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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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I get the distinct impression that Morgan Rhodes wanted to write a sort of young-adult version of "A Song of Ice And Fire" -- violence, frequent death, political clashes, and some (discreetly non-explicit) sexual themes.

And in that way, "Falling Kingdoms" is a decent debut for this author. It has a very well-plotted concept that promises to make an intriguing high fantasy series, but it also suffers from a lot of flaws that budding writers are often plagued with. It's a decent debut, but Rhodes needs some more polishing for the story to become excellent.

There are three kingdoms -- wealthy Auranos, impoverished and superstitious Paelsia, and brutal Limeros. When a drunken Auranian nobleman kills a Paelsian boy in front of Princess Cleo, it inadvertantly sparks off an excuse for war, causing Paelsia and Limeros to form an alliance to take down the country they hate and envy.

Cleo is struggling with her own problems: an engagement to a blackmailing cad, her growing love for a guard, and the illness that is slowly killing her sister. But her attempts to chase down a legend take her into the heart of the blossoming war, and bring her face-to-face with Jonas -- the brother of the man her fiance killed.

In Limeros, Prince Magnus' forbidden love for his sister Lucia takes an unexpected twist when he finds out that she is the subject of a prophecy -- a legendary sorceress who may become the Avatar... sorry, bring together all the elemental magics (earth, air, fire and water) and restore magic to the world. And the cruel King Gaius intends to use her to bring down Auranos.

The verdict? It's... okay.

Rhodes spends a lot of time sketching out the different cultures, back-history and mythology, and deftly weaving them together. There are a different layers to the conflict -- aside from the mere clash of kingdoms, there are also personal hatreds and even a mystical, religious dimension to the conflict.

And for fans of more mature storytelling, there is a lot of blood, death and implied sex (though nothing explicit, just mentions of it). The whole thing explodes in the final third, where Rhodes rushes us through the ugliness of a battlefield -- lots of disembowelments and stabbings.

However... Rhodes is a first-time writer, and it shows. Her prose is strong and muscular, but it has some rough patches -- repetition (take a drink every time Cleo is threatened and/or captured) and too much TELLING instead of SHOWING.

And it could use a bit more embellishment. One scene has Cleo having a nightmare about being drowned in blood by the murdered boy... but you don't FEEL the fear and horror of it. It needed more atmosphere and detail.

But Rhodes gives a lot of care to her expansive cast -- a rebellious princess who manages to avert the usual tropes, a tormented young man hardening into an ice prince, a fiery revolutionary, and even a Watcher who... just watches. Lucia is a bit of a purity Sue, but she isn't too bad as a "chosen one" character. And there is a vast supporting cast of kings, guards, peasants, barbarian chieftains, kindly old ladies and scheming witches. A lot of people die, and not always the ones you expect.

"Falling Kingdoms" has the skeleton of a great epic fantasy, but Morgan Rhodes needs to smooth out some of the rough spots before it can fully blossom. But this is something to keep your eye on.
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on 24 January 2016
I was so, so excited for this book. I really bought into all the hype surrounding it and was so pleased when I started reading it. And even those first six pages - that prologue! Story telling magic! I was in love from the word go.

But, that's where it peaked. For me, at least. I was so completely underwhelmed by this book.

Cleo as a character is abhorrent to me. She's one of those supposed 'strong female characters' who is actually a petulant child who does whatever she wants regardless of other people's wishes and her father's orders, and the end result is that people die. She swans about telling people what to do and demanding things from them, and as soon as a little bit of trouble pops up she looks for the nearest man to hide behind. Cleo and I did not get along - we are not friends.

Lucia seems to be almost a non-character. There was no character development here at all. Completely two-dimensional. There is literally nothing else that can be said about her.

Jonas was a little bit ridiculous, if I'm honest. But I also feel like he hasn't been done any justice. His story arc just felt completely rushed. I kind of love and hate his ruthlessness - the actions he takes to do what he thinks must be done; the way he uses people. It helps build his character. It's unfortunate that he is then thrust into situations that force him come across as a completely redundant character.

Magnus. Now we're talking. Potentially the only character I like in this series so far. He's just so interesting, isn't he? He's a little bit dark and her <i>knows</i> he is. Instead of letting this fact torture him, he uses it to strengthen who he is. That other thing - you know <i><b>that</b></i> thing - was a wonderful little addition to his character. Magnus is like the anti-Cleo. He's intelligent, calculating, reserved and more than happy to meet adversity head on. I loved him.

The writing wasn't fantastic, but it was good; clear and concise which is the way I like it. At this point in time, the plot seems a bit weak, but I just keep reminding myself that there are 3 other books out and 2 more to come after that. I'm hoping it will get stronger.

