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Literature / The Falling Kingdoms Series

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The Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes is sextet of fantasy books, set in the land of Mytica, with a high focus on political intrigue and magic. It has a sprawling cast, with chapters that switch between third-person narrators whose plots run alongside each other, comparable to A Song of Ice and Fire.

All is not well in the land of Mytica. Glorious Auranos revels in their bountiful land, ignoring the cries of its dying neighbor Palesia. For to the north in cold Limeros, the power-hungry Damora royal family plots to conquer the continent and uncovers hidden power within their princess, which may just allow them to do so. However, unknown to them, a greater threat to the world lurks—ever since the disappearance of the Kindred, artifacts holding vast amounts of elementia—or magic—the world has been slowly but steadily dying. The Watchers, guardians from another realm, are desperately seeking them out, but are unable to directly intervene. They can only try to guide the protagonists to find and restore the Kindred before the world collapses completely.

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Of course, as the Kindred are artifacts of great power, the heroes aren't the only ones hunting them. Across the sea, the massive Kraeshian Empire across the looms, always searching for methods to assist their conquer of the world, and even among the Watchers, there lurks one who desires the Kindred for their own gain. To say nothing of how even the noblest of the heroes has their own interests in mind for such powerful stones.

The main series consists of six books, and was completed with the release of the final book on February 6, 2018.

  • Falling Kingdoms
  • Rebel Spring
  • Gathering Darkness
  • Frozen Tides
  • Crystal Storm
  • Immortal Reign

It also has a spinoff series, Spirits and Thieves, in-progress.


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The series provides examples of:

  • Adult Fear:
    • The series starts with a mother finding strangers kidnapping her newborn daughter, then being killed when she tries to protect her.
    • Giving birth to a girl in the Kraeshian Empire, which hates daughters, means every mother has to live with the fear that her husband will try to kill her daughter—which is legally allowed (only one opportunity is allowed, but still).
    • You’re helping your father with business when one of the customers starts acting up. Your brother steps in and is killed, on your wedding day. Your other brother disappears to war. Your father wastes away, and your husband is later taken and worked to death on the Imperial Road. This describes what happens to Jonas’s sister Felicia perfectly.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Foreigners Amara and Ashur are described as having ‘dark tan’ skin.
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  • All Work vs. All Play: Limeros and Auranos’ conflict.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Magnus, to Cleo, at the end of Frozen Tides. After running through a blizzard to find her, when he does, all he can do is fall at her feet and proclaim, “I love you, Cleo. I love you so much it hurts.”
  • Anyone Can Die: Boy howdy. Half the characters at the start of the series don’t make it to the end. Subverted by the end of Immortal Reign however, when the author decides to spare all of the remaining main characters, despite them going through hell to prevent the end of the entire world.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Kindred grant whomever touches them mastery over the corresponding elementia, but also are said to corrupt that person without the protection of Eva’s ring.
  • Babies Ever After: At the end of Immortal Reign, Cleo and Magnus are expecting their first child.
  • Back from the Dead: A resurrection potion, drunk or administered in advance, is used to save the lives of Amara and Ashur, seperately—Amara when she was a baby, Ashur when he's killed in the third book. King Gaius is also resurrected, by some spell his mother cast on him, but much less prettily.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: In the second book, Jonas's rebels attack one of the Limerian road camps, during which a wildfire mysteriously breaks out. Unwilling to pass up the chance to capture or kill Magnus, Jonas presses the attack, leading to them dueling as fire rages around them.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension:
    • Between Jonas and Lysandra, who squabble a lot but also can't help finding the other attractive and admirable.
    • Cleo and Magnus, despite themselves. Slightly deconstructed in that, despite their growing feelings for each other, their relationship doesn’t take a turn for the better until they actually put the belligerence aside and talk. Afterwards, any arguing they do is mostly playful.
