Review: Falling Kingdoms

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....

My Review

Author: Morgan Rhodes
Pages: 412
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: December 11 2012
Source: Library

Falling Kingdoms lacked the depth requisite of truly great fantasy.

It appeared to me as if the story relied on a few too many cliches, and failed at creating something new. The motivations behind the characters actions were bizarre, and it was tough to know which of the characters I would root for because every single one of them made the sort of mistakes that are hard to get past.

Magnus, the Prince, could have possibly been sympathetic as a child born to an abusive father and an unloving mother, in love with his sister. He is probably the character that will most swing to the side of villain, and the possibility of Magnus redeeming himself, or choosing to be as vicious as his father was a major part of his storyline. Except that Magnus disgusted me from the start when he took advantage of servant women so that they could spy for him. In general, he used women, and I could have considered this to be part of his character, except that it played into the whole "Everyone loves a bad boy!" trope wherein all these female characters seemed to have fallen in love with him, and there's apparently many of them. One is mentioned by name, and her characterization was so weak, that it really felt like Magnus is an extremely gross predator. It's tough to feel too much sympathy to a man like that, regardless of circumstances.

Cleo was someone constantly referred to as fierce. She did prove that later on, but this was repeated so often, with one of the characters actually thinking of her as some sort of vicious snake or something, that I felt more irritated that I had heard about Cleo being fierce from other characters rather than seen it from herself. I mean, the very first time we meet Cleo, she is a bystander to something terrible. Then, she is forced into marriage. The only points where one sees Cleo's fierceness is when she's whining to her sister, who seems somewhat saintly, and her father, both people that love her. Of course, she does show a little more "fierceness" with a particular choice later on, but I'm still trying to get over just how terrible of a choice that was.

Jonas is a rebel that is understandably distressed because his kingdom is treated like shit by the other two, Limeros and Auranos, and he also witnessed his brother's death at the hands of an arrogant Auranian that was trying to take advantage of his father. So okay, I understand, Jonas is in a bad place. I wish this would have been further explored-- Jonas' feelings-- because what eventually occurs is no shock and I can't imagine why Jonas, an otherwise reasonable character, would have missed it. But hey, he's the least annoying of the bunch, except again there is a male character supposedly irresistible to other females that he doesn't really care about. Do these guys feel no sympathy about playing with and using people like that?

Finally, there is Lucia, who could quite possibly be the most disappointing character of them all. Lucia is probably brainwashed, and she is Magnus' sister. She has lots of power, although we barely explore it. What is ridiculous about Lucia is that she appears so saintly and wonderful except then she does something with so little thought just for the people she loves, and I really don't know how people go into a decision as big as hers so easily. Especially when she is potentially harming innocent people.

I'm sorry for the long write-ups about all the main characters, but all of these things were abundantly clear to me while reading and they affected my enjoyment of the story. I think you'll notice a few times that what I probably truly wanted was for Rhodes to further explore these characters and this world so that what the characters are doing and who they are makes more sense. As it is, the lack of detail almost feels like Rhodes didn't put in thought to the story.

Even the world building is really simple. There seem to be only three countries, and a common mythology shared by all of them. There is a lack of real details that I need to enjoy a story because otherwise, the story does not feel real to me. Falling Kingdoms suffered from that.

Now, after my long diatribe on the problems with Falling Kingdoms, there are two things to note: the ratings on Goodreads for the first book in the series are about 3.85, and the next jumps up to like 4.2 This is a significant increase and some of the problems I had with Falling Kingdoms are eerily similar to those in Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. We all know how that turned out. So, there is a real hope that the sequels are much better and that Rhodes has adjusted her writing a little bit.

The other thing is that despite all the issues I had with the characters, the world, and the writing, something pushed me to finish Falling Kingdoms. It was still a surprisingly entertaining read, especially the end. In fact, I think the ending of the story sets the story into a really interesting path and I do want to know what happens next. I like the ending and how bloodthirsty Rhodes was. The dynamic of her next book could be really awesome, and Goodreads says it is. That's enough to get me to consider continuing with the series, despite the flaws I felt were in the first.

What do you think? Should I continue? 



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