Book Review: The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima

21 May

Book cover for The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams ChimaTitle: The Gray Wolf Throne

Author: Cinda Williams Chima

Series: Seven Realms #3

Genre: Fantasy YA

Publisher: Hyperion

Release date: August 30, 2011

Challenge: YA/MG Fantasy Challenge

Source: ARC from BEA

Summary: Han Alister thought he had already lost everyone he loved. But when he finds his friend Rebecca Morley near death in the Spirit Mountains, Han knows that nothing matters more than saving her. The costs of his efforts are steep, but nothing can prepare him for what he soon discovers: the beautiful, mysterious girl he knew as Rebecca is none other than Raisaana’Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells. Han is hurt and betrayed. He knows he has no future with a blueblood. And, as far as he’s concerned, the princess’s family killed his own mother and sister. But if Han is to fulfill his end of an old bargain, he must do everything in his power to see Raisa crowned queen. 

Meanwhile, some people will stop at nothing to prevent Raisa from ascending. With each attempt on her life, she wonders how long it will be before her enemies succeed. Her heart tells her that the thief-turned-wizard Han Alister can be trusted. She wants to believe it—he’s saved her life more than once. But with danger coming at her from every direction, Raisa can only rely on her wits and her iron-hard will to survive—and even that might not be enough.

The Gray Wolf Throne is an epic tale of fierce loyalty, unbearable sacrifice, and the heartless hand of fate.

Guys, I am PLOWING through Cinda Williams Chima‘s Seven Realms series. I’ve read all of the currently released titles in the past two months, and I’ve loved them all. A lot. Of course, this includes the third book in the series, THE GRAY WOLF THRONE. In fact, I’d say that it ESPECIALLY includes THE GRAY WOLF THRONE, because one of the best things about the books in this series is that they keep getting better, and TRUST ME, they’re all good as it is. Suffice it to say that this makes me giddy with anticipation of the fourth and final book in the series, THE CRIMSON CROWN, coming out this fall. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. We’ve got number 3 to talk about first! And YO. SO MUCH happens in this book, and it’s all fabulous and moves the story forward and makes things twisty and is basically all of the best things about fantasy done really well. WORD.

Oh, and SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t read any of the books in this series yet, obviously. I WOULD yell at you all to “GET ON IT ALREADY, SLACKERS!” if I hadn’t taken forever and a day to start reading these books myself. Consider yourself gently prodded, though. You’re missing out, I promise.

So: THE GRAY WOLF THRONE. This one picks up exactly where Cinda Williams Chima left off at the end of THE EXILED QUEEN, with Raisa on the run trying to get back to the Fells, Han trying to follow her in one direction, and Amon Byrne and his triple of guards trying to follow her in another because neither of them know exactly which way she went. Guys, things are NOT looking up for the Seven Realms right now. The war in Arden is getting worse, and the Queendom of the Fells is hanging on by a thread. The wizards are jonesing for more power, the Bayars are leading the charge, and the Queen is rapidly losing her tenuous grip on…basically everything. The clans are getting pissed, the people are under the impression that Raisa ran off in a teenage hissy fit and is possibly dead, and in short order in THE GRAY WOLF THRONE, things get markedly worse: The Queen dies under mysterious circumstances, and leaves an effed-up pseudo-power vacuum in her wake, into which the Bayars throw Raisa’s younger sister, Mellony. Why, you ask, when Raisa is the blood heir to the throne? Well, some people think she–Raisa–is dead. And other people think SHE is responsible for her mother’s death, what with her running off and all. AND under pressure from the Bayars and the Wizard Council, in one of her last acts as Queen, Raisa’s mom was forced to change the succession, putting Mellony in line for the throne unless Raisa returns to the Fells. Not good, friends. NOT GOOD AT ALL.

Whew. So, in the midst of this stew of crazy, Raisa manages to find her way back to the clans, but not before suffering a brutal personal loss (THE SADZ!) and being attacked by soldiers loyal to the Bayars, who have basically put out a contract on Raisa’s life (they want Mellony on the throne because they think she will be more malleable than Raisa. OBVIOUSLY this is true because Raisa is a BAMF). She is poisoned and near death when, HUZZAH!, Han finds her and uses his new magic to save her by taking the poison on himself. They both go to the clans to heal and WAR UP and make plans to get Raisa back to her rightful place: Queen of the Mother Cussing Fells. 

Ok. Enough plot point divulging…umm, for now. Although seriously, I’ve told you BARELY anything at all. BARELY. I couldn’t tell you all of the things that happen in THE GRAY WOLF THRONE if I wanted to, the plot is so jammed with great stuff. It never stagnates. Cinda Williams Chima keeps things moving, and she keeps her characters on their toes. After resting up with the clans for a little bit–a time when Han and Raisa are on the outs because he FINALLY finds out that Rebecca Morley is, in fact, Raisa, and he’s PISSED–things get really politically twisty once Raisa makes it back to the city. I LOVE THAT SHIZZ. She’s trying to juggle her obligations and her enemies AND her growing, complicated relationship with her new personal bodyguard, Han Alister. It’s a mile a minute, guys. 

Let’s cut to the chase: there’s some HOT tension and chemistry between Raisa and Han in THE GRAY WOLF THRONE, guys. There’s making out and a couple of close calls for sexytimes, but Han is still pretty conflicted about Raisa being the queen, and the daughter of the woman who essentially paved the way for the Bayars to kill his mom and sister. Still, the HOTNESS. *fans self* You almost root for them to just have hate sex and get it out of the way already! I’m appreciating that their relationship isn’t going to be easy, but that they both want to fight for it, though. And I definitely appreciate the fact that Han is struggling with knowing the truth about Rebecca/Raisa. He doesn’t take it well, and who could blame him? The payoff is going to be FANTASTIC, I just know it! 

Guys, I feel like I can’t tell you any more about THE GRAY WOLF THRONE without basically making your reading of it unnecessary. I know it seems like I’ve told you so much, but I SWEAR, this is the tip of the iceberg only, and the ending sets up THE CRIMSON CROWN to be ALL OF THE BANANAS. There’s shenanigans going on with Reed Demonai and the clans, there’s shenanigans going on with the Council, there’s shenanigans going on with the war in Arden knocking on the Fells’ doorstep, and ALWAYS, there’s shenanigans going on with Han and his magical abilities, and his feelings for Raisa, and her’s for him.

This series has not let me down once with its relationship drama, political intrigue, mysteries, magic, and what now sounds like impending war. THE GRAY WOLF THRONE was possibly the most solid installment of this AWESOME series yet. The pacing and the plot and the relationships here are all wonderful, and the characters…DANG. They’re all fleshed out and real. All of them have faults, and I enjoy reading about those kinds of tricky things. There’s no cardboard characters in Cinda Williams Chima‘s books. GAHH!! I can’t wait for the next one to come out, guys! If THE GRAY WOLF THRONE is any indication, we are in for a mother effing DOOZY. 


2 Responses to “Book Review: The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima”


  1. In My Mailbox (39) « Tripping Over Books - August 5, 2012

    […] series is LEGIT. I have copies of the other two books in this series–THE EXILED QUEEN and THE GRAY WOLF THRONE–but I read this first one after checking it out of my library. I need it, though. And now I […]

  2. Peace Out, 2012: End of Year Book Survey « - December 28, 2012

    […] Fantasy: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, A Dance With Dragons by  George R.R. Martin, The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima […]

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