Title: Falling Kingdoms
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Series: Book #1 in the Falling Kingdoms series
Publisher: Razorbill – an imprint of Penguin
Publication Date: December 11, 2012
Genres: Young Adult – Fantasy
Format: Purchased Paperback
“Falling Kingdoms” by Morgan Rhodes is a YA fantasy series that follows four main characters – Cleo, Magnus, Lucia, and Jonas – in three different countries – Auranos, Limeros, and Paelsia – where all of their fates intertwine. In a world where magic has been lost and tense feelings abound, we follow each of the four main characters as they each go through their own trials.
As it says on Goodreads:
“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…”
Now, each of these characters had their own defining personality, whether it was formed around the events that happened to them or if it was instilled in them. Personally, I felt a connection to each of the four main characters and thought each was a defining voice for their parts in the book.
Cleo was strong willed, stubborn, and a complete princess. She had the mindset of “I get what I want, when I want.” She was very promising as a young princess, but I think her “flaw” or the character trait that made her vulnerable and more human was her love and compassion for her elder sister, Emelia, who was slowly dying of a broken heart. Cleo’s compassion for others can be seen as a weakness to many, but I think it’ll be a great advantage for her later on as things begin to escalate more throughout the series.
Jonas wasn’t really known that well before he really jumped into the story itself. I imagine that before he was just as stubborn and idealistic as any seventeen year old would be, but once his brother was murdered in front of him by Aron, the guy who was with Cleo, he changed to being nothing but obsessed with killing Cleo and taking vengeance for his fallen brother. Though this could be annoying at times (yes, we get it, you want her dead even though she didn’t kill him and just stood by and did nothing while your brother died), I could see where it was his flaw, but also his strength. He has a mind for figuring things out, calculating out the details before making a decision – rash or otherwise. Though I found him to be the most annoying character in a way, I really grew to like him in the end.
Magnus was very cold and distant throughout the novel, putting on a mask to hide his true feelings. I guess when you’re the son of the King of Blood that’s bound to happen. His real flaw was his love – romantic love – for his sister, Lucia. It was his ultimate downfall in this book because when he finds out the truth and acts on it, the results destroy him and he becomes truly cold and heartless toward the end. I thought he was the most troubled out of all of the characters, but he was still very likable. He was just trying to survive and trying to figure out his own mind and his own feelings throughout most of the book. And it’s true when they say, “like father, like son.”
Lucia was the most optimistic and happiest person in this book, I swear. She was blissfully unaware of her powers until a point where she was trying to hide them from her brother when she was found out. I found her the most likable and relatable character. She was strong in her own regard and had a mind and heart for adventure, for seeing and knowing more out in the world. When she comes into her power and her father finds out and wants to use it to his own advantage, of course she struggles internally with it. But she would do anything for her brother whom she loves more than anything (not in a romantic way) and if it means saving him, she’d do that for him.
The plot itself seemed kind of generic in some aspects of fantasy novels, but I still did enjoy the fact that the plot pushed the characters to make decisions rather than the characters leading the direction of the plot the whole way through. When Limeros and Paelsia team up to want to take over Auranos, it’s only a matter of time before the true corruption of power comes out. But not only that, there were other plots surrounding the main plot, such as the romantic aspects; the way we learn more about the Watchers and how they have a few of their own chapters; how we learn about the legends behind the goddesses and how they were true; and more. It was a great way to really explore and get to know the world, in my opinion.
The fact that magic doesn’t really exist in the world, but in witches or sorcerers is a good aspect because in many fantasy novels magic is an abundant source that anyone can use. When the book starts off with two witches finding the one girl who had been prophesied for a thousand years to come who would be the first sorceress in that amount of time, it was there that I felt that it was a good move to include it in just that one girl. Though I don’t know if I would have wanted that girl to be raised a peasant rather than royalty…
Even though I had a really hard time reading this back in January, I realize now that it was due to a reading slump; I just wasn’t in the mood to read it. Now that I’ve finished it I’m glad that I did read it. It wasn’t my favorite fantasy novel I’ve read, but it was still good and I’m excited to continue on reading.
I rated this 4/5 stars and recommend it if you’re looking for a fantasy series to get into.