It feels like months since I last posted even though it’s only been a week. I’ve been so good last week with my blog posts, until I stumbled along the way due to some unexpected health issues that resulted in me being hospitalized for four days. It was a pretty scary experience to be completely honest, and everything happened so fast that I haven’t really had time to process everything. But I’m back home, and according to my doctors I’ve made a full recovery so all is back to normal around here.
Anyways, pulling focus back onto the title of this blog post, I wanted to have a little discussion and put everything out there on the table. In just four days, the final round of voting in the Goodreads Choice Awards will come to an end and we will then have to wait-n-see which books won. I’ve already casted my votes and I’ve seen a few people like my choice, especially for the YA fantasy category which was by far the hardest vote for me for two reasons: A Court of Mist and Fury and Empire of Storms… It was a tough call to make because both books were favourites of mine this year.
I thought since I never wrote a full review for either of those books, that I’ll do a book battle to share my thoughts and hopefully by the end of this post, it will become clear why I chose the book I voted for.
This is going to be a long post so get comfy.
*Please note: this post may contain spoilers!*
A COURT OF MIST AND FURY vs EMPIRE OF STORMS BY SARAH J. MAAS
THE HEROINES: FEYRE vs AELIN
To be totally honest I really struggled connecting with Aelin all through the series. I know this may sound weird but I always felt a huge amount of distrust toward her because she was always keeping secrets. She wasn’t a reliable narrator in my opinion and that really bothered me – up until now. In Empire of Storms (which will be referred to as Eos from here on out) I found a new kind of respect for her character. All those traits that I found off-putting with Aelin became the very qualities that I’ve now come to understand and admire. She is a brilliant strategist and she knows exactly how to get what she wants. The cockiness, arrogance and manipulation all made sense to me in this book, and even though a part of me yearned for more openness from her, I understood and accepted the reason behind her ways. Her need to protect those she holds dear and to keep so many secrets finally clicked into place for me, and she’s now one of my favourite heroines. Another thing concerning Aelin is that I always questioned her powers, especially considering that Rowan broke his oath to Maeve in order to serve her. To me there was a constant niggling at the back of my mind, because I never felt that strength in Aelin that Rowan believed her to have. EoS finally put all those doubts to rest by showing off all her strengths that up until now I never realized were there all along, and it became clear why Rowan gravitated toward her.
With Feyre on the other hand, it was a more instant connection for me, which I’ve come to realize is actually the opposite for many people out there. In A Court of Mist and Fury (which will be referred to as ACOMAF from here on out) we find Feyre completely traumatized by what happened Under the Mountain and we see how much she’s struggling. To me she really came into her own in this book. She found her strength and purpose, and she learned that she can be so much more than what she thinks of herself. I loved her journey of self discovery, and I admired the path she’s chosen for herself. Compared to Aelin, who was always aware of her capabilities, Feyre found all of these answers in ACOMAF with the help of the beautiful characters she meets along the way. She finds her place in the world and to me that was a whole new level of special. Although I still need to be convinced of her magical powers that place her as Rhysand’s equal, ACOMAF focused more on her personal/human battles, which is what makes her character more relatable to me.
For both of these heroines there was a lot of character growth in these books which I found to be so meaningful; and in my mind it definitely gave both series an entire new dimension that I am really looking forward to exploring further.
THE LOVE INTERESTS: RHYSAND vs ROWAN
If I compare Rhysand to any male love interest in the history of books, I will always choose him, for a number of reasons. He is an unexpected, dimensional character that I am still not over. He is cocky, funny, brilliant and so intense, yet casual and easy at the same time. He is a master manipulator, giving off an impression that he has carefully crafted, and you as the reader just fall for it along with everyone else that quiver at his feet. To me that is character building at its finest. I love the way he speaks too, his dialogue is always fascinating and I enjoy reading what he has to say. He is so snarky and quick, and downright arrogant at times; but he is also brutally honest when it matters most. I love that he is such a dimensional character. He has suffered dark, horrendous times all through his life, but he still has hope for a better world and dares to dream. He is the definition of a tortured character but somehow he doesn’t let it taint his vision. All through ACOMAF you are constantly made aware of his power and how the world fears him. But then we get to see him walking in his city’s streets just being who he is and realize that he is absolutely selfless. On top of all of this he is a massive feminist too, and I adore how he has handed not only Feyre, but all the women in his court, the tools to empower themselves. He is such an epic character.
