Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5)

empire-of-stormsBook: Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5)

Author: Sarah J Maas

I was a little nervous about Empire of Storms after Queen of Shadows because I didn’t love Queen of Shadows and was worried that I wouldn’t like Empire of Storms much either. Luckily I was wrong, Empire of Storms was amazing (I mean soul-destroying, heart ripping out sad but still amazing) and I loved it almost as much as I loved Heir of Fire. It still took me a while to get through but this time it was simply because the book was so long rather than there being long dragging parts that I got bored by! Queen of Shadows felt a little off to me in terms of the characters, I think because it was the transition book, the first book where Aelin is Aelin and not Celaena, and there were lots of new characters introduced and everything was changing. In Empire of Storms the characters felt a lot more natural and so did the plot, it seemed to flow better, rather than being centred round two major events with a lot of planning and build-up in between, there was lots of stuff happening in Empire of Storms and it felt so much better paced. Here is a synopsis of the book:
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? 

The first thing I have to say about this book was that the opening was really pretty. I didn’t quite get why SJM chose that opening as it didn’t seem to have anything to do with what had been happening in QOS or any of the main characters for that matter, but later in the book it becomes clearer as to why SJM chose this particular opening and I think it works really well for setting up later events of the book.

SJM’s writing was beautiful as always, although I couldn’t help but notice there were more spelling and grammar errors than usual (because I usually don’t notice any). I guess it’s more of an editing thing, but it just jarred me a little when I spotted them.

There were lots of ships in this book, quite a bit of romance and whilst I don’t usually love romance, I’ve come to expect it in SJM books and I did love some of the ships, so it didn’t bug me as much as it sometimes does. I wasn’t expecting to like Dorian/Manon because I found the hints to it a little weird in QOS but I actually really shipped them in this book. I’m not even sure why, I just liked their dynamic (plus there was a very steamy scene with them that I actually liked, which is unusual for me!). I also really loved Lysandra and Aedion, there was a nice romantic vibe between the two of them without the need for anything sexual and I’m looking forward to seeing how their relationship develops in the next book particularly with what happened at the end of Empire of Storms. I still don’t love Rowaelin but I’ve come to accept that they are here to stay.Elide/Lorcan was a very unexpected ship and I’m not sure where I stand on it. On the one hand, Lorcan is kind of an ass and does some despicable things, but yet he and Elide do have some cute scenes (and they have an OUAT reference!). The jury’s still out on this one, because I keep swinging back and forth as to whether I like Lorcan or not. We’ll see where it goes in book six.  I have to admit, I will never understand SJM’s obsession to pair up all of her characters, but hey, to each their own.

I still love Dorian and it was great to see his magic developing in this book and seeing him start to gain some control over it. I also liked that SJM didn’t just brush over what happened to him in the last book because it was a traumatic experience (and it was really interesting to hear Sarah talk about this at her event) and obviously it was going to leave a mark on him. It was nice to see Dorian playing more of a role in this book though after he kind of took a backseat in QOS. It’s amazing to me how much he and all of the other characters have grown over the course of the books, comparing Dorian in EOS to Throne of Glass, they’re like two different people! It was interesting to see him interact with Rowan as well since we haven’t really seen that all that much up until now.

I have to talk about Manon simply because she’s so freaking awesome in this book. She has some incredible scenes and more is revealed about her backstory that makes her even more awesome than she was before. It was also really cool to see how she interacted with Aelin, Rowan, Aedion, Dorian and Lysandra, since aside from Aelin, and Dorian to some extent, those dynamics have never really been explored and it feels like everyone’s storylines are finally coming together now. I feel like Manon really came into her own and shone in this book which was great to see. Manon also did something that I’d wanted her to do for a long time and all the way through this particular scene, I was screaming in my head something along the lines of “you go girl!” which Manon would totally have disapproved of but I don’t care but it was awesome. (You can totally tell I’m a Manon fangirl can’t you? I don’t even care though, SJM is a Manon fangirl too, so I’m clearly in a great club!).  I also still really love Abraxos and think his relationship with Manon is adorable. If I was being really picky, I might have liked a little more of the Thirteen because I really love them, the girl power dynamic is incredible but what we did have of the Thirteen was awesome, so I can’t complain too much, plus the balance between the different stories in this book was pretty good anyway, so maybe more of the Thirteen might have messed it up.

I liked Aelin so much better in this book, in QOS she was basically just a complete bitch and was fawning over Rowan all the time whereas here, she’s back to being the cheeky, arrogant, badass girl that we knew from before without the vindictive streak that she shows in QOS. She did have some crazy moments when she did some stupid things but I’ve come to enjoy those because they nearly always lead to a great fight!

I am very torn about Rowan. On the one hand he does some very cute things for Aelin and you can see how much he cares for her, but on the other hand, he’s incredibly possessive and it scares me slightly. I think that’s why I prefer Aedion, whilst he wants to protect Lysandra, he doesn’t seem quite as forceful with it as Rowan and he also seems more cheeky and laid back than Rowan. But anyway, I think Rowan’s possessiveness is part of the reason why I don’t like Rowan and Aelin’s relationship (since my friend pointed out to me the whole age difference thing is kind of hypocritical since I do like Manon and Dorian and I think their age difference is worse!) because it just doesn’t seem healthy to me. I did appreciate that there was less of the horny teenager nonsense in this book than there was in the last book, although I will say that there is still too much focus on sex, even when it’s not happening, half the characters seem to be thinking about it. These characters have so much more important things to be thinking about than sex! (mini rant over I promise). I did love SJM’s acknowledgement of the insanely large number of attractive characters in her cast though through a line that Dorian said, that was good, but I would appreciate it if half the characters weren’t trying to undress the other half with their eyes most of the time. That would be nice.

