Sadie Hawkins Review #101: The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima

Sadie Hawkins Review #101: The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams ChimaThe Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima
Series: Seven Realms #2
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 24, 2010
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 586
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gifted
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four-half-stars

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 that 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 Wein House, the military academy at Oden's Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wein House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen. 

Everything changes when Han and Raisa’s paths cross, in this epic tale of uncertain friendships, cut-throat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction.

Recommended by: Steph (Cuddlebuggery), who urged the whole series on me, and also Meg who didn’t put it in Sadie Hawkins but DID send me the whole series

The Demon King was fun and an excellent start to a series. It didn’t however completely suck me in or get me right in the feels. Once again, Meg and Gillian (Writer of Wrongs) were so right about the way that this series starts slow but continually gets more intense. Though I wouldn’t say I’m to massive fangirl status yet, I’m much more impressed with The Exiled Queen and very eager to find out what the future has in store for Han, Raisa, and the rest of the dear main characters.

My main complaint with The Demon King was the plotting. I felt like it was really predictable at all points. There’s something comforting in that, especially with the similarities to Aladdin, but it also didn’t wow me. In The Exiled Queen, the plot consistently took me by surprise. Continually the threat that I expected to raise its ugly head remained quiet, and an unseen threat came out of nowhere and went for the characters. It’s thrilling to not have any idea where the danger will actually come from, and it’s a lot like life, I think.

Though I didn’t see them coming, the threats were well-established. Sometimes twists are achieved by hiding things from the reader. That’s one way to do it and it’s effective, but it’s also a cheat. Chima doesn’t do that. All the information you need is there, but it’s not telegraphed. Mostly it’s just that there are so many different forces moving against our hero and heroine that it’s really hard to pinpoint who and what will happen to them next. This is the sort of plotting that I adore.

Similarly, the depths of good versus evil are so much more complex in The Exiled Queen. It was very easy to pinpoint the villain in The Demon King. Sure, he’s still evil, but he’s also one just one wave in a turbulent ocean. The political landscape is complicated, and, though it’s easy to tell who some of the enemies are, discerning which supposed allies can be relied upon is very much not.

Chima continues to add layers to the cast, as well. I’m especially in love, oddly enough, with the development of the Bayars. Previously, they were the standard spoiled, rich kids meant to seize power at daddy’s command. In The Exiled Queen, Micah and Fiona become less of a unit and begin to make their own choices. The first year at school in Oden’s Ford changes everyone in big ways. The Demon King felt almost middle grade at times, but they’re truly growing into young adults now, capable of making mature choices.

It’s funny, because in the larger terms of the plot, The Exiled Queen actually is sort of like hitting the pause button. There’s not a lot that happens in terms of the main characters’ interaction with the larger politics that comprise the larger arc. They basically take a year off to train. It ought to be slower. However, it’s not. First of all, they do all of this with a sense of the clock’s ticking, because not being trained could result in defeat but so could delaying too long. Second of all, all of the characters are undergoing serious character arc stuff, which I personally find as fascinating as the action/adventure stuff.

The shipping in this series is most excellent, with one caveat. I’m down with all the ships, except for the obvious one that involves settling. However, despite the inclusion of LGBT-positive things, I really wish there were an LGBT character among the leads. Yes, Talia and Pearlie are a lesbian couple, and they put in occasional appearances, but I hardly know anything about them. I’d like to see them become more important to the story or the addition of more LGBT romances. It’s probably unfair, because I don’t know that I would feel this way if I hadn’t had that expectation going in, but it’s how I feel. That said, Chima does excellent kissing scenes. Much approve.

Word to the wise: if The Demon King was a bit slow for you, do keep going. The Exiled Queen levels up several levels of badassery. I’m ready to have my heart broken in The Gray Wolf Throne.

Favorite Quote:

“I’ve been called a lot of names, but never a harlot of evil before.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif draco don't you understand i have to do this hp

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2 responses to “Sadie Hawkins Review #101: The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima”

  1. Brigid says:

    Aladdin. Oh my GOD. YOU ARE SO RIGHT. HOW DID I NOT SEE THAT?
    Brigid recently posted…4 Star Review: The FalconerMy Profile

  2. Hannah says:

    So glad to see the series picks up! Like I said in your review of the Demon King, I’m planning to finish the rest of the books pretty soon – although I think I’ll need to reread the first book, seeing as it’s been a rather long time.
    Hannah recently posted…Review: The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) – Maggie StiefvaterMy Profile

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