Books · Reviews · Spoiler-Free

Hero at the Fall: Why Do Trilogies Always Disappoint Me in the End?

Thank you so much to Faber & Faber for kindly providing me with a review copy of Hero at the Fall.

This is a spoiler-free review and all opinions are my own.


Title: Hero at the Fall (Rebel of the Sands #3)
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication Date: 15 February 2018
Length: 528 pages

In the final battle for the throne, Amani must fight for everything
she believes in, but with the rebellion in pieces, and the Sultan's
armies advancing across the desert plains, who will lead, who will 
triumph, who will live and who will die?


I have to say, it took me way too long to finish this book (a year) and that is never a good sign…


I loved the first book in this series – it was action-packed, gripping, and I didn’t want to put it down for anything.

The second book was a bit less engaging for me, but I did like how the story progressed nicely and I liked the character development. I didn’t enjoy it as much as Rebel of the Sands, but sequels rarely top the first book anyway so I wasn’t too concerned.

I was hoping Hero at the Fall would redeem Traitor to the Throne, however, and that did not happen.


I loved how the mythology became more pronounced and the central focus. At first we didn’t know much about Djinnies and Demdjies; we were slowly introduced to them in the first book and even moreso in the second one. But in this last one, they basically exploded in the reader’s face and it was awesome. I really like how the plot centers around the mythology so much.

I also liked the characters’ relationships, especially Amani and Shazad’s. I always love strong friendships and those two are absolute goals. They just complement each other so well!

The writing style incorporates quite a bit of storytelling, which I like because it reminds me of actual fairy tales. Besides shrouding everything with a magical veil, it also manages to flesh out the characters and their personalities even more, which was great.


I felt all the character development Amani had suffered in the earlier installments was lost here. Maybe because she was no longer the focus of the story and there was so much going on that that was no longer a priority but I just didn’t feel like she was as bold and confident in this book. She kept doubting herself and making irrational and stupid decisions that slapped her in the face almost immediately after.

One thing I struggled with this book is the same thing I struggled with the first two: the inability to connect with the characters or feel emotionally invested. I never had any trouble with the writing style or how things were presented; however, it all felt like it was happening too far away for me to care. So in the end, despite all the action, all the high stakes, all the drama – I just wasn’t fazed.

As for the main relationship (a.k.a. the romance) I just didn’t find it as great as I did in the first book? Maybe because I’m a fan of tension and slowburn, both of which were gone at this point… Or maybe it had just become a bit too mellow for me? Who knows.

The ending was satisfactory enough. I would say I would have liked it more if the narrative up until that point had been as wonderful as Rebel of the Sands was but, alas, it wasn’t so that ended up reflecting on the overall conclusion.


This book just didn’t do much for me, unfortunately. I enjoyed the mythology, writing style and character dynamics well enough, but I didn’t care much for the lack of character development, inability to feel emotionally invested or connected, and subpar ending.

Also, as a trilogy, it wasn’t very cohesive and each book felt disconnected from the others in some way. I loved Rebel of the Sands but the sequels just didn’t convince me.

This is one of those cases where there is nothing technically wrong with the book – it is sound, well planned out, and checks out all the “good writing 101” boxes. Unfortunately, that structural perfection failed to stir any emotions within me. It was, simply put, an empty work of art.

This isn’t the first time a trilogy that started with a bang ends up going completely downhill in the very last installment for me – in fact, most trilogies (and series) do. I’m even thinking of writing a post about it because it’s honestly getting ridiculous…

It’s so frustrating and honestly makes me wonder: is it me? Or do authors really not know how to write conclusions? I guess I’ll never know.

2-5 donuts

πŸ“– Do trilogies end up disappointing you as well? Is the third book simply cursed?
πŸ“– Have you read this trilogy? And did you feel the same way?
πŸ“– What are some other books similar to this one that you would recommend?
Let me know in the comments below! πŸ™‚



45 thoughts on “Hero at the Fall: Why Do Trilogies Always Disappoint Me in the End?