Can I just talk about Elide for a moment? I freaking love Elide! Elide is awesome. I liked her in QOS but EOS took her character to just a whole new level. She was so smart and kind and I loved how she stood up for herself with Lorcan and showed everyone who might have forgotten about her that she was worth something. I feel like she’s grown in confidence so much from QOS to this book and I can’t wait to see her character growth in the last book.

I liked that there was more humour in this book, Aelin’s always had some great sarcastic lines, but QOS just felt so bleak and so serious and whilst EOS is also pretty bleak, there were some much needed injections of humour into it, some great one liners and funny moments. I particularly loved the scene where Aelin returns to Skull’s Bay to try and get Rolfe to ally with her, it’s just s so trademark Celaena Sardothien and I laughed so hard!

Speaking of Rolfe, I loved that we got to see more familiar faces return in this book, especially a certain character who I’m not going to name because I want you to be as surprised as I was, as I was hoping we’d get to see her in the main Throne of Glass novels. I will say though if you haven’t read The Assassin’s Blade before this book then you should because otherwise this book will be all kinds of confusing.

There were so many great action scenes in this book particularly towards the end and I loved that because well, I just love a good action scene. Plus Lysandra is awesome in all of them. Can we take a second to talk about how awesome Lysandra is? I love Lysandra! She can turn into a freakin’ dragon! If she does not make it out of this series alive I will be so angry (same for Manon, Dorian, Aelin, Aedion, Elide) because I love her so much, her character has gone from being one of my least favourites (Assassin’s Blade) to most.

There was no Chaol at all in this book, which I didn’t think I’d be sad about because I never really liked him, but I did notice his absence and kind of missed him, I guess? I don’t think having him in this book would have worked though, it wouldn’t have fitted with the story, so I think SJM made the right choice not to include him and I’m sure he’ll be back in the final book.

I loved that we got to find out more about Elena this book, that was something I wasn’t expecting and I thought it was really clever how Maas tied her back into the books. I don’t really like her, for reasons that will become clear when you read this book, but I appreciated that she was there and her role is going to make for a very interesting finale.

I loved that we finally after five books got to see Eyllwe but I wish we could have seen more of it, since because a lot of this book happens at sea, you don’t really see all that much of it. I hope that maybe we might get to see a little more of it in book six?

There were some things that slightly confused me in this book, with Erawan (there’s a bit where he appears to Aelin, or he possesses someone to appear to Aelin and it’s all just a little confusing) and with something from QOS that didn’t quite fit with new information we learn in this book, although I’m sure that will probably make more sense in book six. Still it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book, so I didn’t mind the minor moments of confusion I had.

Finally the ending, oh my god, the ending. The ending killed me. That ending was painful. Possibly even more painful than Heir of Fire. I was not prepared for it. I am both dreading and looking forward to Book Six at the same time after that ending. There are things that I am interested to see how they work out, and whilst I don’t want this series to end, I am also really excited for its conclusion now! (Sorry that this review is insanely long and possibly incoherent but I have a lot of feelings!).

My Rating: 4/5

My next review will be of Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman and I should have that one up for you guys very soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) Review

Book: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4)

Author: Sarah J Maas

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This book again took me a while to read, because it was a beast of a book at 648 pages! I have to say, I’m slightly unsure of what to think of this book. I flew through the last third or so of the book, I really enjoyed that, but the rest of it, I wasn’t entirely sure. There were definitely parts that I enjoyed, but I don’t feel like it lived up to the expectations I had for it and I definitely feel like I preferred Heir of Fire. I kind of felt like it was overly long, there was a lot of slow stuff that you had to get through in order to get to the good stuff and while that’s all well and good and I understand that there needed to be a lot of planning in order to get to the end, but I did feel like my attention was kind of wavering at some points. Here is the synopsis for the book:

The queen has returned.

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 for her. 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.

The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series continues Celaena’s epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

Like I said, it’s kind of difficult for me to review this book, because it’s hard for me to exactly pinpoint what didn’t work for me. It’s one of those books where I did enjoy it, but I didn’t love it to the point where I’m crazy fangirling and incredibly excited in my reviews. I found it just okay and those are often the hardest books to review. I think the length of it was a big problem for me, because essentially, when you take all of the extra stuff out of the book, there were only two big things that needed to be done, rescuing Aedion from the castle and freeing Dorian/freeing magic/freeing the King. Everything between those two big things is kind of all just set-up which after a while, gets a little dull. I definitely think this book could have done with some page culling, it probably could have been shortened by at least 100 or so pages, as there definitely felt like there were some chapters in this that weren’t entirely necessary.

I wasn’t keen on the whole Rowan/Aelin romance thing. I didn’t really see the chemistry between the two of them and it kind of seemed to come out of nowhere. I mean there were kind of hints in Heir of Fire that they might become more than friends and I wouldn’t have minded if there had been some build-up, like their feelings of friendship slowly blossomed into romance but it all seems too sudden and out of the blue. Plus, what I really loved about their relationship was that they were just friends! You don’t get that too often in YA fiction and it was really refreshing to see. I could probably still be convinced of their romance but at the moment, not a fan. Plus it is kind of gross their relationship, if you really think about it, given that she is 19 and he is like 300+. It’s not okay! This romance felt like a reduction of both their characters, I mean Rowan is this all powerful fae and he spent a lot of time fawning over Aelin and Aelin is this powerful queen and she spent a lot of time parading around in her nightwear like a little girl. Plus, I don’t really think Aelin needs another romance right now, she’s only 19 and she’s already been hurt so badly, I feel like it would be so much better to give her time to develop on her own, rather than throwing another romantic entanglement in there.

I officially love Lysandra! I never thought I would say this after Assassin’s Blade because I wasn’t exactly keen on her in that, but it turns out she’s awesome! I love that we got to find out about her history in this book and I liked the reveal that she had magic and the power she had I felt made so much sense for her. I loved her relationship with Aelin, it was nice to see her have a close female friend again. In fact, I wish we’d seen more of her, because I really enjoyed the scenes with her in. Her character in this book didn’t really match with the Lysandra from The Assassin’s Blade, but it has been two years since the events of that book in this one, so I’m fully willing to accept that she would have changed over that length of time. She has some cute little moments with Aedion as well, so I’d quite like to see where that relationship goes.

