Thursday, January 10, 2013
Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
Release Date: December 11, 2012
Source: BEA in exchange for an honest review.
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?(courtesy of Goodreads)
Every big hit, be it book or movie, spawns loads of spin-offs. We had look-alikes for Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, and more. Now it's the time for Game of Thrones spin-offs. This doesn't necessarily mean the spin-offs are unoriginal or inferior. It's just interesting to notice the connection.
Falling Kingdoms is a wide spanning tale told from four different perspectives. Our four hero/heroines (are they anti-heros?) are from three different kingdoms and very difficult walks of life.
Cleo is our spoiled rich girl. Looking at her from the outside, she seems haughty and selfish. But luckily, we get to read her perspective and realize that her hard face hides guilt, empathy, and kindness. I wouldn't say she's easy to love, but as a reader, you'll want to side with her.
Jonas is driven by anger and hate after Cleo's betrothed needlessly kills his brother. Jonas is another person who is difficult to like, but reading his perspective gives you sympathy with him, even if his methods of revenge are not ideal. He starts rolling a tiny rock of revolution down a hill and eventually realizes it's a boulder he can't control.
Lucia is a sweet, innocent girl whose innate powers will eventually drive this series. A lot of adults have staked their lives on manipulating her. Her gentle nature belies an inner strength that I think will only grow.
Then there's Magnus...poor Magnus. Who's in love with his sister, who's not actually his sister (the reader figures this out early enough that it's not a spoiler)...remind you of anything? Magnus is, on the surface, as hard as diamonds resulting from his cruel father, but it's hard not to fall for his love-sick heart.
Falling Kingdoms excels at world-building. I admire Ms. Rhodes for creating three separate kingdoms each with their own histories, politics, and religion. Plus, there's a strong undercurrent of magic and sorcery that we'll learn more and more about. The world feels rich and fully developed.
In many ways, Falling Kingdoms is everything a high fantasy should be. The characters are well-described. The world-building is fabulous. The plotting is steady. The author isn't afraid to shock reader's senses with character deaths (a'la GOT). The pacing is decent. The multiple POV added to the story rather than making it seem choppy. But for some reason, Falling Kingdoms was not a page-turner for me. I liked it, but didn't love it. The intangible magic that sucks me into a book's pages was never there. I definitely want to read the rest of the series, but it hasn't fully enchanted me yet.