Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Genre-ally Speaking: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Title: Falling Kingdoms
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Year: 2012
Read: April, 2013
Genre: YA-fantasy
Magical Epic or Epic Fail: Epic Fail 1/2* (0.5 star)

The Quick and Dirty:

Unenjoyable enough to need Cicero's help in reviewing. Wants to be Game of Thrones, succeeds in sucking.

The Wordy Version:

When, publishers, do you mean to cease abusing our patience? Do you imagine that we have never met people who act with logic? Or do you willfully flood the market with paltry imitations of human behavior so that we shall no longer be able to recognize shadow from form?

This novel has a score of characters who, time and time again when given information, refuse to interpret what they have heard. It is impossible to believe that an impoverished kingdom, paying a 75% tax on wine exports, does not recognize that their tax rate is partially to blame for their poverty. The income tax in Sweden may be close to 60% today, but the Swedish government uses its income to provide its taxpayers with social services. The chief of Paelsia does not give his people anything but a vague hint that he can use magic (a claim none of the characters take seriously) to better their lives. Yet Jonas, the most intelligent of the teenage main characters, doesn’t begin to think of the possibility that his taxes are being mishandled until the end of the book. This is senseless; Jonas—in almost any other story—would be considered stupid.

Fortunately for Jonas, his fatuity is eclipsed by the others’. The royal family of Auranos appears to have stumbled onto the throne without any preparation. The king thinks it’s a good idea to rush a wedding between his daughter and the lord whose rash murder of a peasant is beginning to stir a war. Not that he bothers to ask what the circumstances of such a politically important event were—that would probably indicate a better ability to govern a kingdom than he possesses. There are two princesses (despite the book’s repeated use of superlatives to describe their birth order; I can only guess that one of the other characters is secretly the third sister to justify “youngest” and “oldest”), neither of whom seems to understand royal responsibility. The elder is the heir to the throne, but has decided to die of a broken heart (for a man dull enough to have died before the narrative starts). The younger cannot understand urgency hover for spoilers. Why Auranos isn’t up in arms to protest the incompetence at the head of their state is beyond me.

Illogic plagues the court of the third kingdom, Limeros, as well. Here’s the set-up of his dilemma:

Given:

  1. The king has two sons, an illegitimate and shrewd one, and a supposed waste of life legitimate heir.
  2. The king wants to rule all of Mytica island.
  3. Both the poor and genuinely useless middle kingdom, and the rich southern kingdom have princesses of marriageable age and no male heirs.

Therefore: spoiler

This makes NO SENSE. more spoiling

Just because characters are young adults does not mean that their parents need to be as ignorant as teenagers believe their parents are. In fact, most parents who have successfully held their positions for years have some skills.

Similarly, just because characters are young adults does not mean that they need to act clueless. It’s okay for the characters to be smart and in control of their behavior.

Big decisions—like war—take thought and logic. The readers are aware of this thing; the publishers must be aware of it; and yet this manuscript was published. Published! Yes, and even given a skilled design team (the playful letters of the kingdoms’ names were excellent). It ought, long ago to have been reworked until the characters resembled people who could be in their circumstances. But as it is, may you, who are discriminating in your reading, repel this book and its sequels (ugh) from your bookshelves and from all your e-readers—and may you overwhelm the enemy of good taste, this robber of hours, with eternal damnation.

5 comments:

Alyssa said...

CARNAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGE!!!!!!!!!! :D

Unknown said...

I'm confused. Did you mean tax on wine imports, as in a tariff? I don't know any country ever that levied a tax on goods going out of the country, because normally you want that.

Susan said...

Nope, I mean wine exports. Nothing makes sense in the world of Mytica!

Unknown said...

Gah. That's some weapons grade stupid right there. It fits with everything else you described in the review though.

Alyssa said...

Where are the editors??? Sigh.

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