Book Review: “Falling Kingdoms” by Morgan Rhodes

Hey, guys! Today I am very excited to come at you with a spoiler review of Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes. This is the first book in the Falling Kingdoms series and I really enjoyed it. I knew next to nothing about it, but I knew many people I knew were raving about this series, so I decided to read it and I am so glad that I did. It was a good one. There was so much action and twists and turns and heartbreak and I just really loved it. This is also told in multiple perspectives, which really caused the story to be well-rounded, and it brought an excellent element to the story. On my scale, I would give this 97%. But that is going to be it for the non-spoiler section, so if you haven’t read this book, you should leave, read it, and then come back and we can discuss it together. So goodbye for now!

***Warning: This review contains spoilers. If you wish to not know what goes on throughout this book, read the synopsis and don’t read any other part of this review.***

Synopsis:

“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 realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword….”

Characters:

Cleo: She is my favorite. She’s kind (or she can be), she’s a little bit reckless, she’s strong, and she’s a great person. I loved seeing how dedicated she was to getting her sister better and that really made her shine in my eyes. I think she’s badass and well-developed and I just really thoroughly enjoyed her character.

Jonas: he annoyed me most of the time. I found it annoying how much he hated Cleo and how he thought she enjoyed watching Aron. I thought his hatred was misplaced and he didn’t realize it until the war had begun. He did redeem himself in the end when he didn’t bow down to King Gaius and is instead starting a rebellion. I did actually really end up liking his character.

Lucia: I have mixed feelings about her. I get how she is important and the key to everything and all that jazz. With that said, I also found her extremely childish, way too kind for her own good, and oh my God she annoyed the shit out of me. I couldn’t wait to get out of her head when I was in her perspective. I also hated how she didn’t return Magnus’s feelings. And she is pretty much the reason he is turning into his ruthless father. I also was super annoyed because of how she immediately started trusting her “father” (and she knew he wasn’t her real father) and doing everything he said. Like hello. Get a brain. She just frustrates me.

Magnus: He is complicated. All he wanted was for Lucia to love him, but she didn’t, so he became this ruthless Prince of Blood. She made his heart turn to ice when he was such a warm and (at times) kind person. He was nothing like his father and she turned him into his father pretty much. That just rubbed me the wrong way and it will be hard for me to forgive Lucia for doing this to him.

Nic: I actually really enjoyed his character and how much he loves Cleo. I kinda/sorta ship him with Cleo and I am so happy he’s alive. He was another one of my favorite characters.

Mira: While we didn’t see too much of her, I really appreciate her friendship with Cleo and am glad she is also alive.

Lord Aron: I hate this piece of shit and I hope he is dead. I really hope Magnus killed him. He’s a murderer, he’s an awful person, and he blackmailed Cleo. He also is a complete coward and was telling Cleo to surrender, which is something she should never do. I just really hate him and if he’s alive, he could cause real problems for Cleo.

Emilia: I was so upset when she died. She was such a benevolent force around the palace and would have made an amazing queen. She was such a good sister to Cleo and I will really miss her in the next book.

Theon: I full on cried when Magnus killed him. While he and Cleo may have seemed like instalove, I still full on shipped them and all he was doing was protecting Cleo and Magnus fucking killed him. I am still so fired up about this. He was such a good person, a good protector and soldier and I will forever be salty about his death.

Sabina: I hate this bitch and she deserved everything she got from Lucia. She murdered her own sister and kidnapped Lucia and just everything with King Gaius…I just was so overjoyed when she was killed.

King Gaius: I hate this man and I hope by the end of the series that he dies, writing in pain. He is so power-hungry, he’s manipulative, a psychopath and he is going to destroy the kingdoms with his iron fist and I really hope he never gets a hold of the Kindred. That would be so bad…It would be like if Sebastian Morgenstern (of The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare) won the Dark War. It would be crazy bad.

Chief Basilius: I never particularly liked him and he was on my kill list. I figured by the end of the book, he would die and I was right. I didn’t feel sorry for him. At all. Jonas warned him about King Gaius and he didn’t listen. So his death was completely his fault. I do feel sorry for his daughter, though.

King Corvin: I loved this man so much. He was such a good King and especially a great father. He was strict, but he’s the King so he has to be, and I cried when he died. He died protecting his kingdom and his daughter and I find that to be extremely admirable. He was on my kill list, so I knew he would die, but I was still very upset about it…

Plot:

The story starts off with two sisters using magic to break into a house (It might have been a castle? I’m a bit foggy on that detail) to steal a child. The two sisters, Jana and Sabina, kill the mother to obtain the child who has been prophesied by Jana to be the one to find the Kindred, which is the source for all elementia magic. Sabina kills her sister and takes the child. This would be the moment that I realized that Sabina was going to be a bitch that I really hated.

