This is definitely one of the more harder reviews to write. I feel like I could gush all day about this book, but at the same time, it is just too flawed. These flaws are much too noticeable, and nagged me while I was reading, making my experience reading this less entertaining than I would have expected.
With war, fighting, magic, bloodshed, and political intrigue, this seemed like the perfect book for me. And if the many flaws were ignored, it could have been.
The thing that bugged me the most was the writing. It was so boring, so monotonous, that one could easily lose interest in the novel. In the high fantasy genre, even fantasy in general, the writing is supposed to reflect the mood of the book. The author failed in this.
Another major issue I had was how the war started. Apparently, the three kingdoms have been at peace for centuries, living alongside each other with minimal fighting (collectively speaking, that is). I find it extremely hard to believe that the death of an "insignificant peasant" would brew up a bloody war between the three kingdoms. It is simply hard to comprehend that the book's plot is based around the death of one peasant.
In plain terms, the romance sucked. Badly. The most unimpressive one was the romance between Cleo and Theon. Not only did their romance pop out of the blue, Theon was also a character that lacked depth. I knew nothing about him and he wasn't described too well. I felt so detached and uninterested in their romance that I did not feel much remorse over him whatsoever.
What with all these flaws, it's surprising that I actually liked reading this book. I stayed engrossed in the novel and felt connected to the seemingly unlikable characters.
Which brings me to an important point. At first, I absolutely loathed all the characters at the beginning of the novel. But I think the reason for this is because we are unable to relate to these characters, since it is hard to imagine what it would be like if we were in their situations. Excluding Theon, the characters were, overall, well-written characters.
This is not one of those stories with the whole "good guy-bad guy" scenario, in which the villain is easy to name and is evil just for the sake of being evil, with no reasoning as to why that particular villain acts like that. No, Falling Kingdoms was not that black-and-white. I am so glad for this, as it gave the story complexity and made it deserving of being in the genre of high fantasy. I found it hard to choose sides, because each side did have justifiable reasons for their actions, in a sense.
The first novel really sets a strong base for upcoming sequels, especially that last scene. There is just enough unresolved conflict to keep me reading this series.
Falling Kingdoms is a book that has spectacular qualities, but at the same time, amateur mistakes. I recommend this book to fans of Throne of Glass and Graceling.