Title: Falling Kingdoms
Author: Morgan Rhodes
To be completely honest, I only picked this book up because I saw the cover of Rebel Spring (the second book in the series) in the bookstore and fell in love. I didn’t even know this was a series at that point but after laying eyes upon that beauty, I had to look into it.
I’m a pretty huge fan of the Medieval/Renaissance period so I will read any book centered around such a theme. Hence why I powered through this book–rather painfully–despite the very basic writing and painfully predictable plot. At every point, I could guess exactly what was going to happen and be right. Even though this novel is supposed to be YA, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was reading a middle grade book with characters so superficial, only a child could be truly satisfied with them. There are four main characters: Princess Cleiona (Cleo), Prince Magnus, Princess Lucia, and Jonas Agallon. Cleo lives in the beautifully lush kingdom of Auranos while brother and sister, Magnus and Lucia, live in the bitterly frozen-over kingdom of Limeros. Jonas Agallon is a mere citizen of Paelsia, yet another kingdom in the magical land of Mytica. Magical is more than just an adjective in this case as the land of Mytica is full of magic. There are sorcerers, witches, and guardians called Watchers that live in the Santuary and can take the form of hawks to visit Earth. This magic has unfortunately been receding in Limeros and Paelsia for reasons unknown. If anything, the characteristics of these three kingdoms contrast each other very well and it’s easy to see the different lifestyles led by the respective peoples.
As I said, the characters are incredibly superficial and I found it hard to possess any semblance of compassion or concern for them. Cleo is simply a typical frivolous teenage princess although she does not come off as stuck up. Jonas came off as an impulsive brat and although his anger towards royals was explained, it was not written well enough for me to understand and appreciate his character. Therefore, he was just annoying. None of the characters had any depth with nothing really to them besides their title. Which brings me to Magnus. Ah Magnus. He played a huge role in my completion of the novel and was the sole reason I decided to continue the series. His character alone made up for all the other inadequacies, in my opinion. Magnus is damaged and to me, it felt like Morgan spent more time on his character than all the others because he had depth where the others had none. Maybe it’s just because I have a soft spot for damaged boys or what but I found myself actually feeling Magnus’s pain and understanding his turmoil.
There was one section of the book where Rhodes had a massive opportunity for beautiful character development for Magnus…and she just didn’t grab it.
A huge opportunity, I tell you. He was torn from the start whether to follow in the footsteps of his father, the King of Blood, or to be his own person – someone who was not completely cutthroat and full of bloodlust. But in that one section, something happened that could have gave his the resolve to be his father’s child. The last sentence of the chapter was “His heart turned to ice.” for crying out loud! But…Rhodes let it go. Excited to read on, I was disappointed to realize that his character literally did not change at all. I couldn’t be more angered because at that time I fully came to cherish his character and I do not appreciate when my cherished characters are done so dirty. Regardless, I read on because he’s still a great character.
My last quibble about this book is the romances and there will be spoilers here. They are horrible! Cleo and Theon for example. They knew each other for like two minutes. Then when Theon rescues Cleo from captivity, he kisses her and basically says he loves her to which I’m like – okay? A bit random but I can deal. But THEN Cleo immediately pours out her undying love for him in return and that gave me tremendous pause because readers are in her head the entire time and not once does she ever mention anything at all hinting at such strong feelings for her bodyguard. She literally barely acknowledges him if only to say how annoyed she is that he has to follow her. She refers to his good looks but that hardly translates to love! That declaration was so ridiculous that when he died, I felt absolutely nothing. Was not sad, did not cry. Neither did I sympathize with Cleo as she “grieved” over the supposed “love of her life”.
I complained a lot about this book but I wouldn’t say that I don’t recommend it because the series does get better. It takes time and patience and if you are the type with no tolerance for basic writing and basic plots then you might not even give it a chance. However, if you are a medieval feen like me then I say go for it plus Magnus is worth it.
If you’ve read Falling Kingdoms, comment what you thought about it. Love it? Hate it? Let me know. This is a long review/rant but if you liked it, follow me for more! Thanks for reading! x