Review: The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima

The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams ChimaThe Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima (