Sunday, March 10, 2013

Falling Kingdoms

Falling Kingdoms
By: Morgan Rhodes
Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms, #1)
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:
This was a pretty good story.I had a few problems with it (particularly with the writing), but the world-building was awesome and the characters felt mostly authentic. I have a feeling this is the beginning of a great YA fantasy series. I can't wait for the next book.

Cleo: She could accurately be described as a spoiled brat for most of this book, as evidenced by this quote from her,

"If Cleo wanted something badly enough, it would happen. Why wouldn't it? It always had before."

She wasn't actually selfish, she was just always felt very entitled. It's understandable because she is the princess of a thriving country, but that doesn't make it excusable. But, this set her up for some very important character development. She transforms from the complete brat she was into a character trying to be strong and take back her country. I ended up really liking Cleo. Granted she's still quite naive, but she's also very young for everything that's happened to her.
Lucia: Also naive, but not nearly as entitled. Her and Magnus (who we'll definitely be discussing later) have major problems because of their parents. I mean, they aren't just a little messed up, they are completely screwed up in every aspect of their lives. But, can you blame them? Their dad is "The King of Blood" and their mom has kind of checked out. Although admittedly, Lucia is less messed up than Magnus is. Her main flaw isn't anything that she herself does, but that she goes along with what others tell her to do without questioning the morality of it all. But she also seems to have a good heart, and with all the power she has, she could really do something good.
Magnus: He is easily the most messed up of the four main characters (which is saying a lot). But I also felt sorry for him the most, he had to put up with a horrible father and a horrible mother and a horrible everyone else. There was only one person who was nice to him, Lucia. And while that storyline might have gotten really creepy and disgusting really fast, I honestly don't think it was added to the story just for a creepy factor (obviously not defending the actual storyline, just its place in the overall story). Magnus changed because of it (not in a good way) and it changed Lucia too. I think that when Magnus figures things out he'll really be a force for good and a great future king of Limeros.
Jonas: I think he is the main character that we see the least, but I still enjoyed reading his chapters. He was angry and stubborn, but he meant well. He felt deeply for his country, however that led him into not caring for the people of the other countries. But him and his brother were rebels to the core. Jonas often made decisions and judgments too quickly, but it had a lot to do with his temperment.

Setting and Plot:
The best parts of this book was the awesome world-building and the genuine characters. Mytica was very well thought out, the politics were interesting and the religions were worked in very well. The leaders had clear and obvious reasons for making the decisions made, sometimes because they were gullible, sometimes because they were power-hungry, but there was always a reason. The plot was also crazy awesome. This book isn't like most books that begin series, it wasn't just leading up to a impending war, it was the beginning of war. It didn't just promise action, it delivered it.

I also loved the viewpoints this book comes from. Very few books can pull off having the story told from two perspectives let alone the four (and actually closer to six) found in this book. And yes, it isn't technically told from first person so it isn't quite the same, but it is still quite impressive. It was so interesting to read about all the main characters and how most of them didn't like each other. But you wanted to be on each of their sides, even when those sides clashed with each other. The little details put into this book also impressed me. I loved how the beginning of each chapter said which of the three lands it was taking place in. And I loved the character guide at the beginning of the book (especially in the first few chapters, because there were a ton of names to keep straight) and I liked that it was sorted by country.

Supporting Characters:
Nic: What an awesome ginger. ;) But seriously, I like him a lot. I'm hoping that he either finds another girl or tells Cleo how he feels about her, but we'll see.
Brion: I was in love with Brion and Jonas' bromance. They joked around a lot which was a nice addition to the story. And we know that he is really brave, like when he stood up to King Gaius' soldiers and wouldn't bow to Gaius.
Emilia: I think she was a good character, but underutilized. A lot more could have been done with her and Cleo's sisterhood. I also think the fact that her death happened just minutes before the battle somehow diluted the emotion of it. But other than that she was very well-written.
King Gaius: Also known as The King of Blood. Needless to say, King Gaius is a very convincing villain. He is manipulative and selfish. His quest for power is what drives him to kill and destroy.
King Corvin: He was the only leader in Mytica who actually cared about something other than himself. He felt guilty for his part in Paelsia's troubles and what it caused for all of the people of the land.
Chief Basillius: I liked that this book didn't just have good rulers and evil rulers, it had a gullible and indifferent leader. Because it's not that Chief Basillius was this incredibly bad guy, he was just trusting and kind of apathetic toward the suffering of his people.
Theon: Gosh.. just when I started to really like him, he dies. But it was an important lesson for Cleo to learn, sometimes you can't have everything and sometimes you lose the people you love most.

Plot Twists and Action:
Another fantastic thing about this book is that things were always happening and new plans were being carried out. A lot of the action and intrigue stemmed from the story being told from so many different people in all of the three countries. It being told from people of interest in the affairs of the country (like Cleo, Magnus, and Lucia) and from people trying hard to change things (Jonas). I loved how real the war felt because there was no side that was completely in the right. The story could be told that way because it was told by people from all sides of it.

And to this review I am adding a very special section (and by special , unfortunately I mean bad). Because while the book met all of the qualifications above and it was truly great, I had a couple problems with it.

Problem 1. the apparent lack of editing. Really, some sentences had entire words left out that were important to what it was saying or had words in the sentence twice. Big, obvious problems that anyone could see while reading through it, so I don't get why those weren't corrected. This is kind of a pet peeve of mine.

Problem 2. the dialogue. While it's true that I loved the characters and most of their interactions, there were times when the dialogue was just so inauthentic. It didn't feel organic. It sounded like something that no one would say in that situation, let alone the characters whom the conversation was based around.


"Even paradise could become a prison if one had enough time to take notice of the walls."

"Whispered stories could turn to shouted truths as quick as day became night."

"Life itself sings from your existence."

"Some victories didn't taste quite as sweet as they should."

"Even in the darkest and most cruel person, there is still a kernel of good. And within the most perfect champion, there is also 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 we exist."

"But perhaps a heart takes experience and time to harden."

"And you must draw from that strength. You must increase it. And you must hold on to it because sometimes that small glimmer of inner strength is all that we have to help us press forward through the darkness."

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