Title: Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms #1)
Author: Morgan Rhodes (aka. Michelle Rowen)
Genre: high fantasy, magic, romance
Publication Date: 11 December 2012
Pages: 412 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Synopsis (from goodreads):
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?
I’ve not read much fantasy in my life but this book is the kind of high fantasy that reminded me of Lord of the Rings or the Song of Fire and Ice books.
There’s magic, castles, forbidden lust and political unrest. In the land of Mytica there are three kingdoms. Auranos led by King Corvin is the land of plenty. Their goddess Cleiona has blessed them with lush forests and plenty of food. Their neighbour, Paelsia, uses all their resources (in a trade deal gone sour) to grow wine grapes that Auranos pays pittance for. Chief Basilius, the Paelsian leader, is a recluse and rumoured to be a powerful sorcerer. The land to the north is that of Lumeros and is ruled with an iron fist by the King of Blood, Gaius. He is a strong believer that the Goddess Valoria (Goddess Cleiona’s sister and magical rival) will prevail as long as all his kingdom conform to his motto: Strength, Faith, Wisdom.
Where things get interesting aren’t with the kingdoms leaders – but rather their next generation. There’s Princess Cleiona, aka. Cleo, the beautiful blonde Auranian princess who is headstrong and acts with her heart rather than her head. Prince Magnus of Limeros who strives to be nothing like his cold, calculating father. And then there’s Magnus’ sister Lucia who may or may not actually be related to him. Finally there’s Jonas Agalleon. He’s a Paelsian peasant who witnesses his brother being brutally being slain by an Auranian nobleman and Princess Cleo over an argument regarding the sale of wine and swears to get his vengeance.
There’s a lot going on and this is just the first few chapters. Warning – don’t get too attached to any of the characters because Ms. Rhodes isn’t afraid to kill anyone off at any time. I loved the action and the uncertainty of whether my favourites would survive or be slain in a bloody battle.
Magic is everywhere within Mytica and the myths of the Goddesses who are believed in forms a big part of the story. Witches, magical healing seeds, one sorceress to rule them all and magical beings in the form of eagles appear right though the novel. Elementia and The Kindred are fascinating concepts and there’s a lot of scope of where things can go in the next novel of the series.
The relationships between the characters are probably what I enjoyed most about Falling Kingdoms. The siblings bonds are shown in so many different forms but they all boil down to one thing. Family who would do anything for the other one. I also liked the contrast between the Kings Corvin and Gaius who could not have a more different relationship with their children.
This is a rather long book but worthwhile reading. There’s a lot of groundwork being laid for what is to come – despite a lot of world building and setting up a lot happens and there is drama from the very first chapter.
I found Falling Kingdoms to be a great change of pace from the paranormal and contemporary YA books I’ve been reading. I recommend this book for fans of fantasy who are looking for a slightly more (although not too much – there’s still a lot of murder, deception and some slight perceived incest) teen version of A Game of Fire and Ice (Game of Thrones)
Thanks to NetGalley for the digital review copy.
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