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Book Review: Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima

30 May

Title: The Demon King, The Exiled Queen and The Gray Wolf Throne

Author: Cinda Williams Chima

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

History of the Seven Realms Series: (from Cinda Williams Chima’s website)

The Seven Realms Series is set in a traditional fantasy world of medieval technology, swordplay, castles and keeps.

The action takes place in and around The Seven Realms—seven loosely-related realms once ruled by the Gray Wolf Queens and their wizard consorts or kings.  The Seven Realms include the mountainous queendom of the Fells, the kingdom of Tamron, the kingdom of Arden, the southern kingdoms of Bruinswallow and We’enhaven, the Southern Islands, and the Northern Islands.

The Gray Wolf queens ruled in a loose alliance with the upland clans. The clans are practitioners of earth magic and masters of materials: they are masters of healing, medicines, and the makers of the amulets and other magical tools and weapons that allow wizards to use their power.

Wizards have native magical ability that must be collected and channeled through amulets in order to do sophisticated charmcasting. Targeted charmcasting also requires spoken spells.

My Review: I purchased The Demon King a while back and it’s just been sitting on my shelf as my intention was to wait until all the books in the series were released before I started reading. Well, for some reason I managed to get it into my head that The Gray Wolfe Throne was the last of the series and so it was okay for me to start reading. Annnddd, only when I finished did i realize that there’s a fourth and final book due out in October!! So, now I’m forced to wait five more months before the story is resolved! *sigh*

First of all, Heidi at YA Bibliophile said it best when she said to me on Twitter that “Cinda Williams Chima does fantasy right!”. There’s no better way to state that! And this epic YA fantasy series is one of the best I have read in quite some time. It has all the elements you’d expect from a high fantasy, a Princess in danger, magic, war, murder, mystery, intrigue and a handsome stranger who may hold the key to it all.

The Good: There is so much good in this series that I don’t even know where to begin. Chima does an incredible job with world and character building. Fire Dance, Willo, Han, Amon, Averil and Raisa the Princess Heir are just a few of the characters who carry larger story lines over the course of the books. And even juggling a large cast of diverse and interesting characters Chima somehow makes them all standout in their very own way.

I have a soft spot in my heart for Amon Byrne and his unfailing devotion to Raisa as the Princess Heir but more importantly as a friend. My heart breaks for him knowing that he will always choose duty over all else, it takes an incredibly strong man to do that.

While with Raisa there are times I alternate between thinking she’s a spoiled brat to wondering how her mother managed to raise such a kind hearted and generous daughter. She’s a strong woman and that becomes even more apparent as the series moves forward. Raisa will make an excellent Queen, both fair and just and will work towards equalizing all of the people in her Queendom.

The Bad: While I know tat the details of the Naeming and the Breaking are left purposefully vague (we do get the general gist of things, but it’s very obviously things are being left out) to further the plot of the series, it gets rather frustrating to go through three books and still be left unsure as where everything is all heading. I do sincerely hope that the fourth book wraps up my unanswered questions about these large events and helps me to understand how the effects have survived 1000 years.

I had a hard time with the character of Micah Bayer as I never quite felt like Chima knew what to do with him. He was as slippery as an eel and seemed to change sides at the drop of the hat to whatever was the most convient for him. However, I’m putting my faith in Chima that she knows what she’s doing and that Micah’s true colors will become apparent in the final book.

The Great: The intrigue and mystery that lie behind events long in the past, such as the Naeming and the Breaking only intensifies the readers curiosity for  the impact they’ll have on what is happening in the present day. I could not put this series down once I started as it moved at a breakneck pace pausing only to answer questions raised in earlier chapters just enough to satisfy you before leaving you with even more answeres to search for.

Also, I love that Chima populates her story with characters of different colors, religions, genders and different backgrounds. From the people of the Vale who seem to fit very nicely into the mold made by the Kings and Queens of England, to the clan who are so reminiscent of our own Native American Indians to the people of the Southern Islands with their dark skin, braids and deeper accents and everyone in-between it’s refreshing to see a YA book with a diverse cast of characters. The tensions that exist between characters due to race, religion and gender feel very real and in this fantasy world of magic and wolves it’s something most of us can relate to.

This is must read for any fantasy lover, although I’ll understand if you want to wait until October before you get started so you can blow through all four books at once!

What are some of your favorite fantasy reads? I’m always looking for new books to get excited about!

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