Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review: Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms, #1)


Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms, #1)Author: Morgan Rhodes
Series: Falling Kingdoms, #1
Published: December 11th 2012
Publisher: Razorbill
Hardcover, 412 pages
Buy: The Book Depository



Falling Kingdoms is a story about three countries, three neighboring kingdoms with nothing but deep-seated hatred between them. On two sides are Auranos and Limeros, both prosperous but different in everything but in wealth. Between them sits Paelsia, a poor, hungry kingdom drained by its neighbors from both sides. In all three kingdoms, resentment and prejudice are passed through generations, but they had somehow maintained peace for decades. Then a young and stupid nobleman from Auranos kills a young man from Paelsia and gets away with it, and in that situation the king of Limeros recognizes a chance to destroy a despised rival king.

Falling Kingdoms does not focus on a single hero’s perspective. It is told from several points of view (too many, some have complained) and we are offered insight into each of the three countries. It is a game of three kings, and as a huge fan of political intrigue, I enjoyed it immensely. What made it even more interesting was that I was unable to choose sides. All three kingdoms and all the central characters existed in a gray area, with only a few exceptions among the secondary characters.

Even in the darkest and most cruel person, there is still a kernel of good. And within the most perfect champion, there is darkness. The question is, will one give in to the dark or the light? It's something we decide with every choice we make, every day that we exist. What might not be evil to you could be evil to someone else. Knowing this makes us powerful even without magic.

In Auranos, the younger Princess Cleo is to be engaged to a man she despises, a nobleman who killed the wine-seller’s son in Paelsia right in front of her for some petty reason and later showed no remorse. Cleo could maybe convince her father to choose someone else for her, but her betrothed Lord Aron knows something about her that no one else must ever find out.

In Lumeros, the king’s only (legitimate) son Magnus, heir to the throne, struggles with his father’s eternal disapproval and cruelty while fighting to deny, even to himself, the inappropriate feelings he harbors for his younger sister Lucia. When his father decides to start a war with Auranos and uses the opportunity to finally bring Magnus into his fold, the young prince is forced to choose between his desire to please his father and his desperate need to protect Lucia.

In Paelsia, Jonas, the wine-seller’s younger son, is desperate to avenge his older brother. But instead of focusing his hatred on the young nobleman who stabbed Tomas in the throat, he sees Princess Cleo as the embodiment of all evil.


There is, of course, the “small” issue of Magnus’ feelings for Lucia. The fact that they’re not really brother and sister won’t change much in the eyes of those readers who feel that being raised as siblings invariably makes any romantic feelings incestuous. It doesn’t help that Magnus had no knowledge of Lucia’s parentage; he really thought she was his sister. Personally, I wasn’t bothered by it. I am bothered by many things, but this does not offend my moral values in the least. However, I’m sure many readers will find it unforgivable. Consider yourselves warned.

The only thing that truly fell flat in a book I otherwise loved was a huge emotional scene in the second half that was meant to be a tear-jerker, but that left me completely cold. Surprised, maybe, but not nearly as sad as I was supposed to be. I suspect my lack of emotional reaction came from not being truly invested in the romance in question or the character(s) involved, but there were plenty of other characters that more than made up for it.
The ending left enough things open for what will surely be an even better second book. Rebel Spring is a book I’m eagerly awaiting, and one I will undoubtedly pre-order as soon as it gets a cover, hopefully as pretty as this one.


24 comments:

  1. I know I'm in the minority but this book just didn't do it for me. I think it was my reading slump, which greatly impacted my feelings but I put it down and just didn't pick it back up. Maybe I'll try again when the next one is out...

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  2. I felt the same way about the emotional scene, I wasn't invested in the romance so I didn't really care either tbh. I wasn't bothered by the Magnus/Lucia thing as well, I quite liked Magnus actually. He was layered and interesting, I can't wait to see where Rhodes his character in the sequel.

    Great review as always, Maja!

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  3. I've been debating whether or not to pick this up. This type of book isn't normally what I gravitate towards. I'm still undecided about this one, but I'm glad you liked it.

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  4. Still on the fence about picking this one up, to be honest. I've read several mixed reviews and the lack of character connection has me worried. I think I'll wait until book 2 to see if this is a series for me. I'm not really excited about the Games of Throne feel to it.

