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Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

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Thoroughly enjoyed this book. While aimed at teens, I being in my 40's, really enjoyed it. It's like Game of Thrones, rated PG-13. Political intrigue, mixed with Sword & Sorcery, very nicely combined ask together. ( )
  jimpike69 | Nov 16, 2016 |
ALL THE STARS! Full review and more at Bumble Bee Books!

This is a really complex book. There are three separate kingdoms with three separate cast of characters. Eventually, the characters cross paths, but there is still a ton of people to keep straight. Thank the goddess that there is a breakdown of the cast of characters in the beginning of the book. MARK THIS PAGE! I found myself looking back to it more than I have with any other book.

The book starts out telling you about two witches stealing a baby from her mother because the baby is prophesied to be a sorceress that will save their world when she comes into her power. You then go on to meet all of these characters, but you can narrow it down from the get-go that the baby at the beginning is Princess Lucia. Once you learn more about the characters, you'll figure it out quickly (it's not meant to be a secret for the reader). It's easy to forget about the Prologue, but as the book goes on you realize how important it is (just a heads up).

AURANUS (The Princess)
This kingdom is the richest of the three. It is ran by King Corvin and his two daughters, Princess Emilia and Princess Cleo. Cleo is the main character in this story. You learn the most about her and her personality. Cleo is impulsive, stubborn, and is used to getting what she wants. She has also been coddled all of her life because she is the baby of the family and her sister is the one being groomed to take the throne after her father. When Cleo and her soon-to-be betrothed Lord Aron (who she hates, btw) take a trip to the neighboring country of Paelsia, tragedy strikes. A young man finds his throat at the business end of Aron's dagger after he threatens Aron and Cleo. Aron feigns self-defense, but this event single handedly gets the ball rolling for everything else in the book. After the death of the young man in Paelsia, Cleo is heavy with grief. Things go from bad to worse for her quickly. Cleo has to find her inner strength and humbleness as she fights for the one she loves, her family, and her kingdom.

PAELSIA (The Rebel)
Paelsia is the middle country between Limeros and Auranus. This is also the poorest country. The people make their meager ages by growing grapes that are said to be grown using earth magic in the otherwise barren soil. The other countries look at Paelsians as savages because of the poverty they live in. The country is ran by a chieftan who claims to possess the magic that is long gone from the rest of the country. His magic is the only hope that the country has that better times are to come. Jonas and Tomas are two young men who live to keep their family alive in Paelsia. When Tomas is killed by Lord Aron of Auranus, Jonas vows to stop at nothing until he seeks revenge from the arrogant Lord Aron who killed his brother and the smug Princess Cleo who stood by with her guard and did nothing. Jonas must choose between brute force and using his cunningness to avenge his brother. Street smarts and common sense win out and Jonas finds himself on the brim of a revolution in his small, poor country. How far is he will to go for his brother? At what point does it stop being about his own grief and becomes about the country itself?

LIMEROS (The Heir and The Sorceress)
Limeros is the northern most country. The climate (and the people) is frigid and always seems to have a bitter chill. Limeros is ran by King of Blood, King Gaius and his family: Queen Althea, Prince Magnus, and Princess Lucia. There is also the king's mistress, Sabina, who is his most trusted advisor and his rumored bastard son, Tobias, who has his eye on the throne. King Gaius has never had any interest in Magnus (except for beating him). In his eyes, Magnus is weak and soft hearted and embarrasses the family. King Gaius runs his country with a strong, bloody hand and even if someone is thought to be a witch, they are punished by death. King Gaius wants his country to stay devout to their goddess and will not hear anything of any sort of magic. When a revolution begins in the neighboring Paelsia, King Gaius sees this as a way to seek the ultimate power and take over the entire continent of Mytica. With the country on the edge of war, Prince Magnus finally find himself useful to the king. Magnus has a lot of secrets, though, and some of those secrets could ostracize him from his family and kingdom completely. Magnus has to learn to put his feelings behind him and harden his heart for the good of the country... But how far will he go? Can he ever live up to the King of Blood?

THE SANCTUARY
So there is also this subplot going on through this whole thing about these Watches who live in a paradise called the Sanctuary in another realm. They can take the form of a hawk and travel to the mortal realm to see what's going on, but if they ever venture out in their human form then they can't ever go back. They are looking for these ancient crystal things.. It's hard to explain (because I don't 100% understand it myself. I think there will be way more detail in the sequels). It all goes back to the Prologue with the witches and the baby sorceress.

