The Queen of Shadows in an Empire of Storms (a double review)

So, we meet again. My dearest booknerdigans. Thank you all for following me here and actually sticking around even if I am a shite writer and awful blogger. I do it all for you guys. And me. But mostly you.

Anyway. So glad I finished that one fallen angel series, we had sort of a love hate relationship, and I loved certain parts that made me laugh and the characters were cute and all, but I’m also really glad it’s over. Until I found that they made a MOVIE of it and I was like “well, I can’t just let this go unwatched considering I dedicated a few months of my life to this series.” I watched it, it was terrible, no surprise there. I mean it could have been worse I guess, but it was pretty cringe worthy, it gave me flashbacks to my Twilight years.

Back to my latest read though, I caved and bought the last two Throne of Glass installments instead of waiting for the paperbacks ‘cause I really couldn’t wait any longer. So now I may just have to go back and buy hard covers of the first three, sell the paperbacks and my collection will be completely aesthetically pleasing. I zipped through Queen of Shadows pretty quickly, but also was too lazy to make a proper post about it, but now I’ve just finished Empire of Storms and I figured since Empire is significantly smaller than Shadows, I’d just combine the two and condense them into one post.

Can I just start of by first saying that there’s just so many freaking beautiful couples in these last two books man and I SHIP THEM ALL BECAUSE THEY ALL BELONG TOGETHER AND EVERYONE HAS SOMEONE AND I CAN DIE HAPPY BECAUSE THEY’RE ALL HAPPY AND PERFECT TOGETHER.

 

BUT, I will say it all might have been just too convenient that they all sort of fell in love and found someone at the same time. I meannnnnnnnn.

Cam an.

 

As with all my reviews, there’s bound to be spoilers, so read at yer own risk ay.

Well. Let’s see, where do I even start? I guess we start with Queen of Shadows, but I’ll try to keep this short regardless of the fact that there was so much in the book. I had to pull a few near-all nighters to get through it. Which I’m still paying for, I have lost too much sleep over these books. What I love so much about Maas’ novels is the fact that her stories delve deep into a world of fantasy and imagination that it truly takes you there, and it’s easy to forget where you really are. She sure knows how to break YA stereotypes and gives the reader a sense of something new that you don’t usually get in this genre.

Aelin is back from Wendlyn with a purpose and a plan. She’s still the same girl (Celaena) that we’d all come to fall in love with and laugh with and cry with, and yet she’s changed in the best ways and developed into such a strong young woman who really is ready to take on the role of Queen. She’s going to get back a few things along the way such as her lost cousin, her territorial fae bastard boyfriend, her imprisoned best friend, and revenge for those she’s lost. And she’s gonna do it with old and new friends, with such badassery you’ll be cheering the baddest badass of all badasses the whole way.

 

There are moments within the story where Aelin actually shows us sides of her that we’ve never seen, she’s not as sad and broken but more mature, and kinder, more open to love those around her. There were so many touching moments that just make you proud to see how much braver this girl has become, and you keep thinking about how incredibly queenly she’ll be one day.

 

I gotta say, I’m so glad that Manon Blackbeak was in this one more often and I got to feel better about her as a character, I think I used to sort of brush her off as nothing more than a secondary character but MANON IS A WAY OF LIFE. She’s so wonderfully dark and crafty yet thoughtful and intelligent, she’s got a mind of her own and one day she’ll make the rest of the witches bow to her.

AND WHEN MANON MEETS AELIN UM OKAY. CAN I GET AN AMEN. Probably my second favorite scene in the book, cause honestly it was just such an amazing action packed, teeth gritting sequence of fighting between the two because their skills are on such an equal level of power.

We get more lovely and incredible female characters that are worthy of your unyielding admiration such as the witty and cunning Lysandra, the brave and heartfelt Elide Lochan, and lastly the coolest archer since Katniss Everdeen, Nesryn Faliq.

As for the men of this story, of course, Chaol’s reunion with Aelin was little more than heartbreaking since the animosity between the two is palpable. However, Chaol has and will always be a favorite of mine for his loyalty and heart. He finds respect in Aelin and she in him, when they earn each other’s trust once again and apologize for past mistakes.

 

Aedion Ashryver is the next best thing, simply because he’s honestly just an alternate version of Aelin in male form. He loves his Queen and cousin, he develops an interesting relationship with Lysandra and becomes a brother to Rowan—whom I will get to in a minute.

Dorian Havilliard, my sweet baby child boy, I pained for him in this book, simply because the few times where you’d see him, he’d be struggling to fight against the demon who possessed him, he nearly gave up hope and yearned for someone to put him out of his misery. Until the end of the book when he was finally free and I was flipping through the pages so fast you could feel the sound barrier vibrating. He’s such a strong and now broken character, it just makes you want to put him in a box for safety and keep him from the harsh world where he’ll never be hurt or used again. Maybe throw a Manon in there for his company.

