Book Review and Giveaway: ‘Frozen Tides’ by Morgan Rhodes

(Image Credit: Penguin)

(Image Credit: Penguin)

Head’s up – there’s a giveaway for Frozen Tides at the end of this review. I think I avoided spoilers completely in my review, but if you’re uber cautious about it, you may want to jump to the bottom of the page for the giveaway!

Call me crazy, but I jumped into Frozen Tides having not read any of the previous Falling Kingdoms books (despite my best intentions). I had read A Book of Spirits & Thieves, which has some crossover universe stuff, but the story and characters are basically totally different. I thought maybe it would be hard for me to get into Frozen Tides without context, but to my surprise, it wasn’t even a little hard! I realize if you’re reading this, you’re probably more familiar with the series than I am, so I’ll avoid recapping and get to the point and hopefully this will make some sense!

The book is told from several alternating perspectives who readers familiar with the series probably already know – Cleo, Jonas, Magnus, Amara, and Lucia.. I did consult with the list of characters at the beginning of the book a few times when I first started reading, just to help me keep track of how the characters were related to each other, but it didn’t take me long to pick up. Context for the characters’ backstories was readily available within the narrative without being distracting. And story-wise, Frozen Tides totally stands on its own. It’s possible that there may have been more of an emotional punch at certain points of the story if I had three books’ worth of investment in the characters involved, but I didn’t feel like my experience with Frozen Tides was lacking.

Another surprising thing for me was how I wasn’t particularly put off by the magical piece of this story. I’m not a big fan of fantasy books, particularly when they involve magic (or magical creatures), but as it was presented in this book, I actually enjoyed it. Maybe it’s more of a layman’s take on fantasy and that’s why I enjoyed it, or maybe it’s just Rhodes’ writing style, but it totally worked for me. The story feels epic, with elements of danger and adventure and romance and fantastic world-building, so there’s a little something for whatever tickles your fancy.

I don’t want to spoil things, of course, but throughout the course of Frozen Tides, some characters find themselves making unlikely alliances (and betrayals!) and others reassess their plights. It was interesting – and quite enjoyable – for me to try to sort out who is supposed to be good and who is supposed to be bad at this unique time in the character development when many of the characters fall into a gray area. I particularly enjoyed Cleo & Magnus’s storyline and complex relationship, but all the perspectives were unique and engaging, and ultimately tied together in an important way. I also loved how the Amara character continually challenged my perceptions. Is she really a villain when her intentions are based in something good?

Related: It’s great that Rhodes gives these characters reasons for their actions, although by the end of the book I was like, “C’mon guys, enough with the avenging,” as it appears book 5 will feature more of that. At a certain point the vengeance starts to feel very juvenile, although I think that’s part of Rhodes’ point.

Even with juggling a pretty hefty pile of character perspectives, Rhodes managed to make me feel a connection to each narrator, even without having any context to them from previous books. I also get the feeling that she really knows where she is going with this story and is building each book carefully to reach that ending.

When it was all said and done, rather than being frustrated or overwhelmed by jumping into the middle of a series, I found myself truly enjoying Frozen Tides and bumping up all the Falling Kingdoms books on my to-read list. I hope other readers who are a bit hesitant about fantasy will consider giving this series a chance; you may also be pleasantly surprised!


And now the giveaway! Whether you’ve been waiting with bated breath for Frozen Tides to come out or are new to the series and had your interest piqued by my review, this is a great chance to get your hands on a copy of the book – just enter below.

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Giveaway open to US addresses only. Prizing courtesy of Penguin Publishing.

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A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes

Book Review: ‘A Book of Spirits and Thieves’ by Morgan Rhodes

A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan RhodesYou know how when you pick out a book to read, there are certain things that you gravitate toward and certain things that make you hesitate? Well, if you haven’t heard me say it before, fantasy makes me hesitate. There’s a very fine line for me in terms of fantasy I can enjoy vs. fantasy that is just too out there for me. Another potential red flag? Picking up a book that’s a spinoff of a series I haven’t read. So for my review of Morgan Rhodes’ A Book of Spirits and Thieves, I’m going to give you my perspective as someone who a) is a little scared of fantasy and 2) has zero experience with the Falling Kingdoms series that inspired this story. (the a & 2 thing was a mistake but I kinda like it so…)

The first thing you should know about A Book of Spirits and Thieves is that it doesn’t assume you have any previous knowledge of Falling Kingdoms. When the story begins, it feels like it’s own distinct plot with its own distinct characters, and the book itself is a lot of setup. You’re not picking up where something else left off or trying to make sense of a context that was spelled out in another book, but instead are getting rich world and character-building within this story. In other words, perfect for someone like me!

