(Cover picture courtesy of Cinda Williams Chima’s site.)
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.
The Gray Wolf Throne is an epic tale of fierce loyalty, unbearable sacrifice, and the heartless hand of fate.
Betrayal, war, intrigue and sacrifice all feature heavily in The Gray Wolf Throne but the thing that struck me most about it was how well Cinda Williams Chima writes about politics. She’s no George R. R. Martin in terms of complicated politics, but you can really appreciate that forces both inside and outside of the Fells influence all of the characters’ decisions. Particularly Raisa’s.
I like both Raisa and Han equally in this third installment of the Seven Realms series. Last book I favoured Han but now that Raisa is finally coming into her own I found myself connecting with her on a deeper level. Both characters are well-rounded and three dimensional and you can really feel their emotions. When Han discovers Rebecca is really Raisa, that betrayal cuts deeply. But for the sake of the realm both Han and Raisa have to move past their mutual feelings of betrayal and work together to save their kingdom.
Raisa isn’t one of these annoying heroines that does whatever the heck she wants without even considering the consequences of her actions. No, she knows that everything she does has tremendous repercussions not only for herself, but for the people she rules over. Her kingdom is in a very precarious position what with civil wars going on all around its borders but there are also factions tearing the country apart from within. Even if you’re not a big political junkie like I am I think most readers can appreciate just how well Cinda Williams Chima actually understands politics.
The plot was much faster paced than in the two previous novels but it definitely wasn’t at the price of character development or world-building. It’s not the pace of your typical action/thriller novel but the plot does move along quite quickly for epic fantasy. The main thing is that the plot of The Gray Wolf Throne is very interesting. It’s not the fastest one ever written but it is interesting enough to keep you reading into the early morning hours.
Basically, this third book was better than the previous two and I can’t wait for book four, The Crimson Crown.
I give this book 5/5 stars.