Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima

Pub date - September 2010.

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 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 Wien House, the military academy at Oden's Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wien 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, in this epic tale of uncertain friendships, cutthroat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction. (book back blurb)

Like The Demon King, The Exiled Queen is chock full of fantastical awesomeness. Chima has a way of writing that makes the Seven Realms both sit in the background yet be full and lush, enveloping you into its world. Like Sab (YA Bliss) said in her review, I want to live in this world. It just feels so real, like something that could exist on an alternate plane that if you could just tilt your head the right way, you'd see it.

The relationships between Amon, Raisa, Han, Dancer, Cat, Micah and Fiona are flourishing, some for the good and some for the bad. They're multidimensional in this book compared to the last. I feel like what I got in TDK was just a scratch in what these characters really are. And I'm so rooting for Han and Raisa. I can't wait to see just what happens between them in the next book. And Raisa and Amon for that matter.

Speaking of, I think one of my favorite parts of these books is the way Raisa views courtship and romance. She really is a helpless romantic but the facetious way she talks about kissing this boy and that boy and this other one, and then this one in dark corners, it's just a relief. There's no guilt. No one chastises her for how she acts. It's just normal. I guess it's refreshing seeing how normal Raisa is in her dating life considering everything going on around her.

The issues between Han and Micah are coming to a head and man, I'm just waiting for it to burst. But I truly pity Han. He's stuck in a difficult spot and is basically nothing more than a tool for people to use. It's hard not to think that they're using him not only for his talents but because of the very fact that he rightly has nothing left. No one will miss him should he get gone. But really, that's not true.

I just can't help but absolutely love the world that Chima created. The more I read her books, the more the world just fits into my normal. It's both intricate yet understanding. You can feel the dangers that the cadets face traveling to Oden's Ford. The way she wrote about the mist reminded me of some horror story where the mist was alive. And it might as well been here. I feel the pain and anguish and joy and love and hate that every single character feels; from Raisa herself right down to Cat, who, right now, is little more than a blip on the greater radar. You can feel the grime that covers them, feel how tired they are, the pain they feel after training. It's such an exceptionally written book that it's hard not to get sucked in completely.

It's funny because the book is a little long. I'm sure it could have been chopped down, that some parts were overdrawn. But if you ask me what could be cut, I couldn't name a single thing. I loved it all and every sentence in the book now makes it all the richer. I really can't say much more about The Exiled Queen without completely fangirling it and I really don't have any complaints so I'm going to end this here. Just read it and join me in my pain of waiting for the next book.

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