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Falling Kingdoms Hardcover – December 11, 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 263 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Falling Kingdoms Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up-Three kingdoms, Limeros, Auranos, and Paelsia, struggle for riches and sovereignty in this complexly wrought tale of war, rebellion, and magic. A prophecy foretells the birth of a sorceress powerful enough to rival dead goddesses, ancient legend speaks of a ring that provides mastery over the Kindred (embodiments of elemental magic), and duplicitous betrayal leads to an alliance between royalty and commoner. The sorceress emerges in the form of Lucia, the princess of Limeros, while Cleo, the princess of Auranos, obtains the ring. Young Jonas, the son of a Paelsian wineseller, puts aside vengeance and aligns with his enemy to save his homeland. Intimations of romance and sex are interspersed with scenes of brutality and magic in an often-barbaric environment that vaguely echoes George R. R. Martin. The plot is packed with incident, although constantly changing points of view weaken the dramatic arc and interrupt the forward momentum. Characterizations are fairly stock, with little to differentiate them, and the stylized fantasy language occasionally stutters over modern colloquialisms. This first volume of an intended series sets up the backstory that informs and motivates the action to come. While the shifting points of view can be distracting, the result is short, action-driven chapters that may carry readers to the finish and on to the next volume.-Janice M. Del Negro, GSLIS Dominican University, River Forest, ILα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

From an opening dripping with blood, magic, and betrayal through complex interweaving plots detailing treachery, deceit, and forbidden love, this novel is the first in a projected series that will immediately engage readers and keep them intrigued. When a simple Paelsian wine seller is murdered by an Auranian noble, the delicately balanced peace spanning three related kingdoms is split asunder by greed and entitlement. Four young people—Auranian princess Cleo, Paelsian rebel Jonas, Limerian prince Magnus, and his sister, princess Lucia—are catalysts, while witches and kings have equal part in courtly machinations leading to all-out war. Skillful world building and descriptive but not flowery prose allow the complex and layered plot, as well as the strong characters, to take center stage of this expansive epic. A quest to find and control the Kindred, four legendary crystals that hold the purest magic, along with a sorceress who can control all the elements, leaves tantalizing threads hanging for the next book. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Rhodes, the popular author of urban fiction, makes her high-fantasy debut here; the novel is being heavily promoted at Comic-Con International and Comic-Con New York. Grades 7-12. --Charli Osborne
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Series: Falling Kingdoms (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Razorbill (December 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595145842
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595145840
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (263 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (Michelle Rowen) is a downright good read. Marketed as part of Penguin's Breathless Reads collection, it's a thoroughly captivating and deliciously readable YA fantasy novel that will appeal to fans of George R. R. Martin's bestselling high fantasy series, Game Of Thrones. Personally, I could not put this book down. Told from multiple perspectives, richly imagined and packed with eye-popping action, it's truly a breathless read, and one that I will be recommending to all my friends!

The story focuses on three kingdoms: Auranos, Paelsia and Simeros. The kingdoms managed to co-exist in peace for many years, but when a wine maker's son is killed by a lord from another kingdom, the established peace is threatening to crumble. There is a war brewing and four seemingly unrelated young people find themselves caught in the middle of it.

Impressive world building, thorough character development, intrigue, magic, action, romance... Falling Kingdoms has all that and more! At more than 400 pages, it's not what you'd call a short book, but Rhodes' sharp and concise prose makes it all-too easy to lose yourself in the story and forget the real world for a day or two. With her skilled storytelling, she created a world that is mystical, but believable nevertheless. A visually breathtaking, emotionally stimulating, intensely gripping page-turner of a book!

As I mentioned before, each chapter of the book concentrated on a third-person point of view of a different character. I thought the third-person narrative provided a good (objective) look at all sides of the conflict, though at times I wished the story was told in a more personal first-person narrative instead.
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Format: Hardcover
I love high fantasy epics. I mean, people have written pages upon pages about the problems of Robert Jordan, Terry Brooks, George R. R. Martin's, et al's style and while all of that criticism has a point, it doesn't matter for me.

I love fat, bloated fantasy that is grandiose and full of melodrama. Gimme secret children, incest, betrayal, political intrigue, loving descriptions of servant number five's uniform any day of the week.

Thus, I expected to love FALLING KINGDOMS. As you've probably discerned by now, I didn't. One of the big problems for me was the structure. The book cycles through several points of view - at least five - which isn't inherently bad, but I never really connected with any of the narrators. They're living in a crappy world that forces them to make tough decisions, but I wasn't feeling their anguish. These are teenagers who are instrumental in pushing their countries from peace to the brink of war! And yet, they all felt like small people. They were all sort of mopey in the same way, aside from Jonas, who was also righteously angry.

FALLING KINGDOMS also felt oh-so-predictable. Morgan Rhodes is obviously taking more after the model of Martin than Jordan, but part of what makes A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones so much fun is when it subverts genre expectations. Look, as I pointed out in my intro, I love the tropes and style of high fantasy. But FALLING KINGDOMS didn't seem like it was having fun with them. It just sort of lurched through unhappy set pieces. All the grimdarkness and angst beat me down.

I have high expectations for the titles Penguin Teen names as Breathless Reads. I've enjoyed almost all of them, even when I didn't expect too. FALLING KINGDOMS didn't even come close to leaving me breathless.
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Format: Hardcover
Please understand that all my reviews focus on the interests of my middle school students. I never do a full plot synopsis in a review.

Morgan Rhodes has created a world that seems real and fantastic, characters that are vibrant, and a plot that is relentless. The main characters (outside the evil King of Blood--a deserved nickname) are mid to late teens who are faced with decisions and responsibilities that would strain the wisest and strongest adult. While I can't identify with any of the characters on a personal level (well, perhaps, this one kid, Jonas, will develop into someone I could like), it doesn't follow that they are not real and believable. I am definitely hooked on the series.

I usually don't review books that have as many reviews as this one, but I think there is a strong caveat that should go with this book: middle school kids, for the most part, are not ready to deal with some of the issues raised in this book. I am very sure that almost all of the parents of my kids would agree. I am not a prude by any definition, but I do believe in age-appropriateness. Incest, sexual activity justified by mid-teen "love," filicide, and other aspects of the book combine to make this a work I will not place in my in-class library. I have to be very judicial in allowing kids to read, for example, Cassandra Clare's books (usually requiring parental consent), but I can usually describe other books' issues in one sentence. The warning that would go with this book/series would be exhaustive.

This is just a warning for parents and teachers. I am not advocating banning the book or any type of forced censorship. If my seventh graders buy the book and their parents are cool with them reading it, I would want them to talk to me about it. I simply want the adults involved with the younger side of the YA crowd to know this book is not in the same category as Percy Jackson, etc. You can decide for yourself if I am right.
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