  • Blood Magic: Witches often have to pay the price of their spells with their health, but they can also use others' blood instead or to strengthen it. Additionally, the Kindred are awakened from their locations by either Lucia’s blood being spilled, or huge amounts of blood.
  • Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress: Happens to Cleo, when her and Magnus’s Arranged Marriage ceremony is interrupted by an assassination attempt by Jonas’s rebels (which she helped plan). Unfortunately for her, neither Magnus nor Gaius is killed, and Gaius forces them to go through with it anyway.
  • Buried Alive: Kurtis does this to Magnus at the end of the fifth book, breaking all his limbs for extra cruelty. If it weren’t for the bloodstone ring, he would have died.
  • Burn the Witch!: The custom in Limeros is to burn witches (or anyone accused of being a witch) alive at the stake. Lucia finds herself briefly threatened by this, but by a crowd in Paelsia, when they recognize her as the sorceress who just recently went on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge across their land.
  • Celeb Crush: Many Limerian common girls swoon over Prince Magnus, finding him dark, alluring, and dreamy.
  • Chekhov's Gun: While arguing with Cleo in Frozen Tides, an enraged Magnus throws the earth Kindred at the wall, unintentionally triggering a small earthquake. Cleo remembers this when she and Magnus are later cornered by King Gaius and throws the Kindred off a cliff, saving them with another earthquake.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Cleo’s penchant for scaling ivy trellis to sneak out of the castle comes into play when she’s imprisoned by Amara and King Gaius, and there just so happens to be a window with some ivy nearby…
    • Averted with her archery lessons. She’s terrible at archery, and never improves. So instead, she improvises by taking several arrows with her, and stabbing guards in the eye when they try to stop her escape.
  • Civil War:
    • During the fourth book, Cleo rallies Limeros behind Magnus, stating that Gaius has made himself an enemy by aligning himself with Kraeshia. Soon enough, members of the royal guard find themselves torn between obeying the orders of Gaius or Magnus.
    • Mytica as a whole ends up in this during Crystal Storm, when Kraeshia takes occupation. Paelsia adores Amara and sides with her, Limeros and the rebels throw their lot in with the Damoras (now unified again), and Auranos stays neutral.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture:
    • Felix spends a week in a Kraeshian torture cell, after being framed for the murder of the royal family.
    • Magnus is tortured by Kurtis at the end of the fifth book; while he keeps his resolve to not beg, he can’t keep his resolve not to scream as they break an arm and both his legs.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Auranos, Cleo’s country, is a place with perpetually wonderful weather, wealth, and beauty; the citizens are free to live as they see fit, partying for days on end and indulging in whatever brings them joy. Look a little closer, and you’ll discover they earned their wealth by taxing their neighbor Paelsia to poverty, that they are oblivious of their surroundings to the point of being sheep, and that they’re exactly as shallow as they appear.
  • Crapsack World: Paelsia is a terrible place to live. The only land that supports life is along the coast, everything else is dry, barren, and/or somehow cursed. The little fertile land they do have is wasted on vineyards, because of a contract made with Auranos decades ago, and they can only sell their wine to Auranos at absolutely terrible prices. Trying to poach off their bountiful neighbor to the south is punishable by death, and everyone is so downtrodden they've basically given up.
  • Death by Childbirth: Cleo’s mother Elena died this way, rumored to be because of a curse. The truth is, Selia Damora poisoned her.
  • Death By Newberry Medal: Lucia’s precious pet rabbit Hana is killed at the end of the second book, when Lucia loses control of her magic and accidentally freezes her to death.