I love Manon, she’s really awesome but again it felt like the witches chapters didn’t really fit in with everything else that was going on. By the end, I kind of got how everything tied together, but I felt like some of the chapters with the witches needed a little bit more substance to them. I liked the introduction of Elide Lochan, a character who was mentioned in Heir of Fire, but we actually got to see her here and I really liked her. She was quite a complex character and I’m really intrigued by her. I definitely want to find out more about her in the next book, like what magic does she have? It’s hinted that she may have some, but it’s never revealed, so I really want to see that next book! I also definitely want to see her and Aelin meet again, they knew each other as kids but haven’t met in a decade, so it will be quite interesting to see how they interact.

The witches story did tie in better in this book that it did in Heir of Fire, although it wasn’t really until the end of the book that we were told how the witches’ story tied in with the main story. Still the witches’ storyline saved the first half of the book for me, because the stuff in Rifthold, aside from Aedion’s rescue, wasn’t all that interesting. The whole thing with Duke Perrington trying to breed Valg with witches was quite interesting and it seems like SJM is setting Manon up for a confrontation with her grandmother which would be epic if it happens! I also liked getting to see what became of Kaltain. I felt so bad for her and was so happy when she finally got her revenge. I loved the Manon x Aelin showdown, that was one of my favourite parts of the book and I really want to see them team up at some point because they would be unstoppable! I also love Manon’s friendship with Asterin and I loved Asterin in this book. She kind of acted as Manon’s voice of reason and steered her in the right direction which I thought was really cool. I love the way Manon’s character is developing and how she is learning how to embrace feelings other than bloodthirstiness. I hope to see this continue in future books.

I’m quite interested in the possible hints dropped about a Manon/Dorian romance, but at the same time, it’s the same situation as Rowan/Aelin, kind of gross given that he’s only 20 and she’s over a century old. Still, I am intrigued as to where Sarah J Maas is going with this one. It did seem kind of random though, not going to lie. Does everyone need to be paired with someone? Well I say no, but apparently SJM does not agree with me!

I was disappointed with the way things turned out with Arobynn. Not how his story ended, that was fine, but I felt like the whole Aelin/Arobynn confrontation had kind of been built up and in the end it didn’t end up being as big a deal as it should have been. I was expecting this big showdown between the two of them and it never really materialised. Also, not going to lie, but I thought the way that Arobynn went down was kind of pathetic. I was expecting so much more! He’s the King of the Assassins, he should have been harder to take down than he was.

Chaol was kind of out of character in the beginning of the book and I felt he and Aelin were overly nasty to each other in a way that wasn’t necessary. Sure, things were bound to be awkward because they didn’t part on great terms, but I didn’t feel like they needed to be as outwardly nasty to each other as they were. Plus he was kind of overlooked for most of the book until right at the very end, which didn’t seem entirely fair given that he’s one of the main characters. The one constant of his character was his unwavering determination to rescue Dorian though and I loved that because they have always been so close and I loved his scenes towards the end when they are freeing magic because he had a much bigger role and it felt like he was back to the old Chaol that we knew and loved. Although I have to say, his ending was so sad, I hope there is a little more happiness for him in the next book.

We were introduced to Nesryn Faliq in this book, a new character, she’s a WOC who is fighting for the rebel cause and was a city guard. I really liked her character but she did sort of just exist to be Chaol’s new love interest and to hammer home the point that Chaol and Celaena had moved on. I didn’t mind her developing relationship with Chaol because it’s developed quite nicely and doesn’t go too quickly but I would have liked a little more individual character development for her. I’m hoping that this happens in the next book?

I also kind of felt like I wanted to see more of the Aedion/Aelin relationship. It’s made such a big deal of in the first part of the book and I loved his rescue scene, it was all kinds of epic and their reunion scene the next morning where they get to know each other again after having been apart for so long was really heartwarming, but we don’t really get to see much of their relationship after that, which kind of sucked because a big part of the first part of the book was getting Aedion back. I hope we get to see more of their relationship in the next book and maybe less of the Rowan/Aelin relationship? It did kind of feel that other relationships (and I mean friendships, not necessarily romance) kind of suffered in this book because Maas was heavily pushing the Rowan/Aelin stuff. I hope this changes in the next book. I’d also like a little bit more character development for Aedion next book, because it kind of seemed as if he was only there to be the muscle in this book.

I also wasn’t entirely keen that some of the biggest plot twists took place off page. Lots of time throughout the book, there are some really intense scenes that are only resolved because of something Aelin did off-page that we don’t get to see and I didn’t really like that.

The last 40% or so of the book was epic! Seriously, I got to around chapter 70 and could not put the book down, I sped through all of the chapters from there to about chapter 80 and it was so intense and amazing and just AGGHHHH! I can’t even, it was so exciting! I loved the climax that the story came to, you know an author is doing something right when it’s 2am and you’re still reading! I loved the little hints of Dorian and Chaol friendship in the last few chapters of the book and I would like much more of this please! I also liked seeing the Aelin/Dorian friendship we got at the end of the book as we haven’t had that in a while and I really love their friendship, so I would love to see that continue in the next book. I am kind of wondering where the series will actually go next, a lot was resolved in this book, so I’m kind of wondering how much epicness there is left for the last two books and since Queen of Shadows didn’t leave off on an obvious cliffhanger, there’s no obvious starting point for book 5.

I just want to give a quick mention here to how much I loved the scene where she visited Sam’s grave, I thought it was really beautifully done and it was a scene that I didn’t know I needed until I read it. Kind of wish it had been a moment where she had just been alone, rather than bringing Rowan with her, but it didn’t distract from the beauty of the scene so I didn’t mind too much.

