Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Genre: YA Fantasy
Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for his family. The only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell—the thick silver cuffs he’s worn since birth. They’re clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off.
One day, Han and his clan friend, Dancer, confront three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to keep him from using it against them. Soon Han learns that the amulet has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.
Meanwhile, Raisa ana‘Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She’s just returned to court after three years of freedom in the mountains—riding, hunting, and working the famous clan markets. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But her mother has other plans for her—including marriage to a suitor who goes against everything the queendom stands for.
The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.
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 that 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.
Everything changes when Han and Raisa’s paths cross, in this epic tale of uncertain friendships, cut-throat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction.
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 Raisa ana’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 as good as 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.
Now, once again, the Queendom of the Fells seems likely to shatter apart. For young queen Raisa ana’Marianna, maintaining peace even within her own castle walls is nearly impossible; tension between wizards and Clan has reached a fevered pitch. With surrounding kingdoms seeking to prey on the Fells’ inner turmoil, Raisa’s best hope is to unite her people against a common enemy. But that enemy might be the person with whom she’s falling in love.
Through a complicated web of lies and unholy alliances, former streetlord Han Alister has become a member of the Wizard Council of the Fells. Navigating the cut-throat world of blue blood politics has never been more dangerous, and Han seems to inspire hostility among Clan and wizards alike. His only ally is the queen, and despite the perils involved, Han finds it impossible to ignore his feelings for Raisa. Before long, Han finds himself in possession of a secret believed to be lost to history, a discovery powerful enough to unite the people of the Fells. But will the secret die with him before he can use it?
A simple, devastating truth concealed by a thousand-year-old lie at last comes to light in this stunning conclusion to the Seven Realms series.
THE SEVEN REALMS SERIES is probably one of my favorite series. Did it take me a long time to read? Yes. Why? Well, THE DEMON KING started off slow. I mean, I’m pretty sure it took me about eight months to finish it. That said, something kept me going. I really wanted to know what those silver cuffs were on Han’s wrists. I wanted to know how in the world Han and Raisa were going to work out. I definitely didn’t want Rasia with Micha Bayar because no. By the time I got halfway through the book, there was no putting it down. Onto THE EXILE QUEEN—this was a much faster read. I wanted to shake Han for his rash behavior, but I loved that he was loyal to Rebecca a.k.a. Raisa. I did feel like their relationship was a little insta-love, but Han and Raisa just work so well together I didn’t really mind. The only part of THE EXILE QUEEN that made me mad was how easily Raisa agreed to go with Micah toward the end. Maybe it’s because I hate Micah *shrugs*.
THE GREY WOLF THRONE may easily be my favorite book. It’s different from THE DEMON KING and THE EXILE QUEEN in many ways. The setting feels different, the tone feels different—more determined and melancholy. There is a distancing between Han and Raisa that hurts my heart, but Raisa wants to be queen and she wants to do a good job. Han is empowered as well, and I felt like I really saw him become the leader and the street lord in this book. I saw Han for what Han really was—someone who was tortured, someone who really understood that gritty part of the world that we like to ignore. I liked when Raisa was back in the castle, and seeing her go up against these older men who clearly thought they’d have the upper hand. I also liked seeing how they tried to defy her—even try and kill her—yet she still persevered. I felt like THE EXILE QUEEN was definitely Raisa’s time to shine.
THE CRIMSON CROWN had me on edge the entire time. I loved Han’s determination to marry Raisa because he loved her and for no other reason. He was still pretty reckless, but the way he took on the Wizard Council showed all of his strengths and weaknesses. I was irritated with Han for not sitting down with Raisa to have a conversation about all the double crossing he was doing—then again, if he had, there’d have been no drama, and isn’t that why we read books?! Raisa was also very forgiving. Part of me found this strange, as I felt she should have been a little more angry with Han. Part of me also realized that this just showed how much Raisa truly trusted Han, and that was really endearing. This was completely Han’s book, and if anything demonstrated how Han and Raisa were destined for each other in a way that wasn’t annoying.
I love coming to the end of a series and reflecting on how the characters have changed throughout their journey. My initial impressions of Han were that he was hardworking, determined, and really wanted to be good, but the claws of his street life still had a hold on him. He’s also an outcast and doesn’t really seem to fit in in Maris Pines or in his own home. By the end of the series, he’s made a place for himself, won the person he loves most in the world, and has proven he’s a strong leader.
I loved it.