YA Fantasy, YA romance

My Review: Crystal Storm (Falling Kingdoms #5): by Morgan Rhodes

Publish Date: December 13th, 2016

Number of Pages: 379 Pages

Publisher: Razorbill

Genre(s): YA Fantasy, YA Romance

***Warning! This review contains spoilers from this book and from previous books in th series, continue reading 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 review of book #3 – Gathering Darkness – Click HERE

To see my review of book #4 – Frozen Tides – Click HERE

To see my Fancast/Dreamcast of the series – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 3.75 Stars

When on the very edge of death, matters such as fortune and legacy are meaningless in the face of knowing that someone who cares for you will hold your hand as you slip away.”

– Morgan Rhodes, “Crystal Storm”

Power and what people are willing to do to gain it is a theme in the Fantasy genre that we’re all familiar with, it’s nothing new, but somehow it’s a concept that never seems to not help create an entertaining and twisty story that leaves us readers filled with intrigue and anticipated pleasure. Whether it’s kingdoms at war, supernatural beings threatening to take over, or the evil overlord is trying to destroy life as we know it; it always creates and allows the opportunity for us readers to have a widely encapsulating story.

Gathering Darkness is the fifth book in the fast-paced and unpredictable Falling Kingdoms series, and so much has changed with the development of the story so far with our characters like Cleo, Magnus, Lucia, Jonas, and even King Gaius as they’ve stolen, plotted, and enacted out certain actions that have caused so many evocation of emotions: anger, confusion, excitement, and grief. A total YA version of Game of Thrones, there’s been dueling kingdoms, backstabbing, magical orbs, forbidden love, manipulation, gruesome deaths, gods and immortals, alliances formed and lost, vengeful acts of revenge and retribution, and now even resurrections!

I’m going to be honest: I did enjoy this book and I absolutely devoured it when I got my hands on it, but at the same time, it felt like filler/complete setup for the next book which also happens to be the final book in the whole series. It felt shorter than every other book, and it felt like not as much got resolved with everything that happens. I get it… the author is trying to make that final book all that much more sought after to go out with a bang, so I can’t exactly knock her for that. It just makes the torturous year long wait for that final book all that much more worse.

One of the greatest aspects of this whole series are how all the characters are so morally grey. No one’s completely innocent, and no one hasn’t done at least one heinous act in order to get ahead in the game. They’re all flawed, and they all have proper justification for all their actions, which just makes for such a fun reading experience.

Cleo continues to be my favorite character; she’s not some badass assassin or thief, but that doesn’t make her any more of a damsel in distress. She’s not able to physically do much, but I like her spunk, her heart, and her courage in order to (hopefully) one day reclaim her home of Auranos. She’s feminine, and despite her physical shortcomings, she’s such a strong character. I also love her romantic storyline with Magnus, that has become a real treat to enjoy. It’s gone through so much ever since the second book, and they’ve come so far; it’s one of the best enemies-to-lovers storylines I’ve ever read and think people should read these books for that alone. I admit though, she has really learned how to play the game, and is really spiteful and greedy and isn’t the greatest with handling their relationship. At one point, she’s enjoying the sexy appeal of sneaking around, but it’s all because she’s actually ashamed to be seen with him. Plenty of angst to add to the plot!

Magnus is also such a treat to read. I mean, his character arc is nothing new or highly original: he’s basically the messy haired, broody, dark prince who has the sassy comebacks, but is a total softy when it comes to the woman he loves. He’s really gone through some major growth throughout the books, and he’s far away from the moody prince and is really starting to become a true leader and future king of Limeros–Or Auranos if and Cleo make it all the way!

Jonas is such an endearing character and is so easy to want to root for, he’s been through so much that he’s evoked the most emotional investment besides Cleo for readers to get behind. However, he’s not the greatest at making sure his plans follow through… I don’t think of his plans have been successful, nor has achieved any of his goals for himself–in fact, I’m pretty sure other people have been the ones to make any sort of his goals/plans actually follow through. He also seems to have totally gotten the short end of the stick when compared to the other main characters when it comes to storylines and overall success.