The story is told from three alternating third person perspectives. The first is Crys, a sarcastic teenager whose family owns a bookstore in Toronto. When the store receives a mysterious old book, Crys watches her sister Becca reduced to a catatonic state after handling the book, which leads her on a mission to figure out the story behind the book and how to cure her sister. The second is Farrell, whose wealthy and privileged family is deeply connected to the secret Hawkspear society. When Farrell is tapped to join the “inner circle” of the society, he finds himself on a mission to learn more about Crys. And finally there’s Maddox, a boy from another world with magical powers he doesn’t quite understand. When Beca’s spirit appears to Maddox, he becomes embroiled in a plot to save his kingdom from cruel leadership and a pledge to help Becca return home.

At first I thought I might struggle with the third person perspectives, but it actually works really well here. All of the three main characters are engaging narrators with distinct voices. I had a love/hate relationship with how Farrell was portrayed; largely because he seemed to become more and more of an unreliable narrator as the story progressed, which I actually love, but can be oh-so-frustrating when you’re invested in the story! There was also a bit of an instalove situation with Becca and Maddox, but it didn’t bother me too much because the story is so big it couldn’t logistically spend too much time on romance, and because both characters were pretty sweet and innocent and I could kind of see them realistically getting mooney-eyed over each other in this situation.

The fantasy aspect of the story is mainly in the magic, so I found it to be a really nice balance of contemporary mystery and fantasy – definitely not high fantasy, as I’ve seen the Falling Kingdoms series described. There was not one moment of A Book of Spirits and Thieves where I felt confused or out of the loop, even though the plot contains some pretty complex threads. Rhodes does a really nice job of teasing out a mystery and pulling things together in a way that makes sense, but also leaving plenty of conflict for future books.

So to summarize:

Do you need to have read Falling Kingdoms to appreciate this book? Nope, it’s a total non-issue.

Do you need to love fantasy to appreciate this book? No – fantasy is just one part of this story. I’d compare it to Renee Adieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn in terms of the level of fantasy-ness, so if you enjoyed that, you’ll have no problem with A Book of Spirits and Thieves.

And on the subject of future books, you can bet I’m definitely looking forward to finding out what happens next in this series. As to whether I’ll check out Falling Kingdoms remains to be seen, but I’m definitely on board for A Book of Spirits and Thieves.

 

Book Review: ‘Gathering Darkness’ (Falling Kingdoms #3) by Morgan Rhodes

Gathering DarknessGathering Darkness, the third book in the epic Falling Kingdoms fantasy series by Morgan Rhodes, proves that some things do get better with age. With intense action scenes, even more betrayal and a lovely amount of twists and turns, Gathering Darkness is a read that’s very hard to put down.

Despite a slow start with the series’ first novel, Falling Kingdoms (which had me slightly nervous for any following novels), the action and adventure throughout Rebel Spring and Gathering Darkness left little doubt in my mind that Rhodes understands how to write a fantasy series involving magic and kingdoms without making it seem fantastical at all.

Gathering Darkness continues to explore the lives of Cleo, Magnus, Jonas and Lucia, presenting new problems and even larger struggles for each title character of the series. It’s interesting to see the new relationships between each character unfold as they get closer and closer to finding the Kindred and also closer with one another. No one within the story is left unaffected by his or her surroundings, whether it be Cleo and her struggle to stay alive within the walls of vipers long enough to win back her throne, Lucia’s constant battle to control her magic instead of letting it control her, Magnus and his desire to get revenge on his father, the King of Blood and Jonas’s continued rebellion that seems to fail at every turn.

If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you will see many similarities in the feel and storytelling within the pages of Gathering Darkness. Arguably the goriest of the novels thus far, there is plenty of murder and destruction to keep readers turning the pages to see what happens next. It’s a brutality that Game of Thrones fans know well, and it means that no one is safe within the novel’s pages. Unexpected ends can be found around every corner.

One very large plus to Gathering Darkness is the introduction of several new characters to the series, include the Kraeshian siblings Ashur and Amara and a skilled fighter known as Felix as well as a deeper character exploration of Nic, Lysandra and the Watchers. Going beyond the four titles characters, while still keeping everything tied to them, has allowed Rhodes the freedom to expand her world much farther than I would have expected.

For a chance to win a copy of all three books in the Falling Kingdoms series, as well as a magnetic dartboard, check out our giveaway here!

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GIVEAWAY: Win a special ‘Falling Kingdoms’ prize pack!

Giveaway

It’s a story filled with magic, kingdoms, bloody battles and surprising betrayals, and fans of Morgan Rhodes’ epic fantasy series Falling Kingdoms can now get their hands on its latest novel, Gathering Darkness. The race for the Kindred continues and the fate of several lives, including that of Cleo, Magnus, Jonas and Lucia, all depend on who comes out victorious. New friends, and enemies, enter the mix as Rhodes dives deeper into the world of Mytica and all the secrets it has to offer. Continue reading