With the invention of the internet and media has come the accessibility of information. Where two decades ago one would choose the books they read based on their friends' recommendations and whatever books they happened to come across in the libraries or bookstores they visited, nowadays, we get book recommendations on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Goodreads. We can research a book's reviews on Amazon or a thousand other sites and a quick search of "books like blank" turns up hundreds of results.
It is because of this that I have tried my best to begin reviewing some of the books that come across my view over and over again. If I see a book on my Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads more than once, I can be sure it is turning up on other's media as well (particularly because I don't spend too much time on any of those sites). I want to review these books because I want to know (and I want you to know) whether they are as good as they seem to be or whether they are out there because someone paid for them to be out there.
I feel that the Empirium Trilogy may be a case of the second option.
The Empirium Trilogy tells the story of two queens. One queen of "light" and one of "blood." A prophecy was given to the realm long ago when angels were banished to another realm that these two queens would rise up. Now, one has clearly risen. She has the power to control all the elements (water, air, shadow, light, etc.) where others have control over one or none and she is in love with the prince. The only problem is the dark voice speaking into her ear. Is she the light queen everyone thinks she is? Or the blood queen. Meanwhile, in a later timeline, another queen rises. But to her, angels and queens are myths and the secret power she has (the power to never be injured) is just a coincidence. Which queen is which? And can the kingdom ever be saved?
The Empirium Trilogy has a high level of sex content, particularly in the later novels. It is one of those books that hooks you with the plot in the first book and then goes on to include more and more sex and less and less plot in the following books. I tend to think the same of Sarah J. Maas's books which are also popular. I can't say that these books are popular for this reason only and there are other problems I have with Sarah J. Maas's books (she has a higher level of plot development than I felt these books did) but this could have been a contributing factor to the books being all over my media and not as good as I expected.
There were two major problems I had with the novel (other than the books being extremely explicit). First of all, Legrand didn't present me with characters I rooted for. In a novel, I want characters that I love, root for, or hate but want to love. Of her two protagonists, only one fit this description. While I grew to like the other character for a while, by the end of the books I hated her. I had stopped rooting for her. I have read plenty of books where the protagonist has made morally questionable decisions. I have even read books where they have made these decisions over and over again. However, it felt like this character wasn't ever fully repentant, didn't ever fully take the blame for her choices, and was fully to blame for her choices. Even when she felt she was making the wrong choice, she continued to do so as though she couldn't be blamed for her choices. I had no sympathy and became disgusted with her even as I continued to read from her point of view.
I also struggled with the length of the books. Don't get me wrong. I love a good 600-page novel. However, I hate reading an abundance of unnecessary scenes. Authors, ask yourself this, if you cut the scene, would the reader understand the next scene? When the plot twist comes around five scenes from now, would it make sense? Is there anything that wouldn't make sense without this scene? Did you realize you don't need the scene?
Of course, there are exceptions. You always need the occasional bonding scene. There is some foreshadowing that should be done. However, as much as possible, this should be done within scenes that can't be cut. For example, I have a total of 2-3 scenes in my book that are not part of the general plot. They are important and cannot be cut because they move the plot along. They are necessary for revealing my characters bonding and foreshadowing for the following scenes. In past iterations of my book, I have had the same bonding happening in 5+ scenes but now Harmony and Chase bond while fighting trolls, fighting each other, and moving towards their ultimate goal, and my other characters bond while foreshadowing othering things.
In The Empirium Trilogy, it felt like every second scene was unnecessary and because the books are quite large, it made the story hard to get through. The first book is much better than the others. Furyborn is a faster read, includes less sex, and has much more likable characters than the other two books however I struggled with the rest of the trilogy. While the other two books do have some great plot twists and I enjoyed the dual timelines, they weren't my favorite books of all time.
Books like this: Three Dark Crowns; Throne of Glass; A Court of Thorns and Roses