- Title: The Fallen Prince (The Riven Chronicles #2)
- Author: Amalie Howard
- Publisher: Sky Pony Press
- Publication date: April 5th 2016
- Rating: ★★★★
The Fallen Prince is the long-awaited sequel to Amalie Howard’s The Almost Girl. I was thrilled to receive an ARC, because I absolutely adored the first book and couldn’t wait to dive back in with Riven and Caden. Most of my reading tends to err towards pure fantasy or urban/historical-urban fantasy, so when I get something that is science-fiction, I get a little excited. With the promise of even more sci-fi with Riven and Caden’s return to their own world, I was super hyped for this book.
After the betrayal of Caden’s clone, Cale, and the death of Riven’s sister, Shae, things have been chaotic for both of them. Add to that the fact that Riven won’t stop hunting her father and creator, Danton. She’s been chasing him through the Otherworld, desperate for revenge and/or justice; bent on bringing him back to Neospes to answer for what he’s done.
She’s made her peace with the revelation of what she is, the almost-girl that her father engineered. Caden’s support and acceptance helped. Still, there are times where Riven feels like little more than General Riven: soldier, monster, killer. She will always be a warrior, always lead and always strive to protect those she loves.
Only now that’s proving to be more difficult, as a new and unimaginable foe emerges from the shadows. But that’s not all and before long Riven will find herself torn between what she wants for herself and what is best for Neospes. Perhaps reverting to her old self, the cool and aloof general, is the best thing for everyone. Of course, it’s difficult to distance yourself from your heart, when the boy you love isn’t buying the act. Caden is, as always, there to remind Riven that she isn’t the heartless soldier she wishes she could be, thinks she still could be.
A lot changed in the Otherworld and it changed Riven forever. They’ve come a long way from her task to take Cade out.
Unfortunately, things are set to get harder from here. With the fate of Neospes hanging in the balance, threatened by the aggressions of an enemy that shouldn’t exist, the Lord King of Neospes might be called upon in a capacity neither he nor Riven has ever considered. Still, Cade will do what he must for his city and his people, even if that mean making tough decisions.
As Riven and Caden enter into tangled web of danger and new political relations, both begin to realise that there seems to be no right answer. With the appearance of new allies and the revelation of a secret so large it could change everything, the fight to get Caden back on the throne is soon going to seem like it was a walk in the park.
Everyone has an agenda and diplomacy and people-skills have never been at the top of Riven’s resume. But when things take a turn for the strange and she begins to doubt her own mind, her own monstrousness, it seems that even Riven might falter when things get hard.
Except that if she does, it could spell out the doom for everyone in Neospes—and that’s not something she’s willing to let happen. One way or another, she will find a way to defeat their new enemy, even if it costs her absolutely everything. Even if it costs Riven her life.
The Fallen Prince is precisely what I was expecting from the sequel to The Almost Girl: an exciting and gripping adventure in a truly post-apocalyptic setting that stands apart from other dystopian landscapes by virtue of its original and thoughtful details. From peculiar flora and fauna to unusual technology leftover from the brutal war, and the immersive attention to detail with scorching temperatures and the necessary biotechnology to survive them, The Fallen Prince feels like an authentic and vibrant ride through a gritty scorched-earth style adventure.
Add in the dynamic between Riven and Caden, which doesn’t suffer from any second-book syndrome of should we/shouldn’t we in spite of their new and awkward situation, and we have a winning formula for a very successful sequel that was well worth the wait.
The Fallen Prince feels like the natural continuation of the story, with a seamless transition from what became an urban sci-fi adventure in The Almost Girl to the pure dystopian sci fi of the second book in the sequence.
Howard’s prose feels slick and sharp and completely on point in expressing the next part of Riven and Caden’s story. This was always going to be a different book from The Almost Girl, owning to the drastic change of setting and a busier cast—and the result is an exciting and vivid exploration of the world outside of Neospes.
There’s a lot tucked between the lines in this book; from commentaries on parental relationships to what power means and how to use it. In the end, Riven remains a kickass force of nature who is here to get the job done, whatever that means. Meanwhile, nothing of Caden’s rise to Lord King has changed who is and we’re still presented with the nerdy, long-haired boy we met in the Otherworld. Though Caden can hold his own when needed, it is definitely Riven who fulfils the role of protector. She will protect her Lord King, whether he wants her to or not.
Howard writes the science so casually that it feels like tasting little nuggets of hard sci-fi without the twenty page long descriptions of spaceship engines and how a forcefield works. This book feels bigger and better and generally more than The Almost Girl. It feels like the next step in a dark, clever and thrilling scorched-earth, world-hopping adventure. Which is precisely what it is.
The Fallen Prince was definitely worth the wait.