Review: Falling Kindoms (Falling Kingdoms #1) by Morgan Rhodes

Goodreads summary:
The New York Times bestseller

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?

What I thought:
This one will be hard for me to not give spoilers, so if I seem a little vague in places, I'm trying not to give too much away in case you read it.

I really, really wanted to like this book. The synopsis sounded so good and the cover is amazing! It made me think there would be characters that were magical, but also trained as a soldier or an assassin (at least a couple of the main characters anyway). Sort of like Graceling Realm series by Kristin Cashore, the Bridei Chronicles series by Juliet Marillier, the Twelve Houses by Sharon Shinn, or the Crown and Court series by Sherwood Smith. (FYI: The former three I wouldn't consider clean per se, but the last I would.) It always throws me a little when my expectations are different from the actual book and I did have high expectations as well. Like those series, I thought this would be a group of individuals thrown together by circumstance who each posses some good inner quality or skill. A group I could really get behind and feel for and cheer on as their journey progressed. Well, one is a soldier and one does possess magic. They're not really a group at this point. I think it would have still been okay if I would have been able to connect or really like at least one main character. Unfortunately, I didn't.

There are three different kingdoms involved in the story: Auranos, Paelsia, and Limeros. The two latter kingdoms' resources are drying up, their people are beginning to suffer, and they have fairly selfish kings. The former kingdom, Auranos is still fairly prosperous and has a decent king. We are introduced to and follow several characters, some from each kingdom. Each main character has their own journey and choices to make. This means there are a lot of point of views (POV's). We change the country and POV almost every chapter. This isn't necessarily bad. I was able to follow what was happening, but I would just start getting into a character or the story and then the POV would switch to a completely different group of characters. For me though, this made it really difficult to connect with the characters and disrupted the flow of the story quite a bit.

The characters are all vastly different and I was perfectly fine with that as that is nothing unusual. The problem was that I would try to like a character or at least figure them out and then they would do something I didn't like or act in a way I thought wasn't consistent or realistic. Here are some examples: Cleo (the younger princess of Auranos) says she loves her ailing sister and would do anything for her, that she can be trusted as a responsible 16-year-old, but then throws a fit because she wants her sister to tell her something. Theon (Cleo's bodyguard) is this very well-trained swordsman, but doesn't hear or is unaware of others approaching. He also stands with Cleo in the middle of the road when he knows they could still be in danger. Emilia (heir to the Auranos throne and Cleo's older sister) tells Cleo that the pain will fade and she must be strong, but she doesn't feel that way or strive for that herself. Magnus (prince and heir to the Limeros throne) hates and distrusts his father, but then follows and obeys him easily and seems fine with that. Lucia (Limeros princess and Magnus' sister) blindly agrees with everything. She also has no real relationship with her parents and fears for her life from her father. However, when King Gaius is actually happy with events, she is also fine with them and it appears as if nothing really happened. In other words, no one seems to be consistent, have any good, strong character traits, or are true to themselves. Jonas (a wine seller's son from Paelsia whose brother was murdered by Cleo's intended) seems to me to be the only main character that was most genuine and I didn't start to like him until near the end.

I liked the writing style, although some conversations felt stilted to me. I felt the descriptions of the land and kingdoms were well done. I also felt the king's characters were well done and they were consistent.

Overall, I would say it was just not for me. I just couldn't get into it or really care what happened. If you'd like to read a more positive review, you can read Jen's from YA Romantics. I normally wouldn't post a review for a book I don't recommend in some way on here, but I felt it might help some of you who have this on your tbr shelves and some of you, like Jen, may actually enjoy this. Wouldn't the world be boring if we all thought the exact same? ;)

Content: Some language and innuendo.
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication date: December 11, 2012 by Razorbill
Source: Library

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  1. Aw, thanks for linking to my review. I'm not as much of a fantasy reader as you are, so I'd say that maybe this is fantasy for people who don't read much fantasy??

    1. Could be. :) Falling Kingdoms did feel that it was setting the stage for what is to come. I think some of my feelings about the book also had to do with the fact that I read Shadow and Bone shortly before this one, which I loved and is also fantasy. The characters and plot were very well fleshed out in that one, which I felt was lacking in Falling Kingdoms.

  2. It sounds like its to complicated and that the characters arent ones that you really want to invest in. I like fantasy reads but I will probably have to pass on this one.


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