January 19, 2014

Rebel Spring

by Morgan Rhodes
A Falling Kingdoms Book, Book 2
400 pp.
Ages 12+
December, 2013

If you have not read Falling Kingdoms, the first book in this series, don't deny yourself that pleasure and the full story needed to appreciate Rebel Spring better. Moreover, some details in my review of Rebel Spring will undoubtedly be spoilers to your reading of Falling Kingdoms. So, stop, read Falling Kingdoms, then come back and read this review before your own reading of Rebel Spring. But not any sooner.

Morgan Rhodes (author of Falling Kingdoms and Rebel Spring) and Maureen Fergus (author of A Gypsy King and A Fool's Errand) must have both attended the elevate-your-readers-with-staggering-plots-but-knock-them-down-with-shocking-endings school of writing (though I suspect both have inherent talent that schooling could not supplant). Here I had been so smug about finishing Falling Kingdoms (reviewing it here just three days ago) knowing that Rebel Spring was patiently waiting on my desk to be read and appease me of any unsettled feelings I had with its prequel's startling ending. Yeah, right. More rich story lines, another unforeseen ending.

With King Corvin and Chief Basilius now dead, King Gaius has taken over the golden palace in Auranos as his primary residence and the base for ruling over the reunited kingdom of Mytica (once Auranos, Paelsia, and Limeros). To further his domination over the land and his subjects, Gaius is publicly executing captured rebels and making plans to build a road from the temple of Cleiona in Auranos, through the Wildlands into Paelsia, through the Forbidden Mountains and finally across Limeros to end at the temple of their goddess Valoria. Unbeknownst to most, however, King Gaius is attacking Paelsian villages, murdering many and enslaving the hardier men to work on the road. Paelsian teens Lysandra and her brother Gregor witness such an attack on their own village. Lysandra escapes and joins Jonas Agallon and Brion Radenos's rebel group, determined to make things right. Though Brion is smitten with Lysandra, Jonas has issues with her passionate, demanding nature.

To further his plans, King Gaius announces the betrothal of his son, Magnus, to the true heir to the Auranian throne, Princess Cleiona. But Jonas kidnaps Cleiona, hoping to force the King's hand; instead Cleiona and Jonas hatch a plan for a rebel attack at her scheduled wedding to Magnus.

Surprisingly, the true object of Magnus' affection, his "sister" Lucia, has been unconscious since the attack on the palace in Falling Kingdoms. In this state, she occasionally enters a dreamscape where she meets with Alexius, the Watcher, and learns more about the magic and the role she will play in recovering it. Unlike his wife, King Gaius sees Lucia as the great sorceress she is prophesized to be and now, with the covert intervention and advice of the powerful Watcher elder Melenia, Gaius anticipates ruling well beyond the borders of Mytica.

These are just a few of the subplots that diverge and coalesce into richer roads leading to the finding of the Kindred, the source of the four elements of magic. With different parties seeking its power and few knowing the details of its provenance and dangers, the Kindred is both a charm and an atrocity, and how its nature will manifest itself remains in Morgan Rhodes' pen. In the meanwhile, her many characters, good and evil and in-between, carry the story as their motivations and passions change with new knowledge and experiences (OK, not King Gaius–he’s just evil). As the three kingdoms transform into a Mytica destined to be united by a road, so do the characters transform Rebel Spring from “just” a sequel to Falling Kingdoms into a book with its own bounty.

The title and cover of Book 3 in the Falling Kingdom series have yet to be revealed although its release has been scheduled for December 9, 2014.  The Falling Kingdoms' Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/FallingKingdoms) by Morgan Rhodes hints that the title, cover and blurb will be released in February.

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