Final review for this series! The series review is always so long, so I’m sorry if you were anticipating this being short. This series was a lot darker than I expected.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers Ahead
The Fallen Isles by Jodi Meadows
Why You Should Read:
The balance of religion, story, and dragons is what got me for this book series. This trilogy does culture and religion in a way that makes it so tangible and real. I understood them all, even when the gods were real. The religions were enhanced by the way that they interacted with people and while you may not be a religious reader, of not like that in your book, religions are a part of cultures and this one was well done. As well was the plot and growth of Mira. Mira is not the best character, and in many ways I dislike her, but she grows. Her growth is well done and organic, and her relationship with Aaru is just as splendid. You should read this book because you want to invest your heart into a culture and love for dragons. This book series made my heart ache, and that makes it amazing.
What I Liked:
Religion; This was the best part of the books. I will sing praises to it until the day I forget and have to reread it. This book series hands us seven islands and seven different religious ideologies. We get delivered on two in near full, as well as a brief in the other five. Each one is grounded and defines how their governments work, their politics, their morals, their values, their characteristics. The religions are tied into ever aspect of their cultures and this is real. In the real world, cultures are heavily influenced by the religions in those parts, and even if people aren’t religious, the influence can still be felt. And when you have such heavily religious characters, their characters will be defined by it more. This was great to read.
Magic system; We got powers for each one of the islands, as well as in the empire. each were unique and different in a way, but related to their gods. I appreciated this, because it grounded the magic to their religion as well to the characters and how they interacted with the religions.
Culture and History; In the pages of this book we got so much on culture and history for the seven isles. I liked this, because it helped round out the world. Along with their politics.
Mira; Mira’s development is probably the reason I like her so much. As a person, Mira drives me up a wall. She is a real princess, but she truly changes, truly changes, and becomes a dragon. She will always be soft, but she at least knows how to use that to her advantage. Mira’s development in the Pit, while running, and her decision to give up dragons, is everything. She goes through horrors and never full gets over them. She has an anxiety disorder and compulsively counts. All of her idiosyncrasies, helped build her as a character and made me care for her.
Aaru; All he wanted was to give women equal opportunities. What happened is he ended up in a Pit, and tortured for a girl he helped. He lost his voice, and got it back. He saved lives, and stood by Mira’s side through everything. As a character Aaru is not one I was used to, but learning him, learning his life, learning how he came to be, was fascinating. I like him so much more than Mira. We only ever see him through her eyes, which may be why (cuz she loves him) but I did adore him.
Mira x Aaru; Aaru is hard where Mira is soft. Silent where she is loud. He is her opposite, and yet the best match for her. I knew they were destined from the moment they interacted. I knew she was doomed to pain with him when she reached for him. Their relationship was pure bliss. Watching them support, believe, and understand each other completely. This is probably one of my favorite developments for a couple, in recent books.
Gerel; Our lead warrior. She helped Mira in the Pit. She helped Mira on the lands. She helped them all, protected them all, and was the warrior balance to Hristo, and the true leader of the group in many ways. I love her.
Hristo; This boy almost lost his hand for Mira. I love him and find him one of the best people. He is complicated, reserved, but has deep motivations and beliefs. He deserves to be happy out of everyone in the entire series, after what he has gone through in his life for Mira.
Ilina; Ah, Ilina. Her gifts come from caring for her friends and the people around her. Ilina’s skills in bribery, politics, and people, got the group out of so many situations and I liked seeing how she evolved with them to become a strong force within the group.
Chanda; We got more of her in book 2 and 3 than 1, and for what we got of her, her decisions to help the world, really shaped the book. She was strong, but also dedicated to what she thought the world could be.
Zara; Zara was spoiled, but she learned to become one of the team. I wish we got more of her and Safa, but we did not and I’ll accept what we did get. In the one and a half books that we got her, she developed so much. I can’t wait to see how she progresses from there.
Safa; We got her in flashbacks and a bit in the present. Yet, I understood why Aaru cared so much for her. That’s important.
Others; The other tertiary characters were well developed with their own motivations, and personalities.
Altan; He tortured the main characters, for a purpose of saving dragons. He tried to kill them. He was never outright a good guy, but their interests did align at times. His redemption came from him saving people, even though his whole purpose was to save dragons. Did I ever like him? No. But he was a fascinating villain to dive into the head of.
The Empire; We got so much about the empire and it’s power structure in the few chapters we got. In some ways I found the Empress sympathetic and in others, a spoiled brat. I suppose, that’s because I was already empathizing with Mira and Mira was irritated with her. The Empire, as a antagonist, was and remained a looming threat throughout the whole series. I appreciated this. Even when we knew of them, the first thing we got of them was their use of symbols, to make them look large. This was a detail that made them all that more imposing.
The Fallen Isle Ministries; As an enemy, all of the ministries were interesting governments. They had their own structures and standards in which they abided by. The fact that one of them conned the others was not too far of a surprise. I liked how well they were developed for what little we got of each one of them.
Grey Villains; Each and everyone of the non main group, was grey as a grey scale. They varied in shades but none were really black or white. They all had their own purposes and decisions, all of which shaped the world. In the case of the Ministries, they made decisions that seemed to make sense to keep off war. For Altan, he did everything for the dragons. His methods were dark, and his reasoning wasn’t all pure, but he had reasoning and I could understand him. I appreciated this.
Death; This book hits HARD with the deaths. Often times in books, the deaths are far off details of war. In this book series, yes they are far off, but you understand just how hard it hits. This is specifically seen with the massacre of Idris and Aaru. Everyone (or near everyone) from Idris falls to the ocean and dies. The same happens to other islands, and you are left with knowledge that bodies are being FOUND on shores. There are natural disasters that leave people dead. There is death and it hits. It is not simple, oh yes people died. People DIED and it means something.
Writing Style; I think what I appreciated in this series, was not only the development of Mira, but how this novel was written. With the two different communication styles, religions, and the imagery, there was so much told in such a short amount of time and I appreciated that. Plus the back and forth between the past and present, or dreams and present, helped solidify this book in many ways for me.
Themes; Often times I’d bring up the themes within the series. I go into detail and while I think that this book series has some great themes, what stood out for me was the way it was written over what it told me. There were themes of family, acceptance, loss, trust, and believing in one’s self. Each was important, but I would not claim it as the defining feature of the books.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
A bit more on the gods in the sky (the three); For as much as we get on the other gods and their religions, getting a bit more on the upper gods would have been nice to know. I know that the Empire worships them (maybe. I might be remembering wrong) but I’d like to know the depth of their philosophies.
Time Taken To Read
8hrs 18min over the course of 3 days