The Exiled Queen (Seven Realms, #2)
by Cinda Williams Chima
Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, hunted by the powerful Bayar family, Han Alister makes a devil’s bargain with the clans. If they sponsor his schooling at Mystwerk Academy at Oden’s Ford, he will become their magical sell-sword against the power-hungry Wizard Council.
Han and his clan friend Fire Dancer undertake the dangerous journey south through war-torn Arden. Once in Oden’s Ford, it doesn’t take long for the smoldering feud between Han and Micah Bayar to kindle into flame. After several attempts on his life, Han knows he has to find a way to defend himself.
In the magical dream world of Aediion, Han meets the mysterious Crow, a wizard with a long-standing grudge against the Bayars. Crow offers to tutor Han in wizardry in exchange for his help. Han agrees, once again forced into a bargain he hopes he won’t regret.
Meanwhile, Han’s friends Fire Dancer and Cat Tyburn struggle with their own demons. Dancer is determined to become a clan flashcrafter, despite his charmcaster status. Cat carries a load of guilt, as the only survivor of the slaughter of the gangs in Ragmarket and Southbridge.
Resuming her disguise as gently-born Rebecca Morley, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna travels with her friend Amon Byrne and his triple of cadets to Wien House, the military academy at Oden’s Ford. There she hopes she will find both temporary sanctuary from a forced marriage and the education she needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.
Much of Raisa’s education takes place outside of the classroom. As she mingles with students of all classes from throughout the Seven Realms, she forges the kind of friendships that don’t happen amid the cut-throat politics of the Gray Wolf Court. She also struggles to deal with her attraction to Amon—an attraction he seems determined to discourage.
When Han Alister asks the girl he knows as Rebecca to tutor him, she agrees. The streetlord turned wizard with the complicated past fascinates her, and he makes it clear the interest is mutual. But Han blames Queen Marianna and the Bayars for the loss of his family. As their relationship deepens, Raisa suspects that if Han knew her true identity, he wouldn’t want anything to do with her. (goodreads.com)
Ok, so I think this summary was longer than the one for book 1. What the heck, people!?
Hands down, this was my favourite of all four books. 🙂 I loved following Raisa’s storyline and her travel to the military academy at Oden’s Ford. I loved all of the different, um, factions? (arts, military, wizardry) all in one location to learn about their crafts and whatnot. I just loved everything about this book!
My one issue was that of Fire Dancer’s story as he tried to come to terms with his charmcaster status. I would have felt more involved in his woes if there had been a better focus on his story. I almost felt that he was just tossed in as an afterthought and not given nearly enough depth to make his issues matter. Even though we’d only just met Cat Tyburn in this book I felt more connected to her own struggles with being a street rat to a (more or less) upstanding citizen than I did about Dancer. Dancer’s plot was watered down and vague at times and I never once felt any emotion for him whatsoever. Poor Dancer.
Heck, I felt more sympathy for Amon Byrne’s conflict about his role as protector of the Queen line and his feelings about Raisa than I did about anything Dancer was up to.
Much of the book focused on the trip TO Oden’s Ford and then a few months there before everyone up and left to return to the Queendom for various reasons (oddly all at the same time. Oh, Fantasy books, you are your clever coincidences!) and I just loved every single second of those travel and schooling days. Hunks of cheese and bread and dried meat were eaten! Stew! Ale! Cider! Ahhh, questing food!
I don’t really know what else to say about this second book that wasn’t already said in the epically long summary, but I feel compelled to write more in the body of my post than was in that stupid blockquote. Um….
Micah still reminds me of Malfoy – regardless of how different he actually is. I think once I got that idea stuck in my head in the first book, it was pretty much a given that I wouldn’t be able to shake it. heh
This series has an odd mix of very strong female characters and oddly weak and not very bright ones. I did love how quick and smart Raisa was about things, despite her age. She was always aware of the politics going on, even if she would act contrary to how things should be at times. I think this made her a stronger leader because she didn’t just follow the rules, she broke some for the good of the Queendom and her own people.
Right now the story is blurring into one big book in mu memory. Guess that’s what happens when you read all 4 books in 9 days and don’t stop to write blog posts in-between. 😉