Morgan Rhodes – Falling Kingdoms

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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?

 

This book is kinda like Game of Thrones kid-version. It’s got it all. The killing, political intrigue, incestuous tones, magic, sword fights, bad decisions and multiple plot lines. The summary really tricked me when I first read it. I thought it was going to be one of those books where the three  four protagonists would come from different parts of the world, meet up and go save the world together. I don’t know if you got that impression too when you read it but I did so I was UBER surprised when I found out that they were actually all against each other.  So basically,

 

So three kingdoms, (a little less than Game of Thrones). One is super super rich and has pretty forests and streams and good lives. One is poorer than dirt and has some crazy voodoo chief as its leader and the other is an icy kingdom with a king that wants the rich kingdom.

Basically, the whole trouble starts about four pages in when the princess of the rich kingdom,  Auranos, visits the poor kingdom, Paelsia, with this really arrogant, stuck up lord who’s apparently betrothed to her. See, Paelsia, for some unknown reason, is super duper poor so Auranos, some king a few centuries back, told the Paelsians that they should grow grapes (which is pretty much all they can grow because they have bad soil apparently) and make wine and Auranos would buy it. So that’s pretty much how they’ve been. Anyways, the princess, Cleiona Cleo, is there because the lord, Aron, wants to buy wine.

He likes the wine but tries to cheat the wine seller. (like it was going to be like 50 ish and he wants to buy it for 14 when Paelsia is already poor as heck) Well, the wine seller’s sons show up because they’re escorting her sister to her wedding when they hear their father being cheated. Both of them are outraged and the older one rushes Aron and Aron stabs him in the throat and he dies. And that’s pretty much when all hell breaks loose.

The Auranians make it back but now there’s trouble everywhere. In Paelsia, the people are getting angry and Jonas, the younger son of the wine seller is trying to find a way to avenge his brother by killing Cleo and Aron. In Limeros, the icy kingdom, the King there takes this as an excuse to start a war.

The story focuses on these main people. Let’s take a closer look:

P.O.V.s

Cleo: Younger Auranian princess, betrothed to Aron, has a sister named Emilia who is heir apparent. Cleo is a troublemaker (parallel to Arya if we’re still doing to GoT metaphor). She’s tough and stubborn, doesn’t really want to be a lady. Because of the danger going on, she’s been assigned a guard named Theon.

Jonas: Younger son of the wine seller and brother to Tomas and Felicia. Really temperamental and angsty sometimes, he’s just filled with a lot of hate for Cleo and Aron for what happened to his brother. He goes to find the Paelsian chief to discuss war.

Magnus: Prince of Limeros, son of the King of Blood. He’s afraid of being like his harsh father who basically executes anyone who doesn’t do what he says. He’s not very well liked and he’s pretty closed off to everyone. He’s good at most princely things like riding, fighting, being charming and watching people. He feels resented by his father who’d rather rely on his valet (rumored to be his bastard) instead of Magnus. Pretty much everyone shuts Magnus out and calls him a disappointment except Lucia, the only person he actually loves. maybe a little too much

Other notable characters

Lucia: Magnus’s sister, princess of Limeros, who’s basically like a sweet little angel. All pure thoughts, pretty, courteous to anyone who meets her. However, she’s got a secret that nobody knows. Or at least nobody is supposed to know.

Emilia: Cleo’s sister and princess of Auranos. Perfect princess, ladylike and charming, likes reading and painting and has a very soft, mild manner. The sisters love each other unconditionally.

Sabina: The King of Limeros’s unofficial mistress. Also a witch and might have something to do with Lucia.

Theon: One of the top guards of the king of Auranos. His father was the king’s personal bodyguard and that’s role Theon aspires to fill now. Assigned to be Princess Cleo’s bodyguard instead. Young, handsome, capable.

Chief Basilius: Chief/leader of Paelsia. Rumoured to be a sorcerer by his people. Remains in seclusion for long periods of time in order to “meditate”. Has luxuries that no one else has in Paelsia. Basically only rich person in the country.

King of Blood/ King Gaius: King of Limeros who is strict and cold-hearted. Not one affectionate relationship. Pretty much kill kill kill. Only seeks to use others to his own means. Allies with Chief Basilius against Auranos.

Brion: Jonas’s friend who basically tags along for all of their adventures and backs him up when he needs backup

Aron: Cleo’s bethrothed who’s almost always drunk and a giant coward but thinks he’s just perfect for a princess.

Nic: Squire to the king of Auranos. Cleo’s friend who’s basically the Auranian equivalent of Brion.

 

I don’t know exactly what to feel about this book. The plot is good but the chronology is disjointed and jumps around and sometimes it totally abandons the impeding-war-of-doom feel for some background info and character development. And the characters really irked me. A lot.

So Cleo seems to be the main character out of all the main characters. There are some chapters where she’s just chilling with her sister and I guess the author wanted some bonding time, wanted to show us that they love each other and stuff but it also loses the feeling of ‘hey, there’s a giant war coming that we’ll possibly lose’. Then she’s supposed to be portrayed as a little kickass girl, being defiant and escaping her captors but it isn’t really written well enough and you kinda just cringe at how embarrassing she looks as she’s doing it. She’d seem a lot cooler if the author hadn’t pulled all of her skills and thoughts out of thin air and with no previous build up. Especially her love story which comes out of nowhere and ends suddenly but sprouts up when the author feels like Cleo needs an emotional breakdown.

And she seems to only have two moods. No emotion or sensory overload. One or the other. You’re supposed to sympathize with her and there are some points where you do truly feel bad for her but other times it’s like

Then Jonas, his motive is basically to kill Cleo and Aron which when you realize why and how makes it seem like the author is building a story on nothing. He believes that Cleo was amused at Aron killing Tomas when she was shocked and then decides he hates her as much more than Aron who actually killed his brother and cheated his father. He goes to the chief to incite war and feels like a celebrity for it. I really feel like Jonas was so poorly written he was just a flat character until he “forgives” Cleo like 5 hours after meeting her.

Magnus, though despicable, is probably the best well written character (still cringy and terrible though) He’s really princely but a pretty depressed sort of fellow. He’s always ALWAYS griping about how his father hates him, won’t trust him blah blah blah or else he’s mooning after his sister and seriously, there isn’t a scene with her where he doesn’t praise her every feature and curse at the fact that she’s his sister and how much he loves and it’s reallyy overdone and just BLEH. He thinks everyone is against him and so is pretty hostile to everyone but then FOR SOME REASON he’s also the ‘reasonable’ one and he knows when his father is been too extreme or whatever and tries to be the good guy which just doesn’t work.

The plot line is so messed up and tangled and plain BORING that I just can’t even. The author doesn’t seem to know how to give characters personality through actions so instead gives them actions that will develop personalities. This war that’s supposed to be the conflict of the book is pretty much dragged out and postponed until each of the 3 main characters have concluded their personal issues, leaving about 3 chapters for the war itself. None of the characters really change AT ALL except meet each other.

This book is SLOW, with poorly written characters that are all supposed to be heroes, the threads of a plot at best, and some nonsensical, extraneous information and chapters. The only way to keep reading was that the chapter endings were slight cliffhangers. The ending was slightly more interesting than the rest of the book so the sequel is a maybe read.

Rating : 2.5/5

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