Thursday, December 27, 2012

I'm Falling for Fantasy!

Falling Kingdoms
What happens to the land, the people, and the kingdoms when the magic fades? In Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes, the power may have faded, but the tensions between three kingdoms, one affluent, one starving, and one teetering on the edge, are ever present and growing.

Auranos is the land to the south where the people are prosperous and food is plentiful. Cleo knows not all lives are as fortunate as her own as the princess, but she has no idea just how bad things have become outside her kingdom's borders. Her father, the king, believes in the freedom of choice among his people, even if that includes a failure to worship either one of the goddesses whose deaths have resulted in the dwindling magic in the land. Limeros is the northernmost kingdom where a madman runs the kingdom. his son, Magnus, has no idea what his father is capable of, including kidnapping and raising a girl said to be the last sorceress, Lucia, as his own daughter while he punishes his subjects on the very suspect of magic. 

But it is the kingdom in the middle, Paelsia, where the people suffer the most. As Cleo and the arrogant boy she will most likely be forced to matter travel through the land, Aron, find themselves in a small scale class war over a case of wine, Aron kills a local boy and sets off a revolution against Cleo's home. Now the slain boy's brother, Jonas, is determined to kill Aron, and more importantly, his bloodlust for Cleo based solely on her upbringing leads him on the path to revenge. But the key behind all of this is the magic that has faded from all the lands since the two goddesses killed each other. What Cleo, Lucia, Magnus, and Jonas have no understanding about is how they will all come together: four young people from four wildly different backgrounds who all have one thing in common: preservation. What sets them apart is what they will do to preserve their way of life.

Magic, magic everywhere, how to be truly original? I don't know, but Morgan Rhodes does! This was your true high fantasy novel that is right up there with Cashore's Graceline, Marchetta's Finnick of the rock, and Chima's Demon King. You need some fantasy in your life and can't wait any longer? Start this series. It was such a whirlwind of different situations and different people, but the way they all came together is magnificent. I found myself rooting for the rebels but sympathizing with the prosperous nation hidden behind their boundaries and walls. I felt bad for the twisted Magnus while simultaneously wishing someone would run him through on the battle field. I wanted Jonas to avenge his brother's death, but I didn't want him to harm Cleo. I couldn't believe Auranos could sit by and watch their neighbors suffer, but their king was not a bad man. This is not a novel that gives you an easy out. You won't predict what happens in this book. And you certainly will have no idea who to get behind, but there is one thing I can guarantee: you will love this story. 

It was a beautiful high fantasy novel chock full of mystery and intrigue. It is one of the best I have read in a long time and falls right in the same league as all my favorites like Cashore, Marchetta, and Chima. I loved this novel and cannot wait to see where Rhodes goes with it. The story is fine for all ages, but like a lot of high fantasy, might need a more mature or stronger reader to keep up and keep everything together to really enjoy it. My only peeve? Why do author's need a pen name? Do they really think we can't distinguish between different genres from the same author? It seems silly, but since Rhodes gave me this to read, I suppose I should keep my peeves to myself! Great first novel, and I can't wait for the sequel!

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