Mitch's Reviews > Falling Kingdoms

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
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Dec 14, 12

Read from December 13 to 14, 2012

In Falling Kingdoms, Morgan Rhodes (longtime paranormal author Michelle Rowen under a pen name) tries to do something that hasn't really been attempted much in the Young Adult genre - write a complex high fantasy focusing on the political intrigues surrounding an expansive cast of characters. I have to give Rowen credit, she's a versatile writer who seems to have switched genres seamlessly enough, but, unfortunately, there's a reason why there aren't more Young Adult Game of Thrones on the market, this genre simply doesn't translate well from an Adult to a Young Adult audience. I have a feeling Falling Kingdoms will be better received by those who aren't as familiar with the genre, perhaps with just the ubiquitous Game of Thrones, but as for me, a longtime fan of these kinds of books, not really impressed.

My problem? I get a distinct feeling that the aim of this book was to be conventional and unambitious. Nothing wrong with that, after all, I liked the book, but it didn't pull me in, either with the fantastical setting or the palace intrigue, as much as others I've read in the past have. All the Game of Thrones imports you'd expect to find, the bastard son, the incest, the conniving mistress, the violent character deaths, the magical overtones, yep, they're all here - but beyond that, the story is rather stiff. The whole thing's driven by the death of one wine seller's son and ends in war and massive bloodshed, which is actually pretty cool and kind of poetic if you think about it, but the way Rowen writes the story from point A to point B is really simplistic and just doesn't have that feel of epicness, emotional investment, or intrigue that I've come to appreciate from many a book I've read before.

Take Jonas Agallon for example, he's a nobody until some stuck up royal kills his brother, that sets him on his quest to become a somebody. But it's almost too easy how his name is suddenly on everyone's lips, not just the poor peasants of his native Paelsia, but literally everyone knows the name Jonas Agallon - even the kings. First and last name. Just because his brother died. For me, it would've been much more believable, and I'd been much more invested, if Jonas had to work at it, put some sweat equity into his name seeking justice for his brother before that name gets the kind of meaning everyone instantly associates it with. And that's what I mean by conventional and unambitious, Rowen has a good plot figured out but the execution was just simple storytelling with the plot plowing ahead without much consideration for subtlety.

Speaking of subtlety, this is supposed to be a genre that excels with interpersonal relationships, and Falling Kingdoms... doesn't. The characters themselves are fairly well crafted, Cleo the pampered princess trying to prove she's more than just that, Jonas the victim of tragedy trying to get vengeance, Magnus the prince trying to survive in an unforgivingly harsh court, but... the interpersonal relationships are extremely straightforward. Every single relationship between every character and every other character is entirely transparent, pick two characters, put them together and I know exactly how they feel about each other. Character interactions are a huge part of this genre, but there's just nothing of substance, no complexities between any of these characters. I wanted to see unexpected alliances of convenience, out of nowhere betrayals... but guess not, everyone just behaved in an entirely predictable manner.

Otherwise, I will praise Rowen's handling of the multiple points of view and parallel narratives. For a story about multiple kingdoms, multiple personalities, multiple ways of life, I liked how each character brings something different to the table, so Cleo who's mostly a good person can still be viewed evilly, or Jonas who's vindictive to the point of singlemindedness gets some redeeming qualities (even if some of the points of view are repetitive to the point of yeah, I already get how you feel, like six chapters ago). And I liked how the mythology surrounding the magic's incorporated into the story, there's no expositionary information dump at the beginning, but the backstory's built up over the course of the story and developed in a way that sets up the sequel. Easy to get into without requiring extensive lorekeeping.

Still, all of it wasn't enough to really cover up how simple Falling Kingdoms struck me as. I suppose that's not a problem for readers new to this genre, but I prefer something a little meatier.
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Reading Progress

12/13/2012 page 289
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Comments (showing 1-17 of 17) (17 new)

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Katy Why do I have a feeling that you're going to blame me if you don't like it... Remember, this one is all you.


Mitch Katy wrote: "Remember, this one is all you. "

No ... you brought it up and like a good reading buddy I said if you're having trouble we could do it together. Besides, I'm a nice guy, I don't blame ... unless it was like Onyx D:<


Katy Lol yeah... I brought it up... In like August!


Mitch Fine fine you're off the hook. Bc of tonight/


Regina i cant wait to see what you think of this one since i plan to read it too.


Deniz ok. why dont you read opal instead ;)


Mitch Regina wrote: "i cant wait to see what you think of this one since i plan to read it too."

It feels too simple for me but I hope you enjoy it.


Mollie  (Bookdictive Reviews) Great review! Perhaps I'm getting bored with it because I've read all of the GoT series but honestly I don't think that's it, I really agree that it's more so misplaced in a YA genre. That, among other reasons.


Mitch Mollie wrote: "Great review! Perhaps I'm getting bored with it because I've read all of the GoT series but honestly I don't think that's it, I really agree that it's more so misplaced in a YA genre. That, among o..."

Thanks. I agree the more fantasy you read the less appealing this becomes.


Deniz Mitch wrote: "I agree the more fantasy you read the less appealing this becomes. "

*worried face*


message 11: by Mitch (last edited Dec 20, 2012 10:52AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mitch Just hurry up and finish, it's not terrible. Just average.


Deniz Mitch wrote: "Just hurry up and finish, it's not terrible. Just average."

i just had such high hopes.... *looks down to see them totally shattered on the floor*
...but since this seems important to you, i am gonna read some of it tonight.


Lex (Fastidious Reader) I agree with Mitch! ;) just average.


Deniz Lexie wrote: "I agree with Mitch! ;) just average."

how is YOUR botw week going (you know the one you made us all read...) ;)


Deniz great review M


Rachelle Tacderas YES. This review says EVERYTHING I WANT TO.


message 17: by Kat (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kat Walls This is how I felt about this book. I think it just shouldn't be recommended to those of us who have read ASoFaI. ;)
Once you witness Martin's mastery of multiple pov characters you just can't help but hold other authors to the same level.


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