Wednesday, November 14, 2012
The Exhiled Queen, by Cinda Williams Chima- Review
Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, hunted by the powerful Bayar family, Han Alister makes a devil’s bargain with the clans. If they sponsor his schooling at Mystwerk Academy at Oden’s Ford, he will become their magical sell-sword against the power-hungry Wizard Council.
Han and his clan friend Fire Dancer undertake the dangerous journey south through war-torn Arden. Once in Oden’s Ford, it doesn’t take long for the smoldering feud between Han and Micah Bayar to kindle into flame.
Resuming her disguise as gently-born Rebecca Morley, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna travels with her friend Amon Byrne and his triple of cadets to Wien House, the military academy at Oden’s Ford. There she hopes she will find both temporary sanctuary from a forced marriage and the education she needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.
Much of Raisa’s education takes place outside of the classroom. As she mingles with students of all classes from throughout the Seven Realms, she forges the kind of friendships that don’t happen amid the cut-throat politics of the Gray Wolf Court. She also struggles to deal with her attraction to Amon—an attraction he seems determined to discourage.
Can Han and Raisa survive school and all the factions lining up against them?
Where The Demon King was mad action and startling reveals, The Exiled Queen is a slow build with high tension. Although away from the Fells, the court and the clan, Raisa and Han continue to be embroiled in intrigues and deception, including with each other. New players enter from stage left and right, throwing their kindling onto the fire, as far as the fight for power in the Fells goes. Wizards, soldiers, warring princes in other territories and more, have something to say, and I'm starting to wonder how Raisa will ever manage the throne once she gets it.
Cringe, better her then me.
Han is adapting to his quick change in life, a powerful wizard descended from the ultimate villain, he's finding the fights he has to win now are of a very different variety from what he used to. Raisa, on the other hand, is adapting to the life of the common soldier, self-exiled from her kingdom, and with the distinct possibility of being removed from the succession, this might soon be her permanent life. Chima spends a big part of The Exiled Queen keeping Han and Raisa apart, teasing the reader with the discovery that they're both in Oden's Ford dangling in front of you like a carrot. But what this does is brings the focus of the story to all the periphery characters in their lives, all their relationships, friendships and enemies.
Of course when they finally crash together the story picks up the wicked pacing of the first book, and starts to race along to it's crazy conclusion at break neck speeds.
Once again Chima has managed to delve into these characters and revealed all the good with the bad in such a way that makes them heart breakingly real. If you didn't fall for side characters like Cat, Amon, or Dancer in book the first, then know you will love them dearly by book the second. And it goes without saying that you'll love Raisa and Han even more by the end of The Exiled Queen as well, how could you not.
A fantastic follow up to The Demon King, The Exiled Queen is both more intense and introspective. Expect different pacing but an equally riveting story line. Whatever you do though, do not let the end of this book catch you unawares. With a huge cliff hanger ending you'll want The Grey Wolf Throne sitting on your bookshelf and ready to go.
The Exiled Queen, by Cinda Williams Chima
Published by Hyperion, Sept 24th 2010
Buy The Exiled Queen on Amazon