Review: Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms #1) by Morgan Rhodes

In the kingdom of Mytica, magic had been forgotten until three three very different rulers look for what was once lost.

In the north where Prince Magnus lives, the King of Blood rules and longs for power and unlimited magic. In the middle region, which is full of rebels lives Jonas…and there the people are ruled by a chief claiming to have magic but none have seen it, and in the south a prosperous region exists where Princess Cleo lives in a wonderfully naive world where magic is the stuff of myth and legend.

When a man is murdered in cold blood by Princess Cleo’s friend, his death sparks a revolution putting all three kingdoms against each other. The time is ripe for the King of Blood to seize all of the kingdoms for himself…and conquer he will… any means necessary. For him to rule, he must do so through magic and sacrifice.

There are four central POV characters, Cleo, Jonas, Magnus, and the sorceress, Lucia (also Magnus’s sister). All of these main characters are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

This book has been in my radar for a long long long time. I’ve had it to read forever and just haven’t gotten around to it. Everyone says it’s a great read for fans of A Song of Ice and Fire (AKA Game of Thrones series). So I’ve been on a YA high fantasy kick lately so I thought I would give this one a once over.

OK so I’ll be perfectly honest….the first half of the book did not appeal to me AT ALL. Cleo was so naive and unconvincing as a strong lead. I was about to put this one down because it came across so juvenile and unrealistic. Some of the lines and come backs were just too ‘young’ for me but at the same time I have heard such great things about this series I was worried maybe I was being overly critical.

I felt the romance between Theon and Cleo was unfounded and flimsy…they barely spoke two words to each other and boom they were in love?! Where was the build up and the sexual tension and the drama?! There was none! I mean zero! And really what did Cleo think would happen….that her and Theon would live happily ever after even when Magnus pulled his sword?! I’m sorry but I was completely put off, based on how naive Cleo was in general but still I plugged along and somewhere along the way…..things got interesting.

I can’t exactly put my finger on when that happened but the second half of the book got much better. I don’t know if it’s because Cleo started to take off her rose colored glasses or what but somewhere along the way I really started to enjoy the book. By the end, I was downloading the next one in the series.

Cleo kind of won me over……little by little. It was fun to see her ‘grow up’ a bit during the second half of the book. I am also greatly intrigued by Magnus. Is he good or is he bad? He’s one of those mysterious characters that you aren’t really sure about and I like that…..a dark knight of sorts.

The sorceress and all the magic also caught my interest. I am curious to see how magic develops and to see how Lucia grows as a character. We don’t really know too much about her character at this point but I am looking forward to seeing how she develops in future books as well as her magic!

There isn’t a clear ‘love interest’ yet in the series that I can tell. There are a couple prospects but no one clear and I love that….nothing is clear and concise in that aspect and I am excited to keep reading to see what romances develop from this.

I loved that this book didn’t shy away from bigger issues like teenage sex and violence. I didn’t think the sex aspect was trashy or poorly done. I think it was realistic and that a lot of teenage girls will relate to Cleo and some of the sexual aspects in the story. And the violence wasn’t poor done either.

While graphic, I didn’t think they were any worse than something seen on TV. I liked that she didn’t just say so and so stabbed so and so…..she went for it… and so sliced the throat of so and so and his head came off. I’m paraphrasing here but you get the point.

For me it made a very vivid picture and I thought that it was realistic considering the setting and battles etc. Mytica is a very brutal and unforgiving world, and therefore the battles should be the same. I think the world and the violence complimented each other and made it more vivid.

Fans of ASOIAF will undoubtedly see similar themes in this series…..names, themes, plots, characters…..but for me, it was similar but also different enough from ASOIAF that I found things to enjoy and yet recognize at the same time.

Overall while this wasn’t the best book to start out with, I think it earned at least 3.5 stars from me. The second half saved the series for me and I will gladly start reading the next book!

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms #1) by Morgan Rhodes

  • Kindle Edition, 400 pages
  • Published December 11th 2012 by Razorbill
  • Review copy provided by: Personal collection

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 3.5 out of 5

Genre: YA, high fantasy, fantasy, romance, adventure

Memorable lines/quotes: 

Some truths aren’t always easily seen.

Those who appeared to be victims were always the easiest to victimize.

Love is stronger than anger. Love is stronger than hate-stronger than anything.

Sometimes that small glimmer of inner strength is all that we have to help us press forward through the darkness.

4 thoughts on “Review: Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms #1) by Morgan Rhodes

  1. It’s great to hear that you are continuing on with the next one; It truly does get better from here on. I felt the same way reading this first book and 100% agree with you about Cleo and Theon. Their relationship to me did not seem believable. Anyway, I can’t wait to hear about your thoughts on Rebel Spring. Great post! 😊

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