Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Review: Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes

Gathering Darkness

Author: Morgan Rhodes
Release: December 9th 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Magic, YA
#3 in the Falling Kingdoms series
Series: Falling Kingdoms (#1), Rebel Spring (#2), Frozen Tides (#4), Crystal Storm (#5), Untitled (#6)


In GATHERING DARKNESS, book three of the New York Times bestselling Falling Kingdoms series, the stakes have never been higher as three teams push forward on a race to find the Kindred, the four elemental crystals possessing ancient all-powerful magic, first:

Prince Magnus has just witnessed torture, death, and miracles during the bloody confrontation that decimated the rebel forces. Now he must choose between family and justice as his father, the cruel King Gaius, sets out to conquer all of Mytica. All Gaius needs now are the Kindred - the four elemental crystals that give godlike powers to their owner. But the King of Blood is not the only one hunting for this ancient, storied magic...

THE KRAESHIANS join the hunt. Ashur and Amara, the royal siblings from the wealthy kingdom across the Silver Sea, charm and manipulate their way to the Kindred, proving to be more ruthless than perhaps even the King of Blood himself.

THE REBELS forge ahead. Princess Cleo and vengeful Jonas lead them, slaying with sweetness, skill, and a secret that can control Lucia's overpowering magic - all so they can use the Kindred to win back their fallen kingdoms.

THE WATCHERS follow Melenia out of the Sanctuary. They ally in the flesh with King Gaius, who vows to use Lucia's powers to unveil the Kindred.

The only certainty in the dark times is that whoever finds the magic first will control the fate of Mytica... but fate can be fickle when magic is involved.


One mild, minor spoiler. You've been warned.

This book, nay, this whole series, tries so damn hard to be whimsical and epic in scale, but ultimately fails to deliver on all fronts, in all respects, every goddamn time. It reminds me so much of my four-week old puppy who tries to walk and stand on four legs only to fall on her face every time and then crawl instead. It's ridiculous, it's hilarious — cute, yes, but also kind of pathetic. (Not that my puppy is pathetic, though. She's my world.)

I know I've said this all before, I've said it a million times in both of my reviews of the two predecessors in the quartet: I do see the potential. It is there, definitely. But it's just never elaborated on. I've praised the fact that Rhodes dares to go through with irreversible, rock hard plot twists that seem utterly ground-breaking to both the reader and the involved characters. However, any hardships that may have resulted from any of those routes she took in book 2 were nullified in this sequel, because they have been reduced to ... I don't even know how to explain it.

The best example is Magnus and Cleo's marriage. In the second novel, I honestly thought that this was devastating, especially for Cleo and that this is going to be a huge roadblock that is going to further help develop Cleo so much more, that is going to motivate her to take action, etc. — she fucking hates his guts. He murdered her first love (lol, "love" trolololol) (you know my opinion on that story) right in front of her, done other countless atrocities, not to mention his father murdered nearly all of Cleo's family, friends and allies. This marriage should be a fucking curse for her, but oh no. She and Magnus actually fall in love. This takes away any gravity or impact that marriage ceremony might have had on both their lives, because there's no serious disadvantage there for either of them. They're in love, and they're married. That's not ... not normal. I would have loved to see them form a grudging alliance maybe, but to go so far as to say they could have fallen in love in such a short amount of time especially after all their scenes together have mostly been reduced to banter, arguments and sharp stings between them, that's just unbelievable, unrealistic and laughable.

Similarly, just about every single relationship and dynamic in this third book has let me down. Rebel Spring had set up so many templates that could have been used to build up great and marvelous relationships between the characters, but they have all, all disappointed me and let me down. I had high hopes, and Rhodes did have the chance to make something beautiful out of this, but alas, it wasn't meant to be. It just wasn't.

The characters themselves weren't particularly compelling in this installment either, if I do say so myself. Neither of them barely makes any progress at all, not developing or evolving in any way. Lucia, while maybe getting a bit more badass in essence, still stays the same naive, childish and starry-eyed little girl at her core. I could say here that it seems she's going to go down a different path in the next novel, but I've stopped setting myself up for disappointment. Honestly. Cleo is still unwilling to start taking action to really get her throne back, instead of taking matters into her own hands she's content to just let two boys do all of her dirty work, Jonas is still a bumbling idiot who can't do anything right for jackshit, I still have no link whatsoever to Lysandra causing her to annoy the shit out of me with her make-believe kickassery that I don't buy into for a second, the only truly good character I can cite here is Magnus. But even he doesn't change in any way. Still distrustful of his father, but also still obeying him like a whipped lapdog. Yeah, in the end that behavior does finally change, but for most part of the novel, same old, same old. Cue endless sighing.

Not even the plot could save this hopeless pile of firewood. It's a clear sign something is not going the right way when, in the middle of reading this, I groan loudly, pick up another, 500+ page book, finish that in one and a half days, so that I could read a couple more chapters of this only to find that it still bores me to death, causing me to pick up yet another book that I would finish the very same day. In the end, I had to force myself, after complaining excessively and loudly to several friends how lame the book I was currently reading was, to sit down and just... Fucking finish the damn book, Alexa, for Heaven's sake! 

I'll read the fourth book. Probably, I will. I think. But I am almost sure that it is impossible for me to start enjoying this series anymore. We're now more than halfway done, and I am despairing with it more and more. I believe it's safe to say that we're never gonna be friends. For completion's sake, however, and because I seem to be such a masochistic asshole and want to be let down one final time, I'll probably get my hands on the last novel. This ... isn't a quartet anymore? For real? Oh my God. Why. I thought we would be done after one more. God fucking damn it.

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