Sunday, 28 September 2014

Review || Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms #1) by Morgan Rhodes ★★★☆☆
AURANOS - Privileged Princess Cleo is forced to confront violence for the first time in her life when a shocking murder sets her kingdom on a path to collapse.

LIMEROS - The king’s son, Magnus, must plan each footstep with shrewd, sharp guile if he is to earn his powerful father’s trust, while his sister, Lucia, discovers a terrifying secret about her heritage that will change everything.

PAELSIA - Rebellious Jonas lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Witches, if found, are put to death, and Watchers, immortal beings who take the shape of hawks to visit the human world, have been almost entirely forgotten. A vicious power struggle quickly escalates to war, and these four young people collide against each other and the rise of elementia, the magic that can topple kingdoms and crown a ruler in the same day.

I don't know if it was the hype or that my expectations were too high, but this fell short for me.

Not that short, as you'll notice from the 3 star rating. But this book was just average for me. I liked it well enough but it never was amazing.

Maybe I'm comparing it harshly to its adult fantasy counterparts, but this felt overly simplistic to me. Things were very easy and convenient. I don't mean that as though the characters had it easy, because oh boy, that's the opposite of true. But for a book that set the stage to have a broad scope the whole thing felt very narrowly focused. Does that make any sense?

There were hints of the sweeping grandeur that you'd expect from fantasy, but it was never fully realized. Now, that said, this is the first of a planned series. It is very clearly the set up book for something more. And I don't mind that. I knew that going in.

And I liked this book well enough to want to know where this all goes. But I still had issues with it.

There were some really predictable plot points and deaths. On the flip side there were a few deaths that were very shocking. I'll be honest, the body count in this book is way higher than I expected! Which is something I really enjoyed (and also makes me sound like a psychopath).

The characters seem to lack depth. They're very reactionary. The plot happens to them instead of having them drive the plot. Now, you can argue that means there's room for growth, which I'm totally in for. And also that they're kids in the world of kings. Which is also true. But holy man, is every adult leader in this book super messed up or is that just me? I just found myself baffled by some of the choices made here.

There's also this weird pseudo-incest plot that I'm struggling with the necessity of. I mean, I get that A Song of Ice and Fire did it. But that never made any allusions that it was anything other than super messed up. Here it's sort of played of as (SPOILER) "She's not really your sister so.... that's okay."

Wait. What.

I just didn't find it necessary? (Though, admittedly, Magnus is not much as as a character if you take that away. Back to the lack of depth thing.)

And the ladies in this book. Ugh. Just. Why. I need Lucia to become a character in her own right. With her own complex motives. Right now, she's a walking plot device that occasionally talks. It's frustrating because I think she has so much potential. And Cleo... well, I understand her, but I don't particularly like her. I think given all the strife she's gone through at the end of this book, the set up is there for her to become very interesting. But for the most part she just wasn't doing it for me.

The other problem is that Rhodes has obviously tried to make everyone flawed and blur the lines between good and bad, it makes most of the main group of 4 hard to like. The girls suffer from being walking plot devices most of the time. I want to like Jonas but he keeps being stupid. And I have no idea why everyone has their knickers in a twist for Magnus.

I'm the most interested in Alexius, to be honest. For all the screen time he doesn't have. The whole Watchers thing is immensely intriguing.

Anyway. A decent enough start that I'll be reading book 2. I've heard it gets better and I'm hoping that holds true. We'll see.