  • Dry Crusader: Limeros is a land of these, spurning wine and alcohol as unnecessary indulgences that lead to one’s life wasting away.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In the first book, the chapter titles were descriptions of where the narrator was, ie “Limeros” or “Auranos”, with no mention of who the narrator was. Later books replaced this with that chapter’s narrator as the title, A Song of Ice and Fire style, with the location below it.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Everyone goes through a lot of hell, and not all of them make it out, but the ending is ultimately uplifting. Magnus and Cleo are in love, expecting their first child, and ruling Mytica as equals. Lucia's daughter is safe and will be raised by her and Jonas, who has been giving a seat on the council to represent Paelsia. Nic and Ashur are off to explore the world, while the rebellion in Kraeshia has overthrown Amara and has hopes of changing things for the better. Speaking of, the reformed but not forgiven Amara is rescued by Nerissa, and they also head off to travel and find redemption.
  • Elemental Powers: Elementia, or the magic that gives the world life, comes in four forms: fire, air, water, and earth. Witches can usually use only one or two of these, while sorceresses like Lucia can use all four.
  • Elopement: Alexius and Lucia run away to elope at the end of the third book. In reality, it was a gambit so he could get her alone, to the Temple of Valoria, to awaken the Water Kindred.
  • The Empire: The Kraeshian Empire, across the sea, which has conquered half the known world.
  • Enemy Mine: Paelsia hates Limeros for their indifference, while Limeros views them as pathetic savages, yet they team up to take out Auranos. ‘Team up’ being symbolic, since Limeros does all the heavy lifting and, at the end of the day, immediately turns on Paelsia too.
  • First Guy Wins: Technically, Magnus for Cleo, as they met once as children, long before Theon or Jonas came into her life.
  • Food Porn: The descriptions of food are quite vivid and lovely.
  • Forceful Kiss: Magnus forces one on Cleo on their wedding tour, but unusually he doesn’t want it either; he’s just acting to pacify the crowd of people cheering for a kiss and to keep up appearances of a Happily Married couple.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • A lot of Gaius’s hate for Cleo makes much more sense once you learn he was in love with her mother, who died delivering Cleo and whom Cleo strongly resembles.
    • Kyan mentions that everyone’s personality corresponds to one of the four elementia, making them suitable hosts for the Kindred, then gives some examples: Nic is fire, Cleo is water, and Magnus is also fire. When he’s forced out of Nic’s body and needs a new host, guess who he chooses?
  • Frame-Up:
    • A Running Gag in Jonas’s case, but the Damoras love slapping crimes he didn’t commit onto him when they have no other suspect.
    • Amara frames Felix for her family’s murder in an attempt to cut down their burgeoning feelings for each other, since she believes Love Is a Weakness. It works too well.
  • From Bad to Worse:
    • One day, Cleo and a few of her friends go shopping at a small town in Paelsia. An escalation breaks out, ending with a local dead. Paelsia and Limeros seize this as a reason to go to war with Auranos, and everything goes downhill from there. It’s not until the end of the sixth book that things lift up.
    • Played for Laughs in Frozen Tides. Magnus, on a rush to search for Cleo, is bucked off his horse and left to trudge through a blizzard at night. He starts to pray for the goddess to let him live so he can make things right…and then hears a wolf howling, much to his ire.
  • Generation Xerox: As it turns out, Cleo’s mother and Magnus’s father were in love in their youth, but parted because of Selia’s manipulations. Almost two decades later, and once again a spirited Auranian princess and broody Limerian prince fall for each other.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Embodied with the goddesses Valoria and Cleiona, and their respective nations Limeros and Auranos. Valoria was strict, devout, and no-nonsense, favoring a life of discipline; Cleiona was frivolous, social, and self-centered, favoring a life of pleasure. One sister (depending on which nation you ask) was evil and murdered the other. The true story is a Deconstruction: there were three sisters, with Eva being the object of both Valoria and Cleiona’s jealousy. So they teamed up with Melenia to kill her and steal the Kindred for themselves, then eventually destroyed each other. Sister rivalry isn’t nearly as glorious when the sisters fighting are immortals who screw up the world as a result.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors:
    • Militaristic, severe Limeros forbids the use of bright colors, with the exception of red in their military, and most Limerians restrict themselves to black or gray. Prosperous, pleasure-seeking Auranos favors vibrant colors, particularly blue, and has a capital city inlaid with gold.
