Sunday, April 1, 2012

Who's Your Queen?

Exiled Queen, The (A Seven Realms Novel)
Raisa is the princess everyone wishes could be queen, but not only is her mother still queen, but her line is being threatened by the wizards who are controlling her mother. In order to preserve the sanctity of the throne, Raisa does what she must do... she flees her own queendom and escapes into a world of anonymity where no one knows she is royalty and life isn't easy. The Seven Realms saga continues in Cinda Williams Chima's The Exiled Queen

Amon and his soldiers accompany Raisa, now going by the name Rebecca Morley to protect her identity, to Oden's Ford, the home of the schools for soldiers, the clergy, and wizards. While each have their own separate schools and tend to stick to themselves, they do come across one another occasionally. Raisa is concerned she will cross paths with Micah Bayer, the wizard she was almost forced to illegally marry (queens aren't allowed to marry wizards for fear of consolidating too much power). Despite her concerns, she immerses herself in her studies and sets her mind to what she came here for- to be the first queen who actually understands the people she leads. 

Han, after discovering his magic which was once controlled and is now set free, has headed down to Oden's Ford as well with his childhood friend. Both are newfound wizards still struggling with the idea that they are the very magical folks they grew up despising. But, they know it is more dangerous to let their magic run rampant, so their education must be a priority. When Han arrives, he finds himself plagued with an arrogant young wizard named Micah Bayer who is intent upon making his life miserable. Then he is approached by a mysterious stranger who wants to use Han as a weapon against the Bayers and their threat to the throne. Han is confused by who to believe, but when he comes across Rebecca Morley, he is drawn to the woman he once kidnapped. Together, they realize they can help one another, but neither truly knows the identity or intentions of the other. They have a common enemy, but neither is aware of the true extent of what they face.

This was an amazing follow up to the first book. First, I have to say Chima is a magnificent world-builder. She has created a fictional land we can imagine perfectly. The characters are strong but flawed, the perfect mixture of people you can cheer for but can relate to as real people. I particularly love the strong female characters in this series. In addition to a queendom, you also have female soldiers and warriors who live and fight alongside men. It is explained so naturally that you find yourself wishing this situation wasn't fiction. but Raisa still remains my favorite character. She is strong, she is a leader, and she has a conscience. In a world where we can barely stomach most of the politicians we have to choose from, and we settle for "the lesser of the evils", I wish people would take a look at the type of leader Raisa hopes to be- one who has lived, learned, and fought alongside the very people she plans to rule, because how could someone be a ruler if they don't understand the true nature of the lives of the people in their realms. 

I love this series for any middle reader through adult who likes fantasy or even one who likes realistic fiction, because even though it is fantasy, the world and characters are relatable enough to appeal to a wide variety of readers. I also encourage anyone to contact Ms. Chima if you are interested in talking about the books. I connected with her and she is the nicest woman! This book also gives a lot more explanation and background information than the first book did, which was well appreciated. I am very happy to have found this brilliant fantasy and can't wait to see where the story takes us. 

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