Hi folks! As I mentioned in my previous post, a number of folks have reached out to me wondering if there’s some sort of spoiler recap for the books of the War of Lost Hearts series so they can refresh their memories ahead of Mother of Death and Dawn (the final book in the trilogy, releasing so excitingly soon!). So, I decided to create one! You can check out my first post, which recaps Daughter of No Worlds, here.
This post will tackle Children of Fallen Gods — and, whew, boy, it’s a long one. Either Children of Fallen Gods had a LOT of stuff happen in it, or I’m really bad at summarizing, or, uh, maybe both?
I hope it’s a helpful ride nonetheless, and I swear I tried to compress it as much as I could!
Again, I hope this goes without saying, but BIG FAT SPOILER WARNING if you have not read CoFG. Seriously, DO NOT READ THIS POST if you haven’t, and just go read the book instead. You’ll like it. I promise.
Okay, let’s kick it off!
Tisaanah and Max: Zeryth’s War
Tisaanah, Max, Nura, Sammerin, and many Threllian refugees are on their way back to Ara, so Tisaanah can fulfill her Blood Pact and help fight the Orders’ war. When they reach Ara, they’re immediately apprehended by soldiers who are not Order or Crown soldiers. In the skirmish, they are rescued by Syrizen, who use their magic to transport them away from the Capital and to another familiar location: Korvius. Max’s homeland – and the Farlione estate.
Zeryth has launched a coup. Sesri has been killed in an “accident”, and before her death, she signed a contract stating that the Arch Commandant of the Orders will assume the role of monarch in the event of her incapacitation. Nura and Zeryth had been manipulating Sesri to make her unpopular during her reign, and Zeryth double-crossed Nura by making his move while she was still out of the country. After being run out of the Capital, he made Korvius his base of operations, which was offered up to him by Max’s aunt.
Sesri’s cousin, Atrick Aviness, is challenging Zeryth’s claim to the throne. Zeryth says that Tisaanah – with Reshaye’s power – must help him win this war, and Max is going to help him, too. When Max refuses, Zeryth reveals a strange tattoo on his wrist and says that he cast a curse on Tisaanah: if he dies, so will she.
Max is furious about all of this. He is even more upset when he sees that while they were gone, Moth joined the military. Out of options, Max agrees to lead the army, but he asks that Moth stay with him in his division.
Wars are going to war.
Months pass with Max leading Zeryth’s campaigns and Tisaanah supporting operations from Korvius.
At first, Max struggles to connect with the soldiers fighting under his command. However, over time, he earns their respect as a strong and compassionate leader. He picks off the most powerful of Aviness’s supporters, and also constantly researches how to break the curse Zeryth put on Tisaanah.
Meanwhile, Tisaanah uses Reshaye’s power to create terrifying illusions of power and strength that force early surrenders. However, she is often extremely ill after these encounters, and Nura cares for her. Reshaye despises Nura.
During the war, one of the Syrizen, Eslyn, dies of A’Maril. A’Maril is a disease that can occur when a human wields deep magic for too long, as pushing the boundaries of what a human body is capable of can often poison them.
Speaking of weird volatile magic, Zeryth seems to be dabbling in it too, and over time it is making him sickly and paranoid.
What’s up with the Threllian refugees?
Tisaanah is also trying to help the Threllian refugees settle into their new lives in Ara. However, some of them are frustrated by Tisaanah’s inaction when many of them receive letters from the Zorokov family, threatening the lives of slaves in their possession and demanding Tisaanah’s head for the crime of Esmaris and Ahzeen’s murders.
After Eslyn dies, Tisaanah, Nura, and Sammerin take her head and Sammerin shapes it to look like Tisaanah’s. They send this back to the Zorokovs, praying it will buy enough time for Tisaanah to rescue the slaves in their possession.
Reunited and it feels so good. <3
When another powerful lord joins Aviness’s ranks, Max is forced to return to Korvius to regroup, reuniting with Tisaanah.
Max and Tisaanah also go to visit Vardir – the man who helped harness Reshaye – in Ilyzath, a terrifying, ancient, semi-sentient magical prison. Vardir is not helpful in breaking Tisaanah’s curse but does say some scary and cryptic things about someone “coming for us.” Ilyzath also tries to keep Max from leaving and tells him that “he belongs here.” (Spooky.)
The end of the war (or, this war at least!)
