Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms #1) Featured
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?
An Exciting Beginning to a New Series
This marks the second book I've read of the Breathless Reads collection from PenguinTeen and so far, I have not been disappointed. And now, I'm making it my personal mission to check out the others in the collection. With Origin I had edge-of-my-seat suspense, but with Falling Kingdoms I had conspiracies, action, war... blood.
Falling Kingdoms follows the story of four young people from different kingdoms whose destinies become intertwined during the strain of peace between the lands. We have Cleo, a princess of Auranos; Jonas, a peasant from Paelsia; and Lucia & Magnus from Limeros. At first I was a little overwhelmed with remembering who was who, because besides the main characters, there are also quite a few important secondary characters to keep track of. Thankfully, the plot picks up rather quickly and kept me interested long enough to focus. Since Falling Kingdoms essentially has four storylines built into one and is very character driven, it's probably easier to review by analyzing the book by each character.
I struggled to like Cleo and most of the characters involved in her story arc. Much of the time I generally found her to be incredibly frustrating and immature. She's also spoiled, stubborn and selfish. But she does have a good amount of character growth by the end of the novel. The sad part is that it comes at a really high price for her. I also disliked most of her storyline. The entirety of the events in Falling Kingdoms begins with her friend Aron murdering a Paelsian peasant after trying to cheat the family out of money for wine. Then somewhere along the way there is a bit of insta-love between her and another character that I didn't particularly care for. In fact, I thought that whole love story was poorly executed given the novel's fast pace. However, even given those dislikes, I feel like I will enjoy her character much more in book two.
Jonas is the brother of the murdered peasant and through his thirst for vengeance, a revolution begins. He helps rally his people and forms and alliance with the King of Limeros to siege Auranos. I enjoyed his story arc much more than Cleo's because he is clearly the under dog of the four. But I do feel he received the least amount of page time than the other main characters. However, based on the ending, it looks like he will play a much larger role in the next book.
Lucia and Magnus:
Ah, those two. Let's just call them Luke and Leia for now, minus actually being blood relatives. Or better yet Clary and Jace from The Mortal Instruments series. This was the storyline that really drove this novel since the prologue is about Lucia's past. Their arc had the most plot twists and turns along with shocking revelations. Or perhaps, not so shocking if you have read similar character situations. Magnus hides his feelings from Lucia and with their story I sat on the edge of my seat just waiting for when the secret was bound to come out. All the while, war on Auranos approaches. What's interesting is that even though it's clear (at least, right now) Limeros is the bad guy, they don't seem to be bad characters. But considering how they had large roles in the conquering of Auranos, it'll be interesting to see how their characters, especially Magnus, redeems their selves.
I really think Rhodes applied the right amount of anticipation throughout the novel. I never felt bored and at times I stayed up late into the night reading. And while each main character did seem to incite moments of great frustration, I liked them because they are all so flawed and do a lot of growing. It's one thing to be plagued with an annoying character for the duration of the novel, but to see genuine progress really makes the difference. These characters are young and virtually "play things of the gods" used as pawns for bigger purposes unbeknownst to them. Rhodes pushes her characters to make really difficult decisions, causing them to step up to the plate and face their fates or destinies. I have to commend her for taking their individual arcs and weaving them together so flawlessly as if it were always ment to be that way.
The biggest thing that felt off to me was the pacing. Time passes very swiftly from one PoV change to the next and the reader is just told how much time has passed in the beginning of the chapter. This didn't work too much for me because I didn't necessarily feel or see the change myself. This led to small incidents of confusion like with the above insta-love I mentioned.
Final Verdict: Though despite my small issues, that are just that, small, I really enjoyed Falling Kingdoms. So much so that I found myself thinking about the story long after I finished. It looks like the next book is shaping up to be even better than it's processor and I can't wait! If you are still on the fence, you could try checking out a sample of the first few chapters on the Breathless Reads Facebook page. But those few, short chapters doesn't even come close to doing the book justice.
Looks Promising; Falls Short
The cover of this book drew me in, and the fact that it is a YA high-fantasy ignited my curiosity. I found the plot line to be interesting and keep me reading, and I think I will read the sequels. But what really gets people attached to a book? The characters. And I didn't end up loving any of the characters--though I did end up liking one of the four who are featured--and that, only by the very end of the book.
