Falling Kingdoms is a fantasy book series for young adults by Morgan Rhodes.It follows the lives of four teenagers, Princess Cleo, Prince Magnus, Princess Lucia, and Jonas (the wine sellers son) as they, and others, navigate through increasingly dangerous political, personal and mythical situations. This review will focus on the first three books in the series – Falling Kingdoms, Rebel Spring and Gathering Darkness. I will be reviewing the latter three books in a future review.
While I enjoyed Falling Kingdoms, Rebel Spring and Gathering Darkness, I am sad to say that overall, I found them to be lacking. The character development felt quite forced and artificial, the relationships so “black and white”, so clear-cut that they too felt forcefully constructed, and the world-building was really just lacking – sometimes it was there, and other times Rhodes seemed to just forget about it.
Falling Kingdoms (Book 1)
“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.
Falling Kingdoms was definitely an interesting book, but unfortunately I just couldn’t bring myself to love it, for several reasons. First off, this book is perhaps the best example of my earlier statement regarding character development feeling quite forced and artificial. In fact, it was less character development, and more a character suddenly morphing into a completely new person after one singular event – Jonas, Cleo and Magnus are all exemplary examples of this flaw. By comparison, Lucia’s character development felt much more holistic and natural, leaving me quite disappointed that she wasn’t featured very heavily in Falling Kingdoms.
Secondly, the world-building in this one was just all over the place – characters seemed to teleport from one location to another, and then other times travel took a more reasonable amount of time, leaving me quite confused about the actual size of Mytica.
Finally, and this is perhaps my biggest qualm with Falling Kingdoms, the writing simply felt childish. Often, the vocabulary used felt more suited to a middle grade novel than YA. Moreover, the plot development was similarly childish, building for far too long, with a disappointing climax and conclusion, leaving the reader feeling cheated. Overall, this was not a fantastic book, but I maintain high hopes for the rest of the series (2/5).