I hated how possessive Aedion and Rowan were over Aelin, like, the girl can protect herself, she doesn’t need you to fight her battles for her and they were so possessive, to the point of being physically aggressive at times which I really didn’t like. I did like the friendship that eventually developed between the two of them though.

I did feel like the transition from Celaena to Aelin seemed kind of rushed. She seemed like a totally different person in this book and whilst I love that she accepted her name and her heritage and her queenship and everything in the last book, I felt like she completely tried to forget who she was as Celaena and I didn’t like that because Celaena did have some good qualities. Aelin for the most part was just a bitch for most of the story. I felt like Aelin had lost some of the good qualities that Celaena had and although I felt she had redeemed herself by the end, I hope that in the next book we see her showing more of the qualities that we liked from Celaena. I also didn’t like that Aelin showed hatred toward her former identity because Celaena is part of who she is and I’d like to see her accept that. I also didn’t like how indestructable and perfect Aelin came across, I would have liked to see her show a little more vulnerability. Basically, I didn’t like that SJM was trying to make Aelin and Celaena seem like two totally different people, Aelin spent more than half her life as Celaena and I just wish that this had been acknowledged. I also didn’t like that she was willing to kill Dorian, Celaena would never have wanted to do that, she would have wanted to find a way to save her friend no matter what it took, where Aelin was only willing to give him one minute before she killed him. Sure, she redeemed herself in the end but I didn’t like that she was even willing to consider killing Dorian. She also came across as kind of Mary-sueish, overly powerful, so cunning that she had her game plan done weeks in advance and it near enough always went the way she planned and everyone constantly gushed about how perfect she was, it got a little annoying after a while.

It was kind of sad that Dorian was such a small part of this book considering how the biggest cliffhanger of the last book was centred on him, but I guess that was kind of to be expected since he was possessed by a Valg demon for most of the book. His scenes made me so sad, I hope the next book is so much better for him, because poor Dorian wasn’t exactly having a great time in this book!

I do like that with each book, the world expands and becomes more complex and layered and I’m really looking forward to the next book, because we’re going to get to see Terrasen and I can’t wait to see even more of this amazing world that Sarah J Maas has created.

I’ve seen complaints about the twist that was introduced with the King of Adarlan at the end, but I actually liked it and thought it was really well done. I kind of wish we could have heard more from him before the big climax happened (can’t really say too much about it without spoilers!) as he was finally starting to get more interesting as a character and not just being this generic evil guy.

The writing as usual was lovely, if there is one thing that I have come to expect from Sarah J Maas, it is beautiful writing and in that regard, this book definitely does not disappoint, there are many quotable lines from it, which I loved.

Overall, this book did actually have many things that I loved about it. The action scenes were brilliant, the female characters are all so brilliant and badass and I loved that we finally had another strong female friendship in this book, with the Lysandra/Aelin friendship (well Lysandra in general is just awesome!), there were certain scenes that I really liked and the ending was definitely explosive, so I didn’t hate the book by any means. However, I had a lot of issues with it, the pacing was off and the character development was off and this definitely hindered my enjoyment of the book. The ending also felt like it was too neat, everything was too wrapped up and I find it hard to see how Sarah J Maas can get another two books out of this story. One maybe, but two seems like it may be dragging it out a bit, especially with the pacing problems in this book. My expectations after Heir of Fire were maybe a little too high but I can’t help but have a slightly bitter taste in my mouth after this book. I will still continue on with this series to it’s end because I love the characters, but after this one, it will definitely be with a bit more trepidation.

My Rating: 3.5/5 (I added the extra 0.5 for the climax because it was so epic!)

The next book I will be reviewing is the final book in the Divergent trilogy, Allegiant by Veronica Roth. I am slightly nervous about reading this as it seems to be very polarizing, but I would like to make up my own mind about it, so I guess we’ll see what I make of it!

Oh and before I forget:

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you’ve all had a good one!

The Asssassin’s Blade (Throne of Glass #0.5) Review

Hey guys! So it’s been a while, over a month since I last posted a review, which is shameful really but it takes me a while to read books at the moment, given the whole being at Uni thing! I’m hoping I may be able to get more reading done when I’m back home for the Christmas holidays, but we’ll see! Anyway, it was nice to get back into Celeana’s world for a while and I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of short stories, more than I thought I was going to, as novellas aren’t usually my thing, but these were really good and really got me excited for Queen of Shadows, which I just started reading today!

the assassin's blade

I actually liked these novellas a lot more than the first Throne of Glass book, I liked seeing Celeana’s feisty nature and what she was like before Endovier and these novellas really give you a better insight into what motivates her as a character and how the events of her past have shaped her into who she is and it was great just to have more of an insight into Celeana’s past. I also liked that we really get to see the full range of her skills as an assassin in this book, if you have any doubt about how much clout she has as an assassin after reading Throne of Glass, then I swear, reading this will completely change your mind. It’s probably better to read this after Throne of Glass though, as this book really more builds on the Celaena we already know rather than introducing her as a character.

I liked the flow of the novellas, they all felt like they fitted together really well, but with one notable exception being The Assassin and The Healer. I felt like I really could have done without that one, because it just didn’t seem to fit very well with the others and I have to say it kind of bored me. I feel like it’s strange that they were published as individual

I also feel like the Team Chaol/Dorian argument is totally pointless after Assassin’s Blade. Sam Cortland people! Sam freaking Cortland! I finally understand what all the fuss was about him. He is boyfriend goals, he’s such a sweetheart to Celaena, even when she doesn’t necessarily deserve it. He’s snarky and witty, the perfect bantering partner to Celaena and he knows exactly what to say to get a rise out of her. The two of them fit together so perfectly. And yet, all of us who’ve read the series know what happens to him. I swear Sarah J Maas just takes pleasure in breaking our hearts at this point. Why Sarah, why do you do this to us? The scene in The Assassin and The Empire when Celaena finds out what happened to Sam tore my heart into pieces and nearly made my cry (it takes a lot for a book to actually make me cry). I loved that we see that the origin of Celaena’s mantra (well Aelin now, but I’ll refer to her as Celaena for this, because she is still Celaena), “My name is Celaena Sardothien and I will not be afraid”, originally came from Sam, that almost made me cry too.

