Tag Archives: Seven Realms

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.

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Rewind and Review (6): The Exiled Queen

11 May

Book cover for The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams ChimaThe Exiled Queen (Seven Realms #2)

by Cinda Williams Chima

(First published September 28, 2010 by Hyperion)

THE EXILED QUEEN by Cinda Williams Chima is some FINE fantasy, guys. I just recently read the first book in the Seven Realms series, THE DEMON KING, and loved it, so I wasn’t really surprised at all to find myself LOVING the second book just as much. Maybe more. In fact, I loved THE EXILED QUEEN so much that I could barely wait longer than a few hours before cracking open my ARC of the third book, THE GRAY WOLF THRONE, which I’ve also just finished. I am devouring this series, guys. It’s LEGIT. I’m both glad that I’m finally reading it and irritated that that I put it off for so long.

So, let’s get started off with a little recap, shall we? (OBLIGATORY SPOILER WARNING FOR THE DEMON KING. Seriously. Mad spoilers upcoming.) At the end of THE DEMON KING, Han and Dancer are heading off to the wizard school at Oden’s Ford at the behest of the clans, who are paying for their schooling in return for the two of them “agreeing” to work for the clans in the future. Han has also just found out that he is a descendent of Alger Waterlow, the Demon King himself yo, and that the amulet he stole from the Bayars was Waterlow’s. BOOM. Big things. 

Raisa is ALSO on her way to Oden’s Ford, all incognito style, to attend the military school there under the protection of her bff/maybe love/captain of her guard, Amon Byrne. She ran away the night of her nameday when Gavan Bayar tried to force her to marry his son, the tool Micah Bayar–forbidden though it may be for queens and wizards to marry–so that Micah might one day be king. SHADY BIZ, y’all, and Raisa gets the hell out of dodge before it can all go down. OH AND ALSO: Han still things Raisa is Rebecca, the girl he met in Ragmarket. Identity = MISTAKEN. 

Now that that’s out of the way, THE EXILED QUEEN begins, as you might be able to tell, on a road trip. Well, two road trips, as Han and Raisa et al. make their way separately to Oden’s Ford. The first half or so of the book details both of their journeys, where some SHIZZ goes down. But as much as I LOVE road trips–and Han and Raisa’s are both action-filled and important–the beginning dragged just the teensiest bit in some parts (obviously NOT the parts where the aforementioned SHIZZ was going down). Raisa is dealing with her burgeoning feelings for Amon, who is forbidden from ever being with the queen now that he has taken the official oath to be the head of her guard. (That oath is NO JOKE. Amon experiences physical pain and the occasional seizure when the two of them make out. SAD FACE.) And Han and Dancer meet one of Han’s old crewmates on the road, where they all promptly step in a pile of you-know-what, but everyone eventually makes it to Oden’s Ford in one piece.

I can only guess that some of the slower parts in the first half of THE EXILED QUEEN serve to introduce us to some new areas of the Seven Realms and to also set some things in motion for down the line, and I can always get behind that, guys, slow or not. I LOVE a well-placed set-up, friends. LOVE IT. 

It’s in Oden’s Ford where the bulk of the action in THE EXILED QUEEN takes place, though, and once we get there, the few slow moments from the first half dry up. Cinda Williams Chima really steps up the action and we see some great, emotional moments, juicy reveals, and awesome tension. Both of the political and romantic kinds. One of the things I love about the Seven Realms series is the way it melds both of those things to great effect. The politics are twisty and dangerous and multi-layered. The emotions are heightened and real. The romance is tense, dramatic, and fun, and the making out is HOT. But this series manages to make none of those things more important than the others. There’s GREAT balance, although I always personally find the scenes with Han and Raisa the most enjoyable. OBVS. They are SUCH great characters, with magnetic personalities and flaws, and they have the SPARXXX. I looooove the SPARXXX. 

Guys, there’s lots that goes on in THE EXILED QUEEN by Cinda Williams Chima. I know I spoiled THE DEMON KING up top there, but I don’t want to spoil this book for you, obviously. Because even when we spend a solid half to two-thirds of the story in one place, THINGS are always happening, moving the story along, raising the stakes for Han and Raisa and their friends and enemies. Keeping everyone on their toes. And the end is basically awesome, raising the stakes AGAIN. I know that it’s going to have far-reaching ramifications, and I can’t wait to see where Cinda Williams Chima goes with everything. If you love great fantasy, you should not let this series linger too long on your shelves, guys. It’s a winner. 

