Monday, May 12, 2014

Book Review: The Gray Wolf Throne

The Gray Wolf Throne
(Seven Realms #3)
Published By:  Hyperion Books
Publication Date:  August 30th, 2011
Page Count:  517 pages
Source: Book Purchased by Reviewer
Audience:  Young Adult Fantasy

My Reviews for The Demon King #1 (here) and The Exiled Queen #2 (here).

The plot thickens even more in The Gray Wolf Throne as Raisa makes her way back to the Fells after escaping a kidnapping and attempt on her life.  In the previous book, Raisa had fled a forced marriage to Micah and hid herself in Oden’s Ford under an assumed identity, Rebecca Morley.  But she couldn’t hide out forever and was eventually discovered and kidnapped.  In this third instalment of the Seven Realms Saga, Raisa’s journey back to court is frought with danger and a substantial detour.  Many are searching for her…but it is Han who finds her…close to death.  (FYI…that isn’t a spoiler as it is written in the book’s synopsis.)

Raisa grows up substantially in this book.  She has always dreamed of being like Hanalea, the Warrior Queen, and now, whether she’s ready or not, she has to prove to everyone that she has what it takes to rule a kingdom that is on the verge of being irrevocably compromised…and not for the better.

I was so impressed by Raisa’s abilities, instincts and diplomacy, I had to keep reminding myself that she is 16 going on 17.  True, she has been groomed for this position all her life, and had the benefit of embracing her warrior ways by spending time at both Demonai Camp and most recently at Oden’s Ford.   I was mentally cheering for her and she did not disappoint me.  She wasn’t afraid or too proud to rely on those she trusts to help her.  Raisa, still resigned to putting duty before her own needs, was stubborn when she needed to be, and completely unselfish, but privately she was so completely overwhelmed, I felt all of that right along with her.  She has the makings of being an incredible Queen…one who will earn the trust of her people even though she knows it won’t be happening overnight.

One person in particular that she is trying to win back his trust would be Han.  Upon learning of Rebecca’s true identity, it was not surprising that Han felt hurt and betrayed.  Even though I expected him to hold that grudge for a while for dramatic reasons (not his but the author’s), I couldn’t help but wish he have cut her some slack.  But if I put myself in Hans’s shoes, I guess I could see why it wasn’t so easy to forgive.  Having said that, Han felt it hard to resist Raisa despite his resolve to not let go of his betrayed feelings so quickly.  Regardless, I’ve have lots of hope where these two are concerned.

Han, also staying true to his core, and has become more of a ‘Gentleman’ and less of a gang-lord.  However, his street smarts still continue to serve him very well.  He is definitely bridging the gap between the ‘bluebloods’ and the common people.  Han is the consummate chess player…I always get a strong indication that, in this portion of the story, he is several steps ahead of everyone else.  Even though Raisa doesn’t fully realize it yet, Han is her best ally.

Micah is a bit of a wild card.  I can’t quite decipher his true loyalties, and that is why he is considered untrustworthy and unpredictable.  I think, deep down, he is nothing like his father, yet he still has some of his traits.  I can’t wait to see which path Micah follows…for I do really believe that he is in love with Raisa despite the political and strategic alliance they could forge, that would, of course, make his father very happy should they come together.

Many players have stakes in this political tug-of-war that is becoming more prominent as the story unfolds.  The debauchery of Gerard Montaigne, and alternate agendas owned by other key players like Fiona, and members of the Queen’s Council, have us not really sure where everyone’s loyalties lie.

The Gray Wolves’ mystical identities were established in this book as well…and I loved it when they appeared even though they always seem to be a harbinger of something to come…

Secrets were revealed, new political alliances were forged and shattered, and assassination attempts were a plenty.  What more could anyone want?  Romance?  Oh…there was plenty of THAT too!

I will say, however, that the ending felt a bit anticlimactic as I was waiting for something that didn’t happen, but it did leave us with a bit of a mystery.  I do have an idea now where this story is going and I can’t wait to get started on the next instalment.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Han Alister thought he had already lost everyone he loved. But when he finds his friend Rebecca Morley near death in the Spirit Mountains, Han knows that nothing matters more than saving her. The costs of his efforts are steep, but nothing can prepare him for what he soon discovers: the beautiful, mysterious girl he knew as Rebecca is none other than Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells. Han is hurt and betrayed. He knows he has no future with a blueblood. And, as far as he’s concerned, the princess’s family as good as killed his own mother and sister. But if Han is to fulfill his end of an old bargain, he must do everything in his power to see Raisa crowned queen.

Meanwhile, some people will stop at nothing to prevent Raisa from ascending. With each attempt on her life, she wonders how long it will be before her enemies succeed. Her heart tells her that the thief-turned-wizard Han Alister can be trusted. She wants to believe it—he’s saved her life more than once. But with danger coming at her from every direction, Raisa can only rely on her wits and her iron-hard will to survive—and even that might not be enough.

The Gray Wolf Throne is an epic tale of fierce loyalty, unbearable sacrifice, and the heartless hand of fate.

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