I feel like the story I enjoyed the most out of the collection was The Assassin and The Desert, we get to see where Celaena learned a lot of her skills as an assassin and I also feel like it’s the story where she develops most as a character. Plus I loved seeing her friendship with Ansel, I was really sad at the way things turned out for them, because I really loved their friendship whilst it lasted, particularly the part where they stole the Asterion horses together, I thought that was great and when they were talking under the stars. The last few chapters I especially liked, they were very action packed. It was also really cool to see her with a big group of assassins as most of the time, she works alone, so it was nice to see how she interacted with a larger group. I also liked seeing her relationship with the Mute Master and how it was so different from her relationship with Arobynn and I thought the way they communicated without words was so cool.

I loved the development of Celaena and Sam’s relationship over the course of the novellas, how they go from hating each other (which we all know is code for secretly loving each other) to being in love and they’re just the most perfect couple, Sam feels far more like her equal than Chaol and Dorian ever do and the fact that they are so perfect just makes the ending of the last novella even more heartbreaking. The worst thing is, you know what is going to happen to Sam if you’ve read Throne of Glass but you still get attached anyway!

I liked that we get to see more of Erilea, in the Throne of Glass series, so far we’ve only really seen Adarlan and Wendlyn, but in the novellas we get to see places like The Red Desert and Innish, we get to hear more about places like Melisande and Fenharrow and it feels like the whole world is really fleshed out a little more, which I loved.

It was great to finally see Arobynn, I’d heard so much about him, but didn’t realize why everyone hated him so much until now. He’s such a twisted character and his relationship with Celaena is so strange, you can’t tell if he sees her as a daughter or as something much more than that and he spends all of his time just completely using her. Still in my own kind of weird way, I can’t help but be intrigued by him because he’s such a complex character and I’m excited to see more of him in Queen of Shadows. I also cannot wait for the Aelin-Arobynn showdown that we all know is coming!

I got a little frustrated in The Assassin and The Underworld because you can see that Arobynn is betraying Celaena, I immediately didn’t trust him as soon as she returned to Rifthold and I felt like the job offer was shady and you just want to scream at her, no, not to take it but of course she does. I feel like Celaena can be very gullible sometimes in these novellas, first with Ansel, then with Arobynn and I’m glad that she’s not as trusting now as she used to be. Still, I really loved this story because of the development of Sam and Celaena’s relationship, it was so perfect and when they finally kissed, I just wanted to punch the air and scream YES! It was kind of slow to start off with, not going to lie, but once I was about halfway through the novella, I really started to enjoy it and the ending was just epic! I also enjoyed seeing Celaena all jealous over Lysandra, it was a side to her I’d never really seen before, so I liked that. I’ve heard that Lysandra comes back in Queen of Shadows, so I’m quite interested to see how they interact.

I enjoyed the first novella The Assassin and The Pirate Lord too, although I have to say, Celaena as a character was at her most arrogant and annoying here and I swear, you compare 16 year old Celaena to 18 year old Celaena and you see just how much she has grown as a character! What I did love though, was Sam and Celaena and all their back and forth, love-hate banter and the action sequences in this were really great. Plus who doesn’t love pirates? This was a really fun story and a nice novella to start with I felt, because Sarah doesn’t throw you straight into the heartbreak, it’s a light, fun story with lots of action & a good set-up for the rest of the novellas because what happens in this one, impacts every other story in the book.

Is it wrong that I’m slightly sad we didn’t get to see exactly what happened to Sam? It had the required emotional impact the way it was done but I felt like if we had seen what had actually happened to him, it would have been even better. I just felt like if we had actually seen it, then the dramatic impact would have been even greater than it was. Maybe I just enjoy being heartbroken, I don’t know! I just would have liked to have had a bit in The Assassin and The Empire from his POV so that we could see what really happened rather than hearing about it second hand.

I feel like I find myself even more impressed with Celaena now than I was before, now that I understand the full extent of what she’s been through, I’m even more impressed at who she is now, that she still manages to hold herself together after all of that horrible stuff happened to her, I have a great deal of respect for her as a character. I also feel like after reading this I understand her so much better, why she is the way she is, why she doesn’t trust people and her actions in Throne of Glass make so much more sense after reading this.

There were some great supporting characters introduced in this, people like Ansel, The Mute Master, Lysandra, Arobynn, Yrene, The Pirate Lord Rolfe, Ilias and I would love to see some of these characters make reappearances in the main Throne of Glass series (and I know that at least some of them appear in Queen of Shadows which makes me very happy) as I enjoyed reading about them in this book.

I don’t really have much to say about The Assassin and The Empire because it just completely broke my heart. It was kind of like a car crash, you knew exactly what was going to happen and you didn’t want to watch and yet you couldn’t tear your eyes away. I just wanted to scream at Celaena when she went to get revenge on Farran because it was so obvious it was a trap. Still even though it was heartbreaking I loved this one. Sarah is absolutely brilliant at writing broken Celaena and all the chapters after Sam dies and the events that lead up to Celaena being sent to Endovier give you all of the feels. I also liked the way this one was set up, starting with Celaena in the wagon being sent to Endovier and working its way backwards through the events that preceded it and then finally ending with her arriving at Endovier, I thought that format worked really well.

