her well enough, but it was in this book that she finally won me over. I’m trying not to spoil anything, but if you’ve read it, you probably know the moment I’m talking about. (I cheered.) Aelin and Manon working plotting together is my new favorite thing, especially if Lysandra is also involved.

Lysandra remains one of my favorite characters in the series. If possible, she becomes more badass in this book. I loved her interactions with Aedion, how they showed a different side of her that helped round out her character. Aedion himself continued to grow on me; I think I have finally let go of my initial (and somewhat random) annoyance at his existence.

Dorian has been a weird character for me. I always liked him more than Chaol (#sorrynotsorry), but in recent books his plot line had felt kind of tacked-on to the rest of the action. In this book, however, we get to see him interact with Aelin and the rest of the gang and grow into his own. His story finally melded with the rest of the book, and I started to like him again. I love how broken and imperfect he is; he has come such a long way from the cheery prince that he was in the first book.

I cannot say that I love Dorian and Manon together. It was fascinating to read, adding a dark and reckless vibe to the story, but I feel like their relationship needs to do more to convince me that the relationship should last.

And then there’s Rowan. Words cannot describe how important Rowan is to the story. Yes, he’s a big ball of swooniness, but he is also exactly what Aelin needed as she grew into her own in EOS. I loved finally reading a YA story where the romance is incredibly important to the characters’ growth without being the only reason they grow. Aelin and Rowan complement each other really well, but they each have their own individual characters as well—which only strengthens the romance between them.

Wow, there are a lot of characters. I didn’t even start to touch side characters (though those were also the perfect balance of interesting without overpowering the story). The beauty of EOS, though, is that the massive cast of characters doesn’t stop the story from fully exploring each one’s personality and arc. Of course, that means that the book is ridiculously long, but it also gives it the emotional power needed to break my heart in every possible way.

I don’t know what to say about the plot of EOS, mainly because so much happens. The plot is fast-paced and addictive. All of the subplots weave together well, better than in previous books, creating a continually powerful narrative. I never wanted to put the book down, though I had to force myself to take a break from the story so I could get schoolwork done.

The incredible thing about EOS is that it feels real. I have read countless stories of wars, revolutions, and diplomatic sparring matches, but none of them made me feel like I was actually in the middle of power plays between entire nations.

EOS just has this indescribable feeling of enormity. I could feel just how important every decision was, that each move Aelin made would affect hundreds of thousands of people. I don’t know how SJM did it…but it is awe-inspiring.

I need to talk about the ending, though I’m not going to spoil anything. Basically, the ending is a series of intense reveals that change the way that you see the entire series, and then a heartbreaking cliffhanger that sets up what will surely be an amazing sixth book. I sobbed for the last hundred pages, literally unable to control myself. I almost wish that the book had had a few more chapters, just to give me some time to absorb everything that was revealed in the last pages. As it was, I was left tear-stained and ruined, with a gaping hole in my chest that won’t be filled until the next book is released.

I know, that sounds overly dramatic. Trust me when I tell you it is an understatement.

I would recommend EOS to anyone who has enjoyed the TOG series so far. If you didn’t like HOF or QOS for character reasons, then I would honestly say don’t read EOS. You probably won’t like it, and it seems kind of pointless to put yourself through so many pages for such a little reward. But if you enjoyed HOF and QOS, READ EMPIRE OF STORMS RIGHT NOW. And then we’ll cry together.

Have you read EOS? If you have, have you recovered yet?

Book Review: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas

I seriously loved this book. It was exactly what I wanted from the series, and I need the next book right now.

5/5 stars

cover queen of shadows bigger

Amazon Description

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire-for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

My Review

SPOILER ALERT: I don’t think I can do this book justice without spoilers, so this review is spoiler filled. If you haven’t read this book, don’t read this review (SORRY).

(My notes for this review involve a lot of capital letters…)

My favorite part of this book (let’s be honest, this series) is Aelin. She is badass to the extreme, but she still has a personality and complex emotions. In the category of strong female characters, she is definitely at the top, and I freaking love every minute of being inside her head (even if it can be a scary place).