Then we have Rowan; a character that people have so many different opinions about, but has somehow crawled under my skin from the very first moment I met him. He has such a different personality compared to Rhysand. He is serious, calm and collected. He has this presence that you cannot help but sit up and take note of each time he enters a room, or even at the mention of his name. He too has scars that run deep, and you feel for him in that regard because it has such an influence on the kind of character he is. He is powerful, brave and loyal; and people respect him. He is a warrior of few words, but when he says something everyone stops to listen because of the value he adds to a conversation. Where Rhysand is open and out there, Rowan is more aloof and held together, and I think the end of EoS is the most emotion I ever saw him show. This mystery that follows him everywhere is what appeals to me because I believe that he is a character that we have so much to learn about.
That being said, in a case where I am forced to choose between these two, I still pick Rhysand, without a single doubt in my mind. He is one of my all time favourite fictional characters.
THE GANGS: THE NIGHT COURT vs AELIN’S COURT
In both of these books I absolutely adore the group dynamics. I love how they’ve taken up these different roles with a shared goal of protecting and serving while fighting off the shit storm that lurks in the shadows. But to me I claim ACOMAF to be total squad goals, which I’m sure is owed to the fact that the group has been together for centuries so they have a very tight bond. Where in EoS they are still learning how to deal with one another because the team is still so new. The Night Court is like a family, their endless banter and love for each other is so vast and you just know that they’d do anything for each other. EoS had little moments where I felt it came across but like I say, it’s still new and I guess it will get there with time. As a group though, I am in love with The Night Court and I can read about them all day.
As I mentioned above, I love both The Night Court and Aelin’s Court as a group. But I when I break each of these down I find that there are some really strong secondary characters that I’ve come to love so very much. In EoS I think it was easier to form connections to these characters because we get to read the story from all their POVs so it was easier to understand the makeup of the different characters. While in ACOMAF we experience everything through Feyre’s perspective. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I felt like I learned so much more about the secondary characters in EoS compared to those in ACOMAF and I really hope that gets fixed soon because I loved each member of The Night Court and I need to know more about them.
THE FANTASY WORLD BUILDING AND MAGIC
When you accept that both of these books are young adult fantasy books then there are so many things to consider when making a decision about which book to vote for. On the one hand EoS was rich in magic and fantasy elements, where as ACOMAF focused on the different courts and talking about magic instead of using it to the full extent that it keeps being hinted at. I fell in love with the details of The Night Court and Velaris, and just the colourful imagery that was used to paint the picture of these different places. I think I enjoyed reading about it so much because Sarah J. Maas used worldly elements that we can relate to and enhanced them to give a clearer idea of what Feyre is experiencing since it is as new to her as it is to us; instead of building something entirely foreign to get accustomed to. But EoS had more fantasy elements and more magic, which is what’s important here, I guess…
Hands down ACOMAF was the most beautifully written book out of the two. I found Sarah J. Maas’s writing to be more descriptive and creative in ACOMAF and it’s one of the reasons that I loved the book so much. Everything I love about the characters, the story-line and the setting is owed to her writing style in this case. But this doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the writing technique in EoS, because I did. And I understand that it’s what was needed to make the story. But for me I favoured ACOMAF’s writing because it was just so striking and I can keep reading it over and over.
When compared there are definitely a few similarities in the way these books ended. Where EoS completely destroyed my life and ruined my soul, ACOMAF was left on a note where I know things are going to get better. It was left on an understanding, compared to EoS where everything was ripped apart so unexpectedly, not only for the reader but for the characters as well. You felt the pain so vividly and you know that things are going to be made right but you just can’t help but wonder what the consequences are going to be. I am still not over the ending of EoS. My heart is still going through the process of being mended.
At the end of the day, choosing between Empire of Storms and A Court of Mist and Fury is no easy task, because both books were fantastic and have been my favourite reads for 2016. But when all is said and done, I still keep going back to ACOMAF. If this vote was based on plot alone, I have to admit that I would give my vote to EoS because let’s face it, ACOMAF is mainly a love story. As hard as it is for me to admit that, it needs to be said because it’s true. But I loved it. That is the book that gets my vote each and every single time. ACOMAF is a book I can pick up any time, it is a story that I can never get tired of reading – it is HOME for me. Where EoS is a book that knocks you off your feet, catches you off guard and breaks your heart into a thousand pieces and you love it. But when I’m done having my soul butchered into oblivion, I’d like to go back to the Night Court and just settle there forever. I’m happy to experience EoS every now and then but ACOMAF is home, it is where my heart wants to be.
I have to stress that I loved both these books, dearly, but ACOMAF is it for me and I am so ready for the next book in the series – A Court of Wings and Ruin. Which has a spoiler alert built right into the title – we are going to be completely ruined! And I’m excited!