Lucia Damora is easily my least favorite character in the whole series. She was alright at the beginning, but after a few books, she has turned into such an annoying brat who doesn’t have any meaning of the word genuine in her soul. My final straw was her alliance with Kyan in all of Frozen Tides. Sure, she sort of saw the error of her ways, but she’s also such an indecisive brat who was fine with all the death and destruction going on, and while she tries to make amends for that in this book, part of me wonders if she can redeem herself at all by this point, at least for myself.

Amara has also become a real gem of a character! She’s more deceptive and dangerous than King Gaius, and the fact that she’d even kill her own brother shows how far she’s willing to go in order to get what she wants. She’s despicable and heartless, but she makes for a much more interesting story. Plus, she’s not just bad for the sake of being bad. As we saw in the previous book, she’s been looked down on all her life for being a woman and she is no longer allowing men to decide her fate for her. I thought she’s had a believable arc throughout and has some depth that makes her drive actually pretty relatable. Characters like her are the absolute best in these kinds of stories where there are multiple people vying for the throne; you never know what they’ll do next.

What It’s About:

The Official Blurb:

The ruthless Empress Amara of Kraeshia has taken the Mytican throne, and now uncertainty looms over the three kingdoms. Since Lucia unleashed the fire Kindred, wreaking havoc throughout the land, Myticans have been looking for someone—anyone—they can trust. They believe in Amara, not knowing her grand promises are built on lies.

In Paelsia, Magnus and Cleo reluctantly follow King Gaius to the home of his exiled mother, Selia. Selia is a powerful witch and claims she can help unlock the magic of the Kindred—if the visitors agree to her terms. When Jonas arrives from Kraeshia, he is shocked to find that his rebel army now includes his sworn enemies. Along with Nic, Felix, and the mysteriously resurrected Ashur, the contentious group agrees to cast aside old grudges—for now—and united against their common enemy: Amara.

Meanwhile, bearing the child of a Watcher and feared by all, Princess Lucia travels across Mytica to find her family. But time is running out. The impending storm signals the dark prophecy Timotheus warned her about. Her fate is written, and it includes none other than the rebel Jonas. When their paths collied, Jonas and Lucia must decide between blindly following their destiny or fighting for their own free will.

The battle for power culminates at the Paelsian palace, where Amara resides. Rain pours. Blood spills. And soon all will discover that the darkest magic comes at an even darker price

What I Liked:

  1. Enemies become Allies! One thing about this series that makes it so much fun is how unpredictable some characters truly are and how all the alliances and rivalries have changed so much within the series if not even just within one book. It keeps you on your toes and keeps you guessing, and I would’ve never guessed at Magnus teaming up with Cleo based off just the first book back when I first read it, nor how they become the OTP of the series, and now they’re teaming up with Gaius! Like, WHUUUUUUUUT??
  2. Magnus and Cleo Romance Development! These two continue to drive up the romance I love in this whole series, and things aren’t all “happily-ever-after” after the two of them were getting it on in that cabin in the climax of the previous book, Frozen Tides. It’s back to the real world, and of course, everyone is maybe starting to see that something is going on between them. Not everyone is thrilled about them, and they make sure to remind Cleo of all the shady things Magnus has done in the past, and part of her starts to wonder if whether they’re right for each other or not. I for one am a huge stan for them, but even I remember how I was hoping for more to happen between Jonas and Cleo at the very beginning of the series.
  3. King Gaius Gains Depth! One thing that’s usually lacking in Fantasy-genre books/series, both adult and YA, is how the villain is incredibly underdeveloped. They’re bad just for the sake of being bad, and not a whole lot is revealed about why they got this way, and even of the King of Blood in the Falling Kingdoms series starts off this way, but after his death in Frozen Tides, he seemed to have changed his ways a little bit: he’s working with Magnus and Cleo to take down Empress Amara, and even the opening scene is of him and his mother when he’s a child and talking about what’s to happen in present time reveals more depth to his character. Maybe he’s seen the errors of his ways, or maybe he’s got some diabolical plan going on in his head? Who knows!
  4. Nerissa! She has been a side character that has actually been around since the beginning of the series; she’s just been under the radar, but she’s been a valuable role with her being a spy and reporting back to Jonas and the others. Since she’s made it this far, is still alive and even has a small romantic subplot developing, I thought she deserved a shout out!