So that is the watered down, dumbed down synopsis of everything that is going on. I didn't even touch half of everything, because you know, spoilers. Like I said before, there are SO many characters and SO many POVs and you really have a tough time picking sides... especially when everyone starts becoming involved in each other's life. Eventually ALL of the characters become intertwined and it is just nuts.

There is so much action. SO MUCH ACTION. If I could really only describe this book with one word, it would be death. Oh, you like that character? DEAD. What about that one? DEAD. That one over there? TORTURED THEN DEAD. I found myself gasping and wanting to rip the book in half because every time I really started to get attached... DEAD. This is a book that will certainly keep you on your toes. Rhodes really channeled her inner George R.R. Martin for this one.






There is also a lot of love stories going on. You know that Aron and Cleo are supposed to get married even though she hates him. You can guess that Nic is in love with Cleo. Theon sounds like a hottie and Cleo is definitely giving him the sexy eye. Jonas would rather die than be around Cleo (except to kill her for revenge), but fingers crossed this is actual just sexual tension because he has it bad for her too. Then there is Jonas and Lailah. King Gaius and his sidechick Sabina. All the boys in the yard and Princess Lucia. And I can't leave out the Mortal Instruments thing Magnus and Lucia have going on (and because of this, in my head I have Jamie Campbell Bower as Prince Magnus even though he looks NOTHING like Magnus is described as. Oh well the heart wants what the heart wants). From all of the YA lit that I have read, I am pretty desensitized to the incest thing (after reading Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma, I will never judge again), so I was rooting for them. Regardless, pretty much everyone in the book sounds like a hottie. The girls are all raven haired and fair skin or sun kissed with golden hair. My favorite hotties were Jonas, Theon, and Magnus.

Falling Kingdoms was amazing. Beyond amazing. It is for sure one of my favorite books I have read this year. If you take Game of Thrones, Kiss of Deception, and Throne of Glass and mash them all up, then you have an idea of what this book is about. It is literally taking all the will in my body to stop myself from running to the book store and buying the sequel. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. I feel like this is one of those books that you either REALLY REALLY LOVE or you absolutely hate. If you read other reviews, they're fairly mixed and divided. I think if you like any of the books listed above as comparison then you will enjoy this one. I couldn't get enough.

5/5 stars ( )
  leahlo89 | Nov 2, 2016 |
Great start to what seems like will be a sweeping, juicy fantasy series. Wolfed right through this one very quickly -- unusual for me with all the POV and location switches which can sometimes go very wrong for me. Book description does it no justice.

Loved it. Not quite traditional fantasy fare (well, elemental magic's not new of course). Very quickly the goings-on of three kingdoms (plus the "elvish" sanctuary) and characters became clearly intertwined.

Oh, sure, main characters were young-ish and extremely quick to jump to conclusions and emotions (both instant hate/vengeance, some melodrama and instaluv). But that was also part of jumping right into the action and the storyline so failed to really bother me. As series progresses, that could sour me on the series if gets heavy on the insta-whatever -- but, with this book I am currently hooked on the series and will be starting Rebel Spring as soon as my turn on the library waitlist, ( )
  Spurts | Jul 19, 2016 |
I have never read Game of Thrones, and it is not on my to-read list, but from what I know about Game of Thrones I'd say that the author of this book was trying to create a YA version of that series.

Lots of people die. There are a bunch of different POVs, and it's hard not to hate most of the characters, and even the few that are not loathsome are not all that likeable. There's a big war, lot's of blood and guts, and the book ends with an obvious setup for a sequel. And yet somehow I feel the need to know how this ends.

It's usually hard to get me committed to a long series if I don't like the main character(s), but Kiera Cass managed it with her addictive writing style, and, at least so far, so has Morgan Rhodes. Morgan Rhodes's writing style is not as addictive as Kiera Cass's, and I honestly don't think that it's particularly unique, which leads me to believe that my desire to keep going with this series stems not from the writing, and more from my fascination in seeing how all of these tangled threads of characters, motives and desires leads.

