Review: Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes

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4 out of 5 fantasy stars

FINALLY! The 3rd book of the Falling Kingdom series is the book I’ve wanted from this series. These books have been self-correcting as we go along. I had a lot of criticism of book 2, which was still better than book 1 – but this one was by far the best. The plot was WAY less clunky, even though things are still happening at lightening pace and characters switch direction at the the drop of a hat…. this was a much better execution overall, and the most enjoyable read of the series. A huge part of that is that the relationships weren’t forced and as absurd this time. They’ve started to make sense, instead of everybody seeming to think everybody was hot. (There is one stupid kiss, but I’ll let it slide.)

Magnus and Cleo’s relationship is at its most confrontational. Like me, she believes in him, but he continues to try and follow the brutal example his father set for him. It’s so weird seeing Cleo from his point of view. I mean who can blame someone who lost EVERYTHING at the hands of a usurper for trying to get her throne back? He seriously expects her to bow down? He thinks she’s a troublesome bitch for all the problems she causes, and he calls her deceitful and untrustworthy. Whut? I’d be like, ‘Dude, this is Tuesday for me. I’m never gonna stop trying to take your family down.’ And yet he still keeps covering for her – and it’s getting dangerous. It gets to a point that he can’t dance around his father’s wishes anymore.

The biggest thorn in the side of this whole deal is the Kraeshians. I can’t say much about brother/sister duo Ashur and Amara -but things flip back and forth when it comes to them. Nothing is simple or straightforward with them involved. I wanted to punch Amara in her smug little face at one point.

Lysandra has been imprisoned after the guards stormed the rebel camp. Jonas is down to one free rebel, and two in the dungeons. With this mysterious guy, Felix, who seems to have shown up out of nowhere, Jonas plans to break them out, right under the king’s nose. Before he can, Lysandra is reunited with her brother Gregor in the dungeons. The king knows Gregor spoke to a Watcher the king doesn’t know, and he wants to get every scrap of info out of Gregor he can. The king doesn’t exactly use gentle methods – and Lysandra may never be the same after experiencing what she does in the dungeons. I also like seeing the fear that’s creeping over King Gaius. He won’t leave the castle anymore, for fear of being killed after he got a little taste of his own mortality when the temple of Cleiona. I like the idea of him being trapped like an ant.

We finally see the tangled web of Melenia and the Watchers of Sanctuary unfolding, and it’s clear our buddy Alexius is waist deep in it. We’ve known for about a book and a half that the sorceress of the prophesy, Lucia, is supposed to die in order for Melenia’s plans and the magic of the Kindred to be unleashed. Now we know it’s supposed to be on the Imperial Road. We also know that mortals can’t control the Kindred, so it’s all one giant mess of who knows what and when will this be revealed to who??? The backstabbing and doublecrossing in this is thick and delicious. I mean, you can’t trust anyone, and just when you start to hate somebody, you learn their motives and the script is flipped again! I have never thought Alexius’s relationship with Lucia made any damn sense, and I still don’t.

It’s basically a race to get to the Kindred first. We finally see some progress and learn more about what the Kindred are and how they work! It’s about time. This is finally turning into the series I wanted it to be. For all my complaints in previous reviews, I love the characters and worldbuilding, and that’s really what had me, from the very beginning. There are a lot of points of view and characters, but they’re complex and unique, and I’ve never had problems keeping people straight. There aren’t a lot of epic fantasy series I can say that about (I’m lookin at you, Wheel of Time.) The development isn’t a problem, only the speed at which they change direction. I’m already reading the fourth one.

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