The fire that hollows us out is what allows us to be filled with strength and power where before there was none.”

– Morgan Rhodes, “Crystal Storm”

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Jonas Has Magic?…This was just a random plot twist that I was torn about. Since Jonas has now been saved by two Watchers, it’s not exactly hard to believe that maybe there would be some weird consequences because of that. Jonas seems to have snagged some magical abilities, but he has absolutely no control over them at all. I guess what I really didn’t like about this development was how it was tied up in the end of this book.
  2. Jonas Joining Up With Lucia, and Becoming Part of Prophecy…I love Jonas even though everything he’s sought after doing in this series was either a failure or was accomplished by someone else, but I continue to be disappointed as he joins up with my least favorite character in all these books. Even worse, he ends up randomly becoming a huge factor in the whole prophecy with Lucia and how she’s the sorceress reincarnated, and I just wasn’t for it with this whole development… Jonas once again gets the short end with these books.
  3. The Kindred End Up Being Boss Villains?…So with the appearance of Kyan being revealed as the spirit of the Fire Orb of the Kindred, it’s soon discovered that each orb actually has a trapped spirit within, and they want out. Imagine it like the Titans vs. the Gods of Olympus with the Kindred and the Watchers. While this was an interesting development, what I didn’t like was how we had no idea this was going to happen up until this point. I don’t know, I feel like all great series have the boss villain rather early on in the story. Gaius was the first big villain, but we had no idea there were these vengeful spirits within the orbs and that they’d end up being the big boss villain–like Voldemort or Sauron.
  4. That Cliffhanger Ending…Okay Morgan Rhodes……..that ending was just cruel! Sure, I’m kind of used to it with this series with literally every book having a big cliffhanger, but I’d read these books all the way back when they were being published, so waiting a full year to get any new updates and seeing what happened next was torture!

Conclusion:

Crystal Storm is yet another thrilling addition to the exhilarating Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes, but feels a little less complete than the other books at the same time. It felt like the fifth book here was just pure setup for the the next book that also happens to be the final book to end it all. Whenever a series is wrapping up, it reminds me of myself and all my excitement back when I’d first read the first book and how I was filled with excitement amazing story and the wonder of where it was going to possibly go and what may happen when I get to the current point I’m at right now. There’s just something so magical about that whole experience for me!

With this book feeling more like setup for the sixth and final book, it certainly raised my expectations and makes me not only even more excited for the next title, but the fingers crossed that it’s the best possible ending that it deserves!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Fancasts/Dreamcasts

My Fancast/Dreamcast: The Falling Kingdom Series by Morgan Rhodes

This series is like a YA Game Of Thrones: There’s kingdoms, knights, stolen thrones, forbidden romance, secrets that have been killed over, deadly betrayals, a hint of magic, and war on the horizon. In the land of Mytica, magic that was once in abundance is now a long lost memory, and the kingdoms that rule the land are reaching an unrest with a power struggle for ultimate power.

Here is my review of the first book in the series!

Here is my review of book #2 – Rebel Spring!

Here is my review of book #3 – Gathering Darkness!

Here is my review of book #4 – Frozen Tides!

Here is my review of book #5 – Crystal Storm!

More reviews coming soon!

