OK, I just finished Empire of Storms so here are my thoughts. Spoilers. Obviously. And, yeah, I know I’m really late to everything, I just didn’t want to buy it and so I had to wait forever for it to come in at the library.
So it had good parts and wasn’t a struggle to get through or anything, but…it was lacking pretty much everywhere. First off, why must every character be white, beautiful, royalty, and straight? (Except Aedion you go my little bi dude.) The romances were then just, “Oh, here’s a new character, they will inevitably get with the character who has no obvious love interest who it the opposite gender.” The last few books felt like that too, though. And the book in general felt really detached from all the others. To be fair, it’s been about a year since I read the last one, but I don’t think this should have been as much of a problem as it was. I could not connect EoS Aelin to Aelin of the other books, or really even get a sense of her character, nor any of the others’, with the exception of Elide, Lysandra, and Manon. Most of it was just me, reading the page with the words, not seeing events unfold and things happen to people (fae, witches, whatever). I also really wasn’t invested in any of the romances. Rowan and Aelin was just all eternal love that felt unnecessary and forced and the sex felt like sex for the sake of sex and, boy, it was super cringy. I know some people don’t like Dorian and Manon, and I kind of like them together, but again, it just felt like they were only together because they were single and why the hell not, every character must have a love interest. Same with Lorcan and Elide. Elide’s great, and Lorcan was sort of interesting, and I can see how they were good for each other, but it all felt forced. Lysandra and Aedion was nice though. They are clearly good together and have a good dynamic, and it’s not all for the sex appeal. And every single character kept being described as beautiful. Why.
Then the plot. The whole time I was reading, I had no idea where the book was headed. OK, this is realistic, but does not make good fiction. There needs to be an underlying sense of tension to give the book some momentum and give the reader an idea of what to look out for or when the book will pick up. It got a bit like the last Lord of the Rings movie, with me thinking it was over, then it not being. I first thought the scene with the five hundred liken was the end, but then what were the extra hundred pages for? Then Ansel came along (we didn’t get nearly enough of her; she was so cool in the Assassin’s Blade), and I thought that was the end. But then they were clearly gearing up for a battle or something, so…what? And I could not figure out what the climax would be. More with Erawan? But then what was all this stuff with Maeve doing here? Would it be like Blood of Olympus, with the last book in the series being them defeating the thing the entire series had been about them defeating (Erawan), then defeating the other evil thing that had been built up a tiny bit throughout (Maeve), and psych, that’s the actual climax? I couldn’t tell you. Then only once Maeve showed up did it become clear what was going to happen, and that it would happen in EoS.
So basically, no momentum, no idea given where the series was headed, everything felt forced and fake, and the cool side female characters were really the only salvation. And can we have some Aelin beating the hell out of people with her badassary, not her magic in the next book?