Falling Kingdoms

Falling Kingdoms - Morgan Rhodes, Michelle Rowen I have never read Game of Thrones, and it is not on my to-read list, but from what I know about Game of Thrones I'd say that the author of this book was trying to create a YA version of that series.

Lots of people die. There are a bunch of different POVs, and it's hard not to hate most of the characters, and even the few that are not loathsome are not all that likeable. There's a big war, lot's of blood and guts, and the book ends with an obvious setup for a sequel. And yet somehow I feel the need to know how this ends.

It's usually hard to get me committed to a long series if I don't like the main character(s), but Kiera Cass managed it with her addictive writing style, and, at least so far, so has Morgan Rhodes. Morgan Rhodes's writing style is not as addictive as Kiera Cass's, and I honestly don't think that it's particularly unique, which leads me to believe that my desire to keep going with this series stems not from the writing, and more from my fascination in seeing how all of these tangled threads of characters, motives and desires leads.

The characters that I didn't loath are; Cleo, Emilia, Nic, Theon, Corvin, Jonas, Brion, Eirene, Lucia, Jana and Alexius. Four of those characters are dead by the end of the book. I really don't like even these one's enough to know who I'm really rooting for, but at least I don't hate them the way I do most of the others. Cleo is immature, selfish and annoying, yet strong in her own way, and determined. She also seems to be quick to open her heart to people, and once she cares about someone, she seems to care about them with her whole heart. She was probably my favorite character. Emilia is loving and cares very much for her younger sister, though we really don't get to know her very well, she seems rather selfish as well. Nic was brave even though he was not physically strong. He seemed somewhat selfish in his reasons for going to Paelsia with Cleo (he wanted to spend time with her and be her hero,) yet, he was also fairly unselfish in comparison with the rest of the characters. He did not push himself at Cleo romantically the way most of the obviously-not-going-to-win sides of the love triangles do, but instead just did his best to be there for her when she needed him. Theon is passionate and brave. He is probably the most unselfish of the characters, though I wasn't a fan of his instalove with Cleo. It felt in character with Cleo, to become deeply infatuated so quickly, but I didn't think it worked very well with Theon's character. And the weirdness of Cleo and Theon's romantic attachment in light of Cleo's sister and Theon's father having been romantically involved was not lost on me. Corvin pushed his will on Cleo at times, but even during those times I had no doubt that he loved her very much. He was a weird mix of ignorant and wise, in that he ignored Paelsia's problems, and the fact that members of his country were taking advantage of their plight, yet he knew enough to warn Jonas that Paelsia's aligning with Limeros was suicidal.

I hate dealing with characters who are driven by vengeance. Yet somehow I didn't hate Jonas. I liked him because he thought that what he was doing was going to help his country, and he wasn't so blind as to completely ignore Corvin's warning. I found his construing Cleo's reaction to his brother's death to allow him to blame her was frustrating since we'd been in her head when we saw Tomas die, but I was also glad when he was able to feel some sympathy for her when he captured her, as well as his willingness to overcome his feelings at the end of the book. I think I see what could turn into a romance between Cleo and Jonas. Brion was not a major character, but he did have some funny reactions and has potential to add a little bit of humor in future books, which would be welcome because this book forgot about humor. Eirene is interesting. Naturally all of the readers could already guess that she was the ex-watcher the moment we met her. I think (and hope) that she could become important in future books.

Lucia was full of goodness and sweetness at the beginning of the book, but in allowing her evil and manipulative father (and brother) to control her, she is corrupting her character. She can see that Magnus has gone from being a loving brother to a corrupting and hate-filled character, yet she continues to allow him and her father to use her in the hopes that she will regain his brotherly love for her, which he manipulatively withdrew when, even after finding out that she was adopted and not a blood relation to him, she still only loved him as a brother. Jana is hardly worth mentioning since she died in the prologue, but she was an interesting character, being torn between wanting to help her people, and hating the killing and evil that she has to do to achieve that.

I don't hate Alexius. Yet. But his sitting back and watching while Lucia allows her family to corrupt her spirit bothers me, and all of his 'I will be so angry if I wasted my time watching this girl if she's not the powerful sorceress I think she is, who my people and I can use to get back the power we used to have.' Yet he's smart enough not to tell watchers who have obviously been corrupted that she is indeed the sorceress. I also have some appreciation for the fact that he was checking on his banished sister at the end of the book.

The rest of the characters are just so filled with evil that I can't care about them. I do, admittedly feel somewhat bad for Magnus, but he is turning into his father. Who he hates. I also don't think that he loves Lucia as much as he thinks he does. He used to maybe, but when she won't give in to his romantic feelings for her, he withdraws and punishes her for it, which makes me think that his lust for her, and his desire to control her are far stronger than any love, brotherly or otherwise, that he might have for her.

I thought that the ending of the book was kind of weird. It would have made more sense to me if Cleo had remained free and the way she was captured felt far too abrupt to feel real. Overall I liked this book, though part of me still doesn't know why.