Overall, I really enjoyed these novellas, which were so cleverly intertwined that they really read as one whole book rather than a series of novellas. There were occasional grammar and punctuation issues where things didn’t quite read as they should, but these were few and far between and overall the writing was just as lovely as I have come to expect from Sarah J Maas. These novellas were fun stories which give you a greater insight into Celaena as a character and how she came to be the person she is in Throne of Glass and I really feel like they add something to the series rather than being completely unrelated novellas. This book is definitely worth a read (if only to experience the wonder that is Sam Cortland), as it really fleshes out Celaena’s backstory. I think you can read it basically whenever you want, it is intended to be a prequel to Throne of Glass but I feel like it’s better to read it afterwards as Throne of Glass gives more of an introduction to Celaena as a character where The Assassin’s Blade just builds on her story. Personally I read it before Queen of Shadows, which I think is a good idea as it has given me a better understanding of Arobynn and Celaena’s relationship going into that book, but I reckon it can be read whenever.

My Rating: 4/5

The next book I will be reviewing is Queen of Shadows, the most recent instalment in the Throne of Glass series. I’m so freaking excited for this one, I can’t even tell you guys. It’s been so hard avoiding spoilers these past few months. I’ve already started reading it, and am enjoying it so far!

 

 

 

Heir Of Fire (Throne of Glass 3) Review

Book: Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass 3)

Author: Sarah J Maas

This book took me a while to read, not because I didn’t enjoy it, it was amazing, but because it was the longest book in the series so far, at 562 pages. It follows the revelations of the last book (spoiler alert if you haven’t read Crown of Midnight yet), that Celaena is a demi-Fae and heir to the throne of Terrasen, and that Dorian has magic. There’s a lot of other stuff of course, but I’ll discuss everything in more detail later on. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

It did take me a little time to get into this book, but once I was into it, it was the type of book that you just couldn’t put down because there were so many exciting things going on particularly in the last third of the book. I loved that in this book we finally got to see the true extent of Celeana’s past, it was brutal and horrifying but it really helped me understand how she became the person she is, and I liked that we got to see her parents and her court, and her childhood life, even though we knew how it was going to end, we nas eeded to see it in order to fully understand Celaena. We got to see where she came from, where her power came from and it was great.

There is a definite difference between this book and the other two in the series, this one seemed a lot darker than the other two, and much less on the romance side, in fact there is no romance for Celaena in this, which I appreciated, because this book was much more about Celaena’s healing journey, to accept her past and become who she needed to be to be able to take up her title as Queen of Terrasen, so romance for her in this book wasn’t really necessary. Celeana’s character development in this was incredible, she started the book as a broken shell, reeling from the events of Crown of Midnight, and by the end she comes out as the determined, fierce Queen ready to take back the kingdom that’s rightfully hers, and I loved watching that journey-it was good to see the broken side to Celaena because it made you truly appreciate how strong she was by the end of the book.

Chaol annoyed me somewhat because he couldn’t make up his mind for almost the entire damn book! He kept swinging between the King’s side and the rebels side and I just wanted him to make up his mind as to whether he was going to support magic and Celaena or not, I was relieved that when he made his decision, he made the right one, because it was horrible at the beginning of the book to see him distancing himself from Dorian because of his magic. I’m intrigued to see where his storyline goes now that he is firmly on the side of the rebels and there will be no going back to the King for him.

Dorian’s storyline on the other hand had a lot to do with romance. He meets a healer woman who works in the castle, Sorscha. I thought they were cute together so I was really sad as to how this storyline turns out (but I won’t reveal anything because that would be spoiling!). I felt so sorry for Dorian in this book, because Chaol was kind of an ass to him for most of it, and he only found out that Celaena was actually Aelin Ashryver through an overheard conversation, no one actually told him. He had some great development in this book, he learned to control his magic which was great, and he stood up to both Chaol and his father, which I enjoyed seeing. He became a true man in this book, not just a flirty young boy, which made what happened to him in the end even more devastating.  His storyline is left on a huge cliffhanger, which I desperately need to see where it goes, and I’m not sure if I can’t wait another year! I would like to find out how he developed magic though because surely if the King froze magic he shouldn’t be able to use his? I hope that question is answered in the next book.

Celeana’s storyline was by far my favourite of the novel, not just because we got to see her learning to control her magic (there was so much magic in this book, it was amazing!) but because of Rowan. Rowan is the Fae assigned to help her learn to control her magic. He is stubborn, rude and he pushes Celaena around a lot, but he was exactly what she needed, he brought out her inner Queen. I loved seeing them become friends and slowly opening up to each other (although I have to say I guessed the whole caranam thing the moment Celaena asked about it) . I loved that he was such a kick-ass fighter, even better than Celaena, but he has a soft side and he truly cares about her. I liked that they were just friends too, true friends and whilst some have said there could be romance here, I don’t think there will be. They make the perfect team and we see that in the battle at the close of the novel. It was nice to see her finally have a true friendship, since Nehemia basically broke her, so you can’t really consider her a true friend.

There is another storyline with the Ironteeth witches. I didn’t quite understand what the point of this storyline was at first, but it became clearer later on in the book. Manon Blackbeak is the main witch who is introduced. She is heir to the Blackbeak clan (there are three clans, Blackbeak, Blueblood and Yellowlegs), and is very vicious, heartless and soulless and shows absolutely no mercy to her enemies. I liked Manon, she was kind of an antihero, ruthless and cruel and yet somehow you still root for her. I loved seeing her work with Abraxos, and their relationship developing.  I look forward to seeing where this storyline goes, as the witches and their waver a are an army for the King. I’d like to see Celaena and Manon meet because I get the feeling they would either be great friends or mortal enemies, so it would be nice to see that. Her chapters weren’t my favourites, as they seemed kind of a story in themselves and not really linked to the main story, but they were enjoyable enough, and I’m sure the witches’ story will be meshed with the main story in the next book. I loved the  wyverns, I wish I could ride one now because it sounded like so much fun! I don’t know what they’re meant to look like but in my head they’re kind of like dragons.

