Review: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

19 September, 2012 Reviews 26 comments

Review: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan RhodesFalling Kingdoms by Michelle Rowen, Morgan Rhodes
Series: Falling Kingdoms #1
on December 11th 2012
Pages: 412
Genres: High Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Swap
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

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....

This marks the second book I’ve read of the Breathless Reads collection from PenguinTeen and so far, I have not been disappointed. And now, I’m making it my personal mission to check out the others in the collection. With Origin I had edge-of-my-seat suspense, but with Falling Kingdoms I had conspiracies, action, war… blood. 😀

Falling Kingdoms follows the story of four young people from different kingdoms whose destinies become intertwined during the strain of peace between the lands. We have Cleo, a princess of Auranos; Jonas, a peasant from Paelsia; and Lucia & Magnus from Limeros. At first I was a little overwhelmed with remembering who was who, because besides the main characters, there are also quite a few important secondary characters to keep track of. Thankfully, the plot picks up rather quickly and kept me interested long enough to focus. Since Falling Kingdoms essentially has four storylines built into one and is very character driven, it’s probably easier to review by analyzing the book by each character.


I struggled to like Cleo and most of the characters involved in her story arc. Much of the time I generally found her to be incredibly frustrating and immature. She’s also spoiled, stubborn and selfish. But she does have a good amount of character growth by the end of the novel. The sad part is that it comes at a really high price for her. I also disliked most of her storyline. The entirety of the events in Falling Kingdoms begins with her friend Aron (also known as the most infuriating character ever) murdering a Paelsian peasant after trying to cheat the family out of money for wine. Dude just claims his life as if he owned the place. Then somewhere along the way there is a bit of insta-love between her and another character that I REALLY didn’t care for. In fact, I thought that whole love story was poorly executed given the novel’s fast pace. Even given those dislikes, I feel like I will enjoy her character much more in book two.


Jonas is the brother of the murdered peasant and through his thirst for vengeance, a revolution begins. He helps rally his people and forms and alliance with the King of Limeros to siege Auranos. I enjoyed his story arc much more than Cleo’s because he is clearly the under dog of the four. But I do feel he received the least amount of page time than the other main characters. However, based on the ending, it looks like he will play a much larger role in the next book.

Lucia and Magnus:

Ah, those two. Let’s just call the Luke and Leia for now, minus actually being blood relatives. Or better yet Clary and Jace from The Mortal Instruments series. Okay, so this was the storyline that really drove this novel since the prologue is about Lucia’s past. Their arc had the most plot twists and turns along with shocking revelations. Or perhaps, not so shocking if you have read similar character situations. Magnus hides his feelings from Lucia and with their story I sat on the edge of my seat just waiting for when the secret was bound to come out. All the while, war on Auranos approaches. What’s interesting is that even though it’s clear (at least, right now) Limeros is the bad guy, they don’t seem to be bad characters. But considering how they had large roles in the conquering of Auranos, it’ll be interesting to see how their characters, especially Magnus, redeem their selves.

I really think Rhodes applied the right amount of anticipation throughout the novel. I never felt bored and at times I stayed up late into the night reading. And while each main character did seem to incite moments of great frustration, I liked them because they are all so flawed and do a lot of growing. It’s one thing to be plagued with an annoying character for the duration of the novel, but to see genuine progress really makes the difference. These characters are young and virtually “play things of the gods” used as pawns for bigger purposes unbeknownst to them. Rhodes pushes her characters to make really difficult decisions, causing them to step up to the plate and face their fates or destinies. I have to commend her for taking their individual arcs and weaving them together so flawlessly as if it were always to be that way.

The biggest thing that felt off to me was the pacing. Time passes very swiftly from one PoV change to the next and the reader is just told how much time has passed in the beginning of the chapter. This didn’t work too much for me because I didn’t necessarily feel or see the change myself. This led to small incidents of confusion like with the above insta-love I mentioned.

Though despite my small issue, that are just that, small, I really enjoyed Falling Kingdoms. So much so that I found myself thinking about the story long after I finished. It looks like the next book is shaping up to be even better than it’s processor and I can’t wait! If you are still on the fence, you could try checking out a sample of the first few chapter on the Breathless Reads Facebook page. But I really think those few, short chapters doesn’t even come close to doing the book justice.

