If you watch Lainey (gingerreadslainey) on BookTube, you’ve no doubt heard of the Falling Kingdoms series. I listened to the first book, Falling Kingdoms, on audiobook from Hoopla, which is a streaming media service through my library (shameless library service plug). I’ve always enjoyed listening to audiobooks on roadtrips, especially the Jim Dale-narrated Harry Potter ones. Falling Kingdoms was well-narrated, though the voice the narrator used for Magnus reminded me a lot of Kit Harington’s Jon Snow in Game of Thrones. (Not really a bad thing.) What I didn’t like was that the description of the book revealed as semi-twist concerning Lucia.
The plot centers around the continent of Mytica, which is divided into three countries: cold, pious Limeros in the north, sunny, properous Auranos in the south and the dying nation of Paelsia in between. The four main characters are divided among these three nations: Cleo is the Princess of Auranos, Jonas is a poor Paelsian wine merchant’s son and Magnus and Lucia belong to the Limerian royal family. Their stories are woven together gradually, finally colliding at the end of the book. This is clearly a set-up book and I’ve heard good things about the sequels (there will be six books in the finished series).
Falling Kingdoms has been described as the YA version of A Song of Ice and Fire; it is full of political intrigue and death. But – perhaps because I’m familiar with fantasy tropes and the plot twists – I found Falling Kingdoms very predictable. I was able to predict all but maybe one or two plot ‘twists’. I was also sometimes able to predict the next sentence or word before the narrator said it.
This predictability is not necessarily a bad thing – I definitely enjoyed the book. The characters are interesting. I feel this series would be an excellent starting point for someone looking to get into fantasy. The writing is approachable (if a bit repetitive and using modern phrase), without any of the specialized jargon that often comes with fantasy. There’s plenty of twists and action to entertain a more seasoned fantasy veteran as well. I liked all the characters and wanted to find out what happened to them next, but didn’t have a particular favorite.
Overall, I give Falling Kingdoms 4 cups of tea. It’s a fun, fast-paced YA fantasy that is approachable for non-fantasy readers. I’m interested in continuing the series, but don’t feel the strong desire to dive into the next book like Mistborn or the Winner’s Trilogy. Maybe someday.