August 13, 2018

Immortal Reign: Falling Kingdoms, Book 6

Written by Morgan Rhodes
Razorbill
978-1-595-14824-7
391 pp.
Ages 13+
February 2018

I have avoided reading Morgan Rhodes's conclusion to her Falling Kingdoms series ever since I got my autographed copy at the beginning of February. I knew it would be stellar–it was– but, after five books, I wasn't ready to say good-bye to Magnus and Cleo, Jonas and Lucia, Nic and Felix and the rest that live in Mytica and elsewhere and carry Morgan Rhodes's story through every power struggle, magical conflict and romantic interlude. But, the time has come when I have to honour this final book, Book 6 in the series, and share with you the tempest that is Immortal Reign.

When last we visited the worlds of Falling Kingdoms, much deception resulted in the Kindred gods taking over the bodies of mortals to allow them reign: the fire god, Kyan, took over Nic's body; the earth Kindred took over Olivia's; the air Kindred went to Taran; and the water goddess took Cleo as her vessel. Because the ritual was interrupted, Cleo and Taran still have control over their bodies though Kyan is determined to remedy that by coercing Lucia to perform the ritual. But with the recent birth of her daughter, Lyssa, during which Lucia lost most of her magic, the sorceress is determined to do what's right for her daughter, including imprisoning Kyan back in his amber orb and reuniting with her father King Gaius and her brother Magnus. But all is more complicated as Magnus fights for his life after being buried alive, the king is assassinated and Lyssa is kidnapped.

Meanwhile, the Kraeshian empress Amara is set for her Ascension but, as much as she wants to rule, she is realizing that much of what she desires has been directed by her manipulative grandmother Neela. Still Amara has perpetrated far too many atrocities, against her family and others, for anyone to be her true ally so to whom can she turn? She intends to make things right, or somewhat right, but she has a lot of relationships to mend.
"I regret very few decisions I've made these last months, but I deeply regret how I've treated you. I've been horrible to you."
     Ashur gaped at her. "Horrible? You stabbed me in the heart." (pg. 57)
The dialogue is so clever, often draped in mirth, especially the banter involving Magnus, Jonas and Felix. Still the situation with the Kindreds is dire and, while Cleo and Taran fight off the powerful Kindreds attempting to take over their bodies fully, and Magnus, after freeing himself with some powerful dark magic, does all he can to keep Cleo safe, Lucia tries to regain her magic by stripping Jonas of his so that she might continue to fight for her daughter.

There is so much more to tell about Immortal Reign but  trying to condense a review of the book into a few sentences is near impossible. Morgan Rhodes's story telling is bigger than the worlds she has created in Falling Kingdoms. Her tale weaves in and out, backwards and forwards and sometimes sideways, and still creates a tightly-knit story of struggles, love and redemption.
We don't change. We are who we are throughout our lives. We can try other paths, other roads, but it never works. (pg. 294)
Immortal Timotheus believes these words as he says them but Immortal Reign shows us that change is possible for all.  From Book 1 to Book 6, all the characters have changed, becoming more sympathetic, less silly, less violent or self-righteous, more accepting of others and their mistakes, and open to possibilities they would never have accepted previously as viable or desirable.  I have grown to love each and every one of them as they've descended and ascended and transcended into the bountiful characters for whom readers have cheered and booed. (Check out some of the astounding fandom drawings of the characters that readers have shared on the Falling Kingdoms wiki, Tumblr, Pinterest and numerous blogs. These readers love these characters as much as I do.)

Morgan Rhodes could not have written a better ending to her six-part series. It's satisfying with unexpected elements and a frisson of the predictable (hurray for Magnus and Cleo finally getting together). She lead us through widespread rebellions and strife between nations, as well as personal triumphs and tragedies. And we followed. And we would do so again.  With Morgan Rhodes at the writing helm, it's a pleasure to accompany her on the voyage.

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If you haven't read the whole series, do check out my reviews of Books 1 through 5 for a taste of what you've missed and the order to follow to get caught up. You'll definitely want to do so.
  1. Falling Kingdoms (2012)
  2. Rebel Spring (2013)
  3. Gathering Darkness (2014)
  4. Frozen Tides (2015) 
  5. Crystal Storm (2016)

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