The Enchanter Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

The Enchanter Heir, by Cinda Williams Chima, was published in 2013 by Hyperion. It is the sequel to The Dragon Heir.

They called it the Thorn Hill Massacre—the brutal attack on a once-thriving Weir community. Though Jonah Kinlock lived through it, he did not emerge unscathed: like the other survivors, Jonah possesses unique magical gifts that set him apart from members of the mainline guilds. At seventeen, Jonah has become the deadliest assassin in Nightshade, a network that hunts the undead. Emma Claire Greenwood grew up worlds away, an unschooled wild child raised by a grandfather who taught her music rather than magic. Her life changes forever the night she finds her grandfather dying, gripping a note warning Emma that she might be in danger. The clue he leaves behind leads Emma into Jonah’s life—and a shared legacy of secrets and lingering questions. Was Thorn Hill really a peaceful commune? Or was it, as the Wizard Guild claims, a hotbed of underguild terrorists? The Wizards’ suspicions grow when members of the mainline guilds start turning up dead. They blame Nightshade, bringing tensions between the groups to a head. Racing against time, Jonah and Emma work to uncover the truth about Thorn Hill, amid increasing concern that whoever planned the Thorn Hill Massacre might strike again.

I struggled to get through The Enchanter Heir. I found it tedious and lacking in plot and development, with more time devoted to describing how enchanting Jonah is and to music lyrics than to actually advancing the plot. That’s one of the problems I’ve had with Chima, even in her Seven Realms novels (which for the most part I adored): there are always large chunks of her books that I feel are unnecessary and should be edited out.

I did find the setting intriguing, if only because Thorn Hill reads like some tragic superhero origin story. However, I didn’t think keeping the heroes from the first three books the same age was a good move. When I started the book, I thought that this was going to be a “fastforward five or so years” and that Jack, Seph, and the rest would be older. And I was excited about that! But no, these events take place directly after the events of The Dragon Heir (maybe a year or so later), and it actually made no sense to me. If Thorn Hill was such a big deal, and the kids who came out of it are so hated/feared, then why wasn’t it mentioned earlier in the series?

(And yes, I know, it’s because obviously Chima hadn’t thought of it yet and so didn’t include it in the first three books. But that’s why I was expecting a time-jump—it would have made everything seem much more natural than just introducing “hey, new world information!” with no prior setup.)

I also hated how prominent villains of the first three books were dispatched in the prologue of this book. It was incredibly anticlimactic, not to mention that we missed out once again on a Hastings/Wylie showdown. So much for setting them up as rivals in the first book.

A few other things I didn’t like: the introduction of the undead and the poor explanation as to why they were there; the complete lack of plot development during the second half of the book, with time instead being taken up with bands and lyrics and love angst; and the darn cliffhanger ending. I used to not mind cliffhanger endings, but now I am really started to get annoyed by them.

Rating: 1/5

Recommended Age Range: 16+

Warnings: One or two sensual scenes, violence.

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

“Though wizards would have planned the operation, it would have been sorcerers who developed and compounded the poison,” Gabriel said.

They all stared at him.

“Why haven’t you told us that before?” Jonah said finally.

“I thought it was obvious.” Gabriel shrugged. “That’s the role of sorcerers—compounding medicinals and the like.”

“Why would sorcerers collaborate with wizards?”

Overall Review:

Unfortunately, The Enchanter Heir was just full of way too many things that annoyed me, such as the tedium of the pacing, the too-long filler and the too-short plot development, the inexplicability of the whole Thorn Hill situation (as interesting as it is), and the annoying love-angst between Jonah and Emma. I don’t even know if I want to read the last book.

You can buy this here: The Enchanter Heir

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The Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

The Dragon Heir, by Cinda Williams Chima, was published in 2008 by Hyperion. It is the sequel to The Wizard Heir.

The covenant that was meant to keep the wizard wars at bay has been stolen, and Trinity must prepare for attack. Everyone is doing their part: Seph is monitoring the Weirwalls, Jack and Ellen are training their ghostly army, even Anaweir Will and Fitch are setting booby traps around the town’s perimeter. But to Jason Haley it seems like everyone wants to keep him out of the action. He may not be the most powerful wizard in Trinity, but he’s prepared to fight for his friends. Everything changes, though, when Jason finds a powerful talisman—a huge opal called the Dragonheart—buried in a cave. The stone seems to sing to Jason’s very soul—showing him that he’s meant for more than anyone’s guessed. Moral compasses spin out of control as a final battle storms through what was once a sanctuary for the gifted. With so much to lose, what will the people of Trinity be willing to fight for—and what will they sacrifice?

