January 25, 2016

Frozen Tides: Falling Kingdoms, Book 4

by Morgan Rhodes
Razorbill
978-1-59514-707-3
413 pp.
Ages 12+
December 2015


Forget everything you’ve read in Books 1 through 3 of Morgan RhodesFalling Kingdoms series (Falling Kingdoms, 2012; Rebel Spring, 2013; Gathering Darkness, 2014) because Frozen Tides demonstrates that not everything is as it appears.  From the frozen, seemingly desolate landscape of Limeros to the projected demure contenances of Lucia and Amara (hah!), Morgan Rhodes takes the reader into worlds that seem ever-changing in spirit, motive and magic.  (And if you haven’t been fortunate enough to read the first three books, stop reading this review posthaste, and read Books 1-3 promptly.  This is one series that demands to be read from the beginning and in order.  You have been advised.)

When last we visited the land of Mytica, Princess Cleo–and just about everyone else too–was attempting to locate and reawaken the four crystals of the Kindred: amber for fire magic; moonstone for air; aquamarine for water; and obsidian for earth.  But the four Kindred have been found and ended up in different hands: Amara, daughter of Emperor Cortas of the Kraeshian Empire, has the aquamarine; Jonas, Paelsian rebel, has the obsidian; Felix, former ally of Jonas but assassin for King Gaius, has the moonstone; and Lucia, the budding sorceress who was brought up as King Gaius’ daughter and Magnus’ sister, has the amber.  But the possession of the Kindred is as fluid as the plot of Frozen Tides.

Lucia, betrayed by Alexis who was manipulated by Watcher Melenia, has released the fire god, Kyan, from his prison in the amber, and the two are on a pilgrimage to learn more about Lucia’s true family and to find a portal into the Sanctuary so that Kyan might assassinate Timotheus, the remaining Watcher, for imprisoning him.

Magnus, having disobeyed his father and saved Cleo from death, demands she and her friend Nic go into exile while he returns to his birthplace of Limeros and attempts to find Lucia and ultimately to claim the throne for himself. Cleo, with whom Magnus had shown uncharacteristic intimacy in words and actions, refuses, accompanying him to Limeros with Nic in tow.  Nic, still reeling from the murder of Prince Ashur, takes every opportunity to badmouth Magnus to Cleo who continues to need to remind herself how much she should hate Magnus and consider him her enemy.

Meanwhile, Felix has convinced himself he is a reprehensible young man and returns to the employ of King Gaius, giving up the moonstone and accompanying the King to Kraeshia to stem the occupation of Mytica by the Emperor and instead enter into a partnership. There Felix becomes involved with Amara who has her own agenda.

And, if that isn’t plot enough for you, Jonas who almost died while retrieving a Kindred is now focused on assassinating King Gaius, with fellow rebel Lysandra, his secret love-interest, and witch Olivia accompanying him.

There is so much pain and calamity overriding a frisson of romance, as character after character strives to possess the Kindred and the magic within while attempting to stem the tide of emotions that struggle to engulf them.  Felix sees himself as a lost cause yet will take the trouble to save a kitten.  Cleo keeps reminding herself that Magnus is her enemy and has destroyed her family and Auranian life, but continues to be drawn to him and what he truly is, not as he believes he is i.e., the evil son of the King of Blood.  And Lucia, wielding so much pain and power, seems willing to take down everyone and everything in her wake, but is appalled by Kyan’s ravages of land and people.  The tides of emotions and actions swell and recede in all of Morgan Rhodes’ characters and their inability to see these changes make them all the more poignant.

"You are in so deep you don’t even know you’re drowning," (pg. 189) Lucia is told by Timotheus who recognizes the extent of her pain better than she does.
You are filled with so much anger and pain and grief.  Yet instead of letting those emotions run through you and make you stronger, you choose to unleash them on the rest of the world so that others might feel your pain as well. (pg. 187)
As paradoxical as frozen tides, as a phenomenon, may be, so too are Morgan Rhodes’ characters who are both fragile and powerful.  But it is this irreconciliability that propels the plot of Frozen Tides.  And though I may be able to share the details of the plot of Frozen Tides with you, I can't come close to sharing the depth of Morgan Rhodes' writing.  Morgan Rhodes doesn't just tell a story.  She immerses the reader in worlds so rich in passions–good and ugly–that you begin to wonder how valid your own emotions and allegiances can be.  How can you hope for happiness for Cleo and Magnus when Magnus is the son of the King of Blood and seems to be following in his father's evil tread? What of Jonas and Cleo?  Should I wish for that sweetness again? And is there more to Lysandra and Lucia than previously revealed?  I don’t doubt that Morgan Rhodes knows exactly where she is taking readers as she plans to unleash those frozen tides of emotions and conflicts and take us to new worlds in Book 5 of her Falling Kingdoms series, set for a 2016 release date. In the mean while, read Frozen Tides very slowly, relishing every detail and nuance of plot, setting and character that make Morgan Rhodes' writing so prodigious.

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