Author: Morgan Rhodes
Publication Date: December 11, 2012
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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 realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword....
Here's the thing: epic fantasy kind of scares me. Falling Kingdoms has been on my TBR list for quite awhile, but I feel like I can only commit to one massive series at a time and The Wheel of Time has been occupying me for literally ever. But I finally decided to give this one a try when I found the audiobook. In fact, I tried it twice. The first time I couldn't get into the narrator's voice. The second time I couldn't understand why that was because he was amazing!
Falling Kingdoms is a story of several people and is split into multiple points of view. Usually I hate this, but it really worked here! Cleo is a princess who is in fear of losing her sister and sets off on a mission to save her life, against everyone's wishes. Lucia is a princess of a different kingdom who makes shocking discoveries about herself at every turn. Jonas lives in a country in the middle of two kingdoms and on the verge of destruction and finds himself in over his head when he tries to stop it. And then there's Magnus... Magnus, poor guy, just can't catch a break. He wants to please his father, he wants his sister to love him, and he makes some pretty big mistakes along the way that interfere with those wants. I love him.
Each of these characters have their strengths and weaknesses, but I'm really pleasantly surprised to come out of this reading experience not hating a single one of them! Considering two of them are princesses and there are multiple POVs in this book, I really expected to dislike at least some of them. Instead, I got strong, yet flawed characters with depth that you don't always find in YA. But as I've kind of implied, Magnus was my favorite of them all. I love a good tortured character and he fits the bill! There were also plenty of secondary characters that really made the story come to life.
The world building was one of the areas of this book that I'm conflicted about. While I really enjoyed the world and the mythology and I did feel like Morgan Rhodes did an incredible job of transporting me to Mytica, there were some serious issues. Primarily that characters seemed to jump from country to country in a matter of hours. I was continuously flipping back to the map trying to figure out how big the countries were. I've concluded that they must be a few miles across. Otherwise, I cannot figure out how everyone travels so fast. All of that to say I wish there had been a better sense of distance established.
While I ultimately did enjoy Falling Kingdoms, I can definitely say that this book dragged a little. There were times I wondered where it was going and if would ever get to the point. There were exciting parts every now and then, but it was mostly pretty slow. Since I've already read book two though, I can assure you it picks up! That's often the way with epic fantasy. Book one drags while it sets up the rest of the series, but it's usually worth it in the long run. Based on the hype for the rest of the series, I'm hoping it is!
Falling Kingdoms is a solid, if slow, first installment in this fantasy series. I was bored at times and I did have some issues understanding the (tiny) world, but I fell in love with the characters and was genuinely interested in their individual stories. Everyone told me that the first book might be just okay but that the rest of the series was incredible and that has been my limited experience. I definitely recommend this to fans of YA and adult fantasy alike!