The book follows three kingdoms, and as I said, four main characters (plus one if you include the two or three very short chapters from the point of view of a "Watcher," which is a being that is connected to the main world but not fully part of it). Magnus and Lucia, who is his sister, are the royal offspring in the cold kingdom of Limeros; Cleo, the younger of two princesses in Auranos, a rich and prosperous nation; and Jonas, younger brother of a peasant who is carelessly murdered by one of Cleo's friends early on and seeks vengeance for his family and his people of the land of Paelsia. The events surrounding these four characters are what make Falling Kingdoms a worthy read at points. Towards the end of the book, I found myself unable to stop reading because I NEEDED to know what happened. This story has promise, and hopefully the characters will really carry the storyline along in books to come, rather than the other way around. There are ugly, terrible villains that need to (and oh, do you want them to) die NOW, and quite lovable characters that you want to preserve (although some of them are killed off in the course of the book--darn it!).
At first, I found myself really liking Magnus, despite his forbidden love for his sister, Lucia. I knew that she most likely was not his real sister, which wouldn't do much for his love interest, but would at least eventually ease his mind when the secret came out. But over time, as I viewed him from Lucia's perspective and saw more of his actual behavior, I ended up liking him less and less. He despises his father, but then chooses to follow in his footsteps. I appreciate the human battle within, between good and evil, but when his character chose to dive into the cesspool of bloodlust his father adores, I lost my interest. There were moments when his inner torment deeply moved me, and it is my hope that in the next books the battle will be won within him by good.
In the meantime, Cleo is trying to develop her character through a series of tragic events and losses in her life. She barely made it into my 'I like you' category by the end of the story, but at least she got kicked out of her affluent bubble in time for that to happen. The dominant outsider perspective of her is repetitive (she was so "beautiful" and strong-willed), but in the end I found her resolve in the face of adversity to be the most attractive thing about her. She is another character who will hold more promise, I believe, in future books.
Lucia, Magnus' sister, is 'blessed' (or cursed) with special powers, but is unalbe to handle it by the time it is revealed. If her character had been explored more fully, I think she would have been the one I ended up loving. She exhibits some great traits--she is suspicious of the seriously messed up people; she is not arrogant about her abilities or beauty; she unconditionally loves Magnus. But when her powers come into force, she doesn't stand up to the one person who is the most obviously evil of the bunch--her father. This disconnect and the fact that there are only a few chapters dedicated to her POV caused her character to fall flat for me over the course of the book.
Jonas, as well, was not someone I was a big fan of. I cared about what he cared about, but he develops a serious hatred for Cleo that doesn't make sense, and pursues her based on that hatred for almost the entire book. When you're able to be inside Cleo's head, who was there when Jonas's brother was murdered, and see that she felt terrible and feels terrible about what happened, it makes it hard to believe that Jonas saw what he believes he saw: a 'smirk' on her face as his brother died right in front of her. There are several other confusing divisions like this between what we see in a character's head and what others on the outside are seeing--what I mean is, just inconsistencies that don't make sense (of course people outside a character cannot read that character's mind). These instances of confusion and the strangely immediate changes in feelings and sudden development of deep 'love' coupled with characters who obviously have very interesting histories that should have been explored further led to make me frustrated with the end result. However, it did keep me turning the pages, and for those new to high-fantasy, this may be a good book to jump into the genre and see what it's all about.
Believe me when I tell you this book is slap somebody good. Seriously. I loved every page. I usually find myself reading quickly through books, finishing them within a day or two. But I did not do that with Falling Kingdoms. I wanted to savor and digest every detail. This story is complicated.
I picked Falling Kingdoms as a book choice for May in my YA book club that I host. The cover was catchy and I thought the kids would like something that is boasted as "Game of Thrones for teens". One of my regulars beat me to reading it and couldn't stop singing its praises. So I figured I should read it during my vacation so we could discuss early. She'll be glad to know she was right.
I was worried that the alternating points of view would not seem fresh. I hate when the characters end up sounding the same and offer nothing new to the plot. There are 3 distinct characters (and a few extras thrown in the mix) with distinct voices. The tale they tell weaves itself nicely throughout the novel until everything falls into spectacular place in a very climatic ending.
If I had to pick a favorite character, it would be impossible. Each character is different and flawed in their own way. I can tell as this story continues in upcoming books that the plot will thicken and be delicious. Because if there was one lesson learned in Falling Kingdoms, it is that people are not always what they seem.
When you pick up Falling Kingdoms and begin your quest, be warned. There are not always happy endings and your heart will be ripped out of your chest at the most unexpected times. So far, there are no neat bows wrapping this box, and that's exactly what I like the most about the book!
It will hooked you from page one to the end.
