August 09, 2017

Crystal Storm: Falling Kingdoms, Book 5

Written by Morgan Rhodes
379 pp.
Ages 12+

At the conclusion of Book 4, Frozen Tides, the four Kindred, stone orbs possessing elemental magic, had been retrieved and possessed by four different entities.   Now Princess Cleiona has the earth Kindred, King Gaius possesses the air Kindred and Empress Amara has the aquamarine that is the water Kindred, while Kyan the fire god has already been released from the amber orb that is the fire Kindred. And everyone wants to possess all four so that they may unlock the power of the full Kindred.  But things are not that straightforward, as there are still power struggles for control, alliances made for breaking and allegiances in flux.

Now married to the Empress Amara, who killed off her whole family to reign the Kraeshian Empire, King Gaius has survived a fall that should have killed him but didn’t because of a potion for strength he’d been given years earlier by his mother.  He is determined apparently to right some wrongs and that includes defeating Amara, reclaiming the kingdom of Mytica and getting the Kindred, all by joining forces with his son Prince Magnus and his wife, Princess Cleiona, and seeking his sorceress daughter Lucia.  Though reluctant to join forces with him, Magnus and Cleiona have their own reasons to do so, including getting help to break a curse that would kill Cleo should she become pregnant.  With the help of  King Gaius’ mother, Selia, the King and entourage head to Paelsia.

Meanwhile, Lucia is looking to redeem herself after the role she played in aiding Kyan whose wrath led to the destruction of a Paelsian community.  She enters the Sanctuary of the immortals to learn that it is up to her to find and imprison Kyan and locate the other Kindred to return them to save the Sanctuary.  How she will do this with all of Paelsia seeing her as a dark witch who unleashed evil on their land and with her pregnancy progressing exponentially?

Yet another contingent is made up of the Paelsian rebel Jonas; Cleo’s childhood friend Nic; Felix Gaebras, the former assassin of King Gaius and recent victim of Amara; Taran Ranus, twin brother of the Paelsian killed by Magnus; and the newly-resurrected brother of Amara and love interest of Nic, Prince Ashur Cortas.

Everyone is heading to Paelsia, looking for Lucia and the Kindred.  That is, if they don’t all kill each other first.  But death seems to be an elusive state for many in Crystal Storm.  There are those who were killed or almost so who are seemingly resurrected by potion or magic.  Then there are others whose deaths were announced too hastily.  Staying alive is a lot harder when everyone is harbouring secrets and resentment and seeking retribution or justice or even power, determined not to let anything or anyone stand in their way.

Some may have thought this series was going to be a trilogy but thankfully it is not.  Falling Kingdoms continues to flourish under Morgan Rhodes' mastery of time and place and story, bringing characters to and from death and fighting for control in this fifth book in the series.  And if I’ve learned anything, it’s that every character is dynamic and ever-changing.  For me, Magnus has become a character for whom I will continue to cheer (and when you read the ending, you’ll understand why).  He has always been driven, initially by ego, having killed Cleo’s love interest in Falling Kingdoms (Book 1), but now by love and a desire to make things right.  Cleo, on the other hand, has become fickle, choosing whom to trust and whom to distrust seeming at whim.  She’s very quick to chastize some, especially Magnus, and forgive others, like Nic, but never recognize her role in the antagonisms she helps perpetuate between men like Magnus, Jonas and Nic.  I almost wished to be done with Cleo except for what she means to Magnus.  Of course, Morgan Rhodes could change everything in Book 6 (Immortal Reign, due out February 2018) and she probably will.

Thankfully the story is still being told. Long live Auranos and Limeros and Paelsia and the Kraeshian Empire and all the realms of the Falling Kingdoms.

Rebel Spring (2013)
Frozen Tides (2015)
Crystal Storm (2016)
Immortal Reign (for release 2018)

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