One day, Tisaanah goes to the refugees and is ambushed, then taken into Aviness’s captivity. Max goes after her alone and tells Nura not to bring the army. Max, for the first time since Threll, opens his second eyelids and uses all his magic to fight through the Palace. Meanwhile, Tisaanah senses his presence and manages to escape her captivity with Reshaye’s help.
But things get complicated when Nura, against Max’s orders, brings the army to the Capital doorstep. Max and Tisaanah are forced to fight, and Max, for the first time, allows everyone to see what he is capable of.
Aviness commits suicide when the tides turn, ending the war.
…Or is it?
With the war over, everyone returns to the Capital. At Zeryth’s victory celebration, he summons Nura, Max, and Tisaanah to his chambers. He is acting extremely paranoid, and after an escalating confrontation, tries to kill Max. Tisaanah, begging for Reshaye’s help to go against her Blood Pact, attacks Zeryth.
Reshaye kills Zeryth, and, because of the curse, Tisaanah falls immediately after.
Max rushes Tisaanah to the home of his friend Eomara. Eomara tells Max that because he too Wielded Reshaye – and thus, has a connection to deep magics – he can share magic with Tisaanah to save her, but it is very dangerous. Max agrees without hesitation.
Meanwhile, as Tisaanah is dying, Reshaye questions the selflessness of her final thoughts. It doesn’t understand why she would be willing to sacrifice herself for someone else. In a final act, Reshaye gives its life for the curse, allowing Max the time to save Tisaanah.
Meanwhile… Aefe! What’s going on with the Fey?
Okay, pause! Rewind! Now we’re going to take a minute to talk about Aefe.
Aefe is a Fey in the House of Obsidian. She is supposed to be a Teirness – a princess – but is considered tainted and lost her title to her younger sister Orscheid. The House of Obsidian is a matriarchal kingdom, but Aefe’s mother Sareid is mentally unwell so her father rules the kingdom.
The people of the House of Obsidian are called Sidnee and they live in the Pales – basically, giant black obsidian cliffs, into which the entire kingdom of the House of Obsidian is built.
Aefe is a member of the Blades, an elite group of warriors, but is on the verge of getting kicked out due to her impulsive behavior (y’know, drinkin’ and fightin’ stuff).
One day, Aefe and her commander Siobhan discover several bloody Fey collapsed in the swamps, including Caduan, who, half-conscious, tells Aefe that he is fourteenth in line for the throne.
The injured Fey are from the House of Stone, a small house not far from the House of Obsidian. The entire house had been slaughtered by humans. Caduan is now the king of a House that essentially no longer exists.
Aefe’s father decides to summon the House of Wayward Winds, the other most powerful Fey house – and the biggest rival of the House of Obsidian – so they may join forces to investigate together. The Wyshraj of the House of Wayward Winds are able to shift into birds or partially shift to have wings.
Aefe is shocked when her father chooses her to lead this mission. The exploratory group consists of five people: Aefe, Siobhan, Ishqa (a Wyshraj general), Ashraia (Ishqa’s second), and, to everyone’s shock, Caduan, who insists upon going.
At first, tensions run high among the group. At night, Aefe and Caduan train together as Aefe teaches Caduan how to be a stronger fighter.
The group first travels to the House of Reeds, which they find deserted except for strange monsters that seem oddly Fey. In order to escape, Aefe has to reveal her dark secret: she is an Essnera, a Fey with the rare ability to steal the magic of others by drinking their blood. This is considered a curse by the gods, and is the reason why her father cast her out.
Caduan conducts an autopsy on one of the creatures and believes that something had been done to the Fey of the House of Reeds, but that it was a failure. He wants to go to Niraja, a half-human-half-Fey kingdom, to learn more about it. The rest of the group is appalled by this idea, as both this topic of heretic magic and Niraja itself are considered tainted.
Instead, they go to Yithara, a travelers hub. A sudden human attack strikes while they’re there. Aefe and the others fight the humans, many of whom are magic users. They seem to have particular interest in Aefe when they realize that she is an Essnera.
The group survives, but Yithara is destroyed. Enraged and grieving, Aefe publicly agrees with Caduan and says that they should go to Niraja.
Let’s go on a journey to Niraja.
Niraja is ruled by King Ezra – a Fey – and Queen Athalena – a human. They welcome the group, but when Caduan asks for their help, Ezra shuts him down and refuses to speak further.