The other new character that was introduced was Aedion, a general for the King, and Celaena’s cousin. I wasn’t sure what to make of him in the beginning, but as the book went on I grew to like him, it is clear how much he cares about Celaena, and I’m looking forward to seeing them reunite (hopefully next book). I quite liked his relationship with Chaol as well, how at first they hated each other and were just using each other for information, but I think by the end they both really cared about one another. It was nice to see Celaena’s relationship with him when they were kids, and it will be interesting to see how it changes when they finally meet again as adults.

I also really want to meet Arobynn. There’s a revelation in this book related to the whole Wyrdkey thing involving him, and we’ve heard so much about him, but never actually met him, (although I think he might appear in the short stories? I haven’t read many of them so I could be wrong) so I hope that he appears in the next book.

I loved the world expansion in this book, we got to see so much more, Wendlyn (both the demi-Fae fortress and Doranelle, the Fae kingdom), the witches, all the Fae and Demi-Fae characters, it was really great to expand beyond Adarlan and see more of the Throne of Glass universe.  I hated Maeve (Queen of the Fae, and Celaena’s aunt) but I loved seeing Celeana stand up to her at the end, it was yet another thing that showed how much she grew through the book because she never would have been able to do what she did then at the beginning of the book. We don’t get to see much of it, but I liked Celaena’s relationship with Emrys, it almost seemed like a father-daughter relationship (or a grandfather/granddaughter relationship, considering how old he is), it was sweet. Throughout the book, I kept wondering if he was meant to be Merlin considering that was Merlin’s true name, but it’s probably just a coincidence. I liked that his mate was male, and that it was no big deal that they were both male, that was great.

The King of Adarlan is a bastard! If I had any doubt about that before (I didn’t but just if I did), then I don’t now. I at least thought he loved his son but what he did to Dorian……..you have to read it  but it was just truly heartbreaking. Everything to do with him seemed to come together in this book, the creatures he had been making, the rings, how he froze magic all those years ago, and I have to admit I liked how it came together, although I hate the man himself. Those creatures are so creepy! I liked the references to Roland and Kaltain as I had wondered what had happened to them, and I hope to see more of them in the next book. I find the King slightly strange, because he hates magic, and yet he’s using magic himself, so I’d like to know what’s up with him and why he hates magic so much. I’d also like to know more about Dorian’s mother because we don’t really know anything about her.

This book was a GREAT read. It was so much darker, and more action packed than the last two and Maas really stepped up her writing and showed she was so much better than all the sappy romance stuff, so I hope this continues. It may have been hard to get into at first, but after it ended I just wanted to pick up the fourth book right away. I have no idea how I’m going to wait a whole year for the next book because that ending……shit is going to go down when the King and Celaena (Aelin now I guess, but she will always be Celaena to me) finally come face to face again. I feel like this book is on a whole another level to the last two, Maas has amped up the pressure and the stakes, and long may it continue because I officially can’t wait for next year! These books are so worth reading, it might be a little hard to get into the first two, but stick around because this book is worth the wait!

My rating: 5/5

The next book I will be reviewing is The Winter Horses, by Phillip Kerr.

 

 

Crown of Midnight review

Book: Crown of Midnight

Author: Sarah J Maas

This book is the sequel to Throne of Glass and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.  I felt that the first one was good but it in no way gripped me in the same way that this one did and after reading it I am genuinely intrigued and excited to read the third book in this six book series as boy did she leave the book on a cliffhanger (there’s no way I’ll tell you what it is though-you’ll have to read the book and find out for yourself!). Here is a short synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Celaena Sardothien is bold, daring and beautiful – the perfect seductress and the greatest assassin her world has ever known. But though she won the King’s contest and became his champion, Celaena has been granted neither her liberty nor the freedom to follow her heart. The slavery of the suffocating salt mines of Endovier that scarred her past is nothing compared to a life bound to her darkest enemy, a king whose rule is so dark and evil it is near impossible to defy. Celaena faces a choice that is tearing her heart to pieces: kill in cold blood for a man she hates, or risk sentencing those she loves to death. Celaena must decide what she will fight for: survival, love or the future of a kingdom. Because an assassin cannot have it all . . . And trying to may just destroy her.

I was a little sceptical of Celeana in the previous novel but she has really grown on me. She proves her clout as an assassin in this book which makes her arrogance a little more understandable and as we get to know more about her-which thankfully we do in this book, I find myself liking her more and more. She’s a great heroine because she’s still relatable to your average teenage girl but she’s also a kickass fighter and the fight scenes were some of my favourite to read in this book. The plot was less obvious than the first book which made it far more interesting-in the first book we know that Celeana is going to become the king’s champion so the end is foregone conclusion but it wasn’t in this book-the end I felt was a huge twist and I didn’t see it coming. Celeana is completely human- she’s intensely flawed, with a short temper and an irrational impulsiveness and she doesn’t seem quite as perfect in this book as she was portrayed in the last one which I liked.

Chaol has a bigger part in this novel which I liked because his character I felt after Throne of Glass was the more interesting male character, although Dorian’s storyline in this book was more interesting than in the first book (unfortunately revealing why would be a huge spoiler). We get to learn a little more about Chaol’s past in this book as well and see his incredibly strained relationship with his father which was nice as it made him feel like a more fully developed character. By this book it’s pretty clear that Celeana is in love with him not Dorian which I liked as I prefer Celeana/Dorian as a friendship. Naturally it’s not quite as simple as they fall in love and get together-since you can tell the Chaol’s loyalty to the king is what comes first with him and it’s one thing to be loyal but quite another to be blindly obedient which i felt he kind of was in this book. Their relationship was never going to be easy and this book definitely highlights that-there are some sweet moments but also some difficulties for them which I won’t go into (it’s so hard to review this book without spoilers!). The relationship drama isn’t focused on as much in this book which I liked because it meant there was more focus on the mysteries-of which there are many.

