Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Hardcover: 400 pages
Release date: December 11, 2012
Series: Falling Kingdoms #1
Source: Penguin Canada
Reviewed by: Tynga
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?
Kingdoms once united are now split by their faith and the state of their land. Auranos is envied for its riches. Limeros is on a decline oppressed by its blood-craving King and its freezing land.Paelsia is worst for the case for its crop-less frozen territories and its citizens dying from hunger. In the middle of it all, are a handful of teenagers, from all three territories, restless in this near-war atmosphere.
What an awesome novel by Morgan Rhodes a.k.a. Michelle Rowen. I was first attracted by the amazing cover, because I'm a sucker for YA high fantasy, but I was hooked from the prologue! Morgan did a brilliant job bringing to the table magic, mystery and powerful writing. Right from the start, I found myself hanging onto Rhodes’ every single word. She skilfully introduced a handful of stunning characters and the way she alternated her third person narration between each character not only allowed us to discover their perspective, but also to see them via the eyes of each teenager. I say it was the work of a genius. I really came to care for each character and was surprised to sometimes be influenced by the narrators point of view.
If I had to pick a favourite character I’d have a really hard time because they were all likeable in their own way. Princess Cleo from Auranos is determined and good-hearted even though she is perceived as a spoiled bitch (his words, not mine) by Jonas. The latter is a peasant from Paelsia, blinded by grief but with good intentions (saving his folks). I really pitied Magnus, the Prince of Limeros, for the way everyone treats him, but I loved the way he protects Lucia, his sister. Lucia is full of surprises and I can’t wait to know more.
The plot progressed at a steady pace, and even though we don’t really know where Morgan is taking us, you can’t help but stay on the edge of your seat, dying from the suspense. I will say, the novel isn’t heavy action, but the slow boiling war in the making is enough to maintain a high anxiety and excitement level.
About two third into the novel the story took a dramatic turn and I got teary-eyed on more than one occasion. The tragic ending was a promise of adventure and the teenagers will need to show strong character if they want to survive what's to come. I am extremely anxious for the sequel, Rebel Spring, and I have no idea how I am going to wait so long!
Original and compelling, this engaging fantasy series will sure please fans of Maria V Snyder and Kristin Cashore!