The characters that I didn't loath are; Cleo, Emilia, Nic, Theon, Corvin, Jonas, Brion, Eirene, Lucia, Jana and Alexius. Four of those characters are dead by the end of the book. I really don't like even these one's enough to know who I'm really rooting for, but at least I don't hate them the way I do most of the others. Cleo is immature, selfish and annoying, yet strong in her own way, and determined. She also seems to be quick to open her heart to people, and once she cares about someone, she seems to care about them with her whole heart. She was probably my favorite character. Emilia is loving and cares very much for her younger sister, though we really don't get to know her very well, she seems rather selfish as well. Nic was brave even though he was not physically strong. He seemed somewhat selfish in his reasons for going to Paelsia with Cleo (he wanted to spend time with her and be her hero,) yet, he was also fairly unselfish in comparison with the rest of the characters. He did not push himself at Cleo romantically the way most of the obviously-not-going-to-win sides of the love triangles do, but instead just did his best to be there for her when she needed him. Theon is passionate and brave. He is probably the most unselfish of the characters, though I wasn't a fan of his instalove with Cleo. It felt in character with Cleo, to become deeply infatuated so quickly, but I didn't think it worked very well with Theon's character. And the weirdness of Cleo and Theon's romantic attachment in light of Cleo's sister and Theon's father having been romantically involved was not lost on me. Corvin pushed his will on Cleo at times, but even during those times I had no doubt that he loved her very much. He was a weird mix of ignorant and wise, in that he ignored Paelsia's problems, and the fact that members of his country were taking advantage of their plight, yet he knew enough to warn Jonas that Paelsia's aligning with Limeros was suicidal.

I hate dealing with characters who are driven by vengeance. Yet somehow I didn't hate Jonas. I liked him because he thought that what he was doing was going to help his country, and he wasn't so blind as to completely ignore Corvin's warning. I found his construing Cleo's reaction to his brother's death to allow him to blame her was frustrating since we'd been in her head when we saw Tomas die, but I was also glad when he was able to feel some sympathy for her when he captured her, as well as his willingness to overcome his feelings at the end of the book. I think I see what could turn into a romance between Cleo and Jonas. Brion was not a major character, but he did have some funny reactions and has potential to add a little bit of humor in future books, which would be welcome because this book forgot about humor. Eirene is interesting. Naturally all of the readers could already guess that she was the ex-watcher the moment we met her. I think (and hope) that she could become important in future books.

Lucia was full of goodness and sweetness at the beginning of the book, but in allowing her evil and manipulative father (and brother) to control her, she is corrupting her character. She can see that Magnus has gone from being a loving brother to a corrupting and hate-filled character, yet she continues to allow him and her father to use her in the hopes that she will regain his brotherly love for her, which he manipulatively withdrew when, even after finding out that she was adopted and not a blood relation to him, she still only loved him as a brother. Jana is hardly worth mentioning since she died in the prologue, but she was an interesting character, being torn between wanting to help her people, and hating the killing and evil that she has to do to achieve that.

I don't hate Alexius. Yet. But his sitting back and watching while Lucia allows her family to corrupt her spirit bothers me, and all of his 'I will be so angry if I wasted my time watching this girl if she's not the powerful sorceress I think she is, who my people and I can use to get back the power we used to have.' Yet he's smart enough not to tell watchers who have obviously been corrupted that she is indeed the sorceress. I also have some appreciation for the fact that he was checking on his banished sister at the end of the book.

The rest of the characters are just so filled with evil that I can't care about them. I do, admittedly feel somewhat bad for Magnus, but he is turning into his father. Who he hates. I also don't think that he loves Lucia as much as he thinks he does. He used to maybe, but when she won't give in to his romantic feelings for her, he withdraws and punishes her for it, which makes me think that his lust for her, and his desire to control her are far stronger than any love, brotherly or otherwise, that he might have for her.

I thought that the ending of the book was kind of weird. It would have made more sense to me if Cleo had remained free and the way she was captured felt far too abrupt to feel real. Overall I liked this book, though part of me still doesn't know why.
( )
  NicoleSch | Jun 11, 2016 |
I have never read Game of Thrones, and it is not on my to-read list, but from what I know about Game of Thrones I'd say that the author of this book was trying to create a YA version of that series.

Lots of people die. There are a bunch of different POVs, and it's hard not to hate most of the characters, and even the few that are not loathsome are not all that likeable. There's a big war, lot's of blood and guts, and the book ends with an obvious setup for a sequel. And yet somehow I feel the need to know how this ends.

