by Morgan Rhodes
review by Bronto Incognito
*Oh yes, we’re going to get to that, my friends. We’re definitely going to get to that….
Even paradise could become a prison if one had enough time to take notice of the walls.
Falling Kingdoms…apt title. Totally makes sense. Beautiful cover, though after finishing the book I still couldn’t tell you for sure which character that’s supposed to be on the cover. Now I did this book on audio, so I feel like the best way for me to review this book (and not have to look up a thousand and one spellings) is to summarize the best way I know how.
World-building: great. You have 3 kingdoms: Aggressive isolationists in the north (ruled by the King of Blood), poor wine-sellers in the middle, and Richie Richertons in the south. King of Blood wants to rule everybody, people in the middle are tired of starving while the people in the south live high and mighty.
Magic is real here, though some people don’t believe it. The whole mythology developed in here is done just right and is quite cool. Loved it.
Court intrigue? Color me excited. I love figuring out who to trust and what’s coming next! And this book played into that nicely.
Sigh. And then we get to the characters….
Let’s start in the south, shall we?
First off we have Princess Whiny-Pants. Now, if you know me you know I HATE calling female characters “whiny” because it’s such a go-to criticism of female characters that are sorting through personal problems in a way that people don’t like. Or wish they would hurry up. Or whatever. You’ll notice the number of boy characters called “whiny” is RIDICULOUSLY lower, despite them sorting through the exact same types of problems.
That said, Princess Whiny-Pants and friends travel to the Middle Country with Guard Boy to buy some wine. One of the crew is a tool, he fights with Angry Brother guy from Middle Country and before you know it, deadly hi-jinks ensue.
Guard Boy tries to stop it, but oh no. Princess Whiny-Pants won’t let him and then it’s too late and everything is terrible.
So then you have Angry Brother and he’s all angry and wants revenge for things and basically hates Princess Whiny-Pants more than anything ever because her friend did bad things. Which really just means at some point in the series he’s going to fall in love with Princess Whiny-Pants because oh yeah, she’s hot and pretty much everyone likes her. Like…EVERYONE.
Then we hit North Country. Where Prince Brooding is all dark and grumbly (AKA whiny) because he’s got a big bad secret he can’t even share with his sister, Princess Special. What’s that secret you ask? Oh, nothing.
EXCEPT THE PART WHERE HE’S IN LOVE WITH HIS FREAKING SISTER!!!!
Oh yeah, I’m with you there Geoffery. Now, because of what happens at the very very beginning of this book you’re pretty sure that Princess Special is NOT his biological sister, but neither of them know that and that’s what makes this gross. Like…I kept waiting for that moment when the author would bring me on board with this somehow, but that never happened. Because even if they’re adopted siblings, they’ve always seen each other as such and…and…just ew. Gross.
So those are the players and as they set off and crazy and dangerous adventures their lives all intersect. And I loved the story. Unique, lots of players, you never knew just where the twists and turns would take you next. But the characters kept doing really STUPID things that made me mad (like that fight at the wine market) and then they’d like…let out a breath they didn’t know they were holding.
Seriously, this is me yelling at the audiobook while driving or weeding my garden…
“Stop! Dude’s got weapons and so does the guard! Stop trying to fight with him! You guys are peasants! Your fighting skills will inevitably suck! You’re just going to….well, I told ya so.”
“STOP TALKING!!!! Finish escaping!!! You’re not out of danger yet! You can catch up and make out later! Keep escaping first and then you can…yeah. See? I told ya.”
“Go do the thing with the thing you’ve been looking for for the whole book! What? The guards are talking smack about someone? No, wait, never mind. There’s only people dying and a war going on outside. Please, by all mean, stop and talk to them.”
“Stop wanting to make out with her!!!! SHE’S YOUR SISTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
And then one of the characters sleeps with a girl to get access to her father and is reminiscing about it while people are fighting a battle and is like, “THIS is wrong.” Oh this? THIS is wrong? But all the killing and other crimes that came before? Sleeping with the dude’s daughter? That was nothing clearly. Just keep going while I shout and some of your counterparts.
Oh, and then the one character I was REALLY rooting for got all dead. And I was depressed. Because I liked that ONE PERSON enough to care how they worked into book 2, but then they died and there was like 4 hrs of the audiobook left and just…just….
So in the end I’m giving this one 3 stars. Because the world-building was good, storyline was good, writing had a few issues but was overall good. But those characters, man. I really just don’t know if I care enough to make it to book 2 with them. I’m really considering starting the companion series instead because maybe it has some people I’ll like a bit more!
Also, check out our review of Icefall and Beyond the Red