I read The Demon King, book #1 in the Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima, a few weeks ago. It was a slow start for me, but I kept going based on the glowing reviews I'd read. Ultimately, I was so glad that I plowed through the first couple hundred pages because I rewarded with a rich portrait of the Seven Realms and some great action.
I picked up The Exiled Queen (book #2) shortly after finishing the first, but didn't get a chance to dive in until after all The Writer's Voice competition craziness died down (see multiple posts on the insanity below). I was happy to find myself thrown back into the Han and Raisa's world as each reaches a turning point in their young, troubled lives. Han Alister, reformed streetlord, and Princess Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the throne of the Fells, make parallel journeys to Oden's Ford (think boarding school for wizards, soldiers, and scholars). One forced to flea from an arranged marriage and the other out of options and without a family, they meet again in a completely new environment.
As a student at Mystwerk House, school for wizards, Han learns to unleash the power of his amulet and harness his own innate skills. His street savvy helps him stay alive in the blue-blooded world of wizardry, but he finds he lacks many of the social graces necessary to live amongst them.
Raisa escapes an arranged marriage to a boy whose family would use her to centralize their own power and travels to Oden Ford with life-long friend (and recent crush) Amon Byrne. Under the guise of Rebecca Morley, Raisa attends the military academy Wein House. Though Raisa was brought up with a thorough education, she discovers she was never taught many of the essential traits necessary to be a strong queen.
Both Raisa and Han are in places of great personal change, but find themselves drawn to the other. The growing relationship is threatened by the secrets both keep. Han has no idea that Raisa is a princess and part of the royalty he blames for the death of his mother and sister. And Raisa doesn't know that Han has embroiled himself in conflict between wizards and the upland clans of Fells.
I'll try not to spoil too much, for those who haven't read this series yet, but I loved seeing the unique place of Oden's Ford which exists free from the influence of the ruling royalty and the wars that continue to ravage the land surrounding it. I've become very fond of both Han and Raisa and liked how the story is told from their distinct perspectives. They come from separate worlds and see each other so differently. I enjoyed their budding romance, which never struck me as particularly juvenile as is the case with so many YA relationships.
I had such a great time with this book and am dying for the next one. Lucky for me, this is one series that is near completion with the fourth and final installment due out this fall.
Educate yourself on the topic in this post:
- The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7801229-the-exiled-queen