- TITLE: The Gray Wolf Throne (Seven Realms #3)
- AUTHOR: Cinda Williams Chima
- PUBLISHER: Harper Voyager (UK)
- RELEASE DATE: February 2nd 2012
As the third instalment of the Seven Realms series, fans—like me—were expecting something big. When we left Raisa, Han and the cast, events were on the move and big cogs were turning behind the scenes. The Gray Wolf Throne is all about the effects of the cogs, and what their motions mean for the grand scheme of things.
The pace of the story is break-neck, with scarcely a moment to breathe whilst the whole world threatens to fall apart. History sets itself up for repeat as the only living ancestor of the fabled Demon King moves closer and closer to the first true warrior queen since Hanalea herself. Filled with romance, intrigue and a hell of a lot of growing up, The Gray Wolf Throne is a masterpiece that bridges the gap between YA fantasy and regular fantasy: there are no boundaries between the two in Chima’s work, and this latest offering is the finest example of that. This is simply damn good fantasy that everyone should enjoy.
So tightly plotted it hurts, nothing is left hanging in the balance and every storyline strand is eventually woven into the whole. Filled with detail, attention, and characters that climb off the page, the success of the first two novels is doubled in the third.
Characters are developed more, storylines are advanced, and the feuds and alliances are taken to new levels, and, when some things reach breaking point, new and unexpected links are created in their place. At the heart of The Gray Wolf Throne are some fundamental ideas: strength, courage, love and standing on your own feet. Whether YA or otherwise, anyone who has ever wanted to know who they are—or who they are meant to be—or decided to follow their gut in the face of adversity, will identify with the whole cast.
The Exiled Queen came to very sudden halt with most of the cast displaced on their own, but all headed back to where everything began—the Fells. Raisa is intent on returning in time to stop her mother passing her over in favour of Mellony—her little sister, already under the poisonous influence of the High Wizard, and fast following in her mother’s footsteps. She has a long way to go and little trust to give along the way. Everyone wants Raisa, but only some want her alive. Then there’s Han, keen to find Rebecca Morley and keener still to take his revenge on the Bayars for the wrongs the family have inflicted on him and his family—perceived or otherwise.
Some of the supporting cast are invited to shine: Dancer and Cat involve themselves, and Reid Nightwalker and Bird—now, Night Bird—represent the new generation of clansfolk, padding the existing cast to full capacity, and deepening existing bonds, friendships, chemistries, and plotlines. There is a lot going on, that’s for sure—but never too much that it overwhelms, only that it excites. The Crimson Crown will be a veritable powder keg that’s only just started to ignite.
The story wraps up with a new plotline promised, one likely to spawn distrust and danger for everyone involved. Han will fall under suspicion, trust will falter, and there will be more blood spilled in Fellsmarch, as the new queen desperately tries to ensure that tension does not erupt into conflict, and that in turn does not turn into bloodshed. Because if it does, the crown will be spattered crimson.
The final episode in the series, The Crimson Crown definitely has a lot to live up to, and I have faith that Chima can pull off a massive finale that will join all the dots together, creating a perfectly balanced, completed series that will have an effect on the way YA fantasy is written and presented in the future.