Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Genre: Young Adult | High Fantasy
Synopsis: 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.
Check out this book’s GOODREADS page
Check out my book review for BOOK 1: THE DEMON KING, and BOOK 2: THE EXILED QUEEN
I knew I was going to love this series as soon as I picked up the first book, and I was right. I’m a huge fan of this quartet. I love Chima’s writing, I love all the characters. I think the plot is dense and well-constructed, and the world-building is well thought-out, not to mention that the books just keep getting better as they go along. The first book was action-packed and it set up the various plot-points that were going to be explored in the future books. The second book expanded the world, and tied together a lot of the character arcs that were reasonably separate in the first book. And this third one further expanded upon the world-building, and Chima gave her characters miles of development.
Here’s the thing. A lot of people gave this book low ratings because it was so slow, and I’m not going to deny that. This book was incredibly slow, and it was incredibly long! The first hundred or so pages were exciting, and the plot was twisting and turning and doing things you didn’t expect it to do. Raisa was in a difficult, dangerous position and it was very interesting to see how she maneuvered herself out of these situations, if she managed to do so at all. Han was desperately looking for Raisa, and he was full of rage and ready to turn the world inside and out to look for her, because he would not lose yet another person he cared for. And everything is terribly exciting. But when that excitement dies down, this book becomes slow. And usually, I would complain about that, but not in this case- because Chima is incredible even when the story is slow.
There was so much political, romantic and psychological anticipation and tension throughout this book. Much of it involves dense conversations, hushed whispers, long trains of thought. Much of it is devoid of any fast action at all, but I think this lack of action was important. It helped direct the series towards the events of the last installment (and I already know the final book is going to end with a bang.) The slow plot was made up for with the absolutely marvelous character development happening. Raisa is trying to transition from being a green princess into someone who’s ready to take the throne when the time comes. Han is trying to deal with every single crappy hand he’s being dealt (including finding out about ‘Rebecca’s’ actual identity). Dancer plays a much bigger part in this book, and so do some of the older secondary characters.
This book brought out a whole new side of Han Alister. I really, REALLY liked him in the first two books, but this book took him to a new level for me. I think Chima made a super clever and unique decision with making Han her protagonist– he’s an ex-crimelord, for God’s sake. He’s had a criminal past; he’s thieved, he’s murdered, he’s done some pretty horrible things. She started off the series with his ‘redemption arc,’ but I love how she shows that despite him being a much better person now, his criminal past is a thing he simply cannot ignore or completely leave behind. You get to see the influences his past has had a little more in this installment. Because of how angry he is, you see a different layer to his personality. I think he’s a very strong male character– one of the strongest I have ever read. Also, can I have one for myself, because WoOooOooOoW *fans herself*
I really enjoyed the romantic aspect in this. This series has a love-triangle, but it is not angsty at all, unlike most love triangles found in young-adult literature. You’re completely invested in the different love interests, and you know that Raisa’s not going to change her mind every two seconds. The love triangle between Han-Raisa-Amon exists, but it’s not overly dramatic. Romance exists, and it’s done very well, but it doesn’t overshadow the more important plot details.
Cinda Williams Chima is a phenomenal writer. She doesn’t embellish even though her writing is a lot denser than a lot of people’s. She utilizes her words to the best of her ability- you won’t find a word in the book that isn’t supposed to be there. Every thing she writes serves a purpose, so even though her novels are long, all the information there is important. That’s the sign of a good writer, and I don’t say this often, but I learn a lot about writing by reading her books.
“She had never felt more alive than when she lay dying in Han Alister’s arms.”