It's usually hard to get me committed to a long series if I don't like the main character(s), but Kiera Cass managed it with her addictive writing style, and, at least so far, so has Morgan Rhodes. Morgan Rhodes's writing style is not as addictive as Kiera Cass's, and I honestly don't think that it's particularly unique, which leads me to believe that my desire to keep going with this series stems not from the writing, and more from my fascination in seeing how all of these tangled threads of characters, motives and desires leads.

The characters that I didn't loath are; Cleo, Emilia, Nic, Theon, Corvin, Jonas, Brion, Eirene, Lucia, Jana and Alexius. Four of those characters are dead by the end of the book. I really don't like even these one's enough to know who I'm really rooting for, but at least I don't hate them the way I do most of the others. Cleo is immature, selfish and annoying, yet strong in her own way, and determined. She also seems to be quick to open her heart to people, and once she cares about someone, she seems to care about them with her whole heart. She was probably my favorite character. Emilia is loving and cares very much for her younger sister, though we really don't get to know her very well, she seems rather selfish as well. Nic was brave even though he was not physically strong. He seemed somewhat selfish in his reasons for going to Paelsia with Cleo (he wanted to spend time with her and be her hero,) yet, he was also fairly unselfish in comparison with the rest of the characters. He did not push himself at Cleo romantically the way most of the obviously-not-going-to-win sides of the love triangles do, but instead just did his best to be there for her when she needed him. Theon is passionate and brave. He is probably the most unselfish of the characters, though I wasn't a fan of his instalove with Cleo. It felt in character with Cleo, to become deeply infatuated so quickly, but I didn't think it worked very well with Theon's character. And the weirdness of Cleo and Theon's romantic attachment in light of Cleo's sister and Theon's father having been romantically involved was not lost on me. Corvin pushed his will on Cleo at times, but even during those times I had no doubt that he loved her very much. He was a weird mix of ignorant and wise, in that he ignored Paelsia's problems, and the fact that members of his country were taking advantage of their plight, yet he knew enough to warn Jonas that Paelsia's alligning with Limeros was suicidal.

I hate dealing with characters who are driven by vengeance. Yet somehow I didn't hate Jonas. I liked him because he thought that what he was doing was going to help his country, and he wasn't so blind as to completely ignore Corvin's warning. I found his construing Cleo's reaction to his brother's death to allow him to blame her was frustrating since we'd been in her head when we saw Tomas die, but I was also glad when he was able to feel some sympathy for her when he captured her, as well as his willingness to overcome his feelings at the end of the book. I think I see what could turn into a romance between Cleo and Jonas. Brion was not a major character, but he did have some funny reactions and has potential to add a little bit of humor in future books, which would be welcome because this book forgot about humor. Eirene is interesting. Naturally all of the readers could already guess that she was the ex-watcher the moment we met her. I think (and hope) that she could become important in future books.

Lucia was full of goodness and sweetness at the beginning of the book, but in allowing her evil and manipulative father (and brother) to control her, she is corrupting her character. She can see that Magnus has gone from being a loving brother to a corrupting and hate-filled character, yet she continues to allow him and her father to use her in the hopes that she will regain his brotherly love for her, which he manipulatively withdrew when, even after finding out that she was adopted and not a blood relation to him, she still only loved him as a brother. Jana is hardly worth mentioning since she died in the prologue, but she was an interesting character, being torn between wanting to help her people, and hating the killing and evil that she has to do to achieve that.

I don't hate Alexius. Yet. But his sitting back and watching while Lucia allows her family to corrupt her spirit bothers me, and all of his 'I will be so angry if I wasted my time watching this girl if she's not the powerful sorceress I think she is who my people and I can use to get back the power we used to have.' Yet he's smart enough not to tell watchers who have obviously been corrupted that she is indeed the sorceress. I also have some appreciation for the fact that he was checking on his banished sister at the end of the book.

The rest of the characters are just so filled with evil that I can't care about them. I do, admittedly feel somewhat bad for Magnus, but he is turning into his father. Who he hates. I also don't think that he loves Lucia as much as he thinks he does. He used to maybe, but when she won't give in to his romantic feelings for her, he withdraws and punishes her for it, which makes me think that his lust for her, and his desire to control her are far stronger than any love, brotherly or otherwise, that he might have for her.

I thought that the ending of the book was kind of weird. It would have made more sense to me if Cleo had remained free and the way she was captured felt far too abrupt to feel real. Overall I liked this book, though part of me still doesn't know why. ( )
  NicoleSch | Jun 2, 2016 |
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Book description
In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects’ lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:

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?
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