Later that night, however, Athalena tells them that humans came to the kingdom not long ago under the guise of being travelers seeking shelter, but they were actually looking for powerful legendary magic, and even went so far as to murder her daughter in an attempt to harness demi-Fey blood.
She gives the group a map that she had gotten from these travelers, which had several locations marked – including many of the places humans had attacked. The group realizes that the humans, driven to desperation by their own wars, were destroying Houses because they were searching for more powerful legendary sources of magic.
Athalena also gives the group a letter she had apprehended, which spoke of a meeting of human leaders. The group decides they will go to this meeting, and either attempt to negotiate with the humans or slaughter them.
Later that night, Aefe meets Orin, Ezra’s brother, who is half-Fey. In a very awkward conversation, Orin reveals that Aefe’s mother Sareid had once lived in Niraja, and that they had once been lovers. Aefe realizes that Orin is her true father, and that the reason why her father had disowned her had nothing to do with her being an Essnera, but because he didn’t want her in power if he had no biological relation to her.
Aefe is devastated. In tears, she goes to Caduan’s room. They kiss and almost go further, but instead they fall asleep together as he comforts her – though she does not tell him what she had learned.
Shit hits the fan.
They are awoken by an attack. Aefe’s father had lodged an all-out offensive on Niraja when he learned that Aefe had gone there. Ashraia is killed, as is Siobhan. Aefe and Caduan are confronted by a furious Athalena, who shoots Caduan with a crossbow, sending him over the balcony of the palace.
Ishqa narrowly saves Aefe, and they are the only ones to escape Niraja. Ishqa learns that Aefe’s father had betrayed the House of Wayward Winds. Their houses were now at war, but Ishqa still wishes to go to the human meeting and end the human aggression. Aefe agrees.
The location in the letter is an island to the south, occupied by only a single stone building.
Ok, let’s go back to Tisaanah and Max…
Tisaanah and Max have a wonderful two week long break, though Tisaanah is increasingly concerned because she cannot use her magic. One night, in the throes of passion, Max asks Tisaanah if she ever thinks about what it might be like to live their entire lives together. Tisaanah kisses him, but does not give him an answer.
Two weeks of bliss come to a dark end with a knock on the door in the middle of the night. Tisaanah finds a box of hundreds of hands, all branded with the sigil of the Zorokovs. Yeah, you got it – slave hands, because the Zorokovs were pretty pissed off that Tisaanah tried to trick them with a fake head. If that isn’t awful enough, there’s also a bizarre shadow monster, which promptly attacks them.
Tisaanah and Max manage to defeat the monster, but more are on their way. Suddenly, a pack of birds show up and leave a letter in Tisaanah’s hands, giving them a Stratagram. At a loss for what else to do, Tisaanah and Max follow the Stratagram. They land on an island, with a single stone building – yeah, that island.
But when they open the door, it’s not Aefe that’s in there. It’s just a single figure – Ishqa.
When Aefe goes into the building, she’s greeted by a bunch of humans, who immediately incapacitate her with magic. It turns out that Ishqa has betrayed her to the humans as a way of negotiating safety for the House of Wayward Winds, at the command of his queen.
Aefe, gutted by Ishqa’s betrayal, is powerless to fight back. The humans kidnap her.
Over the course of hundreds of years, they experiment upon Aefe and turn her into something that is no longer even Fey — a super powerful, sentient source of magic.
Yep, you got it. Reshaye.
Yeah! So in the present day, five hundred years after Aefe’s story, Ishqa meets with Tisaanah and Max. The war hundreds of years ago between the Fey Houses nearly caused their extinction, so most humans today don’t even know Fey still exist. However, a king has united the Fey, and Ishqa tells them that this King really really really hates humans and wants to literally kill them all. The King is coming after them – namely, Reshaye – and that they really need to help stop him. He says that it is impossible that Reshaye is truly dead and that it must still exist within Tisaanah somewhere. He also tells them that humans have been kidnapping Fey, including his son, who is missing.
Tisaanah and Max don’t really know what to do with this massive bomb of information. Back at the Towers, Nura is relieved to see them. She is deeply shaken after seeing the monsters at their cottage. She takes Max and Tisaanah to the basement of the Towers and conducts a spell that allows them to see her memories.
Nura’s memories… interesting.