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Here is my official Fancast/Dreamcast:

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Princess Cleo Bellos: Blake Lively

Image courtesy of celebmafia.com

Cleo is described as the Golden Princess; she’s named after a goddess, so why not cast Blake Lively as her? She’s an IT girl who’s known for her roles in Gossip Girl, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Savages to name a few, and is also the wife of Ryan Reynolds!…lucky bitch.

Prince Magnus Damora: Nick Ayler

Credit to owner

So he’s missing the dark eyes, but I couldn’t shake the idea of casting this amazing looking male specimen as our moody Prince of Limeros (and sass).

Jonas Agallon: Marco Dapper

Image courtesy of homorazzi.com

Probably no one’s choice but my own, this unknown actor has been in the Soap Opera, The Young and the Restless and has made small appearances in Criminal Minds, Veronica Mars, and Dirty Sexy Money.

Princess Lucia Damora: Barbara Palvin

Image courtesy of twimg.com

She’s an angel from Victoria’s secret, so she certainly has the face to match the beauty of our magical princess Lucia. Besides her runway work, somehow the other Sprouse Twin who’s not in Riverdale, Dylan, landed her, to which I say “Good Job Zach!”

Nic Cassian: Sam Claflin

Image courtesy of popsugar.com

You see this guy in Love, Rosie and Me Before You, and how can you not swoon over over him? He’s been a favorite of mine since his surprising achievement of being casted as Finnick Odair in the Hunger Games franchise, I know Sam would nail this role as Cleo’s best friend.

Mira Cassian: Sophie Turner

Image courtesy of celebmafia.com

The series is basically a YA Game of Thrones knock-off without the Dragons or White-walkers, so why not have the actress we all got to know and love as Sansa Stark be a part of this series too? Sure, it’s a much smaller role, but I feel like it’d be a nod to what we know.

Aron Lagaris: Alex Pettyfer

Credit to owner

Again, I hate to type-cast, but I did start this series way back in 2012 when it first came out, so how could I not cast Alex as the arrogant, aristocratic noble who was betrothed the Cleo at the very start? He’s known for his roles in Magic Mike, I Am Number Four, Beastly, In Time, and Endless Love. It’s just too bad he’s known for taking that reputation of being a complete asshole into real life as well…

Theon Ranus: Jensen Ackles

Image courtesy of Entertainment Weekly Magazine

Ever since seeing him LARPing in his show, Supernatural, i’ve known it in my heart that I want him to be casted as an actual knight in some sort of fantasy setting. I totally saw him playing the brave, prideful, loyal knight who was Cleo’s love interest at the very beginning of the books!

King Gaius Damora: Richard Armitage

Image courtesy of oldvictheatre.com

This guy can act! He’s known for playing our anti-hero Thorin in The Hobbit movies among plenty of other roles, I thought he’d be an excellent ruthless, evil, greedy king Gaius who’s the villain through most of the series!

Queen Althea Damora: Danielle Bisutti

Image courtesy of picsofcelebs.com

I pictured either her or Lucy Lawless playing the role of King Gaius’s wife and Magnus’s mother, she can nail the role of ice queen in the roles I’ve seen her play. She’s been all over the place, I’ve seen her in many shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Tru Jackson VP, CSI, Parks and Recreation, and Private Practice to name a few!

Alexius: Luke Guldan

Image courtesy of lukeguldan.com

Total confession, but seeing this image on Pinterest inspired me to create an account!…I am actually being completely serious…anyways, he’s a small time model-turned-actor, not in anything I’ve seen, but I pictured him playing the immortal watcher who looks over the land and falls for Lucia.

Brion Radenos: Josh Bowman

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I watched Josh in Revenge, and thought he’d be good at playing the best friend of Jonas and fellow rebel soldier to try and overthrow King Gaius’s tyranny.

King Corvin Bellos: Sean Bean

Image courtesy of sharovaka.com

I mean, if we’ve read the first book, does this not make total sense?…

Emilia Bellos: Kirsten Bell

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I love Kirsten so much, she’s just so swell, I could totally see her playing the wiser, older sister role to Cleo!

