Published December 11th, 2012
In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects' lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:Falling Kingdoms is a truly amazing epic fantasy novel spanning three separate kingdoms that long ago were united as one land known as Mytica. These three kingdoms have existed in harmony for many years now, but slowly the peace has begun to crumble and unease has creeped into the minds of the people. With many interweaving characters and story-lines, this book is a complex web of goodness. Numerous elements and plot points come into play, meshing nicely, like powerful magic, political unrest and a historical vibe that transported me away from the loudness that is our modern world and into an atmosphere that a time long past can present.
Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.
Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.
Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.
Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword. . . .
The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?
The northern most kingdom in this land is called Limeros. Limeros is an ok place to live, as long as you abide by all rules and regulations imposed by the harsh and unforgiving king, who has been given the nickname "king of blood". He is ruthless and extremely power hungry, wanting all the kingdoms to himself. He comes off as charming and trustworthy at first, very good manipulation tools.
Residing in this kingdom are two of our key players, Lucia and Magnus, brother and sister and children of the king. Lucia thinks she is the true princess of Limeros, not aware of the dark secrets of her past. An evil sorceress named Sabina stole her away as a baby, knowing that she was the key to unlocking magic again, or at least according to prophecy. Lucia was shy, but still able to speak up when need be. Throughout the story she struggles with her new-found abilities, not knowing whether she should push them away or embrace them as a new part of herself.
Magnus, her brother, also goes through many internal struggles, though for a completely different reason. For quite some time now he's been trying to push away far too strong feelings for his sister. These feelings confuse and disgust him, after all; he believes they are related by blood. He craves love and acceptance from his overbearing and abusive father, and these cravings lead to some bizarre personality changes. He goes along blindly with many of the kings plans, never questioning why these things needed to happen. Though he was good at heart and still had a conscious, I felt like he had inherited some of the power-hungriness from his father.
The middle kingdom, the one I'd least enjoy living in, was Paelsia, a poor kingdom that has really gotten the short end of the stick. Everyone residing here is extremely poor and deprived, having been tricked into growing only grapes so they could sell cheap wine to the kingdom below them. Tension is high here, as is violence and fear. A key player, Jonas, lives here.
Jonas suffered a lot of grief throughout the story after his brother was brutally murdered by a boy named Aron. He was filled with a molten rage, determined to seek revenge and kill all involved with the death of his brother. At first he was extremely hostile and aggressive, not caring about anything but getting even. Though he was vicious, I couldn't help but become really attached to him and his sarcastic sense of humor. Eventually he softens at the edges, and his entire demure changes. I can't wait to see more of him in Rebel Spring!
The Southern Kingdom was called Auranos, a rich and well-to-do place that is often misunderstood. People here have everything they need to live lavish, comfortable lives, especially those of the royal class. These people can be selfish at times, though that doesn't mean that they aren't kind at heart. Though the other kingdoms truly hated this place, I kind of liked it. Once I got past the selfishness I learned that many of the characters here were naive, not evil or unkind.
Aron was an exception though. He wasn't just naive, he was infuriating and obnoxious. He literally made my blood boil with rage at how selfish and uncaring his demure was. He acted like the world belonged to him and everyone was only there to do his bidding. Things had to go his way or he'd get seriously peeved. Only because of Aron did the first domino tumble, setting off a cascade of events that led to a war between the three kingdoms, all because he needlessly murdered the brother of Jonas.
Cleo was another selfish character, though no where near as bad as Aron. I felt like though she was,quite literally, a spoiled little princess, she actually had feelings and mean to make things better, not worse. She was quite naive at times, running off into dangerous situations without first thinking them through. She lets her heart guide her instead of sensibility, causing lots of problem. However, she shows a ton of character growth by the time the book rolls to a close, learning to think before acting.
This was a story that had me riveted from the very first page. Excellent character craftsmanship combined with superb world-building skills leads me to believe that Rhodes is a master story-crafter. Falling Kingdoms was an epic fantasy that left me lost in a perpetual dream state. I'm off to read Rebel Spring right now!