I loved seeing Aelin turn back into Celaena during this book. Until I saw the massive character transformation that occurred when she returned to Arobynn, I didn’t understand how much she had changed in the last few books. Though I liked Celaena the assassin, Aelin is a more raw and loyal character, and I am so glad that she (eventually) rejected her past with Arobynn.

Seeing Arobynn again was definitely disturbing. While I’d never been sure what Arobynn’s intentions toward Celaena were, QoS made everything he did creepier. I hated that I couldn’t tell how much of the plot he had control over–it was some seriously amazing plotting on Sarah J Maas’s part. Finally getting closure (you know what I’m talking about) was one of the most satisfying and relieving moments of the book (and I feel awful for writing that).

QoS pulled off having multiple plot lines better than HoF. First of all, the Aelin/Rowan plot line merged with the Chaol/Dorian plot line, which made the story feel less disjointed. As the main plot of the book, I really enjoyed seeing all of these characters come back together after so much time apart. I loved that Lysandra came back–and joined the ranks of ToG BAMFs–and seeing Aelin and Lysandra befriend each other was one of the sweetest parts of the plot. Aedion and Chaol were annoyingly arrogant at times, but for the most part, it added to the story. I liked seeing Chaol with a new love interest–but I also appreciated that they didn’t share anything close to instalove.

I missed Dorian as a character. I know that he couldn’t be a character in this book, but I don’t like that his character was absent for an entire installment of the series. While everyone else was growing, he was essentially stagnant, and even at the end of the book, I never reconnected with him. Also, I wanted to punch Chaol for being so asinine to Aelin when she said he was gone; even though I knew he was still there, Aelin had a 99% chance of being right.

The witches’ plot line was more gripping in QoS than in HoF. I loved the addition of new characters, and the fact that the plot line wove together with the other ones more clearly this time. Manon is becoming one of my favorite characters, though I wanted to beat humanity into her for most of this book.

And then there’s Rowan. I freakin’ love this guy. I am ecstatic that he is an official love interest, and I will cry if anything separates him and Aelin again–I’m not even joking. The romance between Aelin and Rowan developed at a perfect pace for me, just slow enough that I know they are meant for each other. They are my favorite couple in ToG so far–definitely one of my OTPs.

The ending of QoS set up the next book SO WELL. I need it. Like, yesterday. I need this series to have a happy ending. I need more Aelin. (I need more Rowan.) I cannot wait to see all of the moving parts that Sarah J Maas has created collide.

Book Review: Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas

The best book in the series by far. It’s exactly what the series needed to keep it from being predictable and boring.

5/5 stars!!!!

Series: Throne of Glass #3

cover heir of midnight

Amazon description:

Celaena has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now, she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth . . . a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever. Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. Will Celaena find the strength to not only fight her inner demons, but to take on the evil that is about to be unleashed?

This review will contain spoilers for books #1-3 of the series. I realized I can’t say much about this book without talking about all the stuff that happens!!!

There are three main plots running in this book, so I’m going to talk about each individually, and then how they worked together.

Celaena and Rowan

This was by far my favorite of the three plot lines. Probably because Celaena is my favorite character, and Rowan is also amazing. From the moment we met him, I could tell his dynamic with Celaena was going to be great to read. It was frustrating to see him underestimate Celaena and to know that he has no idea all the horrible things she has experienced, but it was hiliarious watching Calaena disrespect him.

Their dynamic evolved nicely–not too fast, not too slow. I loved–and hated–that Rowan consistently beat her in their fights. Not that it humbled Celaena, but it humbled me as a reader. In the first two books, there were few scenes when Celaena truly lost a fight. It was refreshing to have the invincible character knocked down a peg.

The training plot lines was good. I liked that Celaena sucked at it in the beginning. As the reader, it helped me understand her relationship with her past as a Fae–and of course, it created more tension between her and Rowan, which was great. Once she started getting the hang of it, the book got even better. Celaena isn’t just a mortal badass–she’s also a badass Fae. (Yay!)

I actually love that Rowan and Celaena’s relationship never became romantic. Up until this point, Celaena had basically had a romantic relationship (of some kind) on every male figure presented: Dorian, Chaol, Archer, that thief in book one that I can’t remember the name of. Their relationship was tense, charged and deeply personal–they were undeniably connected. I loved that. And I respected Maas more because she presented a emotional but platonic relationship between a girl and guy (which by the laws of the YA Hot Trainer Meets Rebellious Trainee Plot Line should have ended up being heavily romantic).