So sixteen years pass, and we meet Princess Cleo, Mira, Lord Aron (who I hated from the second we met him), and a guard named Theon (who I instantly liked). They all go to Paelsia, a country known for its exquisite wine, to get this wine (it was all Aron’s idea) and it goes downhill pretty quickly. It ends with the asshole Aron killing the wine seller’s son Tomas on Felicia’s (Tomas’ sister) wedding day right in front of her. Tomas dies in the arms of his kid brother Jonas. The others already had left, but this would be the point in which Jonas swears to avenge the death of his brother. He believes Princess Cleo enjoyed watching his brother die (when in reality she was shocked and horrified).

We switch over to Prince Magnus’ POV (the Prince of Limeros) where he is attending his younger sister’s birthday party. He ends up cutting himself on a goblet (every time I see the word “goblet”, I just think of Harry Potter, not going to lie…) and Lucia follows him out of the room and heals his hand. In this little scene, we learn he is in love with her (I never was 100% on board with this ship and I don’t really want it to be canon. Lucia gets on my nerves, actually). He overhears a conversation between Sabina and his father about Lucia and magic and destiny, and this would be the point we realize Lucia is the baby that Sabina kidnapped.

We switch over to the POV of Alexius, a Watcher who reports to the Elder Tometheus about Lucia and how she could be the key to finding the Kindred. He is told to watch over her. We then switch back over to Cleo’s POV and she is having recurring nightmares about Tomas’ death. His death is causing a lot of unease between all of the kingdoms, especially Paelsia who no longer trades with Auranos (where Cleo lives) now because of this. Cleo is not allowed to leave Auranos and her father thinks Aron is a saint.

She doesn’t tell him anything negative about Aron because he knows some deep, dark secret of hers. Her father is going to be announcing her engagement to Aron soon, which she is trying to get out of. Theon be her new personal guard who will be with her all the time. She runs into her best friend Nic, who is Mira’s brother, and tells him everything that’s been going on.

We switch back over to Jonas’ POV who is trying to sneak over the wall to Auranos, intending to kill Cleo, when he is stopped by his bestie Brion, who also happens to be his sister’s husband, and ends up changing his mind, wanting audience with Chief Basilius to figure out a way to earn their freedom.

We then go back over to Cleo’s POV who is plagued by nightmares of Jonas killing her so she manages to shake off Theon in order to speak to Aron privately. Aron feels no remorse over how he murdered Tomas in cold blood and will not tell her father he won’t marry her. We learn that what he holds over her is when she was drunk, she slept with him, which is such a scandal that no one can ever know.

Theon finds her and they leave.  They talk and he says he will protect her. He also says that no matter how she tries to escape him, he will find her, which made me swoon and I started full on shipping them. We switch over to Magnus’ POV who learns that Chief Basilius, the ruler of Paelsia, is in a meeting with his father. He walks in and the Chief demands that if they want an alliance, King Gaius must sacrifice someone he loves dearly. Gaius kills his favorite son, Tobias (thank God. I hated that guy. He was so freaking annoying…). The Chief then says he will be in touch with his decision on the alliance and then he leaves.

Gaius suddenly feels the need to make sure Magnus is very close to him, so he is to be by his side and wants him to keep on Lucia to make sure she’s not in danger and report to him if she acts odd. Magnus agrees. We switch back over to Cleo’s POV and her engagement is announced. Overcome with horror and disgust at this news, she runs to her sister, Emilia,’s room and discovers she isn’t just sick; she is dying. She also learns that Emilia was in love with Theon’s father, a guard who died.

Emilia then tells Cleo a story of a woman in Paelsia who was an exiled Watcher and is rumored to have the power to heal anything. Cleo wants to find that woman and Theon says that if her father would approve of the trip, he would accompany her. We switch to the Watcher Alexius’ POV who is watching Lucia, trying to get a confirmation that she is who he thinks she is.

We switch to Lucia’s POV who is searching for Magnus when she runs into Queen Althea who criticizes her and says it isn’t suitable for her to be out looking like that. She also runs into Sabina who discreetly tells her to talk to her if anything strange is happening around her (meaning magical outbursts, which Lucia has been having). Lucia finally finds Magnus who is coming back from a hunting trip with their father and he gives her a pet rabbit, which was super cute, not going to lie.