So, yes, that does mean I will be continuing with the series at some point. Unfortunately, this book didn't leave me with the burning desire to pick them up right now.
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on 7 December 2013
The death of a wine seller's son sparks a war between three kingdoms, and four different young people, Cleo, Jonas, Magnus and Lucia are caught in the centre of this conflict. I felt I should have liked Falling Kingdoms, but I found it was boring and did not interest me, as the plot seemed very obvious and predictable. I could not connect to any of the characters as they all seem very stereotypical. Falling Kingdoms is marketed as a YA Game of Thrones, but I am not a fan of either TV series or books, so people who do like it may like this book more. I did not enjoy this book and did not finish it.
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on 16 October 2016
This is a YA High Fantasy so of course it was on my radar. I’d seen a lot of criticisms of this book saying that it isn’t a great book and the series gets much better after this one but I thought it wasn’t that bad actually and quite enjoyed it.

After a bit of an altercation at a village, the three kingdoms of Mytica are at unrest and a war is looming. Falling Kingdoms follows 4 characters, and their importance in the power struggle between the 3 nations.

It can be difficult to create a high fantasy novel such as this with different POV characters and give every character a separate personality, but this was achieved in this book. I was interested in every character and every political climate and every kingdom. I understood who each character was instead of getting everyone confused which I oftenfind when you’re introduced to a new world.

On the subject of political climates I really enjoyed that politics were a focus in this, as I sometimes find that isn’t the case in YA high fantasy because for whatever reason the MCs (being young adults) are kept out of the conversations and confrontations.

I’m really interested to see whose paths cross in the following books and what relationships are forged after the end of this one. That’s one of my favourite things of multiple POV books is seeing where the characters bump into each other along the way and how they react to each other.

Because the characters are so well developed I really felt for them at times and then hated them at times, they really felt human. A lot of people seem to hate Magnus but I quite like him and he goes through some really tough things in this and I wonder how things are going to develop following the ending and the bombshells dropped, he was the most intriguing character for me. Yeah Lucia has magic and Cleo has been through some s*** but Magnus is the person I was really pulled to.

As I type this a copy of Rebel Spring is sitting on my shelf from my library but I have a few to read until I get to that but I’m excited to eventually get to it.
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on 9 May 2013
Read the original review here: [...]


I was drawn to this book by its cover. I didn't know what to expect and I thought that, as I got the book for free, I might as well ask for it. I also didn't expect it to be fantasy or as...odd as it was.

Falling Kingdoms is a book filled with war, conspiracies, adventure and love, each balanced in the right way. It is a really good book, and the world of Mytica seems so magical.


Cleiona "Cleo" Bellos: She is the princess of the southern kingdom, Auranos. To me, she didn't seem like a very well-rounded character. I struggled to like her to begin with, and found her quite annoying, but, as the story moved on, I was able to love her a little. She just seemed a little naive about the world.

Aron Lagaris: He is a court noble and Cleo's intended. He came across as completely arrogant and witless, drinking most of the time and 'accidentally' killing someone, which results in a full-blown war.

Nicolo "Nic" Cassian: The king's squire and friend of Cleo. I found Nic's character likable, just because he seemed more well-rounded than all the others and made mistakes, which he quickly made up for. He is a good friend to Cleo and stands by her no matter what.

Jonas Agallon: He's the brother of a murdered peasant and his thirst for revenge against Auranos sparks the revolution. He seems like a completely horrible character to begin with, but by the end, it seems that he will play a much lager part in the next book.

Magus and Lucia Damora: Brother and sister and royalty to Limeros. They have a strange relationship that I'll let you read for yourself.


The beginning of the story (excluding the prologue) is very exciting. You just get to know the characters and then they jump into the action. It's a very good way to start a story.

Cleo's relationship with her sister was one of the best parts of the book. The clearly look out for each other and when something bad happened at the end, I felt devastated If you haven't noticed already, I'm trying to keep this almost spoiler-free.

I found that the Cleo x Theon (Cleo's bodyguard) moments were very peculiar. One moment, they hardly know each other, the next, they're in love with each other. Theon's character seemed very two-dimensional but I still felt bad for Cleo when their relationship came to an...end.

The POV (Point Of View, for those who don't know) changing annoyed me. I skimmed over most of the chapters from Limeros as I found them not needed in the story until the end, where the story ends on a high. I would have liked it a lot better if we just had one or two POVs at the most; three just seems too jumpy.

I found that Morgan Rhodes applied the right amount of action and anticipation to this novel. I was always on the edge of my seat and by time I finished the book, I had fallen off of my seat. All the characters had their flaws and it was interesting to see them grow throughout the book.


This book is brilliant.

I have no more to say.

I want to read the next now.

