Title: Falling Kingdoms
Author: Morgan Rhodes (Michelle Rowen)
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: Falling Kingdoms (Book 1)
Publication Date: December 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 412 Pages
ISBN-10: 1595145842 (Razorbill/Penguin)
ISBN-13: 978-1595145840 (Razorbill/Penguin)
Reviewed by: Michelle
In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects’ lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:
Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.
Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.
Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.
Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword. . . .
The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?
Quick & Dirty: A high fantasy for young adults, perfect for those who are looking for a daring adventure.
Opening Sentence: She’d never killed before tonight.
Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes is a high fantasy for young adults. Similar to the writing style of George R.R. Martin or even R.A. Salvatore, I was quickly intrigued by the story line and the world that Rhodes created. The cover is gorgeous, promising so much content relayed through imagery and a beautiful font face. I had high expectations for Falling Kingdoms, and Rhodes did not disappoint.
In a land made up of three kingdoms, power and belief over two goddesses fuel the need for control. Peace is no longer a part of their lives and war is upon them. Lies, betrayal, and impending war is up on the horizon. One princess raised in privilege and riches must go on a journey in search of something long forgotten. Another princess discovers unyielding power, and with that discovers the truth. A prince who fights love so forbidden, it haunts him. And a young brother, who is fueled by ugly revenge.
Falling Kingdoms is a lot to get through. The story follows four different story lines introducing many characters to the reader. There are four main characters who the story highlights, each one an integral part of uncovering pieces of the puzzle. It took a little bit of undivided attention to get through the first ten chapters or so. Setting up a story like how Rhodes did must have been difficult for her, but it’s also difficult for the reader. I, for example, am used to single or dual point of view narrations, with a touch of third person here and there. But even with a third person perspective, it usually focuses on one or two characters.
Cleo is a princess from Auranos, the southern kingdom. She is the youngest Auranian princess and is also the one that is a little too headstrong. I didn’t love her instantaneously, but she quickly warmed my heart after a few chapters of getting to know her. Lucia and Magnus are from Limeros, the northern kingdom. They follow a different goddess from Auranos and believe in different things. Magnus is constantly disappointing his father, the king. He loves Lucia dearly, and will do anything to protect her. Jonas is from Palesia, the middle kingdom. His brother was murdered by the hand of a royal. He is fueled by revenge and will stop at nothing to make sure the royals pay for what they did. And lastly, Ioannes is a young watcher. He observes a young princess to see if she has what they prophesied about. He keeps an eye on the mortals from afar.
In the world set in Falling Kingdoms, nothing is beautiful and rich. Rhodes has made it clear that the world is filled with power-hungry kingdoms who will lie, cheat, and betray to gain what they want. But deep within all of that hunger, there are little moments of love and tenderness. It’s these moments that allow me to grasp on and continue reading.
Filled with mythology and cultural references, Falling Kingdoms is built on foundations of two goddesses. I wish Rhodes spoke more about these goddesses and early on. It wasn’t until near the last half of the book where everything started to piece together. Maybe it was on purpose, but I think it could have kept me connected to the story from the start. While the prologue talked about prophecies, it wasn’t enough to satisfy my hunger.
The overall plot was quick, and for me, sometimes too quick. There wasn’t enough time for me to absorb the world, the characters, and the details. I found myself marking pages to reference later on, or going back to see what was said or done. I wished the females were stronger throughout the book. I wanted to see more character growth from them, as much as Magnus and even Jonas.
But I will say that Rhodes’ way of writing fantasy was fun to read. Addictive even. I can’t wait to read Rebel Spring.
“This is what your sister once said.”
His heart gave a sharp twist. “She made a mistake.”
“Perhaps. Do you ever visit her?”
“No. She made her choice. I don’t need to witness the result. I prefer to remember her as she was — young forever. She would be an old woman now, fading away just as the land she loved more than this one fades away with only her precious seeds to keep her company.”
With that, Ioannes laid his head back against the soft, warm grass, closed his eyes, and transformed, returning by air to the cold and unforgiving world of mortals.
Falling Kingdoms Series:
2. Rebel Spring (December 3, 2013)
FTC Advisory: Razorbill/Penguin provided me with a copy of Falling Kingdoms. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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