A well-worn copy of "Empire of Storms" rests on a cozy window seat, bathed in warm sunlight; nearby, "Tower of Dawn" lies open, its pages inviting exploration.

How To Read Empire Of Storms And Tower Of Dawn

Are you a Throne of Glass series fan eager to continue the adventures of Aelin and her court, but unsure of the reading order for books 5 and 6 – Empire of Storms and Tower of Dawn? You’ve come to the right place!

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the ideal reading order and provide tips to get the most out of these pivotal books in Sarah J. Maas’ epic fantasy series.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: read Empire of Storms first, followed by Tower of Dawn. However, below we’ll go into detail on why this order works best and how you can blend the timelines of both books for maximum enjoyment and understanding of the overarching plot and characters.

Why Read Empire of Storms First

It was published first

Empire of Storms, the fifth book in Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, was published in September 2016. Tower of Dawn, the sixth book, came out a year later in September 2017. So if you want to read the series in the order the books were published and experience the story as readers did originally, you should start with Empire of Storms.

It continues the main Throne of Glass storyline

Empire of Storms directly follows the events of Queen of Shadows and continues the main story arc surrounding heroine Aelin as she battles for the throne. Meanwhile, Tower of Dawn splits off and focuses on the character Chaol on a side quest in a different part of the world.

So Empire of Storms moves the central plot and characters forward in a more direct way.

Many of the main characters like Aelin, Rowan, and Dorian are absent from Tower of Dawn too. So if you want less disruption in following their journeys, it makes sense to read Empire first.

It sets up plot points that tie into Tower of Dawn

Empire of Storms also sets up storylines that pay off in Tower of Dawn. For example, Empire establishes <b>some new villains and mysteries</b> that are expanded on in the next book. And certain relationship developments, like <b>the connection between Elide and Lorcan</b>, start in Empire and get more page time in Tower.

Reading Empire first means you’ll have more background on these elements leading into Tower, rather than doing it in reverse. This allows the plots to build naturally and the callbacks and references to feel more meaningful.

Key Details in Empire of Storms

Aelin’s journey to secure allies

In Empire of Storms, Aelin embarks on a dangerous quest to build an army strong enough to stand against Erawan. She travels across the continent, attempting to rally support from various kingdoms. However, she faces great resistance, as few are willing to join her cause.

Aelin persists, using her cunning diplomacy and powers of persuasion to slowly gain allies. She secures vital support from the wild Fae kingdom of the Stone Marshes and the secretive Silent Assassins of the Red Desert.

Though progress is slow, Aelin’s determination and sacrifice steadily unite more people to her banner.

Erawan’s forces gain ground

While Aelin struggles to rally support, the dark forces of Erawan continue to spread across the continent. Armies of shadowy soldiers advance steadily, conquering new territories and subjugating local populations.

Erawan himself remains behind the scenes, but his general and Valg princes lead the troops. The flying ironteeth witches prove a devastating aerial force. Resistance falls quickly before their onslaught.

Critical ports and supply lines fall under Erawan’s control, giving him greater mobility and resources. Aelin is in a desperate race against time to build her own army before Erawan becomes too strong to stop.

Critical character developments

Empire of Storms marks a turning point for many key characters. Aelin embraces her queenly role more fully, displaying growing leadership, responsibility, and sacrifice. Rowan struggles with difficult choices between duty and love. Aedion evolves into a strong general, leading armies in Aelin’s name.

Lysandra discovers deeper reserves of power as she learns to shapeshift into a massive ghost leopard. Manon begins questioning her Ironteeth witch heritage, developing a conscience at odds with her ruthless people. Dorian Havilliard defies his father and experiences the cost of rebellion firsthand.

As the war escalates, characters are tested and stretched to their limits, revealing new depths of courage, love, and determination.

Why Read Tower of Dawn Next

It fills in backstory on critical characters

Tower of Dawn provides crucial backstory and character development for Chaol Westfall, one of the main characters in the Throne of Glass series. After the devastating events of Empire of Storms, Chaol journeys to the Southern Continent to seek healing.

His time there allows readers to understand his motivations and growth in a deeper way. We also learn more about the Southern Continent itself and characters like Nesryn Faliq and Sartaq. This added context enriches the overarching story when readers return to Empire of Storms.

It expands the worldbuilding of the series

While most of the Throne of Glass books take place in Adarlan and the kingdoms of Erilea, Tower of Dawn transports readers across the sea to the Southern Continent. Here we discover totally new cultures, magic systems, creatures, and landscapes.

