Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
Series: Falling Kingdoms #1
Genre: YA, fantasy
Published on December 11, 2012
Published by Razorbill
Read From: 4.7.13 - 4.10.13
In the three kingdoms of Mytica, the magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.
As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed. . . .and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.
Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Yes! It's what caught my attention in the first place. There's a character on the front, but you can't see his face, and the dagger is just awesome. Love the title font, too.
Characters: There are a ton of characters, so let's take them one at a time. Cleo: younger princess of Auranos. At first, I thought that maybe she would be a spoilt brat, and I was prepared to dislike her. But she quickly established herself as a sympathetic character, who is genuinely sorry for her mistakes, and while she doesn't always make decisions before thinking things through, her actions are done with the best intentions. She's a loyal sister, blames herself for a lot of things that actually aren't her fault, and tries to do her best. She's immature, but she grows as the story goes on, and I think that by the end of the series, she'll be a very mature young woman. Jonas: the son of a peasant grape farmer in poverty-stricken Paelsia. I approved of Jonas' strong family loyalty and his overwhelming hatred for Cleo and (especially) Aron was understandable. But his personality was so black-and-white that I had a difficult time really liking him. He's one of those characters that I don't have a strong emotional attachment to, but I understand his purpose for the story, and I appreciate him for that reason. Magnus: crown prince of Limeros. Magnus is, perhaps, the most complicated character - and also the most difficult for me to sort out my feelings. Unlike a lot of Readers, I liked Magnus right off, and even after all he did, I still like him. He's a young man who has lived a very hard life, under his father's cruel thumb, and really is deep down a very good person, but needs someone to help him see who he could be. Magnus, unfortunately, gives in to his hurt feelings and anger and begins to go down the path of his father, King Gaius, but I know he'll be redeemed by the end of the series, and he is very obviously not all bad. And that brings me to Lucia: Magnus' adopted sister. Poor girl is a victim of circumstance, and yet she has the potential of becoming a very strong character. Despite what Magnus is becoming, Lucia still has faith in him, and that just makes me love her all the more, because like her, I too have faith in him as well.
The Romance: There isn't much, but the romance that is in it is complicated. First, there's Cleo's fiance Aron, who is the sort of drunken jerk that is an absolute blast to hate. I can't wait to see him get what he deserves. There's Theon, Cleo's bodyguard, who I did like, but he's not in the story much, so I didn't become very emotional invested in his and Cleo's romance. It's so sudden and so irrelevant that I honestly kind of have to wonder the purpose to it. And then there's Nicolo - Cleo's best friend who is sweet on her. I love Nicolo - he's funny and a great guy, and I hope that he and Cleo don't become too emotional involved at any point, because I don't want Nicolo's character ruined by jealousy. And finally, there's Magnus' love interest. This is the complicated one. Magnus loves his sister Lucia. As the back of the book states, Lucia is actually not Magnus' sister by blood, but only by adoption, so Magnus' infatuation isn't as creepy as it could be. But, Magnus doesn't know that Lucia isn't his sister, so as far as he is concerned, it's incest. It's the one aspect of Magnus that made me cringe, but I'll give Magnus credit: he does know that he shouldn't be in love with his sister, and he keeps his feelings to himself.
Plot: When Cleo and Aron visit neighboring Paelsia to purchase Paelsia's finest wine, Aron insights a fight between himself and Jonas' older brother, Tomas. When Aron kills Tomas, Jonas swears revenge, and Paelsia is thrown into a state of unrest when King Colvin of Auranos does nothing to punish Aron, but paints him a hero instead. Furious, the chieftain of Paelsia joins forces with its other neighbor, Limeros, whose king has been looking for a reason to invade Auranos, where it is rumored the fabled Kindred - four magical crystals said to promise untold power to any who possess them - are hidden. But King Gaius of Limeros is greedy, and with a powerful "secret weapon" in his possession, Paelsia may just become this viper's next target after Auranos has been conquered. Cleo, Jonas, Magnus, and Lucia's different storylines begin far apart, and then slowly interweave together as the story progresses in unexpected and cunning ways, making for a very engaging story filled with politics and battles and an amazing amount of character growth. It's all balanced perfectly; not too much politics, no long, dragged-out battles, and the characters still have plenty of areas in which to grow as the series progresses.
Believability: Not applicable.
Writing Style: The dialogue at times is too modern for a medieval-based fantasy world; it jerks the Reader out of the atmosphere the world is supposed to have. But it's not too often, and the writing in general is surprisingly good. Not amazingly good, but definitely better than average.
Content: Trysts are mentioned and suggested, but never in detail, and always in a very matter-of-fact "so-and-so spent time with so-and-so last night" way. It's done in such a straightforward manner that it keeps the sexual undertone from feeling constant. The violence at times is a little meaty, but never horribly graphic.
Conclusion: A battle is, naturally, a great way to bring about a story's climax, and the Author wraps everyone's storylines up well, while setting things up for the next book. It doesn't end on a killer of a cliffhanger, but I'm definitely interested to see what happens next. Falling Kingdoms surprised me in how much I loved all of the characters, and the world of Mytica. I'm not really a high fantasy Reader, but I really, really liked this one; I was hooked as soon as I began reading it.
Recommended Audience: Guy-and-girl read, seventeen-and-up, fantasy fans.
Others in This Trilogy: