Review: The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima

The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams ChimaThe Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima (Seven Realms #4)

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Publisher: Disney Hyperion on October 23, 2012

Source: Purchased

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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.

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Cinda Williams Chima’s THE CRIMSON CROWN is the finale to one of my favourite YA fantasy series of all time; to say that my expectations were high is an understatement. I’m very pleased to say that it lived up to my expectations, and I unreservedly recommend the series. Note: this is a spoiler-free review for the series.

The Seven Realms series is a master class in how to balance it all in YA fantasy: from politics and intrigue to epic battles and quiet moments of intense feeling, these books deliver it all. Protagonists Han Alister and Princess Raisa are two of the most likeable and relatable main characters I’ve come across in YA fantasy. I love the fact that they have their own separate lives, families and friends, duties, and motivations, but ultimately they always come back to each other. At this point they’re my number one OTP in all of YA, for many reasons that I can’t go into because spoilers. It’s the slowest of burns, and the feels are powerful.

The world building in this series is so strong, with layer upon layer of culture, history, and ancient magics gradually revealed throughout each book. As much as I enjoyed the world of the Seven Realms in previous books, I think it’s at its peak in THE CRIMSON CROWN. Williams Chima ties together a multitude of different political plot lines, balances a couple slow-burn romances, and finally delivers an answer to the question that has haunted this series and its protagonist: what really happened between the Demon King and Queen Hanalea hundreds of years ago? I had a few theories, and while I got close to sussing it out, I was still shocked by the revelation of the who and the how of it all. There might have been audible gasping involved.

If there’s one aspect of  this book that didn’t work perfectly for me, it’s the pacing. While the majority of the book flew by, there were a few sections that dragged on much longer than I thought they should’ve. Clocking in at a cool 598 pages, I think that THE CRIMSON CROWN could’ve done with a little bit of pruning in the middle. It’s too bad, because other than the draggy part, the plot kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. The book’s plot and overall series arc is still better than the vast majority of YA fantasies out there, so I only knocked off a half star from my rating.

If you haven’t read the Seven Realms series…what are you doing? Go pick it up so we can flail together!

Have you read the Seven Realms series? What’s your favourite YA or adult fantasy series? Let me know in the comments!

  • Woah, one of your favorite YA series? That’s quite a statement! I’ve not read anything by this author but I met her a few years ago at the Baltimore Book Festival. She was so sweet! I am glad to hear that the OTP come back to each other. I love slow-burn romances. 😀 And the world-building sounds excellent. I hope you enjoy more of the author’s books in the future, Danya!

    Have a fantastic weekend. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    • I know, it really is, but this is soooo deserving of it. You met Cinda Williams Chima?! I’m jealous! But also really relieved to hear that she was lovely in person, because you just never know sometimes. This series has everything I want in a YA fantasy, and there’s a spin-off underway right now so I’m sure I’ll be reading more from her soon. 😀

      Thanks Alyssa, enjoy the rest of your week!

  • Oh wow, this is high praise! Am off to Goodreads to check out the rest of the series now. There’s so much goodness to unpack here.

    • Hooray! I really love this series. The first book is by far the weakest one and I still gave it four stars so I think that says a lot!

  • Glad to hear that this series ends with a satisfying final entry! I’ll have to try reading it from the start. 🙂

    • I think you’d really like it, especially the character Han. He has that whole “revenge on my enemies and taking back what’s mine” thing going for him, which I know you love.

  • Arghh, I have meant to read this one for aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaages

  • It’s wonderful when the final book in the series you love really lives up to your expectations! And you do make these characters and their relationship sound fantastic, especially since I love slow burns!

    • It certainly is, especially since I’ve found that a lot of YA series stumble in the final book (which is always such a let down). If you love slow burn romances, you need to keep this series in mind! It’ll make your heart ache in a good way. 🙂

  • Karen

    I have at least 4 of her books on my shelf but I haven’t tried her yet. O_o
    As I catch up with review books I’m going to be able to binge read though so maybe that’s a plus.

    For What It’s Worth

    • HA! Honestly, I do the exact same thing – buying a bunch of books by someone whose work I haven’t read yet. It does work well for binge reading though, as you said…and I think this series would be a great binge read. 😀

  • Greg Hill

    I was looking at this series at Barnes & Noble not too long ago and they looked really readable and fun. High praise- wow! I haven’t really read a good YA fantasy lately, now that I think about it- it’s been all thrillers and now SF lately. I need a good fantasy lol! Maps and sorcery and worldbuilding!

    So glad this was a good conclusion- I will definitely go look at book one. 🙂

    • They are readable and fun, but as the story progresses they get pretty nuanced – exploring things like cultural clashes, sexism, classism, etc. – which is a win in my mind. Honestly, it’s been a while since I read a really great, straight-up YA fantasy too (I read this in December…lol) but I think this would definitely fit the bill for you.

      Hooray! You’ll have to let me know what you think if you end up picking it up, Greg. 🙂

  • Okay, okay! As soon as I’ve finished with Bardugo and a couple of ARCs this series is mine… You always have great recs and hearing that this one is one of your fav YA series ever? Well that’s saying a lot. It’s been on my TBR a while and considering this is the finale I think I need to give it a shot, especially with audible gasps and OTPS!

    Thanks so much for managing a completely spoiler free review and I can’t wait to get to this one.

    • Hooray!!! I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about this series, Di. The first book was awesome (I gave it 4 stars) but each book after it is even stronger than the last. This is a series that gets better with age!

      Happy to be of service, especially if it means more people to flail with over this series. 😉

  • Ummm… this sounds freaking amazeballs! I just added the first book of the Heir Chronicles by this author to my TBR not too long ago. Looks like this series may be the one to start with instead. I’m gonna see if I can get my hands on the first book in this series immediately. If it’s your #1 OTP and a slow burn romance to boot plus great characters and plot I am so in!

    • I don’t understand why this series never really blew up the way a lot of YA fantasies have, because it seriously has everything! I will warn you that Raisa can be a bit reckless and impulsive (your character kryptonite!) but she can also be quite cool-headed and rational. That’s what I like best about these characters: they’re never just one thing or another, they feel like fully-realized people.

      Can’t wait to hear your take on The Demon King!

      • I’ve already digitally checked it out from the library I was so excited about it. Hopefully Raisa doesn’t stress me out:). As long as she’s well rounded, it will hopefully be okay.

  • Lynn Williams

    I haven’t read this but I’m sure I have the first book – of course finding it will require a compass, a hound with a strong sense of smell and an old pirate map but…..
    Lynn 😀

  • I’ve had this series on my wishlist and have heard so many fantastic comments about Chima’s Seven Realms series. I’m thrilled it ended on such a high note even though it’s bittersweet to see it end. Thanks for the lovely and spoiler free review! (: