Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Summary (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?
This book wasn’t what I was expecting. Like some of the blurbs mention, it really did read like a YA Game of Thrones. There were various perspectives and point of view shifts. And it was the kind of fantasy that dealt more with warfare and power than with magic and adventures. Though, I guess it wouldn’t be fair to say there is no magic and adventure in here either because its certainly there. Also, like Martin, Rhodes is not afraid to kill off characters. This surprised me a little, in a good way.
It’s one of those books where you’re never really sure who you should be rooting for. Is the vengeful revolutionary correct? Or is it the ignorant, yet kind and brave princess? I liked this. The author didn’t feel the need to spell everything out for you; you are supposed to make your own mind up about each of these very different characters. Also, I like the mystery of the magical element. It wasn’t all really explained until about ¾ through, and even then readers are meant to add up their own bits and pieces to fully understand it.
The kings in all three lands were rather terrifying. And I can’t really judge the newer generation for any of their brutality, ignorance, or weakness because who look who all their dads were! I felt particularly bad for Magnus’ upbringing. Though, I guess no one had it easy.
I found the actual magical elements of the story to be a little cliché. No one’s allowed to do magic. Yet, there’s a magically protected palace door, a mistress that’s a witch, and hawks that are actually magical folk spying on the humans. But, the part that was just a little over done was the stuff with the stones. The hidden magic rocks that not everyone can touch and no one has been able to find sounds a little familiar to me.
Though I’m excited to see the effects of a certain magical ring (again familiar). And I certainly can’t wait for a particular princess to come into all her new-found abilities.
I found the war elements and strategy scenes to be interesting. I never knew who would win the war. And I still don’t know all the motives for having it in the first place, and this is just so refreshing (not being to guess everything)!
I didn’t love any of the characters. A lot of them sort of fell in between the shades of good and bad. There wasn’t one true hero. And I guess I both liked this and didn’t. I wanted to root for someone, but it was also kind of nice to have something a little different. I guess though that it would have been nice to not have all the characters react to death in the same way. I feel like every character that lost someone then immediately goes into a vengeful need of more blood. No passive characters, I guess.
All in all, it was nice having a different kind of fantasy than what I’m used to. I loved being able to make up my own mind about characters and events. I found the power battles to be addicting to read about. I’m interested in seeing where things end up going in regards to the magic. There were a few elements to the story that I have read before (and they stood out because so much of the rest of the story was new). It gets an 8/10.

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