***Warning!! This review contains spoilers for those that haven’t read the first two books in the series yet! Enter at your own risk, you’ve officially been warned!***
To see my review of book #1 – Falling Kingdoms – Click HERE
To see my review of book #2 – Rebel Spring – Click HERE
To see my Fancast/Dreamcast of the whole series – click HERE
Total Star Rating: 4.25 Stars
I would say it was this book where things in this series really start to get interesting, I only hope plenty of readers stuck with it long enough to be able to enjoy it! It’s unfortunate that it had to wait until the third book in a series, but hey, good things come to those who wait.
The first two books in this series were pretty fun to read through, I thought I’d found a gold-mine. Before this book, this series had felt like just a YA version straight from Game of Thrones: Royal siblings with weird incestuous vibes, the pretty princess taken prisoner with her enemies, the escaped rebel drawing forces from all their found resources, and of course the corrupt king who mercilessly kills off anyone who opposes him. This title, however, felt like all my hopes and dreams for this series had been answered!
So much happened that made me so happy; so many answers pertaining to important aspects of the overall story of the entire series, and it even included more parts that I didn’t even know I needed. Sure, it’s not the most original content, their isn’t some deep/meaningful message to learn from; it’s just pure entertainment, and that’s totally fine. Not every story you read needs all that in order for it to be worthwhile.
What It’s About:
Continuing a week from the events of how the previous title, Rebel Spring, ended in the Forbidden Mountains, the quest for the Kindred continues in violent and unpredictable fashion. Jonas meets a mysterious stranger, Felix Graebas, who rescues him from enemy soldiers and befriends him before joining his rebellious cause. Together, they plan to rescue the fellow rebels, including Lysandra, from the dungeons of Auranos before they’re hanged for their crimes against the crown.
Cleo Bellos, still a prisoner in her own castle, continues to be a spy for Jonas and send him secret messages with valuable information, but also turns to fellow princess Lucia in order to gain more information on the Kindred.
Outside forces join the race as the Kraeshians make their presence known amongst those in Mytica. Prince Ashur, who we met in the previous book, is still hanging around but is now joined by his devious sister, Amara. Together, they find their own answers towards the Kindred and how to take them for themselves.
Prince Magnus is still torn about recent events, mostly the decisions his brutal father makes, and becomes more and more tormented with the inner battle between his family and what may be right.
The Watchers have been doing just that, but no longer. Melenia has gained enough power and now they are able to come over from the other side of the Sanctuary.
Everyone is searching for the Kindred, but what they discover is that sometimes, ancient power should remain buried…sometimes the legends leave out certain parts of the tales that can make all the difference in what’s to come!
What I Liked:
- New and Interesting Characters! The author introduces us to some fun and exciting new characters to spice things up a bit and cause more chaos. Prince Ashur has stuck around, but now his younger sister, Princess Amara, has joined up with him, and let me say that she makes a viper seem tame. Together, they bring the upcoming threat of the Kraeshian Empire from overseas as they join the hunt for the Elementia orbs. Another noteworthy character is Felix Graebas, who joins Jonas and Lysandra in their quest to free their rebel brethren from their cells in the Auranos dungeons, awaiting execution. The great thing about these characters is that they are definitely hiding something, and their true allegiance is in question.
- The Love Triangle Sub-Plot Thickens! As we can tell from the previous book, there’s a bit of a love triangle forming between golden Princess Cleo with Jonas and now Prince Magnus. I’d say it’s definitely one of the more well-done triangles formed in the genre, and adds to the angst of everything else that’s happening so far in the story, especially with the inner turmoil that it puts Magnus in.
- It Furthers the Kindred Storyline! You finally get more information and important scenes when it comes to the Kindred and what role they play in the story. Alexius gets more attention within this story and you experience a few surprises where he’s concerned!
- Cleo Continues to Shine! Cleo becomes such a fan favorite as she continues to do whatever it takes in order to survive amongst her worst enemies. I’ve really grown impressed with her survival instincts that appear when it most matters, her bravery, her brains, her ability to outsmart her enemies, and I don’t know about any of you, but I’m rooting for her!
- So Many Twists! So many shocking reveals, bitter betrayals, and surprises are in store for you in this tale; you truly won’t know what happens next!
What I Didn’t Like:
- Another Cliffhanger Ending…Once again, the author leaves us with a gigantic cliffhanger that excites and frustrates to the point of wanting to do violent things towards the book and a wall nearby; So much happens, but then you’re left with so many questions with what will happen in the next title, which for me, would be a whole year later on…
- Jonas’s Development…Jonas started off as a favorite for me, but he’s turning into the greatest rebel to not actually accomplish anything…Almost everything he sets off to do ends up in failure, or doesn’t end up being as successful as we’d all hope it’d turn out…
- The LGBTQ+ Rep Continues to Fall Flat…While part of me appreciates the fact that their are bisexual characters included in the story, part of me is also annoyed at how they are handled compared to the straight relationships also within the story. The M/M is treated like an afterthought, almost as if it’s just a ploy for one character to use strategically in order to gain information or some sort of edge. I mentioned this in the previous book as well but it’s also using a character, who up until the unexpected reveal, kept moping on and off about how he was hopelessly in love with his best friend, a girl. So, adding the M/M romance angle still just feels so rushed and short handed compared to other romantic subplots going on.
A thrilling addition to the fun, entertaining, unpredictable Falling Kingdoms Series. No longer does it feel like a YA Game of Thrones knockoff; it truly feels like it’s coming into his own as a legitimate story.
I continue to recommend this series to anyone who likes the fantasy genre, and who loves a few unexpected surprises and twists along the way! Like any great story, this one includes political intrigue, shocking betrayals, forbidden and secret romance, and a race for power.
Thanks For Reading!
— Nick Goodsell
2 thoughts on “My Review: Gathering Darkness (Falling Kingdoms #3): by Morgan Rhodes”
For me personally, the ‘bury your gays’ trope is incredibly tired. I refuse to buy any more books in this series because authors in the 2010’s and beyond should be more responsible if they plan on including LGBT characters in their stories. The way Ashur died felt excessive and an easy way of having an LGBT romance in the story without having to actually write an LGBT romance, because he died before him and Nic could even fully engage in a relationship. I’ve had minor gripes about the writing of the series to this point such as bad characters like Jonas and characters that we don’t actually know enough about to even care about like Melenia, Phaedra or really any of the Watchers aside from Alexius. A lot of the story felt rushed so it could get to the romance aspects. The killing off of Ashur who didn’t get much development at all, if any, though was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. I had guessed back in Rebel Spring that Nic was going to be killed off and if he was, then I promised myself that I wouldn’t continue the series, but Ashur’s death had the very same effect. When will authors realize that they shouldn’t write LGBT characters if they can’t handle them? This author is literally two steps from being JK R******.
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At the time, I was really into the shock value of Ashur getting killed by his sister, but I know if I’d read these books now all these years later, I wouldn’t like them. I was really into these books when they were being released, and even ignored the poor lgbt treatment simply because I’d never read books with such open lgbt rep of any kind before, if that makes sense? Still never got Nic’a sexuality when part of his arc was being the “nice guy” friend in love with the heroine…thanks for commenting!