We switch back over to Cleo’s POV and (surprise, surprise) her father says no to her going to Paelsia. She sneaks out and is caught by Nic who says he wants to go with her. I also ship her with him. I have a problem…We switch over to Jonas’ POV who is with Brion and they are meeting with the Chief through his daughter and they tell him of how they wish to have an Uprising.

The Chief agrees and tells them of his deal with King Gaius. He wants them to keep an eye out, lest there be spies sent by the King of Auranos. They agree. We switch back over to the POV of Magnus who is sword fighting with a boy named Andreas who fancies Lucia. Magnus beats him and goes to Lucia’s room, finding her practicing elementia magic. He tells her she needs to keep practicing to build up the strength of her abilities and to thank him for not hating her, she brushes her lips against his.

We switch over to Theon’s POV who is meeting with the King because Cleo left. The King orders him to find her and bring her back, which he says he will do. Theon also admits to himself that he is falling in love with her (Gah, I ship them so much!). We switch back over to Magnus’ POV who meets with his father, but doesn’t tell him of how Lucia is a sorceress, able to manifest all four elements. Gaius lets him know he’s aware of his feelings for Lucia, but won’t tell anyone and won’t let any man touch her as long as Magnus does what he asks.

We switch back over to Cleo’s POV who are stowaways on a cargo ship to Paelsia. They make up a lie that they are Limerans doing research on the Watchers. They end up getting mugged and are left with little to no money. They stay the night with an elderly woman named Eirene and her granddaughter Sera. Eirene tells the story of how a powerful Watcher named Eva had a child with a human and her two jealous sisters killed her and took the child. The sisters were Valoria and Cleona. They ended up destroying each other and the father of the child stole the Kindred and hid it.

While Nic and Cleo go to sleep, Sera leaves to meet with Jonas (I figured she was working with him) and tells him of a girl who looked a lot like Princess Cleo who is staying with her and her grandmother. Jonas decides to talk to the Chief before going after Cleo. In this next portion in Magnus’ POV, I was literally GAGGING. Sabina offers herself to Magnus as his mistress. He declines and she reveals Lucia isn’t his sister so its okay for him to love her even if she won’t ever love him back. She offers to tell Lucia his feelings and then Lucia walks in (didn’t hear that last bit). To try to awaken Lucia’s powers more, Sabina tries to kill Magnus.

To stop Sabina, Lucia sets her on fire. In this scene, I was so happy because I hated that bitch so much, even if I really don’t like Lucia. But then their father walks in and he says he has never been more proud of Lucia. We switch over to Alexius’ POV who after witnessing Lucia’s display of power, returned to the Sanctuary. A Watcher named Danaus that Alexius doesn’t trust (he’s got this sinister and dark vibe going on) asks if Alexius will tell him of any developments with the Kindred. Alexius lies and says yes.

The Chief told Jonas to capture Cleo and use her as a bargaining chip if the negotiations with the King of Auranos go awry. He is to treat her with respect, as she is a princess. (I was just like “Yeah, fat chance of that.” Because there is hardly another person on earth he hates more than Cleo.) He does capture her (by threatening Nic with a knife) and after she ends up getting knocked unconscious, she is chained up in a storm shed.

We switch over to Magnus’ POV who was sent a message by his father (who left with the Chief) to retrieve the kidnapped Princess Cleo. The meeting with the King of Auranos didn’t go smoothly, especially when the Chief and Gaius brought up they had Cleo. Theon finds Nic and together they find Cleo, free her, and escape. (This went a little bit too smoothly for my tastes…) When Cleo and Theon are alone, they kiss and confess their love for one another (this was such instalovey, but I’ll take it).

They are found by Magnus and his men because instead of hiding like they should have been, they decided it would be a grand idea to just walk on the main freaking road. This frustrated me to no end! But anyway, fighting ensues and Theon kills the guards. Then Magnus kills Theon. (In this scene, I out loud yelled, “No!!”) This would also be the scene that really made me start to not like Magnus. Nic comes and knocks Magnus unconscious after stopping Cleo from killing him and then they leave. Magnus returns home, tells Lucia he killed someone, and kisses her, right out of no where. I was appalled that he would dare do that, at that time. Wrong time, wrong place, wrong person! Just wrong everything!

What pissed me off was he then tells her she isn’t really his sister and uses that as an excuse to him kissing her. She was obviously disgusted with him and pushes him away. She turns her back on him in that moment and leaves. He cries and then his heart turns ice cold. This scene made me hate both him and Lucia, honestly. Because of her, he becomes just like his father. And because of him, Cleo’s world shatters.

