Kings Falling (Book of the Wars #2) – Ronie Kendig

Kings Falling Ronie Kendig jo
Kings Falling by Ronie Kendig
Also by this author: Storm Rising, Kings Falling, Dawn of Vengeance, Brand of Light, Storm Rising, Soul Raging
Series: Book of the Wars #2
Published by Bethany House on March 31, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Thriller
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Leif Metcalfe and his team, dubbed Reaper, need to recover the stolen, ancient Book of the Wars if they hope to stop the Armageddon Coalition and their pursuit of global economic control. But their attention has been diverted by a prophecy in the book that foretells of formidable guardians who will decimate the enemies of ArC. While Iskra Todorova uses her connections in the covert underworld to hunt down the Book of the Wars, Leif and Reaper attempt to neutralize these agents but quickly find themselves outmaneuvered and outgunned.
The more Reaper tries to stop the guardians, the more failure becomes a familiar, antagonistic foe. Friendships are fractured, and the team battles to hold it together long enough to defeat ArC. But as this millennia-old conspiracy creeps closer and closer to home, the implications could tear Leif and the team apart.

Taking off right where Ronie Kendig left us in book one, and with just as much fury and speed, Kings Falling continues the story of Leif, Iskra, and their teams as they seek to find the ancient Book of the Wars and stop humanity’s move towards Armageddon. Having the knowledge of book one in my past, the rapid-fire pace is a little easier to handle, but many of my criticisms of Storm Rising show up here as well. But, it’s obviously a choice for Kendig, and judging by most other reviews of these books, a good choice for her. I just can’t help but think that these very good books, if they slowed down just a bit and made sure all the pieces fit together under scrutiny, could be outstanding. Again, Kendig brings an expansive plot and big thrills—a fast-read that’ll leave you gasping—but I’m not sure how well it all holds up under scrutiny.

Having escaped the clutches of Hristoff, Iskra is now working with Leif to find The Book of the Wars and stop ArC—the Armageddon Coalition—a new terrorist organization. Okay, I can suspend my disbelief here and accept that US Black-Ops would allow an enemy combatant switch sides just like that. I don’t believe it, but I’ll accept it for fiction. It’s a good action movie trope. I have a harder time dealing with the attempted romance between Iskra and Leif, Iskra’s complete lack of PTSD from her abusive past, and how she morphs from elite super-assassin into an edgy Lois Lane to Leif’s Superman.

There’s an array of supporting characters, none of whom we really get to know well enough, and a plot that—again—doesn’t focus on actually retrieving the Book of the Wars. Instead, the plot is now about stopping ArC, lead by the Italian Prime Minister, Veratti. It’s unclear what ArC’s end game is. Kendig herself doesn’t seem to actually know. From the book:

“His singular purpose is to set up a caliphate to rule Armageddon, to prove Christians that their belief in the end times is foolish. But while he pretends to care about eschatological concerns, his real priority is to put himself in control of trade and economy.”

So…in sentence one, we’re told that his purpose is singularly eschatological, but sentence two says it’s all a façade. Which is it? I also can’t tell what “rule Armageddon” is supposed to mean, or how that would prove the Christian end times wrong? (As if there is a singular interpretation in Christian eschatology.) In any case, it seems like Veratti wants the Book of the Wars to know how to manipulate the prophecies to his advantage. The mythology of it all is anemic and underdeveloped, all while being highlighted as the book’s very purpose.

Instead, we get distracted by sleeper agents with microchip implants. Our heroes learn enough from incomplete scans of the Book of the Wars to learn that it foretells of formidable warriors who will decimate the enemies of ArC. And they soon learn it isn’t easy to circumvent prophecy. ArC (formerly having the ability to control the weather) now has the ability to control minds.

Kings Falling is high-octane thrills from beginning to end, but when I sat down and actually tried to understand it, it just doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. Kendig asks me to suspend too much disbelief in too many areas. It’s fun. It’s thrilling. I enjoyed it. But, in the end, that was it. A popcorn flick. And if that’s the goal, then okay.