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  5. I've read so many mixed reviews for this one, I have to admit it makes me want to read it all the more just to find out how I'll feel about it. I don't think the brother/sister relationship will bother me since they're not biologically related, I think it will just for me depend on their circumstances and the way the characters are written. I'm keeping this in my "maybe" pile Maja, you're review has me moving it up to the top of that stack though:):)

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  6. No, the Magnus and Lucia situation didn't bother me either. Actually, I was more interested in seeing how that would play out, rather than the romance between Cleo and Theon (I felt the same way about the twist). I really liked this overall, despite the flaws! I'm glad you enjoyed it too, Maja. Brilliant review!

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  7. To me it actually sounds really good! Thanks, Maja! I'll be picking up this book soon :)

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  8. Too bad the scene didn't work for you. Hate it when that happens, but it still sounds like a pretty good book. Plus, I'm a cover whore and I love that cover.

    Also curious as to the relationship. The fact that it didn't bother you in the least moved my interest up much more. I think I'll really be adding it to the wishlist.

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    1. We are all cover whores, some of us just aren't afraid to admit it. :) It IS a gorgeous one.

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  9. Wonderful review Maja. You have definitely sold me on this. I was kind of on two minds about it, but I won a copy on Sam's blog so chances were I would eventually give it a whirl, but your review has me actually looking forward to it. Thanks hun :)

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  10. Sounds like there are lots of different plot strands to this one that make it so exciting. I just got my copy through the post after winning it from Realm of Fiction I believe, so I can't wait to get around to starting this.

    Lovely review and thanks for encouraging me to get around to reading it! :)

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  11. For some reason, despite all the positive reviews out there about this book, I've been hesitant about poking it up. Like you, the incest doesn't bother me, but as a fan of high fantasy, I feel like this would let me down. I really do think I need to give it a shot, though, because it sounds remarkable!(: Amazing review, as usual, Maja! :D

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  12. I am so happy to finally read a more positive review for this book! I think that the comparison to A Song of Ice and Fire series threw off a lot of people. But I'd like to think that I'd be able to read it as a book in its own right, and that could only positively benefit my enjoyment of it, I'm sure. I also love fantasies with political intrigue. Real world intrigue? Not so much. There's just something about the intrigue in a more fantastical world that makes it more exciting to me. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Maja, and I do plan on giving it a try at some point!

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  13. I adore multiple POVs, and I know I am in the minority but I love getting inside each character's head so I know the different voices will be an aspect I like. The romance probably not so much after what you described. I have read some great reviews on this and I was surprised to see that Morgan Rhodes is the pen name for Michelle Rowan. Learn something new everyday I guess!

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  14. I really enjoyed this and I actually love many POVs. I was able to choose sides easily actually and I was Team Auranos. I like Cleo and Theon but I wasn't that invested in them. I preferred her friend Nick I think his name was? But I am disappointed that it seems Cleo only views him as a friend. I wasn't too grossed out by Magnus and Lucia but I wasn't really invested in them either. Not a big fan of Magnus but his father is so evil!

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  15. I REALLY want to read this! I have read some mixed reviews, but I love high fantasy and am SO curious about this world! You're review has me more anxious to give it a read!

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  16. I'm excited to read this one! The cover is beautiful. Thanks for the warning about the romance. It'll help me knowing about it going into it.

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  17. Oh I'm super excited to read this one! :) I'm so happy to see that all fantasy parts are great. That's what I'm looking forward to. Only too bad that emotional scene didn't work out but huh I hope that won't ruin it for me! Great review :)

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  18. Oh in the last few weeks I wouldn't have thought that this would have been my sort of book, but the last year I've picked up so many books that I wouldn't have and they've taken me completely by surprised. I think I will have to give this book a try too! Sorry some parts didn't work out for you. But I'm glad you enjoyed this on this whole Maja! :)

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  19. I've been wanting to read this :) It caught my eye a while ago and I really like the sound of it! Awesome review and I'm so glad you liked it :D (New Follower)

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading

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  20. Read this the day that it came out and thought it was a pretty fantastic fantasy start to a series.

    But the wait for Rebel Spring may hurt:)

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  21. There's a lot going on in this story but my interest is piqued. I can't say that I'm bothered by the "incestuous" relationship, because it really isn't. We sort of had the same thing in The Mortal Instruments series, and while I was hoping it would turn out they weren't really related, I wasn't creeped out by it too much. Wonderful review Maja. Yet another book I want to read now. :)

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  22. I love getting multiple pov when it is done well. I can't wait to give this one a try.
    Happy reading,
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

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  23. I've heard such great things about this one! Wonderful review, Maja - thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

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