Unfortunately, for the most part I found The Dragon Heir disappointing. I thought quite a bit of extraneous material could have been cut (something I’ve noticed in all of Chima’s works) and there was a distinct lack of resolution to several different threads throughout the story.

But more on what I liked first: I liked the relationship between Devereaux and his father, because I enjoy it when villains show more than one side to their character. It’s something I talk a lot about in my reviews of the Redwall books. I appreciated that Chima showed both the manipulative, power-hungry side of D’Orsay and the loving, “family man” side of him.

I found Madison a bit irritating as a character, but I also liked the direction Chima went with her, especially since I initially thought that someone else would be the main focus (helped by the summary and the viewpoint of a certain character). The scenes at the end with the dragon were very nice, as well.

But I was mostly frustrated with what I felt was an oversight by Chima of several character threads as the book ended. The characters discuss the dangers of flame, yet there is no mention of Seph having to deal with the consequences after the battle (because he’s conveniently magically cured). I’m also disappointed that we missed out on any sort of discussion between Hastings/Linda and Seph about the flame. Speaking of Hastings, I hated that he wasn’t even seen throughout most of the book and I especially hated that he wasn’t at the final battle to dispatch Wylie. Wylie and Hastings were set up as nemeses in the first book, and the fact that we never see a confrontation between them is beyond disappointing.

Also, Jason is pretty much only useful as a character when he gets the Dragonstone at the beginning. After that, I don’t understand why he got so much attention, and his final scene meant absolutely nothing to me.

And what’s with the random wizards where Madison lives? They felt more like an insertion by Chima to create tension than anything else. They certainly didn’t mesh with the world.

Rating: 2/5

Recommended Age Range: 14+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

She felt the tug of the stone from across the room, dragging her forward. As it had before, the Dragonheart seemed to react to her presence, brightening, colors sliding over each other like brilliant paints sloshing in a jar.

She stood over the stone. As she extended her hand, the light from the stone stained her skin. Her breathing slowed, her eyelids drooped. A rush of brilliant images coursed through her mind: a castle built of stone, a jewellike valley ringed by rugged mountains, a procession of courtiers bearing gifts. She heard the whisper of a half-remembered song, lines of poetry that broke her heart. She heard someone calling a name she wanted to answer to.

Overall Review:

The Dragon Heir was ultimately disappointed, due to the glaring lack of resolution to several plot threads and the amount of extra material that I felt was unnecessary and made the book more bloated than it needed to be. I did like the action, and the scene at the end with the dragon was very pretty, but overall, I’m not impressed.

You can buy this here: The Dragon Heir

The Wizard Heir: Starts Off Slow, But Ends Satisfyingly

The Wizard Heir is written by Cinda Williams Chima. It was published in 2007 by Hyperion. It is the sequel to The Warrior Heir.

Sixteen-year-old Seph McCauley has spent the past three years being kicked out of one exclusive private school after another. And its not his attitude that’s the problem: it’s the trail of magical accidents—lately, disasters—that follow in his wake. Seph is a wizard, orphaned and untrained, and his powers are escalating out of control. After causing a tragic fire at an after-hours party, Seph is sent to the Havens, a secluded boys’ school on the coast of Maine. Gregory Leicester, the headmaster, promises to train Seph in magic and initiate him into his mysterious order of wizards. But Seph’s enthusiasm dampens when he learns that training comes at a steep cost, and that Leicester plans to use his students’ powers to serve his own wicked agenda.

I liked The Wizard Heir a little better than The Warrior Heir, mainly because I was used to the world and the difference in Chima’s style (from the Seven Realms series) all ready. It was nice to see a new character, but also see that new character interact with the old ones. I think I like Hastings even more in this novel, too.

