Ermmm...wow. That was really my reaction after reading it. WOW. Falling Kingdoms...it wasn't...wasn't what I expected at all. And I say that with 90% all the love in the world. Because the other 10%? It was a bit hesitant. Let me just say, that as the last and final Breathless Read, it didn't let me down, though it wasn't quite as good. But then, I haven't been a fan of 3rd person multiple POVs, so that probably has something to do with it!
And, I'm just saying, the Breathless Reads? I can now fully confirm--all of them will leave you breathless. There is no doubt.
So like I said, I am not a big fan of multiple POVs, especially not 3rd person. The characters are usually not well developed and while the characters weren't completely underdeveloped, they did fall a little under the line. The only really developed character, in my opinion, was Cleo and only because most of the book was from her perspective. But from what I gathered...
Cleo: Cleo was, by far, one of my favorite characters. She acts like a whiny princess at first, because after all, she was raised as one. But when she witnesses the murder of a wine seller's son (killed by her fiance, actually) she's plagued with guilt and it turns out she's a lot less whiny and spoiled than she seemed at first glance. And when her beloved sister gets sick, she turns out to be stronger than anything we expected. She defies her father, travels into enemy lands, all to look for magical healing seeds. Does it sound naive? Yes. But the fact that she'd do things she's definitely not comfortable with, all for her sister? I loved her.
Magnus: Can I pretty please kill him? I really wanted to rip my hair out whenever we got to Magnus' chapter. He was just...ugh. He was always thinking about Lucia, which I mean, I get. he's in love with her and wants to protect her and I loved that about her! But did he really just have to kiss her like that? I was expecting him to tell her first, then tell her his feelings, then kiss her. And I think I would've liked it a lot more if he did that. And he was so surprised when (SPOILER) she rejected him, I actually felt a little sad for him, but when he becomes cruel? Well. But then, I'm also a bit biased since he's Cleo's captor and basically her enemy. Not my favorite character in the least.
Jonas: Jonas is the brother of the guy who was brutally murdered by Cleo's fiance, and he's bent on revenge. He wants them to go through his pain or kill them, though the latter one sounds better to him. And he's...well, I couldn't blame him for trying to kill Cleo. She stood by while her companion killed his brother in front of him. But I was a bit disappointed in him for taking that route. But characters are only characteristically human!
Lucia: She's an important character, the "Chosen One" as it may be, and a very powerful sorceress--one who can wield all four elements. But we actually didn't read from her perspective for more than...two chapters? Three? It was just a bit disappointing since I was expecting more magic and practice from her.
The plot though was...wow. It was seriously quick and action packed. Epic/High Fantasy is usually like that, but...wow. Falling Kingdom's plot was definitely more complicated and quick than I thought (for such a thick book) os plot-wise, Falling Kingdoms completely, utterly, destroyed my expectations for the plot. It was fun, a bit gory and bloody, full of betrayals, war, strategy, and more!
There's a revolution brewing, a war to be fought and so much more and honestly? Let me say that the plot is the one thing that kept me reading the book. I just wanted to know what happened, but I refused to read the end (no matter how many times my friends told me too!) And that ending, by the way? I need the sequel now!
Worldbuilding? LOVED. I loved the magic, the legends, the goddesses, the whole thing! I loved the three kingdoms, how different they were, how the royal families operated. (Backstabbing mainly.) I absolutely love High Fantasy because of the worldbuilding, actually. It's fascinating, seeing what kind of world an author can create with only her mind and no restrictions! And Morgan Rhodes? She created one of my favorites. It was just a lush world (at least, Auranos is/was.) and the descriptions were detailed enough that we could clearly picture it all, without being boring and monotonous. I absolutely loved the legend of the Watcher and the goddesses and the magic! It was why I was a tad disappointed that we just didn't get to see more of it!
The romance was definitely iffy for me. There was this giant triangle (rectangle?) that was Cleo and her love interests: Nic, Theon, and (possibly?) Jonas. Nic is the boy next door, basically. Her best friend and always there for her, Cleo's never considered him as more than a friend, but when he shows sudden interest, she's a bit...caught in the middle. (SPOILER HERE) Theon was the guy I was actually rooting for, because I mean, come on, a guard and a forbidden love? What more can a reader ask for? But the thing is...when Cleo finally kissed him? He got killed about 5 pages later. And I. Wanted. To. Cry. But I was in school. But the fact remains--I absolutely hated that when Cleo, my favorite character, finally got with my favorite love interest...he died. I'm not sure if this is changed in the final copy, or not. I hope so! Then there was Jonas, and he didn't really show interest besides the fact that she was beautiful, but all us readers know that there's sure to be something between them later on. Right? Right.
Then there was Magnus and Lucia. One couple I was not rooting for, actually. It was just...weird how Magnus could be so cruel as to kiss her first then information-dump her. not necessarily cruel, but you get my drift. Long story short? Magnus holds an unrequited love for Lucia, and we're not quite sure if Lucia feels the same way later in the book. She cares for him, she admits, but we're not sure if it's a sibling-love or a romantic love.
Pick this up! There were a few holes in the writing I didn't like, but honestly? I enjoyed the read! The plot definitely lived up to it's title as "Breathless Rebellion" and I think it's definitely worthy to be a Breathless Read! Any reader of High Fantasy will devour this in a blast and they'll love it for sure! There's a lot to be found in Falling Kingdoms! Because, in the end, who will fall? Aren't you curious?