In GATHERING DARKNESS, book three of the New York Times bestselling Falling Kingdoms series, the stakes have never been higher as three teams push forward on a race to find the Kindred, the four elemental crystals possessing ancient all-powerful magic, first:
Prince Magnus has just witnessed torture, death, and miracles during the bloody confrontation that decimated the rebel forces. Now he must choose between family and justice as his father, the cruel King Gaius, sets out to conquer all of Mytica. All Gaius needs now are the Kindred - the four elemental crystals that give godlike powers to their owner. But the King of Blood is not the only one hunting for this ancient, storied magic...
• THE KRAESHIANS join the hunt. Ashur and Amara, the royal siblings from the wealthy kingdom across the Silver Sea, charm and manipulate their way to the Kindred, proving to be more ruthless than perhaps even the King of Blood himself.
• THE REBELS forge ahead. Princess Cleo and vengeful Jonas lead them, slaying with sweetness, skill, and a secret that can control Lucia's overpowering magic - all so they can use the Kindred to win back their fallen kingdoms.
• THE WATCHERS follow Melenia out of the Sanctuary. They ally in the flesh with King Gaius, who vows to use Lucia's powers to unveil the Kindred.
The only certainty in the dark times is that whoever finds the magic first will control the fate of Mytica... but fate can be fickle when magic is involved.
"Hatred is like fire. It burns the one who harnesses it. It's also extremely hard to see more helpful truths through its flames."
Gathering Darkness is pretty different from the previous two books. Actually, all three of them are quite different from one another. Gathering Darkness is like the amplified version of Rebel Spring, where everything starts to get crazy. There are less action in the book, but more mental challenge for some of the characters. Characters previously introduced in Rebel Spring spring into action in this book. The stakes are getting much higher than I originally anticipated, which is just how I like it.
Cleo has taken the offensive in this book: allying herself with Jonas, trying to gain Lucia's trust and find the Kindred for themselves by manipulating Lucia. There are slightly less character development for Cleo in Gathering Darkness compared to the previous book. But it makes her no less cunning. I thought I knew why people like Cleo so much, but apparently this just makes her even more awesome. Magnus has gone through another big change at the end of Rebel Spring which puts him in a sort of dilemma. He's also softened up a little bit throughout the book. I love the scenes where Cleo and Magnus interact. It seems like both of them know each other surprisingly well, despite being mortal enemies. They are quite endearing, actually, when both of them are my favorite characters in the books. I can't wait to read more about their bonding moments, especially after that little confession (which I will talk about later).
Lucia has, perhaps, gone through the greatest development among the four of them. And not in a good way. She's getting less likable every passing second. It seems like she always makes rash decisions that will probably bite her ass later on. Having that dark side of her magic doesn't help. She has suffered quite a bit throughout the books, especially in Gathering Darkness, when she finds out that she can trust no one. But that doesn't account for her growing darkness that has nothing to do with the magic she possesses. Her plot will certainly be interesting in Frozen Tides, because she will probably go power-crazy. But for a potentially dynamic character, she's a disappointing one.
Unlike Rebel Spring, where the plot is wonderfully written, this is a book where certain characters get own place on the center stage, besides the four major characters. The addition of The Kraeshians and Nic in the big picture is perhaps my favorite thing in the book. I'm a little sad that Ashur and Amara didn't get more attention in the book other than that brief passive-aggressive sort-of blackmailing and a certain scene at the end of the book. They have become the wild cards in the game, and I love uncertainties. I believe I will see one of them in Frozen Tides though, which is totally fine. Nic is also awesome when he's not trailing behind Cleo, waiting for her attention in the way he wants. I hope he will become an important player in the game, because he's actually quite smart on his own.
(Alright, spoiler alert. If you haven't read Gathering Darkness yet, don't read the next paragraph)
I mentioned that "little confession". It's probably the only part that I don't like. That scene is really out of place and incongruous. I can't see how Magnus come to love Cleo. Okay, so he has this urge to protect Cleo every single time when he shouldn't be. And there's this scene:
"you want to know why I did what I did?" His dark brows drew together as if he were only now allowing himself to consider this question. "It's fairly simple, actually. It's because, without your bravery in the face of all that's happened to you, without your constant scheming behind my back, without that fire of hatred and contempt and hope in your eyes when you look at me..." He hissed out a breath. "In the shadow my father has cast over my entire life, you are the only light I can see anymore. And, whatever the cost, I refuse to let that light be extinguished."
This is arguably one of the most beautiful scenes in the entire series, and is one of my favorites as well. But that doesn't mean the confession isn't odd in the first place. Come on, besides this scene and that kissing scene in Rebel Spring, I really don't understand how Magnus fall in love with Cleo. There aren't enough hints in the entire series. I don't like things that are not supported by evidence. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of Magnus/Cleo. If that should happen, they will make an unusual couple. But I think they should deserve more chemistry than this.
I know that some readers think this book is weak compared to the previous two. However, I can't say the same. They are all equally strong. It's just that the strengths lie on different places in different books. And I love this book with all my heart. I expect Frozen Tides to be dynamic.