While the beginning took a little bit for me to get into, simply because Seph didn’t start out the type of character I enjoy reading, the middle/ending was really well done in terms of action and tension and kept me reading. The first big plot twist Chima pulls was pretty obvious, especially since her viewpoint switches give it away, but the second one I did not expect at all and was pretty awesome. I also like how each book so far has a stand-alone arc (yes, this one doesn’t end on a cliffhanger! Happiness!) in addition to the continuous one (that I can see more clearly in this one as opposed to the first) and that the main villain of this one is dispatched at the end–not a lot of threads left hanging, everything ends pretty tidily.

The inclusion of Madison Moss seemed a little too convenient, although how they used her Super Special Power was really neat.

The next book has Jason as the main viewpoint, apparently, which I’m not really looking forward to since I found him annoying in this book (but hopefully he’ll be more endearing if I’m in his head).

Rating: 4/5

Recommended Age Range: 14+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

“Jason, what do you know about Joseph McCauley?” The voice was complex, full of fire and ice, sorcery and menace.

Jason toyed with his earring, frowning, as if struggling to remember. “He’s the one you told me about, right? He spent a lot of time in this building over winter break. I think I’ve seen him in the workout rooms.”

“We’ve been working with him all year, but we aren’t making the kind of progress we would like. He’s hallucinating. Delusional. Dangerously symptomatic. But refuses our help. And now there’s been a change in his behavior that makes me think perhaps he’s been spending time with you.” The voice was gently on the surface, but then was steel underneath. “Do you remember our discussion about your negative influence on the other boys?”

Overall Review:

I am starting to like the world of The Wizard Heir a little better, and although the book starts out a little slow, by the end it’s fast-paced and gripping. Madison Moss is a little too convenient and is more of a Chekhov’s Gun than anything else but her power is cool. Hastings really fits the role of Enigmatic, Powerful Wizard well and is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters. The book is still a little strange and Chima’s prose could be a little better, but the series seems to be improving.

You can buy this here: The Wizard Heir

The Warrior Heir: Awesome Cover Art, Not So Awesome Story

The Warrior Heir is written by Cinda Williams Chima. It was published in 2006 by Hyperion. It is the first book in the Heir Chronicles.

Before he knew about the Roses, sixteen-year-old Jack lived an unremarkable life in the small Ohio town of Trinity. Only the medicine he has to take daily and the thick scar above his heart set him apart from the other high schoolers. Then one day Jack skips his medicine. Suddenly, he is stronger, fiercer, and more confident than ever before. And it feels great—until he loses control of his own strength and nearly kills another player during soccer tryouts. Soon, Jack learns the startling truth about himself: he is Weirlind, part of an underground society of magical people who live among us. At the head of this society sit the feuding houses of the Red Rose and the White Rose, whose power is determined by playing the Game—a tournament in which each house sponsors a warrior to fight to the death. The winning house rules the Weir. As if his bizarre heritage weren’t enough, Jack finds out that he’s not just another member of Weirlind—he’s one of the last of the warriors, at a time when both houses are scouting for a player.

I didn’t like this book nearly as much as Chima’s first Seven Realms novel, but I do prefer my fantasy set in fantasy worlds or an alternate version of this one, not in our own. However, it was still well-thought-out and interesting in terms of world, and I really liked the dynamic between Jack and his non-magical friends. While it took me a little time to get into the novel, the ending was fast-paced and exciting.

I was actually surprised when everything wrapped up neatly by the end. There are five books in this series, so I guess I was expecting some sort of plot thread to be left for the next book. But no, this book is stand-alone, and so everything is solved by the end except for some character developments. It makes me wonder what will happen next.

This is Chima’s first book, and it does show. Although I thought the Seven Realms series was a little bloated, overall the plot and world building were really great, so I suppose I was expecting the same thing here (I know, a little unfair of me). But The Warrior Heir is not written or developed nearly as well, and the romance between Jack and Ellen felt thrown in just to cater to the audience.

I also think the book would have been better if the reader doesn’t find out before Jack does about Lee and warriors and wizards and things. Since we do, the beginning just sort of slogs on until Jack gets caught up with the reader.