We switch over to Cleo’s POV who has returned home. Her father is overjoyed to see her. Emilia tells Cleo of how the armies of the two rival kingdoms are coming for them. Lucia tells Gaius that she will do anything and everything in her power to help him take down Auranos. God, that also pissed me off. Gaius is manipulating her and she doesn’t even realize it…

Battle has ensued and from his POV, we witness first hand how the Auranian soldiers are actually huge assholes. Jonas goes back to camp and tells the Chief that he doesn’t trust Gaius and the Chief shouldn’t either. The Chief didn’t listen (big mistake). We switch back over to Cleo’s POV and she finds the magical healing seeds in the envelope that Eirene gave her and we learn she was the exiled Watcher. It is too late because Emilia is already dead and then the castle shakes with an explosion.

Lucia heals an almost dead Magnus and then breaks the spell protecting the castle doors, which caused an explosion. That was yet another example of how she is just letting Gaius manipulate her. We switch back over to Cleo’s POV and she and Aron are found by Magnus. She runs and her father saves her from being killed. He then gives her the ring the Hunter used to be able to touch the Kindred and he dies. (This upset me so damn much because I adored her father and then he just died).

We learn that Alexius is actually Eirene’s brother and he has to kill Lucia for some ungodly reason. Paelsia and Limeros won the war and Cleo escaped. In a private tent, Gaius kills the Chief. I don’t feel sorry for him, being dead and all. Jonas warned him and he didn’t listen. His death is his own fault. Gaius then tells the people that they will either bow down to him or they will be killed.

We switch over to Jonas’ POV and we learn he, Brion and a couple of others escaped and are planning to take back Paelsia, but need to find Cleo to do it. We also learn Lucia was knocked unconscious by the magical blast and still hasn’t woken up. We switch to Cleo’s POV who is still there. Why the hell she didn’t leave when she could, I will never understand. *frustrated Allie noises* Jonas goes up to her and tells her to be ready and then Magnus and his guards capture her.

And then the book ends.

My Thoughts:

Wow, this book was phenomenal. This book broke me apart and put me back together over and over again. This book just really grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go until the very end. I really, thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved the writing, first of all. The writing style was great and easy to read, which I loved. Something else I loved was the multiple perspectives.

This story would not be this powerful without the multiple perspectives. They offer such a unique look at the story and make it really well-rounded. I especially liked it when the characters crossed paths and we got to see how they appeared through the other character’s eyes versus how they really are. It was very fascinating and unique and I loved it.

I also loved how developed and complex each of the characters were. Now I definitely loved a lot of the characters more than others, but I just really enjoyed each of the characters and what skill set they brought to the table. A lot of the characters surprised me with how they changed and developed with how the story went along. Magnus was completely different at the end compared to how he was in the beginning and the same goes with Jonas, Cleo, and even Lucia. It was really refreshing to see how they all changed with the course of the story and how this war caused them to adapt and become someone else and something else to survive.

I also really loved the world. It was wonderfully developed and I really felt like I was there. I really loved how different the three kingdoms were. They were all three entirely different and ironically, the best king was the one with the best land while the two horrible rulers had horrible kingdoms. It was pretty fitting. In the beginning, I did have trouble understanding the kingdoms and the world, but once it clicked, I was full immersed into the story, and I immediately fell in love with it.

I would say my favorite character definitely was Cleo because she was strong, but also reckless and didn’t annoy me or piss me off every two seconds while reading this book. Honestly, she was the one I connected with the most and I really felt for her, especially with everything that was happening with her sister. She wasn’t a horrible person, despite what many people thought, and she just really had an inner strength that surprised a lot of people, including herself. She never backs down, especially when Magnus tries to capture her a few times, and I admire the shit out of that.

My least favorite character is a toss up between Aron and King Gaius, but I think I hate the King more. Aron was a boy who was practically blackmailing Cleo and I really hope he’s dead because I hate him. I also hate him for killing Jonas’s brother. I hate him for a lot of reasons. King Gaius is just a power-hungry, murderous bastard who I never trusted for a second. I wasn’t surprised when he killed the Chief. It was a dick move and he’s a dick, so I wasn’t surprised in the slightest. I really hope that by the end of the series he dies…

Overall, I really enjoyed the writing, I fell in love with the world, loved the characters, and the story line was epic. I am so pumped for the next book and hope to get to it soon!!

9
5/5 hearts

And there you have it! That was my review of Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes. Who was your favorite character and what made them stand out to you? Comment down below! And that is going to be it for this post today. Thank you all so much for reading this, I hope you enjoyed it, and I will see you next time.

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