Nehemia is an integral part of the plot of the book and we learn that she has more secrets and her reasons for coming to Rifthold were not as they first seemed. I still loved her in this book and something happens to her that causes the personality switch in Celeana (that is as much as I can say without spoilers).

some new characters are also introduced in this book-Mort, the talking bronze door knocker who I loved-the banter between him and Celeana was amazing and he was the only one who seemed willing to put Celeana in her place-and much as I love her, she needs that sometimes. Roland Havilliard, Dorian’s cousin is also introduced-he’s a bit of an ass at first and he never really grew on me through the book. We also meet Hollin, Dorian’s brother who is such a precocious child it makes you want to strangle him. Finally we meet Archer, a courtesan (prostitute) that Celeana knew in the past. I hated him, he was such an egotistic, cowardly ass. He was a target that the King gave to Celeana to kill and we learn more about Celeana’s past with his introduction but I have to say I wasn’t too disappointed with how his story was resolved.

The king becomes no less hated in this book but a large part of Celeana’s mystery revolves around him as she hunts for Wyrdkeys, parts of Wyrdgates to other worlds-the King is up to something, it’s not good and it somehow involves Kaltain and Roland, that’s about all we know but I’m looking forward to finding out more about him and his plans in the next book.

Magic is seen more heavily in this book than in the last book and I enjoyed this-I hope we see more of it in the future books (and given what is revealed in this book, I’m sure we will).

Overall this is a solid sequel, with great action and interesting plotlines including more of Celeana’s past and what happened the day she “snapped” at Endovier and plenty of magic and mystery to entertain through the whole book. September is far too long to wait for the third book-Heir of Fire which will see the introduction of a new kingdom Wendlyn. I cannot wait to find out what happens next.

My rating: 4/5

My next book review will be on Cross My Heart-Carmen Reid, a World War Two book about the resistance movement in Belgium.

Throne of Glass review

Book: Throne of Glass

Author: Sarah J Maas

This book is a debut novel for Sarah J Maas and started it’s life as a story posted on the site FictionPress.com, ten years ago. Having not read the story on FictionPress, I went into reading this book with no idea what to expect from the story and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. It was an interesting and exciting read, even though fairy tales aren’t usually my thing this book was gripping enough to make me want to read on. Here is a short synopsis from the book: 

Meet Celeana Sardothien.

Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.

In the dark salty mines of Endovier, an eighteen year old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind but she made a fatal mistake. She got caught. 

Young Captian Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celeana must represent the prince in a to the death tournament-fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celeana will be free. Win or lose she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?

My favourite thing about this book was  not actually Celeana herself she’s arrogant and has a huge opinion of herself which maybe she doesn’t deserve since she’s yet to prove that she’s the killing machine she’s made out to be-but she is feisty and sarcastic and witty which I love in a female heroine. All the main girls in this book were extremely well crafted-Kaltain Rompier the supposedly innocent courtier who is actually plotting to get the prince so she can take the crown and the Princess Nehemia from Ellywe-a conquered country who is a rebel princess-she really was my favourite female character in this book and the mystery surrounding her is very intriguing and it’s worth reading the book just to find out what the deal is with her!

Celeana whilst she does prove she can fight, I was disappointed that we don’t really see her cutthroat assassin nature. At the start of the book she is a starved slave and though she proves herself to be impressive in some of the tasks of the competition, we don’t get to see her kill anybody which is a real gripe of mine with this book-if you are going to have your lead female character be an assassin then you really should show her killing someone-I am hoping that the sequel will show her true assassin abilities as I don’t feel they were really touched on enough in this book.

As for the love triangle, I didn’t really feel like Celeana and the two lead males Chaol Westfall and Dorian Havilliard had chemistry in a romantic way-their chemistry was more of a good friends enjoying some banter type than people with romantic intentions towards each other. However the plot with the champions being murdered and Celeana trying to figure out who did it was gripping and should have been given more attention really-some of the best scenes in the book were when she was trying to figure this out. The romance stuff felt like it was in there more to appeal to teenage readers than anything else and as a teenage reader myself it didn’t appeal to me. Having said that, the action scenes in this book were great-the duels, the tests and everything were gripping but the book does start incredibly slow and some of the chapters could probably have been cut because they weren’t particularly exciting and didn’t really grab my attention.

Although Celeana is arrogant, I did feel slightly sorry for her experiences in Endovier and Sarah J Maas does a good job of convincing us of the evil of the kingdom through her eyes. The writer made the mistake of making her lead seem a little too perfect, she’s the best assassin in the land, she likes to read, she can play piano, she’s beautiful-I hope that as the books go on we start to see some of Celeana’s flaws because the only one we really saw in this book was her short temper. Her being torn between the two male leads whilst irritating, is relatable. 

Dorian Havillard the prince is your classic charmer. He’s a complete ladies man and seems to have a lot in common with Celeana including their shared love of books. He is also sarcastic and humourous and doesn’t seem to really be scared of her which I liked but he is essentially your archetypal dashing Prince. Chaol is the more silent type but unlike Dorian he is a warrior and despite his coolness, he does seem to have a personality and a heart and I liked reading the scenes with him and Celeana. Although the romance was by far my least favourite part of the book I’d probably say that I was rooting for Celeana/Chaol at this point. Celeana’s girly qualities may be irritating but it shows her softer side and reminds us that she is only eighteen and she does seem to have been hardened by her experiences. She does however seem to be very lucky and doesn’t really have to overcome that many obstacles-it’s a foregone conclusion at the beginning of the book that she’s going to win the competition so I hope in the next book things get a little tougher for her. 

Overall this book is a decent enough read and bearing it mind that the author started writing it when she was 16, I can see the series does have potential-for all her flaws I did like Celeana, although Nehemia and Chaol were by far my favourite characters in the book. This series is set to be a six book series and does have potential to be a great series-as the author will grow as a writer and by the end of Throne of Glass I was looking forward to reading the second book and finding out what happens to Celeana next. 

My rating-3/5

My next review will be of the sequel to this book, Crown of Midnight, also by Sarah J Maas.