Sunday, December 31, 2017

Review - Fall of Thrones and Thorns

Original Title: Fall of Thrones and Thorns
Series: Threats of Sky and Sea, #3
Author: Jennifer Ellision
Published: September 27th, 2016

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

I have mixed feelings with this book. It was good, but, as it was the last on the series, it was also my last chance to get all the answers I craved for, and in the end, most of them didn’t come. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but, just like with the previous book, it lacked something. It’s impossible to read this series and not notice that there’s a lot of potential in certain aspects that, in the end, don’t get fully developed. I was left with many unanswered questions here.

The characters, throughout the entire series, are great. Bree is still this girl with a frank attitude and curt responses, whose practicality, and the way her da raised her, don’t let her become the princess she’s supposed to be. I loved her, and I liked that, in this book, she could find her own leadership skills, and recognize the Nereids as her people. Also, I’m glad she and Aleta were able to deepen their friendship and overcome the obstacles, finding forgiveness in despite of everything that happened between them. As for the romance with Caden, it doesn’t get much development here. They clearly like and respect each other, and have feelings for one another, and there’s a suggestion of what they can become in the future, but right then, at the end of the story, duty has to come first. And that’s a good thing, because the author didn’t fall into the platitudes that normally rule fantasy novels. It’s not the typical ending. As much as I liked Caden, if they had ended up happily ever after, I, as a reader, would have had something to complain about, because I would have never understood why, as there wasn’t much between them as to build such a relationship.

Also, I liked that Bree didn’t take the crown as Queen of Nereidium. It wouldn’t have been very believable if she suddenly was fit for that role, but she knew that, even being the rightful heir to the throne, she wasn’t meant for it. It was not her fate, but at least she didn’t abandon her people, leaving them in good hands, and assuming her duty as Kyrene’s descendant, which is an honorable destiny for someone of her lineage. She made the right choice, giving the power to Aleta and placing her as governor; after all, she was raised for it, and with her temper, she had everything that’s needed to be a monarch.

Something I like about Jennifer Ellision’s writing is the way she gave every character a distinct voice, especially in books two and three, as she switches the characters’ POV. As I read, it was very clear when Bree, Caden or Aleta were talking, especially with Aleta, given her elegant choice of words that reflected the way she grew up. I liked how much she grew as a person, after suddenly finding herself stripped from her title, and losing her purpose in life upon knowing she would never be queen, because she decided to take the reins of her life, instead of playing the damsel in distress. She has a temper, and that’s great. She was destined to be a heroine after all, in despite of everything.

Just like in the previous book, this one doesn’t delve into the past. I was really hoping to read more about both Aleta’s past, and Tregle’s, but the story revolves more around their present circumstances, and their Torching. I really, really wanted to know more about Aleta, because, just think about it, her story could have been totally different, if Katerine hadn’t taken her to the palace. I mean, wouldn’t she have questions after finding out that she wasn’t Nereidium’s true princess? If I were her, I would be wondering about my parents, my birthplace, my family... I would look for them, or at least try to figure out what happened to them. Is she not even a little curious about those things? But, sadly there’s nothing about it. Also, there’s not another mention of Elena’s past or her history at the service of the king. Although there’s a novella for that, Sisters of Wind and Flame, that I will read, and I hope, will give some insight into the sisters’ general story.

About the Elemental powers, a good thing is that, in this book, we could know more about the four of them (if only a little), and also, Shakers were more important, which is something I really wanted to read about, given the lengths of their power, with the very Earth at their command. We could learn that Elemental powers are not always what they are meant to be, like in Everett’s case, whose Shaker abilities brought only destruction, dead plants, and earthquakes. And also, we could know about how far an Elemental can go if willing to truly be one with his/her Element, which was a great surprise. Reading about Aleta turning into a fire menace, after her loved ones were threatened, showed how much she’s fire, both literally and metaphorically. No one messes with Aleta. No one. And I loved her for that, she was my favorite character. Just one thing: what happened with Ruin’s Reaping? After having such disastrous effects on the previous books, being out of the Torchers’ control, and the king’s secret, lethal weapon, it didn’t have the importance I thought it would have.

Again, there was nothing about those Elementals capable of handling more than one element at the same time, like Katerine and Elena. But around the final battle, we know that the king has conquered the Elements without being an Elemental himself, and that was something I definitely didn’t see coming. It was a great final showdown, gripping and exciting, and I couldn’t put it down, thinking “finally the Makers showed up to clean some of the mess!”. But the questions, again. How did Langdon do it? How did he master the elements? He only says that his Tutors figured out a method, but there’s no further details. There’s just one chapter between them discovering this, and then defeating the king, with no explanation about how things happened. Not that there’s much time to explain, but still. I think that something that big deserves more than just a few words about it.

The battle with Everett in Abeline was breathtaking and had me at the edge of my seat. That was truly a moment in which I felt I was there with them, in the middle of the fight. It was pure intensity and action, and when one of Everett’s branches practically stabbed the Shaker Olivia, it was so sudden, that I literally gasped. Same as with Tregle and Caden, but especially with Tregle. My mind just rejected the idea of him being gone, and I realized how much I grew to like him. I didn’t want to say goodbye to him, especially when things had started to work out with Aleta, the barriers separating them finally down. I was like “No. No. No! That didn’t happen!”. Complete denial. But all that lead to finally learn more about the true reach of what it means to have Elemental powers in this world. 

As I mentioned before, I was left with many questions around the story. For example, I was glad to be able to know Nereidium, its people and their traditions, faith, architecture, training in Water Wielding… but I would have liked to know if, once Egria’s threat over Nereidium was over and Caden was king, could they, somehow, unblock all those poor Water Throwers that could never get in contact with their Element after what Langdon did to the Nereids? It was possible to undo what they did out of revenge? I really, really wanted to know. Also, what about the Underground? Clift only appeared briefly, and there wasn’t much about this rebel organization. In my opinion, giving some details about it would have added complexity and layers to the story. We know they are rebels, but that’s it. We never get to know who they are, or what they do to undermine the king’s iron rule. They barely participate on the final battle, even when Lilia and Elena gathered many of them in Clavins. They are just kind of there, if you know what I mean.

Also, what about all those romances playing out in the background? I was rooting for Liam and Meddie, they clearly were in love, or at least they liked each other, but the epilogue –that is, our very last chance to know what happened to this people we’ve been following for quite some time–, doesn’t say much. According to Caden, they were in Egria “seeing to the dismantling of Elemental conscription in my stead.”, and that may be enough for some readers, but not for me. I really, really wanted them together. Also, about Elena and Lilia, were they in love? Yes, in my opinion, but also, there’s not another mention of what happened with them, save that “they have the training camp well in hand”. Seriously, that’s it? Not even a hint about if they got together or not?

Finally, a word on both the names and the books’ covers. In this saga, names confuse me from time to time, because, on one hand, we have names like Bree, Caden, Aleta, Everett, and Helen, which are real names, from our own world, but on the other hand, we have names like Tregle, Jospuhr, Medalyn, Izador and Orlova, which are completely made up names. I know each author can do as he/she pleases, but in my opinion, if we are talking about a fantasy world unlike our own, it has to be one of two things: or you make all of them up, or you don’t. But, I repeat, that’s just MY OPINION. And I’m not complaining nor criticizing, just stating a fact about something I noticed. As for the covers, it puzzles me that Bree appears wearing those elegant dresses, because they are not her at all. It may be plausible in the first book’s cover, because she was being trained in the manners of a royal, but after that, there’s not even a moment for her to wear such dresses, between them fleeing Egria, and the war. And Nereidium has a lot of Ancient Greece on it, including the clothes, so that big purple dress on this book’s cover feels out of place. Bree is more of a breeches type of girl, and perhaps that would have to be shown on the covers to truly reflect her. But again –and as many times it’s necessary to mention it–, this is just my opinion.

I will definitely read the three novellas that accompany this saga, and I’m especially eager to read Breathe In, because it offers a short story about Duke Ardin and Lady Corrine, and I’m really curious about it. So, in short, it is a very good fantasy saga, but it had all those things that left me with questions, and that’s not what the final book in a series should do. Overall, I liked Jennifer Ellision’s style, she was a great discovery, and I will gladly read more of her stories in the future!


Post a Comment