    • The Kraeshian Empire enjoys emerald green and deep purple, fitting for a nation that is full of pride and ambition to conquer the known world.
    • When Cleo and Magnus become co-rulers of Mystica at the end, they’re seen decked out in a violet that is the perfect combination of Limeros red and Auranos blue, signifying the true union of their nations.
  • Gray and Grey Morality: None of the three lands in Mytica are truly in the right, in the end; Auranos is peaceful, but also completely hedonistic, elitist, and has been taxing its neighbor Paelsia into destitution for generations. Paelsia is incredibly poor and just wants to live comfortably, but is sexist and brutal, to the point the other two view it as a land of savages. Limeros is disciplined and the most religious of the lands, but also enforces ruthless witch hunts and is ruled by a power-hungry monarch.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Behind all the politics, the Kindred are the closest thing there is to a true enemy, as they desire to bring about The End of the World as We Know It. Through their manipulations and their various pawns, they’ve set the stage for their return, but can’t exactly be called evil since they’re just obeying their nature.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Used by Cleo, to Amara, with great effect.
  • Heir Club for Men: In the sexist Kraeshian Empire, females cannot inherit unless all other male heirs are dead.
  • Heroic RRoD: Casting spells is taxing on witches, usually granting them a Psychic Nosebleed. If they're not careful, though, they can seriously hurt themselves, and even Lucia, a sorceress, knocks herself into a coma when she overexerts herself.
  • History Repeats: Just like her real mother, Lucia’s newborn daughter is stolen to be used by an enemy. Fortunately for her, they’re able to reunite.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Why Kyan claims the world needs to be destroyed, because no matter where he goes, all he can see is greed, bloodlust, and evil in humanity. Lucia counters that while mortals are weak and flawed, they can also be strong and resilient.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: A favored tactic of many is to pretend to accept an offer of surrender or claim to want to join the other party's side, wait til their guard is down, then make their escape.
  • Immortality Inducer: The bloodstone ring, which prevents whoever wields or carries it from being slain and grants a Healing Factor. It’s also subtly implied to be an Artifact of Doom, as the Kindred and Lucia sense something wrong about it and it can turn a person to dust, if the wielder chooses. Regardless, it saves Magnus’s life multiple times in the fifth and sixth books, and he eventually has it melted into two smaller rings so Cleo can wear it too.
  • Improbable Use of a Weapon: One of the tools Cleo uses in her escape at the end of Frozen Tides is a quarrel of arrows...which she jabs into guards' eyes like a knife, as she's a terrible shot with a bow.
  • Just Following Orders: Quite a few soldiers will use this as justification, and to show they fall on the lighter end of the gray morality scope. Prince Magnus, for example, says he took no pleasure out of killing Theon, he just needed to obey his father's orders to capture Cleo.
  • Karmic Death: Melenia orchestrated a war for the chance to see her beloved again. Fittingly, she is killed by her beloved.
  • La Résistance:
    • Jonas joins the Paelsian army to overthrow their Auranian oppressors; when they in turn are overthrown by Limeros, he leaves and forms a band of rebels, hoping to put down King Gaius and free Paelsia once and for all.
    • There’s also one in the Kraeshian Empire. Unlike Jonas's, it's seemingly crushed but plays a part in many important things, such as Felix's rescue, Lyssa's rescue, and Amara's eventual exile.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Alexius and Lucia have sex once, which results in her getting pregnant. Later on, fear of this trope is what causes Magnus to stop having sex with Cleo, since he believes she’s cursed to die in childbirth.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Hoo boy. Brion has a crush on Lysandra, who has a crush on Jonas, who likes her but also has a crush on Cleo, who likes him too, but also develops feelings for Magnus. Meanwhile, Nic has a crush on Cleo, but also has some very confused feelings for Ashur. Magnus has feelings for Lucia, who has requited feelings for Alexius, then later both get tossed into the Cleo-Jonas love mess, as Magnus develops feelings for Cleo and Lucia is implied to develop feelings for Jonas. Felix likes Lysandra but also Amara, who likes him back but likes Nerissa too, who likes her back but also has a thing with the guard Enzo. Much death and conflict later, and the series ends with Magnus/Cleo and Ashur/Nic, with implications for Jonas/Lucia and Amara/Nerissa.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Overlapping with Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex, Magnus and Cleo make love against a cliff on a beach when they reunite in Immortal Reign.
