Book: Falling Kingdoms
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Series: Falling Kingdoms
Standing: Book 1
POV: 3rd person by Cleo, Jonas, Lucia and Magnus
Setting: Mystia (composed of Auranos, Paelsia, and Limeros)
Genre: YA fantasy
Source: Physical copy
Release: December 11th, 2012
|In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.|
As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed... and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.
The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?
It's the eve of war.... Choose your side.
Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct.
Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.
Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.
Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realise that the heart can be more lethal than the sword....
Wow. Such a magical, political, and romantically complex world!
Falling Kingdoms begins with the murder of Jonas' brother, Tomas, which sets off an entire course of events, leading Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus' lives to be weaved with one another's.
I originally wasn't too sure about having 4 protagonists, since that's a lot of character arcs to keep track of. Add the fact that they're all leading different stories, none quite on the same side/goal, and I was a little fearful. However, the author was effectively able to keep everything from getting confusing by focusing mainly on Cleo and Magnus. Jonas and Lucia's perspectives were present, but their character arcs were not as big or dramatic as Cleo's and Magnus'. Which makes sense, since Cleo and Magnus are the heirs to the opposing sides of war, both having the most to gain and lose, and thus setting up the plot.
"Nobody owns us. You hear me? Nobody. If you want something, you have to take it. Because nobody's every going to give it to you. So we're going to take back what's been taken from us. And then we'll create a better future for Paelsia. A better future for us all."
Cleo began off as your typical royal princess, accustomed to getting everything she wanted if she begged hard enough. However, after witnessing a murder, becoming engaged to someone she loathed, and having someone she loves dying, she is forced to step out of her princess roles and take matters into her own hands. Her character arc was a gradual one, the transition from princess to an independent woman sort of a slow burn. However, this isn't a trilogy, which means her character has time to develop, to properly flush out everything, so I'm not too disappointed. The Cleo at the beginning is different from the Cleo at the end, but she still has a long way to go, which I look forward to reading about.
"As much as she wanted to fight, to scream, Cleo kept her head haughtily high. She would be fierce."
Magnus was probably the most interesting character of the lot. He is the most complex, struggling to live to expectations of his father, the brutal King of Blood. Magnus really represents a political actor, able to fake reactions (or lack of reactions) for his father, when inside, he unsure of what to do. Magnus does have a cruel streak, courtesy of his father, and just when I'm beginning to lose hope for Magnus and put him on Team Evil, the author skillfully introduces an event that proves the goodness in Magnus' heart. I'm hoping to take that as a sign that Magnus will not succumb to becoming a monster like his father, and will choose good in the end. But until then, he's trying to be the man his father wants him to be...meaning there will probably be a lot of angst on my part for him in the next books.
"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 that we exist. What might not be evil to you could be evil to someone else. Knowing this makes us powerful even without magic."
Jonas and Lucia had slight more minor character arcs, but equally as essential roles in the plot. Jonas becomes fuelled with revenge, determined to kill Cleo, and then eventually realizing that there might be slightly bigger issue he should address. Lucia discovers that she's actually a sorceress, someone with an endless supply of magic, very rare, and plays a crucial part in the ending. I'm certain that these two will have bigger roles in the next books, Jonas leading a rebellion, and Lucia being used by her father, King of Blood, for her magic.
"It rose up to the surface to greet her. The strength of air, the grit of earth, the endurance of water, the scorch of fire."