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Rewind & Review is an AMAZING new meme hosted jointly by two fabulous ladies, Ginger from Greads! and Lisa from Lisa Is Busy Nerding. This meme is all about mining your TBR piles and finding some long-lost gems (from 2010 or earlier) that you meant to read and somehow passed over. I KNOW, but it happens. Each month, each participant picks a few oldies but hopefully goodies to read, reviews ’em, and spreads the word. Huzzah!

Rewind and Review (4): The Demon King

29 Mar

Book cover for The Demon King by Cinda Williams ChimaThe Demon King (Seven Realms #1)

by Cinda Williams Chima

(First published November 19, 2009 by Disney-Hyperion)

Yo, the fact that I hadn’t yet read Cinda Williams Chima’s THE DEMON KING until now is egregious, guys. A serious misstep on my part. Why this happened is beyond me. I knew about the Seven Realms series; I knew it was high fantasy with magic, politics, and intrigue; I knew that lots of people thought it was excellent. I’d even checked it out of my library once before and somehow got distracted by other things. Sometimes, I think I just need to be in the right mood to read certain books, and that includes my beloved high fantasies. THANKFULLY, I was finally in the mood to read THE DEMON KING because guys? IT’S LEGIT, and I can’t wait to read further in this series. 

So, THE DEMONG KING by Cinda Williams Chima has lots of things going for it: it’s got magic, a repressed princess, a thief trying to reform, a queen not acting like herself, and a 1,000-year-old truce between wizards and the clans–a Native American-esque race who control and disseminate magic–borne out of the actions of an ancient queen named Hanalea, and the most powerful wizard ever to live, the Demon King. This truce is really the center of the story because it’s losing its footing among the wizard elite, and their efforts to subvert the peace that helps contain their magic loom HUGELY over the whole story.

Of course, the politics of THE DEMON KING wouldn’t mean much if we didn’t have such AWESOME characters flesh out the rest of the story. Cinda Williams Chima gives us well-rounded, complex, funny, bright characters in Princess Raisa and Han Alister. Raisa is confident, strong, opinionated, and feeling a little rebellious. There are times when she might come off as entitled and spoiled, but she has so many redeeming qualities. Raisa is KICK-ASS, friends, and she’s really coming into her own by the end of this book. She’s got BIG THINGS coming, I can feel it! 

Han Alister is, to me, almost instantly lovable. He’s got rough edges and a sketchy past, but his motives are sweet and understandable and his struggles with a life of crime on the streets lend to his complexity. But YO, Han seriously CHARMED the pants off of me (and, I feel like, LOTS of girls in Fellsmarch, too. Honestly? I couldn’t blame a single one of them) and I LOVED his story. He’s smart and sneaky and he’s got that unassuming confidence about him that’s really magnetic. 

Both Han and Raisa have spent lots of time with the clans and it’s clear that they both prefer the more carefree, natural environment there. Of course, they’ve never encountered each other there. In fact, although I’m assuming that Han and Raisa are the OTP of this series, their interactions are limited in THE DEMON KING, and Cinda Williams Chima throws a further wrench in their interactions by giving Raisa an alias at certain times so that Han winds up having no idea who she really is. They’re definitely feeling the little electric shocks of each other, though, if you know what I mean. MOAR OF THEM, PLEASE. 

Don’t worry, though, there’s some kissy face. It just happens to be between the two leads and other people, which I appreciate. Han  has clearly gotten some before, and he has a nice little relationship with a girl from one of the clans. And I appreciate very much that Raisa enjoys kissing boys and is looking forward to doing it more often. She’s unashamed of her burgeoning desire for making out and being intimate. (Unfortunately, she mostly kisses the douchebag, Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, who is the resident BAD GUY.) She does get some nice relationship complexity with her old friend Amon Byrne, though, who is a member of the Queen’s Guard and is absolutely being set up as the “nice guy” to Han’s “trouble maker” in le triangle. 

All in all, the action and the plotting and ALL THE LIES in THE DEMON KING by Cinda Williams Chima make for one gripping tale. There’s all kinds of juicy stuff going, y’all! Back-stabbing, SEKRETS, death, mystery, sneaky political machinations, confusing relationships, magical shenanigans, and a big reveal at the end, which I did kind of puzzle out early, to be honest. But that did NOTHING to dampen my LOVE of this story or the people in it, nor did it make me any LESS eager to get my grabby hands on the rest of the series. Huzzah for great fantasy!! HUZZAH!

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Rewind & Review is an AMAZING new meme hosted jointly by two fabulous ladies, Ginger from Greads! and Lisa from Lisa Is Busy Nerding. This meme is all about mining your TBR piles and finding some long-lost gems (from 2010 or earlier) that you meant to read and somehow passed over. I KNOW, but it happens. Each month, each participant picks a few oldies but hopefully goodies to read, reviews ’em, and spreads the word. Huzzah!