The Witches

I have mixed feelings about this plot line. I got into it, sure…eventually. Basically once we met the wyverns and it turned out that they had personalities. Looking back on the book as a whole, I realize that this plot line was fun to read and will become important in the next book. There was good character development and it added a new aspect to the magic and the world building.

However, I have to admit that these chapters bugged me while I was reading. They felt extraneous. I didn’t want to read them, I wanted to get back to Celaena–the character I actually cared about. The plot line took its sweet time getting to the point (the wyverns and the war games) and it took me even longer to feel emotionally invested in the characters.

Dorian, Chaol, Sorscha, and the Rebels

I liked this plot more than the witches’ but less than Celaena’s.

Dorian and Chaol’s relationship was confusing for me. They were really cold and distant; they didn’t trust each other with their secrets. I know that they ended the previous book on a bad footing, but if they just talked to each other, they had exactly the same motivation. It felt unnecessarily brooding and stubborn. Bleh.

Chaol’s relationship with the rebels was more interesting. His continuing loyalty to the king makes no sense, so it was good to see him start to stray from that. The general/Celaena’s cousin was a smart addition to the book. It made the rebel cause believable (because otherwise it was two guys in dark corners doing…nothing?).

I’m ready for Chaol to get over Celaena. He was turning into a Angel-in-the-first-season-after-he-breaks-up-with-Buffy-esque character. It didn’t fit his personality and stagnated his character development. He maybe finally moved on at the end of the book?!?!

Dorian’s relationship with Sorscha made my heart melt. They were perfect for each other. Their relationship progressed quickly, but I was okay with it because Sorscha’s half of it was a long time in the making, and Dorian is the kind of guy who falls in love hard and fast. I loved that Sorscha helped Dorian with his magic–the bit about the iron helped make the magical elements of the book more complex. I really appreciate that Dorian moved on to a new romantic relationship instead of pining over Celaena (I’m looking at you Chaol); it made the book feel more natural and less in-you-face LOVE TRIANGLE.

I cannot believe the king cut off Sorscha’s head and put one of those devil collars on Dorian!!!!!!! Seriously, that felt unnecessary. I hate it when characters die and I don’t immediately see the importance of their death. Also, the next book, with Dorian under the king’s control, is going to be soooooo sad. *glares at author*

All together

This book was intense. The fantasy side of the book came into full force, and the author continued to world-build by presenting new aspects of magic. Romance moved on or didn’t happen, breaking from the heavily saturated love-triangle-ness of the first two books. New characters and new plot lines pushed the book away from its humble beginnings into a dramatic fantasy series.


Book Review: The Assassin’s Blade (Throne of Glass novellas) by Sarah J. Maas

These five stories range from humorous to inspiring, slightly cheesy to perfectly believable, romantic to heartbreaking.

4/5 stars

*I read these between books 2 and 3 of the Throne of Glass series, but chronologically, they take place before the first book starts.*

cover the assassins blade

Celaena Sardothien is her kingdom’s most feared assassin. Though she works for the powerful and ruthless Assassin’s Guild, Celaena yields to no one and trusts only her fellow killer for hire, Sam.

When Celaena’s scheming master, Arobynn Hamel, dispatches her on missions that take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, she finds herself acting independently of his wishes—and questioning her own allegiance. Along the way, she makes friends and enemies alike, and discovers that she feels far more for Sam than just friendship. But by defying Arobynn’s orders, Celaena risks unimaginable punishment, and with Sam by her side, he is in danger, too. They will have to risk it all if they hope to escape Arobynn’s clutches—and if they fail, they’ll lose not just a chance at freedom, but their lives . . .

A prequel to Throne of Glass, this collection of five novellas offers readers a deeper look into the history of this cunning assassin and her enthralling—and deadly—world.

Though these novellas tell the story of Celaena’s life before the Throne of Glass series begins, I think they should be read at least after you have read the first book, maybe after you read the second. You won’t understand the significance of Celaena’s actions or fall so completely in love with this younger, more innocent version of her character unless you know what she becomes.

