Hi everyone! Thanks for your patience on the bit of a delay on this first book club post for Morgan Rhodes’ Falling Kingdoms series. Since she’s the inaugural series for this club, we’re sort of adjusting things as we go, as we find even better ways to do this fun project.
Because Morgan’s books are not only long, but incredibly dense and packed with goodies, we’re going to break down the books into more than one post, so that the info-vomiting isn’t too overwhelming. So this is the first of four consecutive posts about the first book in the series, Falling Kingdoms. We are covering the first seven chapters today. Let’s dig in and break it down!
Before we get to the meat of the story I want to say that there’s a great name guide at the start of the book which helps keep things clear if you’re unsure (there are a LOT of names in this series!) We are introduced to a bunch of important characters really quickly, and this is a great way to help keep things straight if you start to get confused. Okay, now to the book summary!
This series takes place in three different countries that all neighbor each other: Auranos, the fertile, rich kingdom, Limeros, the religious kingdom, and Paelsia, the poorer middle kingdom. There is also a magical in-between space called The Sanctuary. These are the basics to get you started.
Prologue: Jana and Sabina, sisters, stole a baby they think is a chosen child. Sabina Kills Jana and takes the child for herself.
Ch 1- Paelsia: Sixteen years have passed. Princess Cleona of Auranos, along with friends Aron and Mira, and young handsome guard Theon, are in Paelsia to get an exceptional wine Aron’s heard of. Aron’s a bit of a jerk, very arrogant, and Cleo reflects that he has a secret about her that she wish he didn’t. Aron tries to offer Silas the wine seller significantly less than the wine is worth. His teen sons Tomas and Jonas get involved, and Aron kills Tomas before anyone can interfere. They leave without the wine.
Ch 2- Paelsia: Jonas watches Tomas die in front of their father and sister (whose wedding day it also happens to be). Jonas thinks about how he hates Auranos and its people. They’re wealthy and struck a deal with Paelsia to supply wine for a good price for fifty years, but now that time is up and they’re taking advantage, so Paelsia has fallen into poverty. As Tomas dies a golden hawk flies over, watching the whole thing.
Ch 3- Limeros: Prince Magnus of Limeros is at a dinner, making nice even though he’s hating every moment, and the topic of his younger sister Lucia coming of age is mentioned. They also discuss the murder in Paelsia and Princess Cleo’s possible involvement. While Magnus ponders this he reflects on his terrible father, King Gaius. Limeros has fallen on hard times, and Gaius is super strict on top of it, not allowing art, beauty or pleasure, since the religious country doesn’t encourage luxury. The country is also worried that the elementia, the magic of the land, is drying up. His thoughts wander back to Lucia and he ends up breaking a glass, he’s struggling internally so much. He’s in love with his sister, and knows it’s wrong, but can’t help how he feels, even though he’s repulsed with himself. After Lucia fixes up his hand (as he mentally torments himself), he runs into a maid he often uses as a distraction and a spy, Amia. She says she’s heard his father and his mistress, Sabina, chatting on the balcony. Magnus eavesdrops and hears them discussing a prophecy and Lucia’s “awakening”, which worries him even if he’s confused. After the conversation finishes Sabina walks out and senses Magnus watching her.
Ch 4- The Sanctuary: Alexius has re-entered his body from traveling as a hawk. He and the others like him are looking for the Kindred, but he says to an elder that he thinks he may have found a girl who is the one prophesized about. They tell him to give up his Kindred search and focus on watching her, but check that he’s not following the path of his sister, one like him who gave up her immortal life to be with a human. He assures them he’d never do that.
Ch 5- Auranos: Cleo’s older sister Emelia, the heir to the Auranos throne, isn’t well, having fainting spells and dizziness and Cleo is worried. She finds out that her dad is talking about her in a meeting, and when she goes to confront him she discovers he’s been talking about the murder as well. It becomes clear that she has a great relationship with her father through their banter. He drops a bomb on Cleo: he wants her to marry Aron, and that because of what happened in Paelsia she isn’t to leave the area, and must have Theon as a permanent guard at home. She flees and runs into her best friend and Mia’s older brother Nicolo, who is the king’s squire and leans on him for comfort. It’s pretty clear he might love her, but that gets ignored when Theon comes to start his duty. He is not happy, as he wanted to father in his recently deceased father’s footsteps and guard the king. And yet, there’s this spark that captivates Cleo.
Ch 6- Paelsia: Jonas is reflecting on his life with is brother Tomas. They used to poach meat from nearby Auranos, since they are so destitute in their country, even though it’s illegal. The people of this country believe that their leader, Chief Basilius, will summon magic to save them, but Jonas thinks this is stupid. He’s also obsessed with the desire to kill Aron and Cleo for revenge of Tomas’s death. As he’s getting ready to cross into Auranos his best friend Brion appears to stop him. Brion reminds Jonas of Tomas’s intent to talk to Chief Basilius. He wanted to find out what the Kindred really are; all anyone knows is that they’re four legendary objects containing endless magic that have been lost for a thousand years. Thanks to Brion’s meddling Jonas shifts his goal and decides to follow Tomas’s quest to talk to the chief and hopefully chart a new, better course for his people.
Ch 7- Auranos: Cleo’s dreaming of Tomas getting killed and Jonas coming to seek revenge. She wakes and reflects that she’s had this same dream every night for the month since the murder happened. She decides she wants to talk to Aron about it, hoping he feels remorse like she, and that they can at least have that in common if they are to be married. She approaches her sister Emelia for help evading her guard Theon, and tells her she wants to go see Aron. Emelia comments about secret trysts, and Cleo brings up Darius, Emelia’s intended that she ended up not marrying. Cleo thinks Emelia may love someone else and that’s why, even though her sister had never showed any sign of this. Cleo sneaks out through Emelia’s balcony, and is frustrated when she gets to Aron, as she can already smell the alcohol on his breath, even though it’s not even noon. They talk, and he reveals that he’s not sorry. When she questions the engagement he reminds her of their secret, their night together, and threatens to tell people if they don’t end up together. At this point Theon finds her and takes her away. Theon’s annoyed, though he does seem to care about Cleo’s feelings, and there is some definite energy passed through a gaze.
Thoughts on the book so far:
Lots and lots of names, which can be confusing, but once I figured out who everyone was it made it extremely interesting to follow their complicated lives – because they are ALL complicated.
So, speculation time! What’s going to happen with Cleo and Theon? Will Cleo have to marry Aron the jerk? Who are the hawk guys and why are they so important? Will Jonas eventually seek revenge and avenge his brother’s murder? And poor Magnus, will he ever be able to get over loving his sister? Also, what was up with all that talk about Lucia being the chosen one? What does that mean?
What questions do you have at this point? We want to hear what you think! Please continue joining us as we read the next hundred or so pages and post about them. Stay tuned!