When Cleo, the Auranian princess, accidentally gets involved in the assassination of a poor peasant from Paelsia, she has no idea of the wheels she’s set in motion, wheels which have been turning for centuries.
Jonas, the poor peasant’s brother from Paelsia, vows to get revenge and rallies his people together to fight against the people of Auranos.
Magnus and Lucia, the prince and princess from Limeros, are dragged into the war by their blood-thirsty father, the King, who has his own reasons for joining forces with Paelsia in order to take Auranos.
Before she knows it, Cleo is in a thick of a revolution that threatens to tear all three kingdoms apart and decimate their populations. It’s certain that kingdoms will collide, but which will fall and which will rise?
So I really enjoyed this book! At first, I was a bit put off by the LONG list of characters (3 pages long) that was presented in the very beginning of this book. It seemed like a lot to keep up with, but soon enough, I found myself in the thick of the story, with no need for the guide.
Falling Kingdoms is a high fantasy novel and has a well-constructed world. The mythology of the world was rich and well developed, and I felt myself getting swept up in the story. The story remained consistent with the world that Rhodes had built, and it was a fascinating story of magic, power, gods, goddesses, myth, and love.
The main focus of the story, though, was the four characters, between which the narrative switched between. At first, I didn’t like Cleo at all, since I thought her spoiled and just whiny. But as time passed, I found myself rooting for, and especially by the end, I wanted to her to emerge victorious.
Jonas didn’t get as much page time in the story as the other three characters, which was sad, since he seemed to have an interesting story. He’s the one that sort of ignites the spark to the revolution and the dissent, and after what happened to his brother, you’d think he’d turn into a cold-blooded murderer. But surprisingly, there’s depth in his character as he struggles to balance both his thirst for vengeance and his humanity.
Magnus is probably my favourite character, by far. Tormented and tortured, he’s sort of the typical bad-boy, but Rhodes didn’t just let him stay two dimensional and superficial. Instead, there’s a lot of nuances, especially regarding his relationship with his sister (think Jace and Clary from Mortal Instruments) so that he’s constantly at war with himself. Towards the end, you can see him sort of embracing his father’s blood-thirsty ideals, but there’s still that sliver of hope within him so that he feels guilty for his actions.
Lucia is his sister (or rather not, as it is revealed on the cover flap) and the one that’s been prophesied about for centuries as the one who will bring the magic back. As the daughter of a brutal man, she remains upbeat and kind; other than that, her character felt a little flat to me, but I’m interested in the places she’s going to go now that she has all this power.
The only thing that bugged me about the story was Cleo’s insta-love for her guard. I’ve already mentioned before how much I dislike insta-love, so I won’t repeat it here, but I just wish there was more time to explore Cleo’s relationship with the guard, instead of it being rushed and kind of cliched.
Other than that, Falling Kingdoms is a fast paced, adventure-filled story, filled with magic and myth, princes and princesses, love and danger, that will keep you on the edge of your seat! If you enjoy YA novels with a richly constructed world, and a cast of unique characters, then this one’s for you. As for me, I can’t wait to see where Rhodes takes this thrilling story next!
So for that: 4.5/5.
Thanks for reading,
This ARC was provided to me by Penguin Group Canada/Razorbill Canada. The opinions expressed in this review are purely my own.