In anticipation of the finale, Kingdom of Ash, I decided to reread the series from the very beginning.
Throne of Glass was one of the first YA fantasies I’ve read to blend what I loved about YA with what I love about regular fantasy. A cast of characters, a bit of magic and clues, but with the identity, rawness, and passion of a teenage protagonist who will break rules without thinking about the consequences.
I love Celaena Sardothien because she’s everything that most readers want in a male protagonist and nothing like most YA heroines. She’s sassy and arrogant and unapologetic. She looks men up and down and smirks suggestively. She holds blades at your neck and doesn’t cower in fear. It’s amazing to me how hated she is when the same people would swoon over a male character being exactly this way. I also love that she’s girly, she appreciates luxury, and she feels her emotions.
As my tastes change and grow and I move away from YA as a favored category, this reread was a little tough because I don’t know that I would continue to rate these books 5 stars if I read them for the first time now. I’d probably consider them solid 4 star books, but I also tend to get pretty stingy with my ratings these days. But I will stand by my previous reviews because I really do enjoy them and I enjoy the main character for all of her glorious flaws.
Empire of Storms was the only book in the series that I rated under 5 stars. I did not reread the series, spent a year waiting on the release, and jumped right in not really remembering most of the plot, as my review stated.
There were a few reasons for not fully enjoying Empire of Storms.
I have to admit that, even now, I think Queen of Shadows could’ve ended the series. It had closure in regards to the evil that was Ardalan that we have been facing through the whole series. Yes, Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows introduced a host of other things and other characters, but the original problematic things were kind of solved in Queen of Shadows (like the King of Ardalan and Celaena’s old master). I suppose it is an ending of sorts, as it was the ending of Celaena Sardothien, and the beginning of Aelin Galathynius.
I will also admit that the direction of Heir of Fire had me craving more of Aelin and Rowan accepting their relationship and intensity, so much so that I loathed the chapters of any other characters in Queen of Shadows. I recalled very little aside from the people physically near Aelin in Queen of Shadows. With this in mind, reading Empire of Storms for the first time, I was so lost and thrown into a mess with characters I wasn’t sure I really knew or cared about.
I’m thankful that I stopped reading the series and decided to dedicate some time for a mass reread once the final was released because, after the reread of books 0.5-4, I’m less concerned with the swoon-worthy moments between Aelin and Rowan and more concerned about the overall plot… and that’s the correct mindset to be in with the series. After the reread, I appreciate Dorian, Elide, and Manon (and the cadre of Maeve’s) and have grown to care about their respective roles in the book and Empire of Storms was much better as a result.
There seems to be a division when it comes to Empire of Storms. It’s where Aelin and Rowan actually have sex and the book doesn’t skip over it and those graphic moments really alienated a lot of the original fan base, who probably prefer to stick to PG YA. I have no such complaints. I didn’t think the sex was over the top, graphic, or all that frequent, so I don’t get the fuss. But I read paranormal romance on the reg, so this is still pretty PG for me. (I also cannot stand when sex becomes an issue in YA, but we’re all totally cool with brutal violence, which this series has been about since page 1… but that’s another argument…)
Also, I think Empire of Storms is complex, fast paced, and involves a lot of other people than just Aelin. I may have not preferred all of the complexity the first time around, but I appreciate it now. I want to know not just what happens to Aelin, but what happens to the world in general.
I am now ready to read Tower of Dawn and Kingdom of Ash!