  1. That’s too bad that the trilogy didn’t hold together for you, Sophie. So many factors go into planning serials, and I think they do need planning. The stories have to escalate, the stakes need to increase, and of course, the characters have to be exceptional to keep the reader interest for 250-300 pages times 3! Hope the next one is better. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love getting your perspective as a writer! I always learn so much πŸ™‚
      I’m glad that made sense for you – to be honest, the book was structurally very well conceived, action-packed and with great timing, just the right amount of suspense and mystery, and great cliffies. It was just the emotional aspect that failed for me, and that is the most important part in my opinion.
      The characters were fine but again, none of them had any impact whatsoever and whenever one dropped dead I honestly had no reaction to it. And that is absolutely dreadful!
      Thank you so much, Diana ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh I’m sorry this book wasn’t what you’d hoped Sophie. πŸ™‚ I agree with what you said about the first two; I loved Rebel of the Sands and there was something les engaging about Traitor to the Throne for me too, but I ended up loving Hero at the Fall.
    The mythology and story telling aspects in this book were something I loved, and (it’s been a while since I read this so I may be remembering it wrong) I still liked Amani’s character because I felt the indecision and mistakes kind of fit in. She wasn’t a leader but it the role she was put in in this last book. I get what you mean when you say there can be nothing wrong with the book but there’s still that something missing which makes you rate it low. I’ve had more than a few of those myself. Still great review. πŸ™‚ ❀️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s all right, Beth! It happens πŸ™‚
      I’m so glad you did! I honestly tried so hard but couldn’t bring myself to feel invested in any way… Didn’t feel like picking it up at all… Just kept forcing myself to read it and that’s just not something I like to do. Again, I can’t find anything wrong with the book per se, but for some reason it didn’t click with me.
      That makes sense, yeah, but I like when a character suffers a continuous growth and with Amani it felt like she went from 0 to 180 and then back to 90, which didn’t sit well with me. I liked that she wasn’t the main focus of the book or the leader too. Everyone had their roles well defined and fell into them beautifully. It annoys me when the main character is the absolute centre of everything, the narrative loses way too much in the process.
      I’m such an emotional reader that a book may be absolutely perfect, yet do nothing for me, thus earning a low rating (and vice versa). I’m not sure if that’s a good way to rate books but oh well xD I always try to have everything into account, which was why I didn’t give this 1 star to be honest… Because I would have if I’d based it solely on my investment and enjoyment of it!
      Thanks so much, lovely ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I mean forcing yourself to finish a book is always a sign it’s not going to end up being a five-star read right?!
        Yeah I get what you mean, in the first two books it was good seeing Amani grow into a strong character within her role but putting her in another role in this third book kind of flipped that on it’s head. I can see why you think her development suffered a little.
        I mean I’ve rated books based on my mood. There have been books which have had nothing in particular wrong with them but because I haven’t been hooked I’ve rated it lower. At the end of the day reviews are our personal opinions so there’s going to be some kind of personal feelings in there too. πŸ™‚
        That’s all right. πŸ™‚ ❀


  3. Aw, sorry this one didn’t work out!
    The last time i read a completed trilogy was ages ago, but sometimes i have a feeling that the series could have been concluded (successfully) in two books, and dragging it over three is actually counterproductive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it sucked… But there’s always the next read πŸ™‚
      I think it’s smart to stay away from trilogies – between waiting for each volume to come out and ending up with a terrible conclusion, I don’t know what’s worse xD
      Completely agree. But I feel they are pressured to do so by the publishers more than actually making that decision themselves. It’s practically expected nowadays, especially when it comes to young adult, fantasy, etc.
      And then the amazing books get stuck with a single installment! It’s infuriating >.>

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love your reviews. You’re not mean-spirited and they give the good with the bad. I just started reading series and trilogies. It must be tough trying to end one book, start the others so readers aren’t completely lost, and provide a satisfying conclusion. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you so much, Denise! That’s really kind πŸ™‚ I’m so happy you enjoy them.
      I try to never bash an author for their content – after all, each reader is very different and it’s impossible to cater to all tastes. Unless it’s an incredibly awful piece of literature, and even then it would be unfair to attack the person behind the work. It’s just entertainment at the end of the day so if one’s not enjoying it, there’s no actual harm done – just close the book and move on πŸ˜‰

