Summary: On the island of Mytica, the three kingdoms of Limeros, Paelsia and Auranos have co-existed somewhat peacefully for centuries in cultures steeped with myths of powerful goddesses and mysterious watchers. When the Auranos’ princess is involved in a Paelsian wine deal gone horribly wrong, it becomes an international incident that fuels old grudges between the kingdoms. Taking advantage of the growing unrest to achieve darker ambitions of blood lust and power, the Limeros’ king offers to partner with Paelsia in a war against Auranos. As the three kingdoms clash, four teens on the cusp of adulthood must decide their own fates.
Number of Pages: 412
Age Range: 13-15
Review: An instant classic for recreational readers and lovers of the fantasy genre, Falling Kingdoms is a richly woven tapestry of fictional reality and folklore. Written by Morgan Rhodes (aka paranormal author Michelle Rowen), this complicated tale of parent/child and sibling relationships, issues of grief, greed, love and history, as well the ability to determine one’s own future is relatable despite some fantastical elements.
With a hefty cast featuring two male and two female protagonists, the character list found at the beginning of the book is both useful and necessary. Although books containing many characters can end up one-dimensional, Rhodes achieves complexity and believability. From the first sentence, “She’d never killed before tonight,” interest and attention is held captive as the reader is thrown into the action. The first in a series, Falling Kingdoms is a successful balance between intrigue and reader satisfaction, showcasing kingdom leaders of tomorrow and the weight of their decisions.
*This review first appeared in the Canadian Children’s Book News magazine in the Spring 2013 edition.
“‘I don’t understand.’ Jonas’s voice broke. Felicia clutched his arm, her wails of panic and grief deafening. ‘It happened so fast. Why? Why did this happen?’
His father stood helplessly nearby, his face grief-stricken but stoic. ‘It’s fate, son.’
‘Fate?’ Jonas spat out, rage blazing bright inside him. ‘This is not fate! This was not meant to be. This – this was done at the hands of a Auranian royal who considers us dirt beneath his feet.'” – Conversation between Jonas and his father from Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes, page 26
“Cleo didn’t like ‘hopefullys.’ She liked certainties. She liked knowing that tomorrow would be pleasant and sunny and filled with fun activities. She like knowing that her family and friends were healthy and happy. Anything else was unacceptable.
Emilia would be fine because she had to be fine. If Cleo wanted something badly enough, it would happen. Why wouldn’t it? It always had before. Resolutely, she pushed her engagement to Aron out of her head.” – Cleo from Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes, page 123
“Emilia’s expression held deep distress. ‘I – I never should have told you any of this. My story got away from me. I only meant to say that if you really don’t want to marry Aron, tell Father. Make him understand that you’ll die if you do. And if you fall in love with someone else, you need to spend as much time with him as possible because you never know when he might be taken from you. Follow your heart wherever it leads. Appreciate life, Cleo. It’s a gift that can be stolen at any time. No matter what happens to me now with this illness, I don’t regret a moment I spent with Simon.'” – Emilia from Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes, page 131
“‘I never said she was evil. Nor was she good. Even in the darkest and most cruel person, there is still a kernel of good. And within the most perfect champion, there is also darkness. The question is, will one give in to the dark or the light? It’s something we decide with every choice we make, every day that we exist. What might not be evil to you could be evil to someone else. Knowing this makes us powerful even without magic.'” – Eirene from Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes, page 215
“She laughed, but there was no humor to the sound. ‘Perhaps it’s for the best. If I’m to die a mortal, why shouldn’t the same fate be given to all, no matter how long they’ve lived or how important they think they are? All things must eventually come to an end.'” – Eirene from Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes, page 392