Rating: 3/5

Recommended Age Range: 14+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

He set the flashlight on the ground, gingerly grasped the hilt, and drew it out, noticing how the grip fit his hand without slipping. The sword created its own light as it emerged, a silver flame that ran along the blade. It was double-edged, and the metal appeared rippled in a way that meant the steel had been folded and refolded to strengthen it. How he knew this, he couldn’t say. After a century in the ground, it bore no trace of rust, but seemed ready for immediate use.

Will and Fitch, drawn by the light, looked over Jack’s shoulder. “Wicked,” breathed Fitch.

“No,” said Jack. “Not wicked at all.” He lifted the weapon before him with two hands and knew that it was his, although this had been forged long before he was born. It was lighter in his hands than he expected, lighter than one would expect from the size of it. “Shadowslayer,” he whispered, as if the weapon spoke to him. And the power in the blade ran into his hands and up his arms as if, somehow, the sword were wielding him.

Overall Review:

The Warrior Heir was a little disappointing, just because I loved Chima’s Seven Realms series so much and this wasn’t nearly as good. The world was interesting, but not all that developed (although, granted, this is only the first book), and some of the elements included felt a little forced, such as the romance between Jack and Ellen. I liked it, but it wasn’t amazing.

You can buy this here: The Warrior Heir

The Crimson Crown: A Magnificent Conclusion To A Wonderful Series

The Crimson Crown is written by Cinda Williams Chima. It was published in 2012 by Hyperion. It is the fourth and last book in the Seven Realms series. Chima’s website can be found here.

Spoilers for the Seven Realms series.

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Summary/Blurb:

“A thousand years ago, two young lovers were betrayed—Alger Waterlow to his death, and Hanalea, Queen of the Fells, to a life without love.

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 cutthroat world of blueblood 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 uncovers a secret believed to be lost to history, a revelation powerful enough to unite the people of the Fells. But will the secret die with him before he can save his queendom?”

~Inside Flap

Passages/Quotes:

“I’m not sure I should be giving anyone political advice,” Crow said. “But it’s easy to get so mired in the mud of day-to-day politics that you never get anywhere. It’s not enough to be against something or someone. What do you really want?”

“What do I really want?” Han looked Crow in the eye, took a deep breath, and said it aloud. “I’m going to marry the queen myself.”

Crow blinked at Han. His image brightened and solidified, and a brilliant smile broke across his face. He extended both hands toward Han, resting them on his shoulders, gazing fiercely into Han’s face.

“I believe you may be my descendant after all,” Crow breathed, his eyes alight with a feral joy.

~Chima 48

“Listen to me, daughter,” Averill said. “You must dismiss Alister as your bodyguard. Do it now. He should not be housed so close to you. If you don’t take action, we will.”

“What do you mean by that?” Raisa said, her throat gone dry.

“We are Demonai warriors,” Elena said. “We know what to do with jinxflingers who present a danger to the Gray Wolf line.”

Raisa looked up, and all she saw were implacable, unforgiving clan faces staring back at her. They will do it, she thought. They will do it and they will tell themselves they are doing it for love of me.

And suddenly she couldn’t stand to be in this conversation a moment longer.

She drew herself up. “You are my father,” she said to Averill. “And you are my grandmother,” she said to Elena. “And you are duty-bound to me,” she said to Nightwalker. “If you take action against Hunts Alone without my permission, we will be at war.”

~Chima 302

Cover Art

Warnings: Violence, war, and some scenes and dialogue that get a little racy.

Recommended Age Range: 16+

Rating: 5/5

What I Liked:

Wow! What a finish! I could barely stand to put this book down. So many things were answered and revealed in this book, things that were brought up all the way back in the first book, like Han’s clan amulet and the situation surrounding Lucius Frowley. It was a really thrilling read, and I enjoyed almost every minute of it.

So, when I was reading The Gray Wolf Throne I was a fan of Fiona/Adam, but that was when I thought Fiona would turn out to be good (and Micah bad). That was flipped around in this one, and Micah’s the one who marginally redeems himself. I was not expecting Mordra, though. Not at all. Also, Mellony’s a little young, but perhaps, in time, it will be Mellony/Micah?

Cute! By bookaholic5 on deviantart.

The clan/wizard tension was especially heavy in this one, and it was especially frustrating. Poor Raisa, having to deal with all that (but also, fantastic Raisa, for not backing down!). And the book doesn’t end with everything being magically wonderful and happy between the two groups, either, which is wonderfully realistic. The end points to progress and hope, and that’s enough, and it’s wonderful.