You also don’t have the mount sense of dread as you near the ending of the novella collection–which ends with the betrayal that lands her in Endovier.

The one thing that absolutely blew me away about this book was the depiction of Arobynn. He is creepy as heck, and his emotional hold over Celaena is fascinating. You never fully understand how he feels about his protegee. For me, I’d spent most of Throne of Glass admiring Arobynn. He was her savior/father figure/the guy who made her awesome. In this book, you slowly hate him more and more. I kept wanting him to be a good guy and it never happened. The way his character played with my emotions (as well as Celaena’s) amazed me, and made what could have been a lackluster collection of stories a major part of the series.

These novellas lack the fantasy elements that characterize the later books in the series, but give the reader a window into Celaena’s character as the continent’s greatest assassin.

I’ll talk about each novella individually, avoiding spoilers.

The Assassin and the Pirate Lord

I liked this one. You get to see Celaena’s own morals contradict Arobynn’s orders as well as the beginning of her relationship with Sam. Of course, Celaena is a badass, and you get to see her in the height of her career as Ardlan’s Assassin. It is heartwarming to see how confident and sassy she was before her life fell apart completely.

However, as the pivotal event that sets the rest of the novellas (and arguably the entire series) in motion, I think Maas could have come up with a more creative concept.

The Assassin and the Healer

My least favorite by far. It felt cheesy. I like that we get to see a softer side of Celaena, but it could have been done better. This novella feels like a random stop between two important plots–the pirate lord and the red desert.

The Assassin and the Desert

My favorite story!! I wanted this to be an entire book. The Red Desert was so perfect for Celaena: it humbles her and helps her grow. This novella has a clear plot arc and good character development. I was emotionally invested in this novella, 100 times more than the previous two. Also, it highlights just how screwed up her relationship with Arobynn is.

The Assassin and the Underworld

This story was emotional trauma for me as a reader. Celaena comes back from the Red Desert so confident, and then you have to watch Arobynn slowly drag Celaena back into his thrall. Her relationship with Sam gets more and more charged, but Celaena is of course, an idiot about it. Overall, it added to the novella collection, but did not impress me as much as the previous story.

The Assassin and the Empire

I love the romance in this one, but I also spent it on edge, knowing how the book ends. This story perfectly gives the reader a window into what led Celaena to Endovier, and helps you understand just how broken she was when Throne of Glass began. In terms of affecting the rest of the series, this one is the most important–a must read.

Book Review: Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas

I liked this book more than the first one. It was so emotionally powerful, and the characters developed well.

4.5/5 stars

Series: Throne of Glass #2

cover crown of midnight

Amazon description:

Celaena Sardothien is the king’s Champion—yet she is far from loyal to the crown, for the man she serves is bent on evil. But working against her master in secret is no easy task. As Celaena tries to untangle the mysteries buried within the glass castle, she can trust no one, not even her supposed allies Crown Prince Dorian, Captain of the Guard Chaol, and foreign princess Nehemia.

Then, an unspeakable tragedy shatters Celaena’s world. She must decide once and for all where her loyalties lie . . . and whom she will fight for.

(I read this book weeks ago but never posted a review. I’m finally getting around to it…but I don’t remember what I was going to say, so this one is a short review.)

This book is not necessarily 100 times more amazing than the first book. The one marked difference is the fantasy elements, which felt extraneous and randomly inserted in to the first one. They really develop in this book and add to the story.

Celaena’s character only becomes more complex. I loved the conflict of loyalties that being the King’s Champion presented, and the way the rest of the characters responded to her new position. As the book progresses, Celaena’s character gets darker and darker, giving the reader a window into who she was as Ardlan’s Assassin.

Basically, I’m in love with Celaena. She’s a badass, but she also has a complex psyche.

This book is also sadder than the first book. There were tears, not gonna lie. The romance is more developed, and the love triangle continues. The plot thickens, though it is clear that it is in build up to the third book.

If you liked Throne of Glass, I would definitely recommend reading the rest of the series.

Honestly, I can’t say more without spoilers…

So from this point on, THERE ARE SPOILERS!!!!

I liked Chaol as a love interest, but I never really fell in love with him. I still like Dorian more. I didn’t really care when Celaena went “I’ll kill you” on him, to be honest.