Big thank you to Anna from Literary Exploration for lending me her ARC! 

Steph Sinclair

Steph Sinclair

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
I'm a bibliophile trying to make it through my never-ending To-Be-Read list, equal opportunity snarker, fangirl and co-blogger here at Cuddlebuggery. Find me on GoodReads.

26 Responses to “Review: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes”

  1. katiemstout

    Yay! I’m glad this is a good read. It’s one I’ve really been wanting to check out. And I’m totally going to be reading all the Breathless books too because they all sound incredible. I think VENOM is next on my list. Woohoo! 

  2. Kara_M

    Thanks, Steph. I really wanted to read this one and was terribly disappointed when I got declined on Edelweiss. *shakes fist* Don’t they know who I am? Just kidding. Sort of. But getting a 4 star review from you means something to me, so lucky for them I will probably buy it at some point. Even though I was not a fan of Origin, I still trust your judgment. Heh. 😉

    • Stephanie Sinclair

       @Kara_M LOL! Kara, I was declined too! And then I went and ate my feelings with a pint of cookie dough. 🙂 
      I think you will like this better than Origin, TBH. I like emotional reads because I’m an emotional person, so I can see why Origin appealed me a little more than others looking for more out of a novel. This one has a lot more action and I think it sets everything up nicely for a great new series. BUT prepare to be irritated by a few of the MC!

      • Kara_M

         @Stephanie Sinclair  @Kara_M LOL!! Every time I get declined on Edelweiss I do that. I don’t even bother to send in Penguin requests anymore.
        I am totally an emotional person who disliked Origin, btw. But I do tend to like books that have less of a romantic focus, and I kinda feel like Origin was all about the romance and less about the story. But really…I just thought the characters were flat and unlikable. LOL.

  3. Realm of Fiction

    I’m glad to see a positive review for this! It’s usually the sign of a good book when you’re left thinking about it long after you’ve finished. This definitely sounds like my sort of book so I will need to get myself a copy of it when I can. Also, how amazing is that cover? 🙂
    Great review as usual, Steph! 

  4. Mary BookSwarm

    Ooh, yet another awesome book that’s sitting on my shelf just waiting for me to read! Damn you, books on my shelf, teasing me with fabulous temptation and filling me with book lust! *shakes fist* I love when a book sticks with you. To me, definitely the sign of a good book (unless you’re thinking about all the time you wasted reading it…)

  5. Late Nights w Good Books

    I am really interested in reading this! Though I can totally see how it can be confusing and frustrating at first with so many leads and secondary characters and plotlines and all, I personally love figuring out how they’re all intertwined. And honestly any fantasy with conspiracies will call to me. I can’t wait to read this!

  6. AnimeGirlAlex

    I didn’t know about this collection you mention but I’m going to try to check it out because this book sounds really good 🙂 and thanks for the warning on the pacing, pacing can make or break a book in my opinion. 

  7. Sarah saz101

    Ooooh, creepy brother/sister lovin’?
    You know how us fantasy fans go cray for that O__o (seriously, where else does trope happen?!)
    Mmmmm, seriously though. This souns GOOD. AND INSANE. AND GIMME GIMME GIMME.
    Also, is the cover reminding anyone else of Altair and/or Ezio from Assassin’s Creed? 😀

  8. Neyra

    Great review Steph! I’ve had this book on my must read list for ages, looks like I wasn’t wrong in putting it there xD I don’t however, know how I’ll feel about the four character storylines, hopefully it doesn’ t confuse me as much. LOL

  9. VeganYANerds

    Hey Steph, thanks for putting this book on my radar! It doesn’t strike me as something I would take notice of in a store but I am a bit fan of plots intertwining and main characters coming together (even if they are a little frustrating in one way or another!) Your description of the beginning reminded me of how I felt when I first read Finnikin of the Rock, fantasy has a way of starting out confusing but usually it gets there eventually!

  10. ruizcassandra50

    I thought Magnus and Lucia were the best characters.
    Hope they end up together since they aren’t really blood-related after all.
    And have to agree while Falling Kingdoms was immensely enjoyable think the next books should be more amazing.
    Looking forward to Rebel Spring.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge