Blog Tour: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Thank you for stopping by our blog for the Falling Kingdoms blog tour.

A story of three neighbouring kingdoms and the young people who are caught up in a brewing war, all because of a reckless display of power by an arrogant young lord that resulted in the death of a wineseller's son.

Princess Cleo of Auranos witnessed the whole thing. She could have prevented the tragedy, but she didn't. Now, bearing the guilt of an innocent death, Cleo is sneaking back to Paelsia to chase after a legend to cure her dying sister.

A dangerous endeavour, since Jonas Agallon will hunt her down if he knows she is back in his territory. Jonas, who swears to avenge his brother's death, is planting the seeds of a revolution and forming an alliance between Paelsia and Limeros to take on the wealthy and abundant Auranos.

The focus of Limeros' King Gaius though is not so much on the impending war but on a prophecy surrounding her daughter Lucia that is supposed to come true when she turns sixteen. He is starting to have doubt and is getting impatient, but it's only because Lucia hasn't revealed to him what she is turning into.

The only person she can confide in is her dear brother Magnus, but lately, he seems aloof and temperamental. Little does she know that Magnus suffers everytime he sees her, struggling with growing feelings towards his very own sister.

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (pen name for Michelle Rowen) is a very readable high fantasy, and readers will easily immerse themselves in this world of political intrigue. The chapters alternate among the three kingdoms, and as the story builds to a crescendo, you eagerly await the inevitable collision of the characters. The cast is a bit uneven though. Cleo and Jonas are much more proactive characters that are fueled with a strong purpose, and the other two pale in comparison and it's difficult to sympathize with everyone's stories. Scenes that should make a bigger emotional impact often felt rushed or came out of nowhere, so they are not as convincing as they can be. I also wish the book will explore and expand on the magic mentioned, but overall, it's a good start to a series.

This book is quite different from the kinds of books we usually talk about on this blog, so just to add a note from our blog's perspective, even though the Assassin's Creed like character on the cover may suggest a promising read for boys, the melodramatic romantic scenes and the overarching theme of forbidden love can be off-putting to some.

Thank you to Razorbill, Penguin Canada, for providing the advanced copy of Falling Kingdoms and inviting us to join the blog tour. Visit the official website.
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The Codex Alera by Jim Butcher

If you are tired of waiting for the Song of Fire and Ice series to finish up, have watched all the episodes of the TV show and are looking for another epic fantasy series, why not try Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series?  It’s not quite as intense as George R.R. Martin’s series, but it is fun.  There are two great things about it: first, the series is finished, so you don’t have to wait for the next book to come out, and second, it was written as a bet.  Jim Butcher was challenged on an online writers’ forum that he could write a book based on a bad idea.  Butcher took up the challenge, upping the ante to two bad ideas.  Those ideas?  The Lost Roman Legion and, of all things,  Pok√©mon.

Set in an Imperial Roman style world.  All humans have one or more "furies" magical creatures who are associated with the major classical elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water with metal and wood tossed in for good measure.  These furies allow their "crafters" to manipulate their respective elements for various purposes.  Watercrafters can help heal, serving as doctors.  Firecrafters can manipulate emotions, etc.  The more furies one has control of grants people Citizenship in the Empire, with all duties and privileges that entails.  And then there's Tavi.  He has no furies, and is the only one in the world not to.  Guess who the hero is?

In the world of the series, every human has the ability to control “furies”, creatures that are able to manipulate earth, fire, wood, water or metal.  The more control you have, the more powerful you are, and you get to become a Citizen in the Roman empire-type place they live in.  Of course, this is a fantasy series, and there needs to be a unique hero.  Enter Tavi: he’s the only known person who doesn’t have a fury.  He needs to rely on his wits rather than his power to make it in the world.  With an incoming invasion of beasts and an emperor with no heir, there’s a lot to deal with.

I realize that this series isn't new.  In fact, it finished in 2009.  However, the most interesting part is how it came to be.  That alone is a great selling point.  It doesn't hurt that the books are pretty entertaining on top of it.  
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