Sunday, March 27, 2016

#Review: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes - 3 Wine Glasses

Series: Falling Kingdoms #1
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Narrator: Fred Berman
Format: Unabridged Audiobook, 11 hours and 35 minutes
Published: Listening Library, 11 Dec 2012
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Audible
Reviewer: Linda
Source: Library (Overdrive)
Rating: 3 out of 5 Wine Glasses

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed... and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It's the eve of war.... Choose your side.

Linda's Thoughts:
“Magic will find those with pure hearts, even when all seems lost.”

FALLING KINGDOMS by Morgan Rhodes is an action-packed fantasy that I've heard compares to a YA Game of Thrones. I've never read Game of Thrones, but know it is quite popular. I was motivated to read this series after winning FROZEN TIDES, the fourth book, in a contest. Since I enjoy audio books so much and since my library had it available, I elected to listen to the first book in the series.

Just as a quick primer on the main characters: The story is told in multiple third person point of view. The main four characters are Cleo, Jonas, Magnus, and Lucia. Cleo is the princess of Auranos, the richest, most powerful of the kingdoms. Jonas is from Paelsia, the poorest of the kingdoms. Magnus and Lucia are a brother and sister from Limeros, the middle ground kingdom. There are many more characters, but, if you focus on these four key players, the others will fall in line.

In hindsight, I would not choose to listen to this book. It was difficult to get into as the story is so complex. Settings continually switch and there's a plethora of characters to become acquainted with. It's even more chaotic in audio as it's difficult to go back and re-listen which I had to do multiple times as the story's set-up was confusing. I almost stopped listening multiple times, but stuck with it. About half-way through (yes, it took that long), I began to understand which characters were which, which characters were associated with which lands and rulers. It was a huge step being able to differentiate between the characters and the various kingdoms. From that point I started feeling engaged in the story. By three-fourths of the way through, I was addicted. I may be wrong, since I did listen to it, but I don't feel that it would have taken me that long to become vested in the story if I'd been reading it. I am definitely going to continue with the series, but I've reserved the next book in ebook format. I will not continue the series in audio.

This was the first time I've ever listened to Fred Berman. He has a clear voice, but I could not discern from his voice who was speaking. Also, his accents changed for the same characters which made it even more difficult to follow via audio. He would voice one character with an accent and a few minutes later, the same character would not have an accent. I thought I may have been mistaken, but on a few of my many re-listens, it was crystal clear that he didn't voice the same characters the same way. I was not a fan of his narration of this book for that reason. I would not be against trying his performance in another book series as I liked his voice, but I'm through with listening to him with this series.

Following please find a few of my favorite quotes from this audio:

“Even in the darkest and most cruel person, there is still a kernel of good. And within the most perfect champion, there is 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.”

“That which one fears, one typically won't embrace with open arms."

“Follow you heart wherever it leads. Appreciate life, Cleo. It's a gift that can be stolen at any time.”

“You're the same as you were yesterday and the day before. Nothing has changed. Not really. Forget what troubles you. Regret nothing, but learn from any mistakes you make. Tomorrow will be a brighter day, I promise.”

“Even paradise could become a prison if one had enough time to take notice of the walls.”

“Those who appeared to be victims were always the easiest to victimize.”

This book is teeming with magic. Betrayals and deception are commonplace in every kingdom. I was shocked more than once by having characters that I liked, cruelly taken out. I even cried over one in particular. I also cheered when , vice versa, characters I didn't care for met their ends. Obviously, a lot of characters from this book will not be continuing to the next. I hope that the deaths abate a bit as, at this rate, there won't be any characters left to cheer for. There's some characters that I don't have a good feeling as to whether they are dark or light. I am excited to continue the fantasy in ebook form and would encourage anyone starting the series to read it and not listen to it. I hope future installments aren't as heartbreaking as the first book.

Suggested Reading Order: 
Expected series finale (Book #6)

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