      And absolutely! I think it’s probably the hardest part right after the beginning, which I believe is awfully challenging as well. But then again, I feel authors are pressured to write trilogies and duologies when maybe one book would be enough, and thus the content ends up being below average. A very nonsensical trend, if you ask me but oh well…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw that’s all right Kelly ❀ I'm so happy you enjoyed it! Just comes to show how every reader is so different πŸ™‚
      It sucks that trilogies seem to be so much more miss than hit these days! I've encountered some mind-blowing ones but usually they fail to impress me in the end…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m sorry the finale ended up as a disappointment for you! That really sucks! I loved the first book in this series! I haven’t read rest of the series yet but i’m hoping to finish it this year. I’ll try to lower my expectations when I finally get around to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah it’s really annoying because the first book was so, so great! I’m glad you thought so too, Raven πŸ™‚
      I hope you end up enjoying the rest of the series, and I think I’m in the minority here so definitely continue with it but keep your expectations low just in case.
      Thank you so much for reading ❀️


  6. I very rarely pick up series for exactly this reason! I find they just don’t hold my attention unless there is the PERFECT balance of plot that is actually plot (not filler to make what was clearly one book three books), character development and a romance that, again, has obstacles that are actually obstacles, rather than events to stretch it out for. As. Long. As. Possible. Because then by the time they actually get together I find I don’t really care any more…

    I think whether endings of epic series like this are inherently disappointing is an interesting question. Like, I LOVED The Raven Cycle, but even the last book of that fell a little flat for me. I think you might have a point there actually… maybe it’s impossible for a writer to meet the expectations that they’ve created. Maybe in the tying up of the thing it is impossible to totally avoid disappointment because ending things conclusively is the opposite of what real life is so it falls kind of flat for us. Hmm.. you got me thinking to say the least!

    If I’m going to be super cynical I think a lot of it is just marketing related. A lot of trilogies should be duologies at most… but then the publishers don’t make all the monies. I think that’s part of what was so great about Six of Crows. She had a story to tell and she got it done without an entire book of filler.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ugh I know! I completely agree with you and although I can sympathise with authors and how most of them have a tight schedule plus publishers’ pressure on them to take a certain path, it annoys me way too much not to talk about it.
      I think it is impossible to please every single reader but I in particular have been disappointed by soooo many series I’ve lost count. I honestly don’t know what it is, and whether it’s me or not, but it certainly makes you wonder.
      Oh I have no doubt. At the end of the day it’s all a business and who makes the most profit. I’m sure authors love writing and all that, but very few have a real say on what eventually comes out, unless they’re already super successful and can basically call the shots.
      I haven’t read that one yet but coming from Bardugo, I wouldn’t have expected any less! I’m super nervous to try her new Nikolai book as I’ve heard tons of bloggers saying it wasn’t all that… Which makes me believe this one in particular was created purely to keep milking the Grisha universe and that’s pretty disappointing in itself. But we’ll see, maybe I’ll have to eat my words!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Okay so I recently finished King of Scars and I totally disagree! I loved it, and the exploration of Zoya’s character in particular was such a highlight. Haha – I stand by everything I said but for me Leigh Bardugo’s books are the exception. I think the way she does jump around perspectives keeps things fresh, because you’re forever encountering things from a new pair of eyes.

        But yeah, in general, series feel more like an exercise in promotion than story.


        1. OMG I’m so happy to hear it!! Zoya was always a really interesting character and one that definitely should have been explored more, so I’m glad Bardugo did that with this one.
          Hahaha I suppose she is the exception to the rule – bless her ❀ I either love multiple perspective or hate them with a passion… There's no in-between! I guess it really depends on the story and the writer.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Great review! I often feel the same way. I’ve noticed that a quite a few books I’ve read recently should have stopped with the first, or even second one. But even writing a second book is too much a lot of times for me.

    Ash @ JennRenee Read

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Ash! πŸ™‚
      Aw bummer, I can totally relate… I think the publishing pressure is to blame, as some authors had no plans to continue the story in the first place. It makes sense that rushing and coming up with more material last minute will take a toll on the overall quality. We’d think it’d be obvious enough!