Interesting indeed. She shows them a lot of stuff (namely, angst), but the key takeaways are that Nura has been working behind the scenes all along. When she tried to Wield Reshaye over and over again near the start of Sesri’s war, before Tisaanah showed up in Ara, she saw a vision of Ara being destroyed by an army of Fey – including a vision of a winged, blonde warrior.
We see that when Nura was in Threll after the fall of the Mikov estate, she found a blonde, winged Fey that resembled the one in her vision. She captures this Fey, and comes to the realization that she needs to make fast and extreme moves in order to save Ara from the fate she knows is coming. She has been experimenting on Fey who reach Ara’s Threllian territory, and has been dabbling in dark magics. She also deliberately undermined Zeryth by giving him enough dark magic to fulfill his ambitions – which was also enough to drive him insane.
Max and Tisaanah are horrified, and even more horrified when Tisaanah realizes that Nura has purchased slaves in Threll to prepare for the war ahead.
Worst of all, she is absolutely trying to create more Reshaye-esque weapons.
That’s crazy. Now what?
A plan, of course!
Tisaanah and Max do not want to help Nura with her crazy plan of body horror and world domination. So instead, the day Nura is supposed to be confirmed as Arch Commandant, Max steps up as a candidate against her. He’s eligible because he met the qualifications ten years ago, and while he had been barred from holding Orders leadership positions after Sarlazai, Tisaanah’s bargain with Zeryth back in DoNW wiped his slate clean.
Max needs to be nominated by a member of the Council, so Tisaanah arranges for a councilor, Iya, to nominate him. Iya is one of the very few non-Aran Wielders to have gained power in the Orders, and he and Tisaanah have bonded in the past over the fact that both of them are foreigners.
Nura is pretty pissed about the whole rival nomination thing. That brings us to…
Wild magical pit battle!
You read that right. How do the Orders pick the most powerful leader in their midst? Why, naturally, with a crazy magic battle in a crazy magical pit. Ahead of the battle, Sammerin warns Max not to use his deep magic, since Max is showing some symptoms of something that Sammerin suspects is a form of A’Maril.
Max and Nura face off. It’s about as intense as you would expect. And, yeah, Max does end up opening his second eyelids and using his deep magic.
Whoops. That was a mistake.
Rise of the king
It turns out that Tisaanah’s odd Reshaye visions throughout the book, and Max’s A’Maril symptoms, were because the Fey King was using their connection to deep magic to draw himself closer to them. During the battle, he cements this connection, and uses it to take control of Max’s body. He also hijacks the connection that the Syrizen have to deep magics and takes control of them, as well.
Tisaanah runs down into the ravine to help Max. Ishqa shows up as well and tries to reason with the Fey King – who, we learn, is Caduan, driven to his vengeance when he found out about Reshaye’s existence and true identity.
Tisaanah uses her magic to reach into Max’s mind, and sees all the connections that the Fey King has built using Max’s connection to deep magics. Max opens his magic to her, and tells her to cut out the mental ties that bind him to the Fey king – but Tisaanah is hesitant because she knows it could kill Max, or at the very least severely injure his mind.
Nevertheless, she does it. At the very last moment, the Fey king reaches into their shared magic and pulls Reshaye forth from it.
After the resulting explosion, Ishqa takes Tisaanah, but Nura stops Max from leaving before the ravine collapses.
Where do we leave our heroes?
- Tisaanah awakens weeks later in Threll. The Threllian refugees, plus Sammerin, fled Ara to escape Nura’s no-holds-barred wrath against anyone she viewed as loyal to Tisaanah and Max. The rebels have been fighting against the Threllian Lords, who are allies to the Fey.
- Max is captured by Nura. She locks him up in Ilyzath under the guise of prosecuting him for his crimes at Sarlazai. Also, his mind is… a bit spotty. 🙁
- Aefe / Reshaye awakens in a beautiful Fey city called Ela’Dar. She now has a new body that exactly resembles the way she looked as Aefe. Caduan greets her and tells her that he had thought she was dead for five hundred years, and that he intends to stop the humans from ever hurting another Fey ever again.
- Meanwhile, Nura has become queen, and though she has intense guilt over what she did to Max, she is convinced that she did the right thing for the greater good.
And… that’s it! Now you’re all up to date and ready to jump into Mother of Death and Dawn on February 10. I hope you love it!