Posted in Book Review

Book Review and Spoiler Talk: The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima

“Raisa ana‘Marianna huddled in her usual dark corner at the Purple Heron, picking at her meat pie.”

First line in The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima

Author: Cinda Williams Chima

Published: January 1st 2011

Genre: YA Fantasy

My rating: 1 star

Hi, guys and welcome to my third post about the Seven Realms series, reviewing The Gray Wolf Throne. I debated whether to write this post or not because as you can tell from my rating, I did NOT like this book. This review is therefore going to be a little ranty but I’ll try to keep it brief. 

Having liked the first two books in the series, I was expecting this third book to be even better as we’re nearing the end. Now that I’m done, I’m struggling to find something positive to say about it. 

My main issue is probably the pacing. This book was waaaay to slow. Too much time was spent leading up to and preparing for significant events (which there were very few of). The dialogue went in circles. The characters would talk and talk and talk but they were having the same arguments with slightly different wording every time. They also spent a lot of time feeling sorry for themselves and it got pretty sickening after 300 pages. 

Basically, a lot of this book was not necessary for the plot or the character development. Important parts of this book would probably only take up about 100 pages (out of 517) and so I wonder whether this book should have ever existed. 

Another issue for me was the cringey and out-dated romance tropes. There have been a few of those in the previous books but not enough the make me annoyed. In The Gray Wolf Throne, however, they were just piled on top of each other and took up most of the book. I’m not going to describe them here because that would take forever and be kind of spoilery. I go into some of them in my spoiler section if you’re interested. One I want to call out though. The book trying to be “feminist” but then you have female characters hating other female characters purely because they like the same guy. No. Other. Reason. Stop it! The way that it is done in this one is making me especially angry. 

Okay, I’m going to stop this here. I’m still going to read the last book in the series because I might as well. This next part is going to be all about spoilers so stop reading if you don’t want to know more. 

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Spoiler Talk

  • Very slow start. Did we need to spent this much seeing them travel? It could easily have been condensed. 
  • Why was Crow’s identity revealed at the beginning? Without a spectacle? We got the information and then “oh let’s move on.” There was a build up for a reveal by the end of book 2 so why didn’t we get it there? I’m wondering why he was completely ignored in the last half of the book. They spent to much time talking about him before that. 
  • The dialogue is going in circles. Everybody trying to take the blame for something riddiculus and then feel bad for themselves. 
  • It was such a shock to me that the queen just died! I mean, I expected it to happen at some point but I guess I thought it would actually happen on the page. Not for it to be something we’re just told about. It was expected because we obviously need Raisa to be queen so Marianna had to go. 
  • Not gonna lie… I’m a little creeped out by the Mellony/Micah thing. 
  • Why is it that Raisa hasn’t punched Nightwalker yet? And why is she humoring him? He’s such a jerk and needs to be told. Same really goes for Micah. It’s really the trope of “the guy is hot so it doesn’t matter how he behaves” and it’s frustrating. Also don’t understand why Raisa would accept a kiss from Nightwalker 5 minutes after she’s reminded that he’s still with Night Bird.
  • There was no ending? Like… nothing happened. It just faded out with the coronation. I expected something to go wrong there as there hadn’t been a climactic moment. Did anything happen in this book? I felt like I was waiting and waiting and waiting. Then I came to the end to find out that I was waiting for nothing. Disappointed. 

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That was my thoughts on The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima. Not exactly a good reading experience but I haven’t lost hope for the series. I want to see how it ends. Let me know what you thought of it if you’ve read it. 

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Posted in Book Review

Book Review and Spoiler Talk: The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima

“Lieutenant Mac Gillen of the Queen’s Guard of the Fells hunched his shoulders against the witch wind that howled out of the frozen wastelands to the north and west.”

First line in The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima

Hi, guys. I’m back with another review of a book in the Seven Realms series!! We’ve made it to book 2: The Exiled Queen. As in my post for the first book, I’m going to give my overall thoughts of the book first and then transition into a spoiler-section in the end. However, be aware that there will be spoilers for The Demon King in my overall thoughts. 

Author: Cinda Williams Chima

Published: September 1st 2010

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Seven Realms, Book 2

My rating: 4 stars

Synopsis: 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.

Goodreads

Spoiler-free Review

The Exiled Queen starts off right where we left the characters in The Demon King with both Han and Raisa travelling towards Oden’s ford with their respective groups. I gotta say that this made me a little worried I wouldn’t like the book. It’s clear that our characters are going to travel a while and then enter a school setting at Oden’s ford. A long travel and a school setting are two of my least favorite things to read about so I was not set up to like this book. However, it worked out really well. 

The first half of the book is the strongest in my opinion. It’s very action packed while at the same time expanding the world and teaching you about the different realms. Those are both things I wanted more of from this book compared to the first. 

The latter half is spent more on character development which was also needed but the story dragged a little bit because of it. Maybe it’s just me and that school setting not getting along but the story was more or less put on hold while the characters were learning stuff. The positive outcome of this, however, is that I like the our main characters more after reading this. Especially Han’s character came together for me and I now appreciate him a lot more. Raisa is a character I’m not completely sure I love yet. She has moments where I can tell she has the potential to become my favorite character… but then she also has moments where she’s the stereotypical annoying female character so I’m not sure what to think of her. 

The last thing I just want to mention in this part of the review is the book’s commentary on racism. It’s very subtle but nonetheless effective which I think is completely intentional. None of our two main characters are the subject of the discrimination so they don’t experience the problem in the same way as someone like Dancer. Very much a real-life representation of privilege I would say. 

Now, let’s move on to the spoiler section. 

Spoiler Talk

I’ve made a list because I love lists. This is in no particular order and is just a list of random thoughts I had while reading. Enjoy. 

  • Very cool that we started with a chapter from the POV of Mac Gillen. I love these kinds of insights into the mind workings of the bad guys.
  • I normally don’t enjoy long ‘travel sequences’ in books but this is an exception. First of all because action is happening all the time!! Second of all because I really like how Chima uses the characters’ journey as a way of showing off the world. And not just the scenery. We get little insights into the culture and political situation of the different areas and it’s so cleverly done. I love it!
  • That first scene with the Henri Tourant guy… I appreciate it when an author can make me despise a character in just a couple of pages. He was so obnoxious and so realistic too. I’ve definitely been in arguments with people like him who don’t check their “facts”.
  • For some reason I find it hilarious that Han is such a ladies man. And that we actually see it! We’re just not told about some relationships in the past (although we get that too), but we also see him unapologetically turning around to look at some girl’s legs while he’s talking to Dancer. It’s not that he’s a “bad boy” because of it, well,… he is but in a good way, you know. I really just think it’s refreshing to see this character trait in a male MC.
  • I’m sad to say that I find Raisa annoying. Especially in that scene when Amon tells her why they can’t be together. She keeps interrupting him because she just assumes that she must have all the information. Just listen to him for a second! When she suggested that they try kissing anyway, I almost rolled my eyes to the back of my head. He’s just told her it’s going to put him in excruciating pain and she just wants to try it out? Great solution.
  • I wish Han would interact more with his friends Dancer and Cat. We barely saw his friendship with Dancer in the first book and I had hoped this would be rectified when they actually went to school together. It didn’t exactly. It gives me the feeling of being told about a friendship instead of seeing it but of course it’s a minor detail.
  • Gotta admit… I assumed Dancer was gay. But okay, he’s with Cat now. We don’t know much about their relationship as of yet so not sure if I ship it yet. We did get a female/female romance in here though which I appreciated. They are some seriously minor characters though so I hope to see some other queer elements later on.
  • The ending was fine without being amazing. I’m not sure it gave that many answers (who the hell is that Crow-guy?!?) but instead worked to set us up for the third book.

There you have my thoughts on The Exiled Queen which I hope you either found entertaining or insightful. Maybe not, but still, let’s chat in the comments if you’ve read it. What did you think of this second installment in the Seven Realms?

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Posted in Book Review

Book Review and Spoiler Talk: The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

“Han Alister squatted next to the steaming mud spring, praying that the thermal crust would hold his weight.”

First line in The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

Hi, guys and welcome to my post about The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima. I hesitate calling this a review because it’s more or less just going to be a spew of thoughts from me. When I started writing it, I realized that most of what I wanted to talk about was quite spoilery. Therefore this post is going to feature a small non-spoilery section about my overall feelings about the book and then a spoiler section with some random thoughts I had while reading.

Author: Cinda Williams Chima

Published: October 6th 2009

Genre:YA Fantasy

Series: Seven Realms, Book 1

My rating: 3 stars

Synopsis: 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…

The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.

Goodreads

Spoiler-free Review

The Demon King had been on my TBR almost a year and on my mind even longer before I decided to pick it up. I was afraid that it would be too old. YA fantasy is a fast changing genre and tropes are easily overused. However, I kept hearing or reading positive reviews for this series so I decided to read it, keeping in mind that it’s from 2009.

I ended up with some conflicting emotions but my overall feeling was positive. Yes, there are tropes we’ve seen before (a lot) and not everything made perfect sense. Somehow that didn’t affect my reading experience very much. I loved reading it! The world and the political landscape were quite intriguing to me and I got the sense that those will be explored even further in the next books. It was very much a book with a lot of set-up. The plot was barely there and you don’t really see it until the end. I don’t mind books without plot because I love to just learn about the characters and the world. To someone else, this first book might be a tough start to the series.

About the characters… well, there’s potential at least. The only character I really latched on to was Dancer and he’s barely there. He seems to have a very interesting story that we don’t know very much about. The other characters were all right but nothing spectacular. The female MC is very close to slipping into the “not like other girls” trope but I think she just steers clear. The male MC was a little bit all over the place in this first book. Like he was trying to be several characters at once. But as I said, there’s great potential for some character growth in the next books.

Spoiler Thoughts

Stop reading if you don’t want to read SPOILERS! I’ve made a list of all the random thoughts I had while reading.

  • Dancer is so intriguing! He seems to have so many layers that I can’t wait to learn more about in the next books. Also, as far as I understood, his mother was raped and he came from that? I was quite shocked by that because that’s pretty gruesome for YA.
  • The parts of the book that takes place in Marisa Pines were definitely my favorites. I found the whole clan thing and that culture very interesting.
  • How many love interests does Raisa need? I mean, wouldn’t one be enough? How is three necessary? I liked her relationship with Micah in the beginning. Not because it was perfect, but because there was so much obvious possible growth in both characters through that. I also enjoyed that it was more playful instead of serious which I think is rare for me to find in YA fantasy. However, I guess he’s off the table now that his father tried to force Raisa into a marriage with Micah. That’s got to be a dealbreaker.
  • We’re also introduced to Amon, the second love interest. When you compare him to Micah (which you sort of have to), he’s just so… boring. He’s very much the stereotypical “nice guy” who values honor and all that. I’m going to say that there’s room for him to grow too but please don’t let Raisa end up with him.
  • Is Han also a love interest? I’m not sure what to make of their interactions. I didn’t like his relationship with Bird. I was so happy when they were prophesized to not work together.
  • “*character* seemed to know what *other character* was thinking”. I’ve read this too many times! I need there to be a plot twist in the next books explaining how every character in this series is a mind reader.
  • They actually killed Han’s family?!? I mean, I appreciate the whole “actions have consequences” that it represents but damn… that’s dark.
  • I’m not sure what I think of Han. I have trouble piecing his character together because he has so many sides and some of them are a bit contradicting. How can someone become a streetlord at 15 and at the same time be so slow to piece stuff together? That guy doesn’t see anything coming! I guess we have another character with room to grow.

That was my post about The Demon King with a little bit of everything. Let me know what you think about this book if you’ve read or plan to read it. I’m going to be reading the second book very soon and plan to do a similar post about that one. Until then, I hope you’re having a great reading life.

Posted in First Impression Friday

First Impression Friday – The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

“The scent of wood smoke and roses always took him back there, to the boy he was and would never be again.”

First line in The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

Hi, guys and welcome to a First Impression Friday post. I haven’t done one in a while but First Impression Friday is a weekly meme created by J.W. Martin and is an oppourtunity to talk about a book you’ve just started. I’m going to talk about The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima (finally!!).

I’m reading it as an ebook, and I’m 16% into it meaning I’m almost done with chapter 4. I’m really liking it so far, especially the characters. That Dancer character has some secrets and I’m so intrigued to know what they are. I’m a little worried that the female main character is going for that “not like other girls”-trope. However, she has also shown some surprising aspects of her character so I remain hopeful.

On the negative side is the world building. I’m confused. So many names have been thrown around and I’m just sitting here like… “where’s my map?”. There’s also a lot a culture involved already and I’m struggling a little to keep everything straight in my head.

In general though, my first impression is quite positive. I was a little scared because this is a YA fantasy book from 2009. Those tend not to age well, but I haven’t encountered any problems or overused cliches so far.

This is a book that featured on my 5-star predictions list and so far it still belongs there.

I hope you found this little insight interesting. I look forward to sharing my final thoughts of the book with you all. Have a great weekend!