In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now ...

BOOK REVIEW: FALLING KINGDOMS BY MORGAN RHODES

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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 realise that the heart can be more lethal than the sword...



Well, thanks a lot, ending. Now I have to pick up book 2 immediately.

This book was a process. It goes something like this:
1. Ignorance of the book's concept
2. A promise of greatness by others
3. Initial disillusionment
4. Expectation management
5. Whoa, everyone's dying, this is unexpected
6. (And interesting)
7. Damn you, ending, for your abundance of death and awesomeness!


First and foremost, to whom it may concern, Falling Kingdoms is a character-driven series. This is said of a lot of books these days, but it is the least common when it is done in a fantasy book. In fantasies, we expect (a) the plot, and (b) the world to shape the events to come in at least as prominent a way as the characters themselves do. At least these are my expectations more often than not. Having said that, Falling Kingdoms is hailed as having a charming morally dubious anti-hero by the name of Magnus, and this was the only reason I picked it up. So this character prominence was mostly expected. (Magnus, needless to say, became my favorite. Though I can't be sure if this is due to his charm or to other characters being so profoundly unlikable.)

Which brings me to my second point. In this character-driven series with multiple POVs, the characters aren't easy to like. Split between three kingdoms and four perspectives, Falling Kingdoms alternates between the stories of:
o      Cleo, a princess in the kingdom of Auranos, second in line for the throne
o      Jonas, a peasant in the land of Paelsia who seeks revenge for his brother's murder
o      Magnus, the troubled heir to the Limerian throne
o    Lucia, Magnus's sister and the Chosen One (because every story needs a Chosen One)

Despite the hundreds of miles separating them and despite their vastly different lives, Cleo, Jonas, Magnus and Lucia find their lives converging and intermingling at the onset of a war between the kingdoms and civil unrest throughout. And despite four distinct points of view and many, many other highly relevant characters, this first book was largely The Cleo Show. It was Cleo who seemed to propel the story forward, and it was Cleo who set it back at times. Cleo is at the same time beloved by everyone (literally - every single male who comes into contact with her falls in love) and infuriatingly incapable of making a good decision to save her life. By contrast, Lucia hardly makes a decision at all, rendering her a bit bland, but the ones she does make are at the very least rational and reasonable. Jonas, the Master of Revenge, oscillates between I LOVE CLEO, THAT GODDESS OF LOVELY and I HATE CLEO, THAT POISONOUS VIPER. And Magnus... ah, Magnus. Magnus treads the line of morality throughout and looks damn good doing it. (I have an anti-hero problem. I know.)

And while book 1 was largely a set-up, and a herald of things to come, the world of Falling Kingdoms is a captivating one. It truly seems like the sort of fantasy series where all was meticulously researched and planned beforehand - from each kingdom's politics and religion to their history and (possibly) their future. If there's one thing to be said about this series, it's that Morgan Rhodes isn't afraid to turn it on its head. Don't get too attached to the kingdoms as they are. Don't get attached to your preconceived notions of right and wrong. And most of all - don't get too attached to the characters. 

Were some of these events shocking? To an extent. Were they unexpected? Not really, no. If there's anything fantasy can pride itself on, it's that it has taught us to expect it all a long time ago. But is it engaging enough to rope you in (especially if you get attached to Magnus one of the characters)? Absolutely.






I am quite late to this Falling Kingdoms party, I know. I wrote about it just last week in our Top 10 post, and with hindsight being 20/20, I do wish I'd have started on it sooner. But the thing about books is that it can never be too late to start. So whether you're considering picking it up, or whether you're a longtime fan, leave us a comment below and share your thoughts with us. We'd love to hear from you. We're suckers for comments.








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2 comments:

  1. I literally JUST reserved this in the library. TALK ABOUT GOOD TIMING FOR THIS REVIEW. XD I didn't really know what it was about but now I am entirely sure I'm going to love Magnus. XD I'm a biiiit worried about all the POVs? I like multiple POVs but only if every storyline is as good as the others. But omg character driven?! I'm so excited for this!!

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    1. Cait, your reviews have given me LIFE lately (Blood Red Road! The Demon King!), given my fantasy kick and given my anticipation of many a hangover in that department (I've yet to read Six of Crows, and this Falling Kingdoms binge has been no walk in the park, either). Talk about YOUR good timing!

      Given how much you LOVED the aforementioned two, I'm hesitant to suggest this, even though it's two days later and I've just finished book 3 and effectively marathoned all the books currently out, and thoroughly enjoyed it all. I grew attached. I grew to appreciate Morgan Rhodes's style. But the changing POVs CAN be a chore, and I'll be the first to admit it. Some of them feel redundant and/or slow at times. But I'm the sort of person where one truly intriguing aspect (*cough* troubled anti-hero *cough*) can rope me in for the long haul, so I've stuck around, and it became amazing. Will it be as amazing for you after such a fabulous couple of books? Time will tell.

      I'm following/stalking your blog. (Your loyal servant in your strides toward world domination, as always.) So I'll keep an eye out for your thoughts on this.

      - Lexie

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