I loved the machinations Han was pulling, even if it alienated him from allies.

What I Didn’t Like:

The end (with Han and Raisa) was a little cheesy, but the epilogue was cute.

Overall Review:

The Crimson Crown really delivers in the action and thriller department, and concludes the Seven Realm series wonderfully. A lot of stuff happens in this book, probably because the first three books before it are basically a set-up for this one. I had a hard time putting this book down. I would definitely say this series was worth the read.

Coming Up Next: Hate List by Jennifer Brown

The Gray Wolf Throne: Politics, Man. Politics.

The Gray Wolf Throne is the third book in the Seven Realms series. It is written by Cinda Williams Chima and was published in 2011 by Hyperion. Chima’s website can be found here.

Spoilers for the Seven Realms series.

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Summary/Blurb:

“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. Still, 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.”

~Inside Flap

Passages/Quotes:

Raisa pulled on the ring, struggling with it. “It’s too tight,” she said. “It won’t come off.”

“We’ll see about that,” Gillen said. “I’ll cut it off if I have to.” His hand snaked out, and he seized her left wrist, yanking at the ring with his right hand.

Raisa straightened her arm, allowing Byrne’s dagger to fall free of her right sleeve. She had to catch it, and she did, gripping the Lady hilt. Gillen was focused on the ring, wrenching at it, swearing.

Raisa rammed the blade through soiled wool and the soft flesh of his belly, up under the rib cage, as far as it would go, until the crosspiece rested against his shirt.

~Chima 76

“Be careful, Hunts Alone,” Willo said, her voice low and urgent. She glanced around as if to make sure no one else was within hearing distance.

“I’m always careful,” Han said. He couldn’t help looking around as well.

“I mean it. If the Demonai realize you are in love with her, they will kill you.”

“Who says I’m in love with her?” Han retorted, avoiding her eyes. “Where do you get that?”

~Chima 261

Cover Art

Warnings: Violence

Recommended Age Range: 16+

Rating: 4/5

What I Liked:

I am just eating these books up. Seriously, I can’t get enough of them. I had to exercise self-control and read some other books before I continued reading this series; I didn’t want all four books reviewed back to back, although I suppose I could have done that.

All the politics in this book is so aggravatingly delicious (or deliciously aggravating?). All I really want is Raisa to succeed and kick out all the terrible people who are ruining the country. All her dealings with these people, however, really highlight her growth and what she learned during her trip to Oden’s Ford.

There are so many mysteries to be answered, and the last book is shaping up to be one heck of an action-packed rollercoaster, what with all that needs to be resolved. For example, how are Raisa and Han going to finally get together (because they so totally, obviously are)? A centuries-old tradition has to be broken for that to happen. I’m excited to see what Chima does in the last book.

Whose side are you on, Micah? For that matter, whose side are any of these characters on? The only ones you can be sure about are Raisa, Han, and Amon. Everyone else is up in the air. The lack of answers is making me suspect everyone, even Dancer, Cat, and Magret.

Ha!

What I Didn’t Like:

This book didn’t have very many big reveals in it, just more questions. The only big reveal was Crow’s at the very beginning of the book, and, honestly, that would have been better suited for the end of the previous book. Nothing was revealed in this book, and it just leaves a lot for the last book to resolve. I was expecting something terrible to happen in this book, to hook you in to the next, but nothing did, unless you count the epilogue (which I didn’t, because that particular thing was already brought up earlier, so it wasn’t a surprise, and it was obvious that the thing was going to head that way). So, I didn’t really get any questions answered, and it was a little annoying, but it’s still not the end, so I’m hoping the last book will fulfill my desire for resolved endings.

I still feel like a little bit could have been cut out, but not as much in this book as in The Exiled Queen.

Overall Review:

The Gray Wolf Throne doesn’t really answer any questions but simply brings up more questions, which can be aggravating if you really want to start seeing things getting resolved. It’s a little maddening. However, Raisa’s growth is great to see, and Han and Raisa have some pretty good moments between them. It’s really easy to see that this is really just a transition to the last act, the calm before the storm.