Sabina Mallius: Madeleine Stowe

Credit to owner

After seeing her wickedness in Revenge, I imagined she’d absolutely nail the role of playing the scheming, evil mistress to the King.

Prince Ashur Cortas: Jesse Williams

Image courtesy of rebloggy.com

I know this isn’t a popular choice because he doesn’t match the description at all, but I switched up the look of Krashia’s royal prince by keeping their skin dark, but changing the ethinicity to those of African descent with lighter eyes, which leads me to the next casted role…

Princess Amara Cortas: Logan Browning

Image courtesy of coed.com

Logan stars in the Netflix show, Dear White People, and I know I’m going against what the entire Cortas Empire is supposed to appear as—which is a more Middle Eastern ethnicity—but Logan just fits how I pictured this character!

Felix Graebas: Colby Lopez

Credit to owner

I’m a huge WWE fan, and at the time of meeting Felix in the series, this guy (ring name: Seth Rollins) was playing a similar character on my tv screen every week; arrogant but charming, definitely someone not to trust, so I put the two together, said why not? and made him my assassin and allie(sort of?) to Jonas.

Melenia: Charlize Theron

Image courtesy of pursuitist.com

Watch her Dior commercials, or see her as the evil queen in Snow White and the Huntsman, and try and tell me she isn’t meant to play the role of a scheming immortal?

Phaedra: Ginny Gardner

Image courtesy of http://www.fanpix.net

A very small role in the whole series, but she made the most of the time she was given, this immortal and best friend to Alexius was to be played by a young blonde actress. She’s not too well known, but she can be seen on Project Almanac and Runaways, and has made appearances on shows like How to Get Away with Murder and Glee.

Kyan: Andrew Stetson

Credit to owner

So, trying to someone so good looking, so ethereal, so godlike that he could play Kyan…male model Andrew Stetson was a close enough choice for me.

Lysandra Barbas: Jana Kramer

Image courtesy of http://www.picsofcelebs.com

Jana Kramer has the tan skin & darker features, and for some reason, the country singer from One Tree Hill was someone I wanted to play Lysandra

Kurtis Curillo: Sebastian Stan

Image courtesy of celebs-place.com

This was more going back to when Sebastian Stan was on Gossip Girl (I know right?! Hard to believe), but I could totally see him playing the sneaky, cowardly, condescending childhood rival of Magnus

Selia Damora: Susan Sarandon

Image courtesy of max-pix.com

Susan Sarandon is someone who has a presence no matter who is in the room. She can be everything at once, and I totally pictured her playing King Gaius’s wicked mother.

Nerissa: Sophia Bush

Image courtesy of weheartit.com

I know Sophia Bush deserves bigger roles than this, but Nerissa was one of those minor characters that snuck up on you. I personally kept thinking she wasn’t going to make it throughout the series, but she managed to hang in their until the very end!

Olivia: Eve Torres-Gracie

Image courtesy of evetorres.com

A former WWE Superstar, Eve always had beauty that shined so bright that she could have been perfect for the big screen. Her acting chops aren’t too bad, and I know this is a choice that doesn’t fit the description of the character, I just imagined someone with grace and poise and Eve certainly fits that bill.

Timotheus: Jude Law

Image courtesy of mrreporter.com

Jude Law doesn’t even know how to be unattractive, I swear…Anyways, a household name like himself should certainly be an excellent choice to be one of the head watcher’s from the other world alongside where the series takes place!

Enzo: Joseph Cannata

Image courtesy of fusionmovies.com

Enzo, to me, was what I imagined a big, dumb, lovable, and attractive jock to look like. He’s a knight with a change of heart and gets a few moments to shine in the final story, and even has a little bit of a romantic side story with Nerissa! Joseph is a model, you’ve probably seen him on a romance novel cover here and there, and I thought he’d make a good Enzo for us to enjoy!

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Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell