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384 pages, Hardcover
First published January 23, 2018
“There’s nothing you can do, Valoria. I’m not one of your inventions. I’m broken, part of me is missing, and you can’t fix me with copper wires or a piece of string.”
“Today, for the second time in my life, I killed King Wylding. Killing’s the easy part of the job, though. He never even bleeds when a sword runs through him. It’s what comes after that gets messy.”
“Why love hurts when it’s the thing we live for. The thing some people search their entire lives for. The thing some people die for.”
“If a person can be home, then he’s mine.”
#1 Reign of the Fallen ★★★★★
#2 Song of the Dead ★★★★★
“What if our magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?”
The Dead need me far more than the living, and I, them. Without Dead to raise, I’d be nothing but an orphan. As long as the Dead are around, I’m their Sparrow.
There’s an old saying that sparrows always find their way home.
The sun still rises and sets, like it always has. It seems cruel that it wouldn’t stop, just for a little while, to show how much darker the world is without them in it.
The sadness in his gaze when he looks at me – which the blue tonic never let me see – is just one more reason I’ll fight to never touch another drop.
That’s what made me so well-suited for walking in the Deadlands, they said. My love of life.
I only cry because their love is still with me, a familiar ache in my chest. I’ll carry it with me, always, something no one can ever erase.
Yet as long as I'm alive, I have to keep going. One step after another through this tunnel until I'm back in Grenwyr City to rejoin the battle, a little more broken than before. .. For my friends and the Dead and the helpless. For me.
All I can do is keep fighting
I knew living with the Dead was impossible. Death is an ending, not a new beginning.
"Your mother brought you into this world as a whole person,” the princess huffs, pulling so hard that I slide to the edge of the bed. “And last I checked, you still are one. No matter what or who you’ve lost. Now get”—she jerks on my arms—"up!”
Odessa is a master necromancer for the kingdom of Karthia. She is tasked alongside her partner and lover, Evander, with bringing back King Wylding- the dead king who has rule Karthia continuously. He is killed and brought by to life countless times to continue his reign. His soul is in the Deadlands and it must be brought back, but there is a price to be a soul outside of the Deadlands. The souls risk becoming Shades- monstrous creatures who feed off life. Shade attacks are rising at an alarming rate and someone is conspiring to raise Shades intentionally. Will Odessa’s skill as a necromancer be enough to save Karthia? Meh. I thought I was going to love this one. It has a promising premise and it sounds super awesome, but in all honesty, Reign of the Fallen is boring. It is lackluster in plot, description, and character development. I could not be bothered to really care what was happening to the characters because I did not care about what would happen. The stakes were high, but the character development was so lacking that the high stakes didn’t make for an unputdownable read. For instance, the world building, especially the descriptions of the Deadlands, were lacking in fullness. It felt as though the reader should already be familiar with this conceptual world and should know exactly what Marsh was describing. This caused Reign of the Fallen to read more like a sequel than the starting book in a series. I will give Marsh one thing: she is not afraid to kill off characters. This is only book one and very integral characters were killed off. It made the plot a little wonky, to be honest, but it also made me respect how ballsy Marsh is as an author. She is not afraid to take risks and chances with her characters. It’s very admirable. The downside is that the characters are so lackluster that I did not care what their fates were. However, Marsh’s strong suit is battle scenes. The battle scenes start out early and are very strong. It made for very thrilling chapters, but it quickly became boring when they weren’t fighting.
The main female character is Odessa. I honestly don’t have much to say about Odessa. I thought her character development left much to be desired. At times I liked her and at others it felt as if she wasn’t really a character, but a grieving or killing machine. There was no in between. Either Odessa was wracked with grief or she was seeking vengeance and wanted to kill everything in her path. It wasn’t effective.
Reign of the Fallen has incredibly diverse characters. Odessa is bisexual. Her two male friends are in a very healthy strong relationship. Meredy, an eventual love interest, is lesbian. There is a lot of representation in this fantasy novel, which is great because fantasy is not as diverse as one would think, but it is getting there.
SPOILERS ABOUND So, Odessa’s first relationship is with Evander. They have been together for a very long time and have a strong passionate relationship. Evander is killed in the Deadlands by a Shade relatively early on and it causes Odessa to experience a lot of grief and pain. This leads to making a lot of misguided and uncomfortable romantic decisions that made me feel a little icky. First problem: Odessa starts a friends with benefits relationship with Jax, Evander’s best friend, to help fill the void of Evander’s death. It doesn’t take long for this to occur and it made me really uncomfortable because it is one of my least favorite tropes when characters hook up to cope with grief or heartache. It is not effective and it actually causes more damage than healing. So, that left a sour taste in my mouth. Then, Odessa falls into instalove with Evander’s sister, Meredy. Talk about awkward. My biggest problem with this is best described by this quote,
“Not after we’ve finally started talking about Evander, sharing memories to keep him with us. Not after… well, everything she’s become to me.”
It’s just too much. If Meredy was anyone else in the court it wouldn’t be awkward, but it’s her dead lover’s sister. It’s just so uncomfortable and every time I would get over it and start to think their relationship was cute, she would mention Meredy and Evander looking similar and I felt creeped out again. It made me wonder if Odessa actually has feelings for Meredy or if she is trying to recapture Evander by being in a relationship with someone so similar to him.
So, yeah. That was the biggest problem I had with this novel. The love interests were just… odd. However, Valoria was a really cool character and I really enjoyed her friendship with Odessa. I just wanted to see more of their friendship outside of the little bit we did.
I do think a lot of people will love and adore the Reign of the Fallen. I just wasn’t one of them. The good news is that it ends like a standalone novel and I don’t feel like have to pick up the sequel, which is nice because I don’t think I will. I have a feeling this will be a favorite for a lot of fantasy fans and I look forward to seeing everyone’s excitement over this novel once it’s released.
"Life will be hard and painful as long as I cling to it, but there's beauty in it, too."I think I might have hyped this up too much. It was likely impossible for it to live up the the standard I set in my head after waiting for this book for months. That being said, I did still enjoy Reign of the Fallen. We follow master necromancer Odessa as she attempts to maintain the Deadlands and prevent the returned Dead from becoming monstrous Shades. As more Shades are being mysteriously created, Odessa must determine if her necromancer magic is a weapon the will destroy Karthia.
I knew living with the Dead was impossible. Death is an ending, not a new beginning.
“You’ll never hear any of this, because you’ve vanished and I have to carry on alone. I wish you could tell m where to go from here. Or how to get my heart to stop repeating your name.”
“How do you do it?” I ask as Meredy sponges my forehead with the cloth that Valoria left. “How do you handle thinking about them without falling apart?”
“I don’t,” she says after a while. “I try not to think of them at all.”
“Your mother brought you into this world as a whole person. And last I checked, you still are one. No matter what or who you’ve lost.”
“You’re so selfish you don’t notice anyone’s pain but your own.”