The Southern Continent has its own complex history and political dynamics that are revealed over the course of the story. This serves to broaden the scope of the world that Sarah J. Maas has created. Learning more about lands beyond Erilea makes the world feel more dimensional and real.

It runs parallel to Empire of Storms’ timeline

An interesting structural choice by the author is that the events in Tower of Dawn actually run concurrently with the events in Empire of Storms. The two books cover roughly the same timeframe, but from different locations and perspectives.

When Chaol leaves Aelin at the end of Empire of Storms, that’s when his journey in Tower of Dawn begins. So while Aelin is waging war back in Erilea, readers can see what Chaol and others are up to in the Southern Continent.

This creative narrative choice allows fan favorite characters like Chaol to still play a central role in the overarching story during books when they are geographically separated from the main group.

Tips for Integrating the Timelines

Note connections between Chaol’s story and the main group

Empire of Storms focuses on Aelin and her crew while Tower of Dawn centers on Chaol’s journey, but subtle connections tie the two timelines together. Pay attention when Chaol’s group mentions events or characters that also feature in Empire of Storms.

These references help anchor the parallel stories. For example, Chaol departs Antica on the same day Aelin embarks on the voyage to Skull’s Bay – an event hinted at in both books. Noticing these connections makes the dual perspective more cohesive.

Watch for mentions of Erawan’s movements in both books

Although Erawan doesn’t appear directly in Tower of Dawn, his evil presence looms over both books. Chaol receives ominous reports about the Valg king’s return to Morath and acceleration of war plans. Meanwhile, Aelin and friends scramble to thwart Erawan by recruiting allies and removing Valg colludors across Erilea.

Seeing Erawan’s invisible hand in the two storylines reminds us that he is the driving antagonist in this interconnected conflict.

Appreciate how the paired reading enhances certain emotional moments

The alternating POV structure allows some key scenes to unfold in one book from a distance. This physical and emotional separation often amplifies the meaning or poignancy of pivotal events. For example, Chaol helplessly learns secondhand about Aelin’s self-sacrificing battle with Maeve at Skull’s Bay.

Experiencing his grief and desperation makes Aelin’s bold sacrifice even more heart-wrenching. Conversely, Aelin assumes the worst about Chaol’s fate in the faraway Southern Continent, increasing our relief when Yrene saves him in Tower of Dawn.

Savor these perspective shifts that add layers of complexity.

By noting the subtle interconnections and strategic parallels between Empire of Storms and Tower of Dawn, readers can appreciate how the dual timelines enrich the overarching story. Keeping an eye out for cross-references and complementary emotional beats allows us to enjoy the full scope of the fifth Throne of Glass installment.

Additional Reading Order Options

Reading Tower of Dawn first (not ideal for a first read)

Some readers choose to read ToD before EoS for their first time through the series. This allows them to read the books in chronological order, as ToD occurs at the same time as the first third of EoS. However, most fans do not recommend this for a first-time reader.

Switching between the two stories can be jarring and confuse some readers. ToD also contains major spoilers for events in EoS.

Interweaving chapters from both books

An alternative approach is to read the two books simultaneously, alternating chapters between EoS and ToD. This allows readers to experience the chronological timeline while still getting the full cliffhangers and suspense from EoS.

However, this method can also be disruptive to the flow and make it harder to fully immerse in either storyline.

Leaving Tower of Dawn until after Kingdom of Ash

The most popular reading order is to read the entire Throne of Glass series straight through, leaving ToD until after KoA. This preserves the surprises and narrative of EoS without interruption. It also allows ToD to provide answers and closure after the cliffhanger ending of KoA.

While not chronological, this reading order provides the most cohesive and suspenseful experience for first-time readers.

Sarah J. Maas, the author, has stated that either reading order works, but she recommends new readers stick with the published order to get the full emotional impact. She wrote the books so ToD provides resolution after the trauma of KoA (official Tumblr post).

Once readers are familiar with the series, they may enjoy re-reading and experimenting with different orders.


With the above guide, Throne of Glass fans new and old can embark on a rewarding reading order of books 5 and 6. By tackling Empire of Storms first, then Tower of Dawn, readers can optimize understanding of plot and characters while being immersed in the tense, action-packed narrative.

Integrating the timelines as you go enriches both works. We hope these tips help you craft an epic Empire of Storms and Tower of Dawn reading experience!

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