Review | Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas

Overlong and lacking in humanity. 3/5 stars.


For more background and blurbs, check out my reviews of Throne of Glass (Book 1), Crown of Midnight (Book 2) and Heir of Fire (Book 3), and Queen of Shadows (Book 4).

For those of you who don’t know, the Throne of Glass series is a 6-book saga following the adventures of a bad-ass female assassin in a fantasy realm which features fairies, witches and all sorts of magical shenanigans. While the first two books in the series felt solidly YA, I’m guessing the author feels her readers are growing up as the series goes on and certainly book 5 is more NA territory with some undoubtedly “adult” content.

Now, before I get into what will possibly become a bit of a rant, I want to make it clear that this was fine. Just fine. Not great, not bad. Just OK.


I read the first 4 installments of this series back to back last summer. And I think that’s the way this series is best approached. If you haven’t already started it, I’d wait until the sixth and final book is published and then read them all. Unless, of course, you have an excellent memory. Unfortunately, my memory seems to be ever-dwindling and in the year since I finished book 4, I’ve clearly forgotten many crucial characters and events from the series. At the start of Empire of Storms I was often lost and at the end when a load of new people started showing up I had NO idea who they were… although I felt I should know.

While I haven’t returned to this series recently, I did read the second installment of Sarah J. Maas’ popular A Court of Thorns and Roses series –  A Court of Mist and Fury – back in May. Sadly this also turned out to be a problem because there were far too many times in Empire of Storms where the author seemed to have copied bits from ACOMAF. The echoes were everywhere, particularly in the sex scenes. Sex scenes which border on laughable by the way: you know you’re reading “fantasy” fiction when all the female characters have multiple orgasms every single time they have sex!

I re-read my review for book 4 before writing this and most of my issues with that book persist: I don’t like Rowan much and Celaena/Aelin is increasingly annoying. Their romance is very important to this book, so if you don’t care for it, that’s already a big dent in your enjoyment. However, as with books 3 and 4, the secondary characters save this book, giving us just enough to care about to keep reading: Manon continues to be excellent, and Lysandra and Elide are great.

But, even though the secondary characters are doing their best, I still wasn’t gripped. So what is going on? I think the problem may be that the balance of human-non-magical-pleb vs. non-human-supernatural-royalty is out of whack. With certain characters now having discovering their “powers”, I don’t think any of the main characters are human and/or normal anymore. This makes it hard to relate to them: once it’s all immortals, royalty and demi-whatnot, it becomes tricky to still care about the characters are much. This book is desperately missing a Chaol, an entirely human, non-supernatural character who finds themselves out of their depth and who can look on all the supernatural events around them in shock, helping us to share their awe, rather than only boredom because the book goes on and on for nearly 700 pages.

I have hope for book 6. My preferred books in the series have been the even numbers, probably because the odd numbers appear to function as set-up and the evens as pay-off which, let’s face it, will always be more satisfying. And if Maas brings back Chaol and Nesryn and writes half of the book in their POVs, that would be a good start.

Overall: while it’s not my favourite installment, there’s enough here to keep fans of the series happy until the final book is published next year. If you haven’t started the series yet, I’d wait until all the books are available so you can read them without any long pauses in between… unless you have a photographic memory!

Claire Huston / Art and Soul

17 thoughts on “Review | Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas

    • I have high hopes for book 6. Once again, as with book 3, I felt this whole book was treading water and set-up for what’s coming in the next book.
      It’s not all bad, not at all. But there were whole chapters I could have skipped and not missed anything (mainly the “romance” chapters, *ahem*). It just needed a really ruthless edit and it would have been a much more entertaining, gripping read.
      As long as they don’t kill off Manon, I’ll keep reading. And I await the triumphant return of Chaol! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. D’oh! Too bad it didn’t blow your socks off. Wasn’t this the same book people were attacking Maas about on Twitter?

    you know you’re reading “fantasy” fiction when all the female characters have multiple orgasms every single time they have sex…GASP, Claire, GASP! (and giggling) 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t know they’d been attacking her, but it could well have been over this one. Either this one or the second in her other series (I know a lot of people got upset by that one too… And I don’t really understand why they need to have a go at Maas. I mean, seriously, you can hate the book but leave the author alone!).

      Unfortunately there wasn’t much gasping while reading the sex scenes. Just a lot of tutting and eye rolling. I mean, for goodness sake. I’m all for wish fulfilment in fiction, but vary things a bit for your readers! And all the nibbling at each other too! Ugh!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I didn’t read the actual stuff on Twitter either, but I heard it somewhere else that she got death threats because of it. And yes, you should definitely leave the author alone. Hahaha, maybe this is just the kind of stuff 17-year-olds swoon over! We’re just not that easily impressed anymore at our age ;).

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Uh oh… I’m about to start reading this one, and your review definitely makes me wonder if I should pospone it or not. 700 pages is a lot if it’s just average and the fact that the romance plays a big role is a huge turn off. (I still have to read ACOMAF as well; I’m wondering which I should read first now). Great review! Hopefully book 6 will be better.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh no! I’m so sad to see that you didn’t like this as much- still gonna read it though 😉 and luckily my memory’s pretty good, so I should be okay- and if worst comes to worst I’ll reread it. But I do get what you mean- it’s annoying to be left hanging- although with this one my friend and I did think that she would give us a huge cliffhanger for the last book cos her books tend to work in pairs.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I still have hope for the final book, as long as there’s less sexy bits and more Chaol! And I’m all about sexy bits, but they don’t work here. Love your multiple orgasm comment!!! I also took issue with the bite marks? All the time?! Get over your teeth!

    Liked by 1 person

      • I miss Chaol! I’m passing the book on to my daughter’s friend. She’s 14. I feel like I need to black out some of the parts before she reads it!! Maybe Maas should switch to NA instead of YA if she keeps this up

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Great review! I’m about 100 pages into this one, and had to set it aside to read other things. I’m just not that interested! I really liked Rowan & his friendship with Aelin until Maas turned it romantic in the previous book. So now all of those scenes just really irritate me. Manon and her thirteen are the most interesting characters, and they are why I haven’t totally given up on this series.

    Liked by 1 person

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