After putting Falling Kingdoms on hold for so long, I want to kick myself and screamed. Why didn’t you read it sooner Gal! From the moment I start reading the prologue. I know It’s a love at first read. Two words. WOW & Brilliant! Now I command you for your duty and read this series. Just because of reasons that is Falling Kingdoms.
Writing a proper review have always been a struggle to me especially when a book swept me off my feet and this are one of those cases. So please forgive me if you don’t find this review helpful at all.
Falling Kingdoms follows the story of a land where in magic has been forgotten for centuries. Three kingdoms trying to grasp for unimaginable power and a midst the war going on four young people find their destiny intertwined forever.
I personally think the plot was well done, there are a lot of times I catch myself lost in the world Morgan Rhodes created. I find myself immensely enjoying everything, the constant banter, humor of the characters and a few times Morgan Rhodes managed to reduce me to tears. I am so engrossed with the story, It literally blew me away.
Morgan Rhodes writing style is epic. It is well detailed, the description are easy to visualize and not overdone. She’s the kind of author that will throw you on the right direction. The story has a multiples POV with a brief back-story every now and then. I can assure you that It’s not confusing at all. If not It makes the plot more compelling. The characters are well written, well- built and complex even the minor characters are vivid. Everything about Falling Kingdoms is sentimentally well pieced together. It will hooked you from page one to the end. A highly recommended book to everyone who enjoy reading!
Lacking a good pace, but intriguing characters
I was really surprised at how much I ended up liking this book. I've never really been into high fantasy books, so it came to a surprise to me. But, I'm really glad I decided to pick up this book and start reading it.
Basically, there are three separate kingdoms: Auranos, Paelsia, and Limeros. In the book, you get to see viewpoints of people from each kingdom: Cleo is the narrator of the Auranos kingdom and is also the princess, Jonas is a villager of Paelsia and is the narrator for that kingdom, and then Lucia and Magnus are the narrators of the Limeros kindgom and also the prince and princess of the kingdom also. I espicially enjoyed getting to see through the eyes of so many very different people. I'm used to only seeing through one person's eyes, so it was a nice break from the usual stuff and it made me like the book even more.
The Characters of the story
Cleo-Well, to start off, I thought she was a bitch at first. Do NOT worry! I didn't think that way for long. It's just...I thought she was exactly what she was supposed to be: a spoiled rotten princess. But, later I found out that she really is a pretty caring person and even though she was still slightly spoiled while growing up, she never always got what she wanted or planned for.
Jonas-I thought he was a pretty amazing character. In this book, I never actually got to see him much, which saddened me alot, because he was just such an awesome character. I really understood his feelings and reactions during the book, which is probably why I loved him so much! He was just such an honest and devoted friend and brother.
Magnus-My first word thought to describe him: very strange...well then, I guess it is actually two words, since I had to add VERY too. He was very percular throughout the book and had such weird moments during the book. I just couldn't stand how he ACTUALLY found his OWN sister attractive and he LIKED her??? What is UP with that? I'm sorry if that is offensive to anybody, but where I come from, that is just NOT right! Put aside that, I guess he was an ok character, just not my favorite. There were just TOO many things that bugged me about him. He was too...uncaring( except for his own sister) and cold too everyone. That about sums it up for me.
Lucia-Overall, I thought she was a pretty great character. She was at least better than her brother. She was kind and honest. AND she actually showed emotions( again, her brother was not anything like her). I want to say more, but it would end up spoiling some pretty important things..."ARGH! I hate when that happens!"...
Ok, I have to admit it. I absolutely hated the beginning of this book! I just thought it was too slow for me and it never caught my attention. I was about ready to give up on it, but I told myself that I if I had already gotten this far, I could do it! So, I continued reading and it FINALLY picked up the right pace(for me at least!) and I found I actually started liking it. So, I'm very proud of myself for finishing it and ACTUALLY liking it! The plot is pretty good and it should have caught my attention RIGHT away, but it didn't,which I'm sad to admit. So, I have to say the pacing kind of sucked, but that is just me! I'm sure people would be glad to argue with me!
Umm...the ending for me was like I kind of loved it, but kind of hated it at the same time. Let me explain what I'm trying to say. I loved it because it made me interested to find out what happens next, but I ALSO hated it because it was just so...sudden. Like you just walked off of a cliff without knowing there would be one. But, like I said above, I loved it too!
SO, there is my crazy review with a whole bunch of complaints and complements( at least I hope I said a few...:/). I recommend this book to high fantasy book lovers, but I'm not sure all of you would enjoy it all that much.