Coming Up Next: The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima. I’m going back to my once-a-week posts, so this will be up on Tuesday next week!

The Exiled Queen: Slow In The Beginning, But Still Very Good Fantasy

The Exiled Queen is written by Cinda Williams Chima. It was published in 2010 by Hyperion. It is the second book in the Seven Realms series. My review of the first book, The Demon King, can be found here. Chima’s website can be found here.

Will contain spoilers for the Seven Realms series.

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Summary/Blurb:

“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 she 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’s and Raisa’s paths cross…”

~Back Cover

Passages/Quotes:

“Take a message to Lord Bayar,” Han said. “Stay out of my way, or your whole family goes down.”

Fiona stared. For a moment she couldn’t seem to get any words out. Finally, she croaked, “Alister. You’re Cuffs Alister. But…you’re a wizard. That can’t be.”

“Surprise,” Han said. Standing tall in his stirrups, he gripped his amulet with one hand and extended the other His fingers twisted into a jinx as if they had a mind of their own, and magical words poured unbidden from his mouth.

The road bulged and buckled as a hedge of thorns erupted from the dirt, forming a prickled wall between Han and Dancer and the other wizards. It was chest-high on the horses in a matter of seconds.

Startled, Han ripped his hand free of the flashpiece, wiping his hand on his leggings as if he could rid it of traces of magic. His head swam, then cleared. He looked over at Dancer, who was glaring at him like he couldn’t believe his eyes and ears.

~Chima 30-31

Meloncholy gripped her, as if Cuffs Alister had been stolen from her a second time. First he was dead. Now he was magical—and therefore untouchable. The ground had shifted again, and the door of possibilities between them had been shut.

What possibilities? You’d rather he was dead than a wizard?

“Rebecca.”

Startled, Raisa looked up at Cuffs. He flipped her a coin, and she caught it reflexively. It was a five-penny piece.

“For your thoughts,” he said. But he didn’t smile.

~Chima 391

Cover Art (which I love to death)

Warnings: None.

Recommended Age Range: 16+

Rating: 3/5

What I Liked:

So, I’m still really impressed with this series. It’s really good. I don’t even know what it is about it, but I want to read more. It’s like how I felt about Armstrong’s Darkest Powers series, but on a slightly lesser extent.

I knew it was going to be Raisa/Han. I mean, it’s really obvious, but it’s still a little intriguing since he’s a wizard and queens are forbidden to marry wizards, so it will be interesting to see how that is resolved. Honestly, at one point I was rooting for Raisa/Amon (and Han/Fiona, of all people), but that ship (both ships, really) has sunk. Now I’m totally rooting for Fiona/Gryphon, but do not ask me why.

Fan art (From L to R: Micah, Han, Raisa, and Fire Dancer–I think)

Who is Crow? Is he even real? Is he trapped in Aediion? Will he show up again later?

Huh…I was really expecting something to happen with Dancer’s lost amulet, but I guess not. Or maybe it will come up later?

The cover art, by the way, is beautiful. I love it.

What I Didn’t Like:

They don’t even reach Oden’s Ford until almost halfway through the book. I didn’t even really get into the book until they reached Oden’s Ford, because most of the time I was thinking, “Most of this stuff could have been cut.” Seriously, half of both Raisa’s and Han’s journeys could have been left out with a little bit of maneuvering.

Micah is really, really annoying.

Sorry, Chima, but all I could think when I read your description of Aediion was Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. Aediion is almost an exact copy of Tel’aran’rhiod from the Wheel of Time. Not that I’m saying Chima copied it, but still, it threw me out of the book because of how close they were.

Overall Review:

The Exiled Queen could probably have had some material cut, because the beginning gets a little tedious with all that seemingly unimportant traveling. Luckily, it gets really good when both characters get to Oden’s Ford, and I’m enjoying reading this series. Raisa learned a lot/developed a lot in this book and I’m looking forward to seeing how she will apply the knowledge in the next books.

Coming Up Next: Mistwood by Leah Cypess

The Demon King: One Of The Better Fantasies I’ve Read In A While

The Demon King is written by Cinda Williams Chima. It was published in 2009 by Hyperion. It is the first book in the Seven Realms series. Chima’s website can be found here.

