03 March 2014

Review: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Falling Kingdomes (#1) by Morgan RhodesFantasy: a complex genre that few are neutral about. Most people I know either hate it or love it. I'm in the love camp, but I'm not a fan of all types of fantasy. I loved the Narnia books when I read them in fourth grade (though I didn't think they held up when I reread them with my niece), and I enjoyed the Harry Potter books, but I'm not a rabid fangirl.

On the other hand, I've read the Lord of the Rings books multiple times since about 1966 and adore the Game of Throne series (*impatiently awaiting the next installment*). I consider these books more grownup fantasies. They have few child heroes, no lack of violence, and complex histories and world building.

So when I was told that Morgan Rhodes's Falling Kingdoms was a good fit for George R. R. Martin and J. R. R. Tolkien fans, I decided to give the series a go.

  • General idea: Three kingdoms are vying for power: two are rich and one is poor. The fate of the world and the kingdoms rides on four young people whose lives intersect in unexpected ways: Cleo, a compassionate princess who will likely be forced to marry a boy whose arrogance may have set off a war. Jonas, a wine merchant's son, who has become a rebel leader set on revenge. Lucia, who has always wondered why she was different from her royal parents and brother; when she discovers the reason, her world crashes around her. Magnus, the son of a king who seems destined to always disappoint.
  • The good in general: Action, politics, court intrigue, betrayal, revenge, love, and magic. The characters, though somewhat stereotypical, grow and change from their experiences.
  • Thoughts plus the not so good: For some reason I didn't become invested in the world of Falling Kingdoms and its problems. I liked Jonas, felt sorry for Lucia and Magnus (who grew up together), and admired Lucia's growth, but I didn't connect enough to care about them. Although Rhodes spent a lot of time setting up the state of the world and the characters' backgrounds, I didn't have clear images of the people and the setting.
  • Recommendation: My general impression is that the series will appeal to readers who like a lighter fantasy that straddles the line between young adult and adult and who are not bothered by a semi-predictable plot.
  • Audiobook: My reaction to Falling Kingdoms could very well be the result of the audiobook (Penguin Audio; 11 hr, 35 min), read by Fred Berman. His style is not very fluid and is interrupted by the occasional breath sound. His characterizations were consistent and he brought an acceptable level of emotion to his performance, but I was put off by his disjointed style.
  • Recommendation: Despite my disappointment with book one, I plan to read the second book in the series, Rebel Spring, but this time in print. I want to give Rhodes another try. The series is quite popular, and if you're interested in a fantasy with teen heroes, some powerful magic, and a host of characters, don't hesitate to pick it up . . . in print.
  • Paperback: The paperback edition from Razorbill comes out this month!
Published by Penguin USA / Razorbill (paperback), 2014 (March 11)
ISBN-13: 9781595145857
Source: Bought (audio) (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Anonymous,  3/3/14, 6:58 AM  

I am very particular with fantasy, I only like certain types. I am more a fan of epic fantasy, like Lord of the Rings, which I have reread countless times since I was a child. I found the Narnia books did not stand the test of time for me, but Howl's Moving Castle, a childhood fantasy, is quite good.

Laurie C 3/3/14, 7:28 AM  

We're a season behind on Game of Thrones (I'm taking the easy way out, and skipping the books). I don't think I'll try this one, but if you want a great fantasy audiobook that's good for all ages, have you listened to the Bartimaeus books by Jonathan Stroud? They're dark, funny, and excellent audiobooks, narrated by Simon Jones. (Never mind...Just searched your blog and see that you have!)

rhapsodyinbooks 3/3/14, 8:14 AM  

I'm sort of in the hate camp, even though I read it often and usually like it (grudgingly) when I do!

bermudaonion 3/3/14, 9:12 AM  

Yeah, I lean toward the hate camp, but I did love Harry Potter. My sister loves fantasy, though.

Daryl 3/3/14, 11:00 AM  

i love fantasy .. and i am aching for the next George RR Martin as well as the next Game of Thrones .... so i might give this a shot

Kailana 3/3/14, 1:46 PM  

I personally enjoy fantasy more with adult main characters... I am kind of curious about this one, though! Just to see.

Charlie (The Worm Hole) 3/4/14, 12:26 PM  

I actually quite like it but don't read much of it because it so often means starting another series. I think I'd try this one but like Kailana I prefer older characters in general.

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