Edna Lopez-Rodriguez ‘20 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Morgan Rhodes continues to fascinate readers with the newest installment of her epic fantasy series, Falling Kingdoms. As the sixth installment published by Razorbill in 2016, Crystal Storm does not fall behind on the epicness that is Falling Kingdoms. With ruthless empress on the rise, Mytica is now in more danger than ever, and Prince Magnus and Princess Cleo are forced to make a perplexing alliance with their biggest enemy. The book also follows rebel leader Jonas as he journeys back to Mytica, and Princess Lucia as she battles with her weakening magic.
Rhodes quickly picks up on the suspense left behind in the previous installment. Each book seems to be getting darker, and Crystal Storm paves way for an even darker path for the royalty and rebels of Mytica in a way that is both engaging and heartbreaking. Crystal Storm focuses on the romantic aspects of the series, but that doesn’t mean Magnus and Cleo have surpassed the obstacles previously placed before them. Rhodes effectively explores Magnus and Cleo’s relationship as their love is continuously tested. Rhodes characterized their relationship in a way that is realistic yet romantic.
The couple accepts their past and grows together, and while Rhodes’ inclusion of Theon’s twin brother was certainly an interesting twist, even that could not shake the bond between Cleo and Magnus. Their relationship only falters when their futures are concerned, but their bond continues to illustrate immense character growth between the two. Rhodes also effectively explores Jonas’ character growth. In the previous installment, Jonas was left heart broken over the death of his rebel ally Lysandra. Despite his setbacks, Jonas continues to step back up and try again. In Crystal Storm, Jonas is more determined than ever to become a leader and help the rebellion. Even the character with the darkest path, Lysandra, manages to demonstrate character growth by plotting against her former allies in an attempt to save her world.
While some characters continued to be developed in the book well, the was one character with questionable characterization. In Crystal Storm, much of the plot relies on the sudden change of heart of King Gaius, the former antagonist. Rhodes shifted the role of the antagonist from King Gaius to Empress Amara, and while this was intriguing it was not done in the most effective way. Gaius’ sudden character change felt sudden and unnatural. The lack of a strong reason or build up behind his change hindered the book’s plot development. Gaius’ character could have been expanded more effectively if the reasons for the changes presented in Crystal Storm would have been presented sporadically in the previous books. Much of what made grayed Gaius was revealed in the second half of Crystal Storm after Gaius’ role as an antagonist changed.
Despite this setback, Crystal Storm managed to be a compelling story leading to a heartbreaking cliffhanger. Morgan Rhodes continues to surprise her readers with her vivid characters and engaging storyline while setting up a great storyline for the last installment.