And I gave it four stars.

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on 6 July 2016
Review by Francesca

‘Falling Kingdoms’ was recommended to me and I would definitely recommend it to others. It is a thrilling YA fantasy about three lands on the brink of war and the focus shifts between each of these lands and the different characters there.
My favourite part of ‘Falling Kingdoms’ was the fact that it was full of surprises, right from the very beginning. The ending of the prologue shocked me, and I knew at that point that the book would be a great one. The twists continued throughout the novel and they kept me right on the edge of my seat. I was never sure what was going to happen next, and I loved that. It made the novel tense, gripping and memorable, as did the fact that several characters had secrets which they in turn revealed.
I also really enjoyed having a large cast of characters who were all interlinked, and that the chapters switched focus between several of these – Jonas, Cleiona, Lucia and Magnus. Each of these characters had a distinct voice and personality, as did some of the minor characters, including the arrogant and impulsive Aron, and the calculating and unpredictable King Gaius.
The reasons I didn’t give this book five stars are that I did not feel that it was as original as some of the other fantasies I have read recently, especially with regard to Elementia, and because I thought that Cleo’s romance occurred much too quickly and was not actually necessary.
However, I loved all the twists and turns in this novel and I do want to read the sequels to see what happens next.
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on 15 April 2015
Also seen on www.emmamazey.blogspot.com
The best way to describe this book to you is that it is a YA equivalent of Game of Thrones. It is so epic and amazing that you will be left amazed by the character progression and the beginnings of a huge series. I knew about 20 pages in that I would love this book and it certainly didn't disappoint.

When I had this book for Christmas I knew that I wanted to read it as soon a possible because it is everything that I love about fantasy, you have duel perspectives, battling countries and fantastically written characters.

Whilst this book tends to focus more on the characters than the world building, there is never a lack of any aspect. I knew exactly what to picture when the author was writing the scenes but I think that is because it takes the backdrop of many classic fantasy stories and nothing is totally unimaginable despite the mutterings of magical elements. Thats right, theres magic in this book as well!

The magic element was probably my favourite, it wasn't the main plot but I can tell that it will in the end be the most important factor in this series, the hints and then the stories were super interesting and The Kindred and The Watchers were unique and like nothing I have read before.

Now lets talk about characters... Cleo is one of the best characters I've read about, she is independent, head strong, a little reckless and full of passion. I throughly enjoyed her segments and I think that she has such a strong voice, despite everything that happens she remains strong and I think I may love her slightly.... Magnus is a very intriguing character, I really can't make my mind up about him and to be honest I don't think he can make his mind up about himself. He is mean and reckless and totally like his father but then on the other hand he is nothing like his father because he does feel remorse, but he still does all of these things anyway so does the fact that he feels remorse make any difference? AH I don't know, but this is why I love this book so much because no character is as black and white as they originally seem, they are complex and real. Jonas is again very complex, he wants to avenge his brother but he also has a softer heart and I think that makes him so much more dangerous and so much more threatening to the surroundings, he is also incredibly clever and brave and I think in the second book he will really come into his own.

I can't really say anymore without spoiling anything but I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is too threatened by the size of Game of Thrones, or who finds the GOT series a bit dense because this is everything that is good about GOT but in my opinion even better because there aren't as many characters, the world is not as complex and the writing flows so well that it makes it a super quick read.

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on 9 February 2016
I've always wanted to read Falling Kingdoms, the majority of my favourite reads have come from the High Fantasy genre and when I saw that this had princes and princesses alongside rebels, magic and action is was pretty much an instant buy. The only thing that put me off for so long was the mixed reviews on Goodreads, it became obvious that Falling Kingdom’s is the book that splits readers up; you either love this or you hate it, you either connect with the four main characters and enjoy their story or you don’t.

“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 darkness or the light?”

Falling Kingdoms follows four characters and takes place in Mytica, which consists of 3 kingdoms: Auranos, Paelsia and Limeros.

Cleo is the princess of Auranos and with her older sister being the heir to the throne she likes to rebel against pretty much everything including her arranged marriage. On a trip to Paelsia her friend Peter kills a wine merchants son, this one action starts a war that may very well destroy everyone.

Jonas lives in the poor, diminishing country that is Paelsia. However once his brother is killed by an upper class stranger and a girl stood by and watched, he’s determined to get revenge. Knowing that no one would ever aid the people of Paelsia, even a pauper being murdered in cold blood, Judas starts an uprising against Auranos. He's no longer willing to sit and watch his country crumble but first he must seek aid of the people of Limeros.

