War brought them together. Love will tear them apart. Princess Cleo of Mytica confronts violence for the first time in her life when a shocking murder sets her kingdom on a path to collapse. Once a privileged royal, Cleo must now summon the strength to survive in this new world and fight for her rightful place as Queen. The King of Limeros’s son, Magnus, must plan each footstep with shrewd, sharp guile if he is to earn his powerful father’s trust, while his sister, Lucia, discovers a terrifying secret about her heritage that will change everything. Rebellious Jonas lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making. Witches, if found, are put to death, and Watchers, immortal beings who take the shape of hawks to visit the human world, have been almost entirely forgotten. A vicious power struggle quickly escalates to war, and these four young people collide against each other and the rise of elementia, the magic that can topple kingdoms and crown a ruler in the same day.
Expectations seem to ruin everything. I was so excited to read Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes for such a long time. I had been seeing it and hearing about the series for so long that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I can’t help judging a book by its cover sometimes and I did with this book. It’s an amazing fantasy cover—look at that font! The cloaked person with daggers! It only made me more excited to jump into another series that I was expecting to love.
I did not love this book. I think I would’ve loved it if I read it when I was younger, maybe around 12 years old. Overall it had a very young feel to me, definitely on the lower end of the YA age range. I’m going to have a hard time keeping this review spoiler free because there are so many specific things I want to talk about that really brought the quality of the story down for me.
I found the plot to be predictable at most times and kind of shallow. Shallow as in I felt like we were just skimming the surface of the events of the book. Things were talked about but not shown. For example, a character has magic and learns to use that magic but we see almost none of their learning or practicing. It felt like big events were happening but they snuck up on me because I saw none of the build up. This made it feel a bit rushed. The plot was fast paced but almost too fast to the point where certain aspects of the story became unbelievable. The climax towards the end of the book was pulled together very quickly. I am unable to buy that such a big confrontation came to happen in such a short amount of time and that it was so simple. There were too many cliches in this book for my liking. While there were some events that were completely unexpected, I had a good idea of where the story was going from the start. The ending came as no real surprise, sadly.
I didn’t care much for any of the characters. They felt like typical characters from a typical fantasy story with predictable storylines. Several fit almost perfectly into certain trope molds—stoic guard who’s hard exterior is softened by the pretty girl he’s ordered to guard, the typical angry, trampled down character who will do anything for revenge against their oppressor, etc. I did appreciate the different points of view in this story though. I always enjoy when I can see more than one side of the story and get a deeper look into other characters that we wouldn’t have without multiple POVs. However, I did have a problem with some of the relationships between characters. They felt forced and unnatural at times, like readers were supposed to just understand and accept the relationship without really watching any of it unfold. Two characters who we barely saw spend any time together and who seemed to barely know each other were suddenly making declarations of love. It was unbelievable…as in I didn’t believe it for one second and had to hold back my gags through a few scenes. Another “relationship” was just weird and gross. If you’ve read the book, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
In the beginning of the story, a lot of world building information was dumped out. I really don’t like when everything you’re going to need to know about worlds and characters is just thrown out at the beginning for you to memorize and understand for the rest of the story. Information should be woven into the story as it goes along and this book felt like I was told everything about the three countries at the very beginning in thinly veiled info dumps.
“She let out the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding.” This is the third book in a row that I’ve read that almost exact same sentence. I mentioned it once on the internet and now every book I touch is punishing me with it. Why?
I’m so disappointed by this book. This series has six books and I was thrilled to be starting a YA fantasy series that was finished (no waiting for books!) but I won’t be continuing it. I see a lot of great things about this series on bookstagram and it makes me wonder if the storyline and character development improve drastically over the next books, but the storyline and characters in the first book aren’t compelling enough for me to continue.
What do you think of Falling Kingdoms? Is it on your must read list or have you read it already? Let’s talk in the comments!