Now, Rowan Whitehorn, oh my, Rowan freaking Whitehorn, you territorial fae bastard prince man, whom I am forever in love with until the end of my days. When he finds Aelin and they hug and it’s just soul crushing because it hurts so good you just want to bend over backwards for them so they can be happy and sarcastic together for a thousand years at least. His gentle character and lusty feels for Aelin are laughable and fulfilling in every way possible, and then he’s an intimidating and awesome warrior outside of that Aelin bubble that he lives in. I just really need them to make beautiful babies and live in a perfect country where they don’t have to be manipulated by anyone.

Arobynn Hamel got what was coming for him in this novel, by the hands of Lysandra and it was oh so satisfying, finally he got what he deserved, a nice slow and painful death in such a vulnerable position too. How much I enjoyed his death had me questioning my own character.

This book is just overall such a dark and wonderfully bloody mess of perfection. It was a well-coordinated and thought out plot preparing you for the end and what’s to come in Empire of Storms and you just understand so much more that you could have missed or questioned in previous books. The Valg, the king, the duke (who’s an even worse dick than we all might have imagined) and the obnoxious queen, Maeve.

This book was not without issues or flaws however, there were a few things that had me irking the scene or the character, which I won’t point out specifics, but the rest of the book and the fact that this one felt like a nice “here, hope you feel better” letter after the heartbreak of Heir of Fire and previous books. Everything turns out better and everyone seems to be getting better. So it all works out—for the better.

So maybe it did get a little slow here and there, mostly parts in the middle, and maybe there didn’t need to be so much fluff, but I love me some fluff, and a little extra unexpected fluff in a Maas book is more than welcome in my world. At least everyone in the story is getting a happier ending.

 

Now onto Empire of Storms, I want to mention that if you’ve read Assassin’s Blade then you’ll be delighted to know that most of those characters and places are going to make an appearance or be acknowledged in this book. I never read that novella, and might do so in the future, but that is what I’ve heard.

 

You find yourself with Aelin and her squad confronting a few Lords of Terrasen who decide they don’t necessarily care for Aelin or the fact that she thinks she’s already queen, since no official move has been made, she has to prove herself and her court as worthy of Terrasen. I can kinda see things from their point of view, but also they don’t need to be assholes about it.

 

A lot of the story just goes over Aelin and her crew meandering across the sea and land to gain allies and whatnot, as well as the explosive relationships between all of them. Particularly Aelin and Rowan, then there’s Elide and Lorcan who take the story to a different part of the land, and I found myself slightly more interested in what those two were doing rather than my favorite crew, but that’s only the beginning and middle, afterwards it really takes off.

I also kinda want to mention that I wasn’t too enamored with Aelin in this book than I was in others, maybe I didn’t get enough from her POV and that might be a good thing, since you see her more as someone else and what she’s like from other character’s POV’s. She does seem a little distant and on her own with making plans, but she’s setting them all up for greatness and yes, she’s doing it all for the greater good.

 

Ah and the sex scenes, oh my, were there some sensory scenes in this book, for some reason they caught me a little off guard and maybe I haven’t read many romantic YA’s as of late, nor have I read the ACOTAR series yet, so maybe I’ve just forgotten how sex can be in these books, but also this is YA and there’s bound to be a much younger range of audience reading this book amirite? Honestly, I couldn’t care less what anyone else in the grade school age range is reading, I read Fifty Shades when I was too young, so who am I to say anything, but that was an adult novel, and now I look at these scenes and they seem maybe just a bit too excessively graphic for a YA novel? Whether they’re there or not doesn’t bother me, I’m just saying maybe Maas could have eased up a bit on the details. They were actually a little unnecessary, I think there were a few we could have done without, what I couldn’t do without was the WEDDING.

 

How dare she throw in a secret wedding and not let anyone see/read about this beautiful union goddammit. It was like “Surprise! We’re married!” while Rowan’s thinking “wait, where my wife at?” And I’m just trying to mull over the fact that they got married and I missed that shit.

I love Chaol with all my heart still, and I’m a little sad he wasn’t in this book, but I also now that he’s bedridden I’m afraid that would have been a little slow and disconnected from this book, so I’m just glad he’s at least getting his own book. That’ll tie me over until the next one.

Ah and that ending man, what a freakin killer. It was hard watching/reading Aelin getting whipped again and her friends/allies are unable to help her and Rowan’s not even there and we all just really hate Maeve even more, but it was sort of great because in the very very end, it sets you up and gets you excited for the next book which doesn’t come out for another 3 billion years, but hey, at least we’ve got the Chaol book and coloring books and then the ACOTAR series.

Alas, it was a pleasure writing for you all, I wish you all have a wonderful evening and I wish you all the best in your week of reading, or not reading, whatever floats your boat.

SIDE NOTE: That incredible piece of art at the top is by Charlie Bowater. Her art is amazing and if you have not seen any of it yet, you should go check her out, she has lots of Maas fanart.

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