  8. Thats a shame third books so often let you down! I have often been let down by the final books of trilogies too – but there are also some that blew me away with their endings so I’d hesitate to say it happens to me all the time. I think for me if the third book is disappointing I often tend to feel the decline in the second book already… but it’s hard to say, because sometimes a lagging second book can be followed by a great third one.

    It’s really interesting what you said about this ticking all the writing boxes and having lots of action, but feeling emotionally empty. I’ve encountered that in several books and it’s often really hard to pinpoint what it was that made the characters and story fail to connect with me. To be honest I actually started reading Rebel of the Sands a year or so ago and decided to give up a short ways in for partly that reason – I didn’t care enough about the characters, and there wasn’t anything intriguing enough about the setting/premise to hold my interest. It didn’t grab me for some reason – I guess sometimes that just happens. It must have been extra frustrating for you though if you enjoyed the previous books and suddenly felt that in the third book!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, that’s certainly a good thing! πŸ™‚ I have to say some did blow me away but not as many as those that have disappointed me… Or maybe they’re in equal amount…. Dunno at this point xD
      Completely agree. With this one in particular, the second book really didn’t make me super excited for the third, which may or may not have played a part in the end. All I know is that this trilogy went downhill for me, again xD
      Yeah, it doesn’t happen too often but when it does I just feel so annoyed… Like, the book is hypothetically amazing, has everything it takes to win me over, and then completely fails to do it on so many levels.
      I felt the same way about Rebel of the Sands, to be honest, and mentioned it in my review at the time. However, everything else was pretty much on point and I didn’t much mind it back then. I was hoping I just needed time to grow attached to the characters, which a second book would provide. I enjoyed the aventure and slowburn romance so much, it made me super pumped for the sequels. It was only when I started book two that I realised I had either idealized the first one, it failed to grasp my attention now or too much time had gone by in between them to make me lose interest. Possibly all three xD
      To be fair, I would have DNF’d this one at the very start had it not been an ARC. Ended up powering through for a whole year before finally finishing it and ending up hating it all the same ^^’ But at least it’s out of the way now! *phew*

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes I totally get that annoyance! It’s that “I should like this, why don’t I like this??” feeling. That’s interesting you already felt a bit that way about the first one, but liked enough elements to hope for improvement in the second – I’ve done that with a couple of books too so can understand why, especially if you got an ARC. Occasionally I think it does pay off and the second book is better… but unfortunately not always! Taking a break in between probably makes a difference too if you lose the initial interest. And yeah I think not being excited in the second book rarely bodes well for the third. I used to buy several books in a series at once but now I only buy one at a time, so it’s easier to jump ship if things go downhill πŸ™‚
        Anyway, good you’re done now – I hope your next read is a more enjoyable one!


  9. Oh man! I have only read the first book in the series. It was pretty enjoyable, if I recall. I have read mixed reviews for the second book, so I have been a little hesitant finishing the series. It sounds like this last book will frustrate me as well. When a series doesn’t end properly it just feels so empty. I think that I will skip the other books in the series after reading your thoughts. I hope that you find your next read to be more enjoyable. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah the first book is truly awesome! I’m glad you felt that way too πŸ™‚ However, it suffered from the same detachment as this one when it came to caring for the characters.
      I think you should definitely pick up the second book just in case you enjoy it too… But if you don’t, then don’t bother continuing because in my personal opinion, it doesn’t get any better – only worse!
      Thanks so much ❀ So far, so good!


