Review: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms #1) by Morgan Rhodes
publisher: Razorbill
release date: December 11, 2012
source: from publisher for review
book/author links: goodreads / amazon / twitter / website
This book is almost equal parts amazing and dude, I want more now because that ending, it just got started and huh, that was a little underwhelming. I know. It confuses me too.

There are four major houses at play, three of those are the kingdoms of Auranos, Paelsia and Limeros and then there is a group called the Watchers. In an unfortunate twist of fate, an excursion for excellent wine sets in motion a war between the three kingdoms.

From here on out there are SPOLIERS. Please read with caution. Actually, just don’t read if you haven’t read the book, because I hold nothing back.

AGGGHHH. This book has a huge cast of characters and has so much going on. The plot, I loved how Rhodes interweaved the storyline and was able to bring the main characters together, despite their geographical differences. It was brilliant. The wine excursion was perfect; I found it entertaining how something so mundane as buying wine can lead to war and eventual revolution. Everything that moves the plot from that point on, from Magnus’s incestual love for his “sister” Lucia, to the cunning and evil King Gauis and his wicked betrayal of chieftain Basilius and all the death of beloved characters in-between – spot on.

Cleo. As one of the main characters, she was one I liked the least. She was spoiled, immature and bratty and very naive. Some of her scenes read like that of an indignant child, throwing a tantrum with out the flailing on the floor. I had a hard time taking her seriously. I wish she had had more backbone when it came to Aron and her father. Aron grossed me out, and I wish she had told him that. Especially since it was him who caused the whole ruckus in the first place by killing the Paelsian wine merchant.

As much as I liked the idea of her and her guard Theon as couple, I had a hard time buying into their love. There wasn’t enough time for them to have that type of emotion/passion. Sadly, with so many other characters and an intricate plot their love was rushed and didn’t feel real. I was sad when Magnus killed Theon, he was a great protector until the end, but I wasn’t moved to tears.

However, by the end of the book I think she showed tremendous growth. I guess the death of your love, your sister and father and your kingdom falling into the hands of the Limeros would do that. I loved her reaction in the last scene when Magnus finally captures her in the crowd; her growth is summed up perfectly in that one scene.

Just a quick note on Theon, I liked his character, but as a guard he was poor. He let Cleo slip through this fingers one to many times. Though his last act as Cleo’s guard and lover was emotionally charged and excellent. Well-played Rhodes, well played.

Jonas. Oh, how much I liked him. As the brother of Tomas who was killed by Aron, I felt all his emotions. His vengeance is real and justified. What I admire the most is his ability to hold back, his patience and his smarts. He knew early on that King Gaius was a bastard and would think nothing of squashing Paelsia to have all the spoils. I cannot wait to see the people’s revolution he has planned. It will be epic and he will win. I just know it.

Magnus. Oh, dear this tortured soul has me fully torn between disgust and absolute love. Rhodes has managed to give this guy a hard place to live, an evil bloodthirsty father and being in love with his sister Lucia. INCEST. Thank goodness we find out that Lucia is adopted. Whew. Too bad that Lucia doesn’t return his affection, because that kiss was awesome.

I love his torturedness. On one hand he is vile like his dad, but on the other he does have a heart. I just loved how he sent Amia on her way so his dad wouldn’t kill her, how he was conflicted about killing Theon and how it affected Cleo. HE HAS A HEART and I am solely reading book two because of him and him alone.

Lucia. She is the quite one among the group. She’s not loud, or demanding. She loves her brother and is his biggest champion. I hope that in book two we get more from her. Well, I’m sure we will since she is the prophesized sorceress. Maybe we will even get a little Lucia vs Cleo showdown.

This book was not perfect, I felt that the story building was super slow and things didn’t really pick up speed until the end. I loved the ending, but I wanted more. Alas, that is the world of high fantasy.

However, here are some specific things that I did not like:

*how fast Theon and Cleo fell in love
*the vernacular, it read like modern speech
*there seemed to be a lot of convenient escaping
*there were a lot of really loooong sentences, though since I read an early copy maybe this has been fixed
*never given a full understanding of the role of the Watchers

XOXO, Stacy

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