Saturday, March 17, 2012

Magical Fantasy Series

A fantasy world is new, interesting, and magical. There are places you can never go to, evils that you never want to encounter, and wonders you can only dream of. A good fantasy can transport us to an entirely new realm. In Cinda Williams Chima's Seven Realms series, she starts the journey for us with The Demon King to a land we can't help but get sucked into.

Raisa is the princess heir of the Queendom, the next in line for the throne. In a land where queens and wizards are bound to one another but forbidden to marry to avoid the power corruption that happened with the Demon King, Raisa knows the seriousness of her post. At the same time, she can't help but feel suffocated by the yoke of her destiny. Han is a reformed thief who gave up easy money and his gang in order to protect and care for his mother and sister. Now he scrounges for work wherever he can, but it is harder to make money the honest way. Both live in the same realm, but they couldn't live more different lives if they tries. 

Raisa is plagued with suitors and princess from other realms vying for her hand in marriage, but she is content flirting and kissing with no thoughts of the future. When she learns of the corruption on the streets at the hands of the queen's guards in the name of the Queendom, she has to see for herself. In disguise, she becomes the brief hostage of Han who is wanted for multiple gang murders he did not commit. Meanwhile, the wizards continue to test their boundaries and the High Wizard has clearly corrupted the Queen, Raisa's mother. While Han doesn't hurt Raisa, he releases her quickly and inspires her to see the true nature of the streets of her queendom. Her discoveries not only lead her to the corruption lying beneath, but also the danger she herself seems to be in. Raisa and Han might live completely different lives, but they are fighting against the same evils in order to protect the one thing that truly matters: the realm and the line of queens that protect its people.

I really love fantasy, but sometimes it takes me a while to get into the new world which is so foreign and unknown. Once I do, though, I can't pry myself from the story. The Seven Realms have an amazing backdrop in a magical but almost medieval land full of wizards, amulets, ancient feuds, and destinies. Not only is the world building by Chima pretty amazing, we finally find ourselves with an awesome, strong, willful princess and, by golly, a matriarchy! I love the Queendom! And Raisa is the strong woman you want her to be. I loved how she dresses in disguise and goes to investigate the rumors that their guards are horrible and corrupt by herself. She doesn't send someone to do it for her, she goes on her own! And when her childhood friend, a new guard, protests, she tells him if he doesn't escort her, then she is going with or without him! When Han lets her go and she learns of his former gang members being held prisoner for crimes they didn't commit, she marches right into the guardhouse as a vagrant child and takes hold of the guardhouse from the inside with the evil guards as her prisoners! Even better is when she takes all the jewelry her suitors lavish on her and donates it to the Speaker (priest) to feed and clothe the starving people of the realm! I loved this princess and can't wait to see her assume more of her role as a queen. At the end of the story, we are left with the Queendom uncertain, but if this book says anything about Raisa, she is going to prevail (and kick some serious butt in the process!). 

I think this is a magnificent series for any person, adult, young adult, or middle reader, who likes fantasy, but it would also appeal to people who don't often read fantasy novels. I think it is similar to the world building in the Graceling series, where it feels like medieval Europe, but has a wonderful fanciful, magical element as well. Enough "normalcy" exists to appeal to both the hard-core fantasy readers and those who like realistic fiction as well. There is no real violence or sexual content to speak of, so this book is great for any kid who can handle the reading level (probably 5-6 grade strong reader and up). The beauty of the story is the strong female role and the matriarch. In world full of patriarchy and a country that has never had a female president, I love the idea of a world for our students to read about that has strong women at the helm! (Too bad it is in the "fantasy" section!). I can't wait to carry on with this story and hope you will check it out too. It is a magnificent start to what looks to be a fantastic series!

No comments:

Post a Comment