Magnus is the heir to Limeros and is the son of the Blood King. Magnus has been raised to be brutal, cold and calculating but there is one person who he can be himself with and who he loves above all… his sister Lucia. Magnus and Lucia are not biologically related however he doesn’t know this at the time, he still believes them to be blood siblings. I wasn’t a fan of this so I sort of zoned out on certain scene’s however don’t let this put you off, this book isn’t all about the romance, plus it’s unrequited!

Lucia is Magnus’ little sister and she’s pretty much your innocent, adorable character. When her father finds out she harbors long ago forgotten magic which is limitless, he’s determined to make every kingdom fall and his feet, starting with Auranos-- Lucia will be his greatest weapon.

“He couldn't deny that she was lovely... maybe even the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen. But the most beautiful girl could still be deceptive and evil.”

As you can probably tell all these characters are involved in a huge web that is the plot, there’s just so much going on with impending war, unrequited love, rebellion, magic and chock filled with action. The complexity of this book was astounding and I loved every bit of it, travelling from kingdom to kingdom and watching each character grow and sharing there lows… there’s seriously little happiness in this book it’s all about vengeance and my god do some people get it! There's some romance and it never takes over the plot after all, there's much more pressing matters but I do have my heart set on a certain ship; it's forbidden, wrong, angst-y, full of tension and basically everything I love a romance to have. So it better happen!

“If you want something," Tomas had always said, "you have to take it. Because nobody's ever going to give it to you.”

Many have suggested that Falling Kingdoms is the YA version of Game of Thrones and I can definitely see the resemblance between this book and the TV show. Unfortunately many felt that too many of the scenarios were the exact same as the GoT books but I haven’t read those so I can't comment on this—All’s I would say if that you haven’t read those books than do give this series a try.

Overall this was an excellent first book that has set the series up nicely, some events or betrayals you may see coming but it’s still a fantastic read. The fast paced plot, adventure, treachery, loveable characters (in their own way!) and magic all lead to an addictive read that is absolutely perfect for high fantasy fans. Also that cliffhanger was a doozy, can someone pass me Rebel Spring? My only regret was not reading this book sooner, too long have I been reading 'light and fluffy' reads, it's makes a lovely change to read about a brutal world were you think you're favourite characters are safe. WHY RHODES WHY?

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on 7 July 2013
"Choose your side. Kingdoms will fall."

Falling Kingdoms falls under an unfamiliar genre to me, unlike anything I've read before - it was fresh and I loved it.

My comfort zone, genre-wise, lies with dystopian novels but I was determined to give Falling Kingdoms a go as it fitted all criteria when I searched for a novel based on my love for programmes such as Pillars Of The Earth, World Without End and Merlin. I can honestly say that I wasn't disappointed, quite the opposite actually.

Falling Kingdoms is a story built around the solidity of 3 Kingdoms but is mainly the workmanship of the characters - each strong and distinct - as well as their varying beliefs.

As a whole, I'm not a fan of 3rd person (which this novel is written in) but I was so absorbed in this enthralling story that I hardly noticed it at all.

Another concern I had, which this book quickly overcame, was that I would become overwhelmed and confused with the load of characters. This certainly was not a problem; after being a few chapters in you know who is who and what they do like the back of your hand - BUT if any confusion does arise, there's a handy cast list and map for all 3 kingdoms located at the start of the novel.

The narrative (though in 3rd person) flips between the 3 kingdoms, following the perspectives of differing characters (mainly those of the princess, rebel and sorceress mentioned in the blurb). I found myself enjoying every element and perspective of this novel, never once was I bored or wishing for the plot to hurry on.

Rhodes created an outstanding world - one so vivid in my imagination with an array of strong-headed and unique characters. The plot never failed to keep you engaged.

I surprisingly loves this book and would definitely recommend it. I can't wait for the sequel.
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on 12 May 2016
Falling kingdoms holds all of the key elements of a brilliant fantasy tale. There is a large amount of characters whose fates criss cross with each other through out the book...if they survive through to the end that is. The main part of the story begins with princess Cleo who is in pealsia (the world of falling kingdoms is split into three kingdoms limeros, auronaus and pealsia). Cleo is the princess of auronaus and is in pealsia with her husband to be purchasing wine, after aron (celo's soon to be husband) tries to rip off the merchant a argument breaks out between Aron and the wine sellers sons aron stabs one of the brothers henceforth killing him. As pealsia and auronaus hate each other anyway it doesn't take a lot for the chieftain of pealsia to team up with the evil king of limerous and invade auronaus. The similarities between GOT and FK is striking each chapter concentrates on a character, there is a whole magnitude of characters to like or dislike, although not as bloodthirsty or steamy as GOT FK still has plenty of killing of major characters, magic mystery and battles and villainous kings, princes and sorceress. On the whole falling kingdoms is amazing and is definitely one of my favourite fantasy books to date.
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