02 January 2011

The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima

*Han Alister journeys south to begin his schooling at Mystwerk House in Oden’s Ford. But leaving the Fells doesn’t mean he’s left danger 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 tripe 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 she needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.

Everything changes when Han’s and Raisa’s paths cross, in this epic tale of uncertain friendships, cutthroat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction.

* = I removed the first line of this summary because, if you haven’t read the first book “The Demon King,” the first line is a spoiler.
  • First, I must say that I was completely psyched when I found out that Cinda Williams Chima had agreed to a four-book deal for the Seven Realms novels.  I love this series.  I feel as if it’s a perfect combination of the imagination and detail of Tamora Pierce with the pitch perfect writing style of Patricia Briggs or Maria V. Snyder.  Cinda Williams Chima really knows what she’s doing and I’m glad she can put that into such huge books.
  • As for the characters, Han Alister really takes after Han Solo (from Star Wars), methinks.  They’ve both got that kind of swagger and arrogance about them.  And they’re both street smart—or in Solo’s case “space smart” I guess would fit better.  But I thought Han was a bit of an idiot in this book, but in that “Ah jeez, he’s gone and been a teenage boy again,” type of way.  I mean, teenagers just do stupid things but in this case, it wasn’t the type of stupidity that would make me want to throw the book across the room.  As for Raisa, this chick is all over the place.  At first it’s one dude, then the other but again, I wasn’t really annoyed.  Raisa is presented in such a way that it makes me patient.  If this were in a different setting however, say modern day, I’d be having a fit.  Personally, I can’t stand anything near a love triangle because the girl is always such an idiot about it.  (Except for Mercy in the Mercy Thompson series.  SHE knows how to handle a love triangle properly.)  But I really like Raisa’s character because she’s smart politically and that helps her in almost every aspect of her life just short of combat.  And she knows how to fight!  She puts up with some crap that she shouldn’t sometimes, but then again, she’s in disguise.  Doesn’t mean it didn’t frustrate me to see her laying down about it.
  • Similar to the Mercy Thompson series, there was a fabulous mystery.  Fantasies, I think, are the best to go for if you want a really good mystery that doesn’t involve a police story.  Generally speaking, at least.  Cinda Williams Chima presents a thrilling and intoxicating mystery.  And this “mysterious wizard named Crow” deal.  That was incredible!  I’ve been trying to figure out who it is since the obvious suspects were ruled out (very cleverly, I might add, and very subtly) but it won’t be obvious until it’s revealed—which always gets to me because I’m not a sucker for suspense.  Can’t stand it, in fact.  A very poor trait for a book lover, yes?  But suspense aside, this was a wonderful adventure.  From beginning to end, it really got my heart beating.  (I CAN’T WAIT FOR BOOK THREE!)
  • I absolutely adore the cover to this book.  Absolutely one of my favorites of all time.  I can’t wait to find out what the third cover will look like. :D
  • Things turned out a bit differently than I thought they would in this book, but nothing that really surprised me, romance-wise. ;)  I love the ending and I can have a little hope about at least something in the next book (compare Han’s plans against Micah’s at the very, very end of the book and you’ll know what I mean).  I can’t wait for the third book.  (Did I not already mention that?)
  • If you’re a fan of Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle or any of Tamora Pierce’s novels, you should really check in to Cinda Williams Chima. 
Book Info:
  • pages – hardcover, 586 (NICE AND THICK!)
  • published – September 2010
  • publisher – Hyperion Book
  • genre – fantasy
  • received via – Borders :)
  • rating - 5/5
  • series – Seven Realms
    • The Demon King
    • The Exiled Queen
    • The Gray Wolf Throne (coming September 2011)