by Morgan Rhodes
Series: Falling Kingdoms #1
Published on December 11, 2012 by Razorbill
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
In the three kingdoms of Mytica, 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.
The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?
It's the eve of war.... Choose your side.
Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct.
Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.
Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.
Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword....
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Three kingdoms and all it takes is one drunk to start an all-out war.
This multi-narrator novel left me breathless from start to finish. Rhodes introduces you to a continent relatively at peace until a princess decides to go on an adventure and one of her companions kills a boy. This boy’s brother wants revenge. Meanwhile, to the north, the great and terrible king is feeling greedy, as seen through the eyes of his children, the prince and princess. Four characters and a lot of trouble on the horizon.
What I liked about this book wasn’t the fact that it was a fantasy, but that the characters jumped off the page. I never supported one character over another, but nor did I hate any of them. They acted as people, making good (and bad) choices, then living with the consequences.
Cleo, the golden princess from the south, starts this story with her foolish nature and thoughtless decisions. I really wasn’t a fan of her until much later in the book as she came off exactly as was intended to — a spoiled brat. Her drunkard of a companion Lord Aron, however, was probably one of the few characters I truly disliked, but he doesn’t get a chance to narrate so I’ll let it go.
During her time in her neighboring country to the north, Cleo meets the family of Jonas, a family of winemakers. In an unfortunate turn of events, Jonas is left without a sibling and a strong urge for revenge. I understood his actions, though a tad extreme, and even pitied him.
To the far north, two siblings are dealing with parts of themselves they aren’t ready to face yet. Magnus sees more than just a sister when he looks at Lucia, something he has to keep hidden, and his father wants a mirror image of himself in his son. Of all the characters, I think he was my favorite because he truly represented the idea of pleasing your parents and the struggles that come along with it, which is something I think a lot of people of all ages deal with. Lucia, on the other hand, is combating with something quite different as she comes into powers outlawed in her kingdom. While I thought she would hold my attention the best, what with being a blossoming sorceress and all, I found her character somewhat lacking but still realistic (as if she didn’t have much of a personality).
Now I mentioned that I liked the characters more than the genre this was written in. Falling Kingdoms is a washed out fantasy at best. When I think of fantasy, I think of intricate world-building, a real attention to detail, and more plot-driven stories than character-driven. And I don’t think it’s because it’s a young adult fantasy because I’ve read some amazing books in the genre such as Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas and The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas. In comparison, I didn’t have enough of the world to really consider this a fantasy mentally. Sure, it had a little magic in an imaginary world, but I didn’t get the vibe of the genre I was seeking.
That aside, Falling Kingdoms was truly a captivating read and one I would recommend to anyone searching for something with realistic characters and a hint of adventure. I have a feeling the next books will really set this world aflame with life. Something to look forward to.