  • The Maiden Name Debate: Even after marrying Magnus, Cleo still goes by 'Bellos'; being the last member of her royal family, she didn’t wish her surname to die out, so when she asked him to let her keep it, he agreed.
  • Mêlée à Trois: The seemingly-straightforward rebellion against King Gaius becomes more complicated once the Kraeshian Empire and the Kindred get involved.
  • The Multiverse: In a split-second mention, Timotheus mentions the Watchers used to watch over seven worlds, not just theirs and the world Mytica belongs to.
  • Mystical Pregnancy: Lucia’s daughter Lyssa is conceived normally, but the pregnancy itself quickly becomes supernatural after Lucia returns from the Sanctuary to find herself at the end of term. The childbirth itself is also strange, with no blood, a drain on magic going on instead, and Lyssa simply popping out neat as can be.
  • Not Me This Time: Kyan isn’t the one who steals Lyssa in Immortal Reign, though he's more than happy to take the credit for it. That’s Neela Cortas.
  • Off with His Head!: King Gaius likes executing criminals or rebels this way, and then putting their heads on spikes.
  • Oh My Gods!: Limerians and Auranians swear by either Valoria or Cleiona, depending. The atheistic Paelsians instead swear by 'spirits' or 'blood'.
  • Our Angels Are Different: The Watchers, who are essentially angels, guard over the world from their Sanctuary. They can use all four elements of magic and interact with humans through dreams. While they usually look like very beautiful humans, they can take the form of hawks to watch over the mortal world, which is the only way they can go there without losing their immortality. If they take human form there, or are exiled, then their power, agelessness, and beauty gradually fade away, leaving them normal mortal humans.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: All the royals of Mytica are well-versed in using politeness, false sincerity, doublespeak, and Exact Words as daggers. Cleo in particular likes it; at one point she and Lucia have a, on the surface, perfectly polite conversation that is practically dripping with poison.
    Lucia: [My brother] is very forgiving, though. After all, he forgave you your unfortunate and shameful loss of chastity to Lord Aron Lagaris, didn’t he?
    Cleo: As you said, I’m very lucky.
    Lucia: I’m sorry for stating this so bluntly, but as you know, servants talk.
    Cleo: Yes. I’ve heard things too. About you.
    Lucia: Oh? Such as?
    Cleo: I’m sure it’s a lie. Unlike some people, I prefer to make my own judgments, not have my head filled so easily with the gossip of servants.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Jonas has an interest (once he gets over his dislike of them) in both the princess Cleo and his fellow dirt-poor rebel Lysandra. Cleo later has rebel Jonas and Prince Magnus.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The Limeros royal family are all accomplished warriors or spell-casters, save Queen Althea, who show no qualm about getting their hands dirty. Only them, though; Paelsia has no royals, and Auranos’s lifestyle means that the royals there haven’t fought in ages.
  • Save the Princess:
    • Makes up the core of Cleo’s arc in the first book, though there’s a princess on both ends of the trope—Cleo runs away to find a cure for her ill elder sister.
    • Going with this, there are two separate subplots where she gets kidnapped by first Limeros, then the rebels.
    • In the second book, she tries to orchestrate her own rescue from her Arranged Marriage by working with the rebels. It doesn’t work, and after that she becomes a politically-savvy and cunning Damsel out of Distress instead of leaving her rescue in the hands of others.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Not quite evil, but the Kindred are really ancient, primordial beings sealed into gems, and their morality is so different from humans’ that they carry out actions they see as right, but humans wrong.
  • Secret Relationship: An unusual variant, in that Cleo and Magnus are already married. What they really have to keep hidden is the fact they love each other. Cleo’s allies hate him, and as far as they know, Cleo still hates him too; revealing otherwise might upset the very delicate balance in their unstable Enemy Mine situation, so in public they both act like things haven’t changed.
  • Sequel Hook: Timotheus’s mention of other worlds and some great evil called Damen leaves open the suggestion they might be featured in future works, especially taking Lyssa's still-unknown powers and Magnus and Cleo's unborn son into account.
  • Slipping a Mickey: The reason Lucia takes so long to wake up from her coma in the second book is because every time she stirs, Queen Althea gives her another sleeping potion.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Paelsia and the Kraeshian Empire both have rather sexist views on women, viewing them as good only for menial chores. The Kraeshian Empire takes it to the extreme, though, going so far as to have it be completely legal to a man to try to kill his daughter if he doesn’t want her.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: When politics and might fail, the royals aren’t above this. Amara poisons her entire family (save Ashur) with wine, while Selia successfully orchestrated the death of Elena, Cleo’s mother, with poisoned cidar—and almost succeeds again with Cleo herself.
  • There Is Only One Bed: While staying at another noble’s estate, Cleo and Magnus are given a room with one bed (justified, as they’re reluctantly married). It’s Played for Laughs, as he tells her to take the floor and then gets surprised when she fails to make a snarky comeback.
  • Torture Cellar: Felix is unlucky enough to visit the one in the Kraeshian Empire.
  • Trust Password: Cleo and Magnus start using her full name, Cleiona, as this. He once told her he thought she should be addressed as a goddess, so whenever one of them is pretending to ally with an enemy, they make sure to drop Cleiona in the conversation to let the other in on the act.
  • Unreliable Narrator: There are multiple POV characters, each of whom carry their own opinions and biases and apply it to how they view situations. Thus, not everything they believe or recall is trustworthy; for example, Jonas remembers Cleo looking on his brother's murder coldly and with a smirk, but she remembers being too horrified to react and has nightmares about it.
  • We ARE Struggling Together:
    • Jonas’s rebels. They want to overthrow King Gaius...but they can’t agree on the best way to do it, and their leadership fractures once Lysandra and her brashness enter the picture.
    • Later down the line, the rebels and the Damoras. They all (excluding Cleo to Magnus and vice versa) hate and distrust each other. Despite both wanting the Kraeshians out of their land, they keep arguing and outright plotting to undermine the other.
  • Wedding Smashers: Jonas and the rebels crash Cleo and Magnus’s wedding, aiming to assassinate him and King Gaius. In a twist, the bride herself helped them by giving them the time and place. They fail to kill either, though, and Cleo ends up marrying Magnus anyway.
  • Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Jonas’s initial antagonism for Cleo evolves into this. Later on, his relationship with Lucia does as well.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Jonas angrily yells at Cleo for standing by and allowing Tomas’s death. When she counters that she wishes she could do anything to change it, he snaps that it does him a whole lot of good now.
    • Cleo is furious when Magnus manipulates Nic into attending Amara’s speech to Paelsia, as it leads to him seemingly being killed when riots break out.
    • Felicia rips Jonas a new one when he shows up on her doorstep, carrying Paelsia’s sworn enemy Lucia, and asks for shelter. Her life has only gone into a downwards spiral because of his actions, as her husband was dragged off by Limeros to work the Imperial Road as punishment for Jonas’s doings, and now after spending months away without even writing, he expects her to drop everything and help again.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: The mindset of the Watchers and Paelsia, who believe that destiny is a path everyone has to walk on and that they must take what licks they may. Jonas is disgusted by this, as he believes it’s what’s kept Paelsia so impoverished for so long.
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