YA Fantasy

My Review: Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms #1): by Morgan Rhodes

Publish Date: December 11th 2012
Number of Pages: 412 Pages
Publisher: Razorbill
Genre(s): YA Fantasy

Total Star Rating: 4 Stars

This series is like a YA Game Of Thrones: There’s kingdoms, knights, stolen thrones, forbidden romance, secrets that have been killed over, deadly betrayals, a hint of magic, and war on the horizon. The main thing missing is the dragons (technically Wyverns, but I won’t get into that now) and the White Walkers.

What It’s About:

In the land of Mytica, magic that was once in abundance is now a long lost memory, and the kingdoms that rule the land are reaching an unrest with a power struggle for ultimate power.

Cleo Bellos, a privileged heir to the throne, must quickly travel to enemy territory to find a magical item thought to be lost long ago.

Jonas Agallon, a poor but proud wine merchant’s son, is fueled by anger and injustice in a need for revenge and makes a deal with the devil to lead a revolution.

Lucia Damora, adopted into the royal family of the North, learns a shocking secret of her mysterious past that could change the course of time.

Magnus Damora, being trained to be a vicious ruler by his father, finds himself torn between the ongoing battle between duty and love.

Whether they know it or not, their lives and their fates are intertwined, and entire kingdoms will fall. All the while, powerful entities from another world watch from above as it all unfolds; who will reign supreme when almost all is lost, and be the last one standing?

What I liked:

  1. The Four Different Perspectives! For anyone who’s reading my reviews so far, they’ll notice that this is a recurring favorite of mine in books. I mean, a story told from one character is good, but it’s even better when told from multiple sources. It helps create a richer, deeper story with the potential for so many bigger things to come. The four main character’s stories each follow their own path, all the while they intertwine in different ways. Each have their own good and bad qualities, so it’s harder to say that they lack depth or complexity when you see their point of view. Cleo appears as a privileged & spoiled brat, but internally she expresses a desire to break off a betrothal to a man she absolutely despises. You obviously like her until she’s seen through Jonas’s eyes when she stands and does nothing as someone he loves is taken from him forever. The complexity of the characters and their evolving relationships is an absolute driving force for this story.
  2. The Overall Buildup! The author does an amazing job of growing tension in the story, and it only gets better and better as more happens. It’s truly exciting stuff, and makes it easy to want to keep reading to see what happens next. While the author may lack originality in this story, she definitely knows how to hit the ethos in her readers, it has a certain way about it that is addicting and keeps you interested, almost obsessed to see what happens next. The romance, the secrets, the betrayals, the spilled blood and the cliffhanger at the end!
  3. The Cover Design! I will say this for the rest of the books in the series as well, but these may be some of the most beautiful book covers that I’ve ever seen! I mean, look at these:

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. The Incestuous Story Arc…It’s been made to be a shocking storyline twist since the Lannister twins were discovered in the tower in the very first episode of Game of Thrones, but the author goes down a tricky path when she includes it within her story, especially when its YA. While I can say it’s daring for the author to go down this route, it’s still a disturbing subject. Incest was said to be a method amongst royal families in Ancient to Medieval times as a way for them to keep their bloodlines pure, to not dilute it. George R.R. Martin even affirmed this when he researched European history that he based his bestselling novels off of. Luckily, the author calls it out in her story and makes for what it is; a taboo perversion. No one who finds out about it reacts to it in an accepting manner, and even the character who has these feelings sees how wrong it is.
  2. The Lack of Originality…If you’re looking for an innovative, never been done before type of book in the fantasy genre, this isn’t a story for that. It is filled with what just about every fantasy novel has had in the past: kingdoms at war, a runaway princess, a peasant that serves a greater purpose, long lost magic on the verge of returning, a prophecy that can change history, a cruel & corrupt king, the brooding bad boy trope, and whatever other fantasy cliché you can think of. Someone could basically call this fan-fiction of George R.R Martin’s work, just with their own world, characters, etc. Luckily, the story is still entertaining enough to get away with the lack of creativity.


Overall, this is a fast-paced, entertaining read that is just the beginning of an impressive series that is a great addition to any fans of the fantasy genre! I recommend it to those who are beginners to the genre and want to try it out for the first time before getting into thicker and heavier material, or for anyone who loves a good story with plenty of surprising twists, daring and forbidden romance, endearing characters, dueling kingdoms with knights & princesses, and one that keeps your eyes glued to the pages until you hit the acknowledgements page!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

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