Dorian having magic definitely made the book better. It was the conflict his character needed to keep him interesting, and I’m pissed that even when Celaena found out about the magic, she didn’t tell him everything she knew about Wyrdkeys and his father’s magic.

Princess Nehemia’s death felt unnecessary when it initially happened. It wasn’t until much farther into the book that I felt like the motivation behind her death made sense to me. Still, I feel like the same result could have been accomplished with less drastic measures.

I loved seeing dark Celaena in response to Nehemia’s death. It was morbid, but it helped me understand her character during the rest of  the series.

Mort is my favorite character ever. Not really, the rest of them are great, but he was the dose of humor the book desperately needed.

The tunnel under the library was interesting, but also a bit confusing. The creepy monster thing wasn’t significant until the third book. Actually, a lot of this book felt like the set up for the next book. I would have liked it if more things were explained in this installment, instead of left vague to be piece together in the third volume.

Book Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

This was my first time rereading Throne of Glass. I enjoyed it, but I’m hoping that the next books in the series (the ones I haven’t read) are better.

4/5 stars

Series: Throne of Glass book 1

Amazon description of Throne of Glass:

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

First off–Can we talk about the cover? The first time I read the book, I read it on my Kindle (which I never use anymore) and it had the cover that’s on the right. It doesn’t fit the book in any particular way, but I’ve come to expect ambiguous picture-of-random-girl covers from YA books. I actually kind of like the first cover. However, the new cover (the one I have in paperback) really annoys me. It completely contradicts the mood/tone of the book and makes the novel seem sci-fi instead of fantasy.

Ok–rant over. Back to the actual review. (By the way, I’m trying out a new way of reviewing. I tried it with Jackaby and liked it, so I’m going to see if it works with other books.)

Protagoninst: Celaena

I liked her. She’s strong and sassy. Her self-confidence and accompanying self-doubt felt relatable and real. I liked the way her past influenced her character (though it is clear there is a lot we still don’t know about her backstory). I felt connected her emotions (especially when she saw the king–that was so powerful). All in all, Celaena was a very successful protagonist who drew me into the story.

Love Interests and the Romance

I liked both of the love interests in this book, and the love triangle didn’t bother me (as some do). Crown Prince Dorian is flirty, a fun character to read. I actually liked his reputation as a player. It added another layer to what threatens to be a stereotypical character, and kept him from being overly likable to the reader. His serious moments worked with his character, and the depth of his feelings for Celaena came across well. He really reminded me of Prince Max from The Selection; I actually found myself confusing the two books a little (mixing up scenes I remembered from one book with the other).

I liked Chaol more. His dynamic with Celaena was complicated in a good way. Their interactions were less flirty but felt more real, and the progression of their relationship was paced well (her relationship with the Crown Prince seemed a bit all-of-the-sudden). His friendship with the Crown Prince was extremely interesting and added complexity to the love triangle. Chaol’s character also came across very real, but I hope his character gets fleshed out more in later books.

Other Characters

The king wasn’t exactly a character, but his presence dramatically influenced the book. I loved Celaena’s reaction to him; it helped show off her inner fears and strength at the same time. Dorian’s reaction to his father was less specific, and I hope it is explained more thoroughly in later books.

I liked Princess Nehemia. She added complexity to the book and drew the rebel angle into the main plot. Her friendship with Celaena was good. However, the fantasy elements surrounding Nehemia felt a little off.

Fantasy elements

The fantasy elements of this book felt a little unfinished, like the author couldn’t quite decide what she wanted to do with them. In the beginning of the book, it seemed as if the fantasy elements were going to be very slight, but by the end, they were extremely important. Not that this kind of change is always bad, but the transition felt a little unfocused. Another thing that will hopefully get clearer in the rest of the series.

Plot (the competition)

I liked the competition. It showed off Celaena’s abilities and moved other subplots along. The other competitors were rather flat characters, but Celaena’s relationship with Cain definitely affected the book in a positive way.

The writing

The writing in Throne of Glass is good. I started forgetting that it was written in third person–Celaena’s voice was so well written, it felt like first person. I liked how the story subtly shifted what perspective it was told from. Getting parts of the story told from Chaol’s and Dorian’s perspectives definitely helped the reader understand and care about their character.