Series: Falling Kingdoms #2
Published by Razorbill on December 3, 2013
Auranos has fallen and the three kingdoms—Auranos, Limeros, and Paelsia—are now united as one country called Mytica. But still, magic beckons, and with it the chance to rule not just Mytica, but the world...
When the evil King Gaius announces that a road is to be built into the Forbidden Mountains, formally linking all of Mytica together, he sets off a chain of events that will forever change the face of this land, forcing Cleo the dethroned princess, Magnus the reluctant heir, Lucia the haunted sorceress, and Jonas the desperate rebel to take steps they never could have imagined.
Rebel Spring is the much anticipated second installment in Morgan Rhodes’ Falling Kingdoms series. Right where we left off: Princess Cleo’s kingdom has been conquered, King Gaius has won. Jonas is the leader of a rebel group. Prince Magnus is at his father’s side and Princess Lucia is trapped in her magically-induced slumber.
As Rhodes made clear in Falling Kingdoms, this is not a fantasy novel of war, power, and magic sugar-coated for its young readers. She doesn’t skip over brutality — in fact, she seems to relish in it. Her world truthfully depicts the heinous and cruel acts of battle…and in turn, its consequences.
The good thing: this is highly readable. It’s an easy story to get into and it has enough grit to suck you in. It’s a pretty thick book but pages fly and the story takes you for a ride. The characters are also mostly likeable. Cleo and Jonas exhibit enough pride and self-sufficiency that allow us to tie around them our support and sympathies. Magnus is a little more of an enigma. He’s a conflicted and desperate soul yet his inner and outer selves are at such odds it’s difficult to digest. Lucia is a waif. She is not nearly a strong a presence as the others and I hope for her development in the third book. One character I thoroughly enjoyed, however, is a tiny side character called Brion, Jonas’ right-hand man. Oh, he’s charming and full of mirth. What is it with sidekicks?
The crunch here can be summed up in two words: soap opera. The drama! Every character is beautiful and handsome. Rich and gifted. Everyone falls in love with everyone. Mortals and watchers. Royals and criminals. Reciprocated and unrequited. Repressed and hopelessly undisguised.
Not to mention all the overwhelming devastations many of the characters have to go through. And this is why I mention above how Rhodes seem to relish in brutality. But perhaps relish is the wrong word. Maybe overuse? There are way too many deaths in this book. Too many and some of them, to me, unnecessary. I can barely lift myself off the ground from the sorrows our protagonists have to endure. One after another, left and right people are dropping like flies. Death is being used as an emotional hook, lassoing the reader’s pity. It seems the more people die, the graver the situation. But it’s a tired, lazy device. If it happens too often, emotion becomes numb. Readers are desensitized. The end of a character means less. Unless, of course, the story has managed to sew an attachment between reader and character. The problem here is that the people being sacrificed has little emotional value. They are props; side orders being flung off the tray.
The plot itself is simple, but maybe now a little lacking since we’re into the second book. I was right to judge that this will be much better enjoyed by a younger audience. It’s merciless but to children, it might just seem bad-ass. This isn’t a bad thing. This is just the nature of the Falling Kingdoms series. The characters, the language, and the plot need tightening to impress older readers but to some kids, this could possibly be their Game of Thrones.
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.