    1. I know, I was heartbroken T_T I wanted it to work so much! But it just wasn’t meant to be.
      It’s an interesting take on Arabian Nights and similar tales, but I’m sure there are better ones out there. I find it super cool that there are so many to choose from, too! I definitely want to get into something like it soon πŸ™‚
      Thank you, Kaleena, so far so good ❀


  10. That’s a shame. I’ve had so many disappointments with final books in trilogies. Divergent and Hunger Games are two obvious ones for me. But there are some that are great. Sarah Maas certainly knows how to end with a bang. Anyhow, sorry to hear it about this series. I’ve always wanted to read this one – now, not so sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I never bothered past the first book of Divergent, but I know what happens in the final one and it actually made me appreciate it more and want to read it? It’s weird, I know hahaha
      Hunger Games… Man, don’t even get me started on that one *cries* That was the worst ending ever in a trilogy for me and I’m still super sore about it. Not only because of Gale’s atrocious treatment but just in general. I can’t stand the way it ended and I feel personally disrespected by it xD
      I haven’t finished Maas’s ToG series, so can’t comment on it yet (though I pretty much grew annoyed with it after HoF), but I have high hopes for ACOTAR. It sounds heaps better, and the fandom seems to adore it to bits so I’m excited πŸ™‚
      I think you should still give it a go! Who know, it might do it for you πŸ™‚ I loved the first book, second one was all right I guess, third one not so much. But if you’re looking for something with a similar plot (djinnies/genies), I’ve heard great things about A Forbidden Wish, and of course The Wrath and the Dawn.


  11. Ah that’s a shame, Sophie! I’m so sorry this one didn’t live up to expectations, or rather, failed to raise up your opinion of the series following the second book. I have yet to read Rebel of the Sands (even though I bought a copy of the book last year), but I was really excited to get started on it. Now I’m not so sure LOL.

    That’s the thing isn’t it? I’ve run into so many series that ended on such a sour note. Like, authors, y’all need to work on them endings, man. My most recent WTH ending for a series/trilogy was ACOWAR. Oh no, actually, I was a little disappointed with the ending to the Dark Artifices trilogy. Not everything worked for me there… I dunno. Endings are the hardest bit, so I understand why some authors can’t seem to get it just right πŸ™‚ It’s still frustrating though LOL


    1. Rebel of the Sands was awesome! I really liked it. But the second book was not as great and the third one, as you could tell, was even worse LOL
      I get that it’s hard to wrap up a series in a mind-blowing way but goddamn it xD I have yet to find out one that has a semi-great ending…
      Oh noooo I really want to try ACOTAR!! I heard so many great things… But I’ll thread carefully now hahaha
      I haven’t read the others nor plan to, but it sucks that they disappointed you 😦 I keep seeing everyone raving about them so I was adamant to keep away for as long as possible hahaha

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Have you read the Shades of Magic series? I thought the ending was actually pretty spot on! And please try the ACOTAR trilogy. It’s got so many things going for it, but yeah, the ending is…eh.
        The Dark Artifices was so good, but I thought the ending was sorta anticlimactic. Not bad, just anticlimactic. So, I still definitely recommend them and the rest of the Shadowhunter books, which I’m rereading right now. Still love ’em πŸ’•


        1. I’m stuck on book two! xD I don’t know what it is but I just stopped reading and never reached for it again… Maybe one day (the perpetual need to finish series might make me!)
          I can understand that. Endings are definitely tricky! And I’m pretty sure I’ll try Shadowhunters one day, just not sure when πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Admittedly, book two is fairly slow. The ending is good though. And the third book is amazing! I hope you manage to finish the series some day πŸ˜€

            Well, lemme know when/if ya do! I wanna hear all about your first experience with the Shadowhunter world πŸ˜‰


  12. I had similar feelings. I liked the book but not as much as the other ones, and I do think some of the characterization was lacking. Also the thing they were building up to the whole time was over with so quickly.


  13. I realllly want to read this trilogy (the premise sounds right up my alley), but I’ve similarly heard that it goes downhill. It’s honestly the worst feeling when there’s so much potential at the start and you invest yourself in the characters, but then the execution falls apart. That’s why I generally don’t read series, and I deem only one or two series to have completely satisfied me. (Maybe I’m just picky, but strong finales seem pretty rare nowadays) 😭


    1. Oh I wish I had that willpower…. But unfortunately I mostly read series nowadays and yeah, I end up disappointed more often than not 😦
      I don’t think you are picky, I feel the same way! Or maybe I’m just growing out of certain series… Either way, I’m still waiting to get blown away by a finale!

      Liked by 1 person

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