Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: October 23, 2012
Series: Seven Realms #4
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
A thousand years ago, two young lovers were betrayed — Alger Waterlow to his death, and Hanalea, Queen of the Fells, to a life without love.
Now, once again, the queendom of the Fells seems likely to shatter apart. For young queen Raisa ana’Marianna, maintaining peace even within her own castle walls is nearly impossible. Tension between wizards and Clan has reached a fevered pitch. With surrounding kingdoms seeking to prey on the Fells’ inner turmoil, Raisa’s best hope is to unite her people against a common enemy. But that enemy might be the person with whom she’s falling in love.
Navigating the cutthroat world of blueblood politics has never been more dangerous, and former streetlord Han Alister seems to inspire hostility among Clan and wizards alike. His only ally is the queen, and despite the perils involved, Han finds it impossible to ignore his feelings for Raisa. Before long, Han finds himself in possession of a secret believed to be lost to history, a discovery powerful enough to unite the people of the Fells. But will the secret die with him before he can use it?
So, there's that. And, though I'm sure those who are already a fan of this series are totally in accordance with me on that, it's not particularly helpful to those of you who haven't already fallen for Han, Raisa, & Co. So, since you have all by now concluded that I loved this book, I am going to attempt to explain why.
The characters in this series are superb. Han and Raisa continue to be a work in appearance vs. reality. I love the parallels drawn between Raisa and Han, and Hanalea and Alger Waterlow throughout the series, particularly in this book, as the potential for redeeming past wrongs grows in possibility. I love the dynamic between Han and Raisa, and the need for them to trust each other completely if they are to have any chance of seeing their ultimate goals come to fruition. The secondary characters are amazing in The Crimson Crown, as in the previous books. Amon and the guard are dutiful. Cat is protective. Dancer's personal as well as wizardly growth is admirable and at times quite impressive. Mellony emerges a little to claim a piece of the story for herself. Micah's behavior continues to straddle a line, but he does get some chances to choose what sort of a person he wants to be. Bird has become disillusioned, and is the most interesting I've seen her since the beginning half of the first book. Reid is still a douche, and he has his own wackadoo agenda. If he wasn't so predisposed to putting arrows through wizard throats, he should hook up with Fiona because she has a wackadoo agenda of her own. Throw in Crow and his quest for total vengeance, and there's just all sorts of madness going down.
All of the political problems left over from The Gray Wolf Throne are still there, and some of them bring new threats to Raisa's doorstep. These threats push the action forward as our characters continue toward their fates, learning and growing and adapting. Han's desires in particular help to drive the story along as he does everything he can possibly think of to accomplish his goals. Raisa must push her personal wants aside and consider the needs of her kingdom and her people as the threats to her kingdom continue to rise. The plot moves quickly. And, though there is a lot of suspense as well as action, there is also plenty of time for the characters to dig their way into readers' hearts as they worry and act and react. There are a few characters for whom there can be no happy ending if another character is to get what he or she wants - when several of them all want the same thing, something has got to give. And there was a decent amount of time spent stressing out over all of the things that could and did go wrong for them.
This book is amazing. This series is amazing. It's one of my all-time favorite YA high fantasy series. I'm simultaneously thrilled and devastated that it has concluded. If you like high fantasy with political intrigue, magic, roguish characters who will stop at nothing to get what they want, and strong females who will fight even when it appears that hope is lost, then you need to read it.