Reign of the Fallen
A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa's necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead--and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer's magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?
The wealth of queer and POC representation is by far one of the best things about the book, but there’s far more to it than just that. The worldbuilding and the conflicts created by the king’s refusal to pass the crown to one of his descendants are strongly drawn. Because the king ordered that the Five-Faced God’s Face of Change be darkened and no longer worshipped, nothing is allowed to change. No new inventions can be introduced, nor can the conditions in the city’s slums be improved to give the residents better lives and stop the deadly fever that runs rampant there every year. Only the richest and the nobility can afford to be resurrected by the blue-eyed necromancers, so they just have to deal. The commentary on class is light, but it is there.
Reign of the Fallen is divided into three especially distinctive acts, which I’ve called the Set-up, the Grief, and the Unraveling. The Set-up begins and ends with dead necromancers, one of them being main character Odessa’s lover Evander. This first third is the strongest of the three acts by far, as the Grief sees little plot progression and the plot reveals in the Unraveling are too predictable to pack much punch. Nevertheless, it’s an entertaining read.
WHAT LEFT ME WANTING:
The novel’s most severe sticking point is in how someone’s eye color determines what kind of magic they have. Anyone with blue eyes can cross into the land of the dead and resurrect people, green-eyed people can control a specific animal they become bonded to, grey-eyed people can affect the weather, and hazel-eyed people can heal. Brown-eyed people are implied to have a knack for inventing things, but it’s not written like magic as much as it is a skill.
Maybe this all-important bit of worldbuilding shouldn’t be so heavily reminiscent of the Nazis’ eugenics- and racism-fueled obsession with eye color? That they thought blue-eyed people were The Best is really well-known, as are the fact they had hair and eye color charts that were supposed to determine someone’s race. There’s also been a pyramid eye color chart on social media that classifies what someone is meant to be or do based on their eye color, which could only be more obvious as Nazi propaganda if the word was slapped onto the image.
Reign of the Fallen does essentially the same thing but with magic right down to how the blue-eyed necromancers are so valuable to the nobility that they have their own rooms in the palace and brown-eyed people are unable to contribute any of their technological know-how due to any changes or new inventions being outlawed. This is something that really should have been researched further before it was implemented as the heart of the novel’s magic system.
For anyone who enjoys this entertaining, complicated novel, its sequel Song of the Dead has already been released and will be waiting for you. Were it not for the ill-thought out magic system, I’d be giving this novel much more praise. As long as you can put that out of mind, Reign of the Fallen is plenty of fun.
Odessa is a necromancer that is in love with her partner, Evander. They both have blue eyes which is a characteristic for necromancers. No one else can bring back the dead. In Karthia, they don’t believe in change. So they keep bringing back their leaders/royalty from the dead to rule again and again. The dead that are brought back must be covered in a shroud. If any part of them is seen, they turn into a shade. The shades are basically monsters. They have no control and will eat anyone around them. As they eat, they become bigger and faster. The necromancers have to fight together to kill a shade using fire. But something is happening and there are more shades than normal. They almost seem organized and even work together. Some of the royal family starts to go missing, too. Something isn’t right and Odessa has to figure out what is going on.
So much happens that I don’t want to ruin for anyone who hasn’t read this yet. I loved all the other characters from the book and there was a decent amount of diversity. Odessa also deals with addiction for awhile and I thought that was such an important storyline and appropriate for this point of time. So many kids and adults are dealing with addiction problems and I really appreciated it being a part of a fantasy storyline.
This book does have some talk of sex, but never anything graphic. I actually liked that Odessa was bisexual and comfortable with her sexuality. There was no slut shaming and she did end up with multiple people pretty close together.
One of the characters I adored for Valoria. She is the princess and while she loves her family, she does want things to change. She invents things and tries to find ways to improve Karthia. But she has to keep it quiet because change is something that is not even brought up. She was sweet and strong.
I also loved Danial. He is a healer and is dating Simeon, another necromancer. Their relationship was really sweet. Honestly, I really liked most of the characters in the book.
Sarah created a really interesting world that I can’t wait to read more about.
most characters are easy to like
kind of creepy