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Summary/Blurb:

“Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for himself, his mother, and his sister, Mari. Ironically, the only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell. For as long as Han can remember, he’s worn thick silver cuffs engraved with runes. They’re clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off.

Han’s life gets even harder after he takes a powerful amulet from Micah Bayar, the son of the High Wizard. The amulet once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece so powerful at stake, the Bayars will stop at nothing to reclaim it from Han.

Meanwhile, Raisa ana’Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. Although Raisa will become eligible for marriage after her sixteenth name day, she isn’t looking forward to trading in her common sense for a prince with a big castle and a tiny brain. Raisa aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But it seems that her mother has other plans for her—plans that include a suitor who goes against everything the queendom stands for.

~Back Cover

Passages/Quotes:

Raisa had begged her mother to reopen an apartment at the far end of the hall that had lain barricaded and unused through living memory. There were many closed-off apartments in Fellsmarch Castle, since the court was smaller than it had been, but not many in such a prime location, with easy access to the queen.

Some longtime servants said the apartment had been abandoned because its walls of windows made it cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Others said it was cursed, that it was from this very room a thousand years ago that the Demon King had stolen Hanalea away, the incident that led to the Breaking. In this version, Hanalea herself had ordered the apartment sealed, vowing never to set foot in it again.

Legend had it that the ghost of Hanalea sometimes appeared at the window on stormy nights, hands extended, her loose hair snaking about her head, calling for Alger Waterlow.

That was just silly, Raisa thought. Who would wait at a window for a demon, let alone call his name?

~Chima 60-61

Han finished off the last of the bread and cheese and licked his fingers. “Thanks for dinner,” he said, yawning and lying back on his pillows, hoping she would get the hint and leave.

But instead she came and sat down on the edge of his bed, seized hold of his good hand, and pushed back his sleeve. “You’re wearing the silver,” she said, glaring at him like he’d tried to pick her pocket. “You’re Cuffs Alister, you got to be.”

“What’s it matter?” he said, wishing for the thousandth time he could get the bloody bracelets off.

“They say you got the bluejackets in your pocket,” Dori said. “They say that in your secret hideout you got treasure lying around all over the place—di’monds and rubies and emeralds stole from the nobility, and you dress all in gold and keep beautiful rich women for ransom, and they all fall in love with you and don’t want to be let go.”

“I don’t know how that rumor got started,” Han said, desperately wishing her gone.

~Chima 195-196

Cover Art (I LOVE the cover art for this series. It’s gorgeous)

Warnings: Kissing/seduction, violence

Recommended Age Range: 16+

Rating: 4/5

What I Liked:

Wow! I’m really impressed with this book. It was much better than I was expecting it to be. At first, when I read the back summary and started the book, I thought it would be one of those dreaded “princess rebels against propriety/standards/etc.” plots, which I cannot stand. But, thankfully, it’s not. I really enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to the next three books.

Micah is an interesting character. At this point, he could go several ways in regards to characterization and development and I’m curious to see which one Chima chooses.

What is your true motive, Micah? (“Demon King – It’s Not the Wine” by leabharlann on deviantart)

I liked both Raisa and Han; it’s really obvious that they’re going to be love interests in the future, but it will be interesting to see how Chima resolves this in light of certain developments from this book. Also, the name Han just makes me think of Star Wars.

I’m curious to see what Chima will do with the plot over the next three books. I really don’t see how it can go another three books; in fact, it probably could be cut down to three books instead of four, but since I haven’t read the next three, I don’t know about that. I guess I’ll just have to see what develops.

What I Didn’t Like:

It took me a little bit to get into this book because Raisa is one of those annoyingly stubborn, demanding characters that you just want to slap/shake. Also, there are a lot of annoying characters (Micah), and when there are annoying characters, I find it hard to like/get into a book. Luckily, Raisa gets better. Han actually gets annoying towards the end, but that’s more understandable in light of what happens to him.

Overall Review:

The Demon King is a promising start to what will hopefully be a great fantasy series. This book alone made me want to read Chima’s other fantasy series. It’s a layered, complex world with lots of intrigue, conflict, and tension. In a book like this, you know that things will only get worse before they get better, and you look forward to seeing how the characters will deal with the worst.

Coming Up Next: The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle