Monday, January 17, 2011

The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima

Title: The Exiled Queen
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Series: A Seven Realms Novel #2
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: Sept. 28 2010
Pages: 586 (hardcover)
Obtained from: Bookstore

Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han Alister journeys south to begin his schooling at Mystwerk House in Oden’s Ford. But leaving the Fells doesn’t mean danger isn’t far behind. Han is hunted every step of the way by the Bayars, a powerful wizarding family set on reclaiming the amulet Han stole from them. And Mystwerk House has dangers of its own. There, Han meets Crow, a mysterious wizard who agrees to tutor Han in the darker parts of sorcery—but the bargain they make is one Han may regret.

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her friend Amon and his triple of cadets. Now, the safest place for Raisa is Wein House, the military academy at Oden's Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wein House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.

The Exiled Queen is an epic tale of uncertain friendships, cut-throat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction. -the E.Queen's book jacket


EXPLETIVE! If I had known how awesome this book was going to be I wouldn’t have waited this long to read it. High fantasy fans beware: The Exiled Queen is even better than The Demon King, and if you haven’t read The Demon King then head on over to the bookstore right now and pick it up!

NOTE: This review may contain spoilers.

The Exiled Queen picks up two days after The Demon King left off and is once again told in two perspectives. Han and Raisa are both on the run, heading towards a common destination—Oden’s Ford. Though roughly a third of the book is dedicated to their travels south, Chima manages to make each journey exciting and unique. Each character is attacked, captured, beaten and stalked in different ways until they reach their destination, where whole ‘nother definition of the word ‘intense’ is created.

As mentioned above, the rest of this book takes place in Oden’s Ford, and was home to some of the most interesting scenes in the series yet. Minor characters return and are given the opportunity to interact with Han and Raisa in ways that weren’t possible before coming to the schools, giving them much more depth. I felt myself growing attached to the characters who were supposed to be “bad guys,” as their motivations and own political Catch-22s were revealed. In addition, Han and Raisa run into each other a lot more once they discover that the other is there, which shifts the dynamics between them in a way I didn’t really see coming. Their skills also grow. Han becomes much more accustomed to his magic and works hard to train himself, where Raisa diligently studies to become physically fit and military savvy. It’s easy to see the two transform from kids to genuine leaders, and their newfound maturity promises epic decision making in the future.

For those of you who read and liked the first book, I'm 99.999% sure you’ll love the second. There is a lot a set up that takes place here but it’s never boring, and the two perspectives offered from each school continue to build upon the world that Chima has already created. There are also hints throughout the book as to how the two perspectives might be combined to save the realm in the future, and I cannot wait to see how the next book unfolds. Cinda Williams Chima, my hat goes off to you! This is some of the best fantasy the young adult section has to offer.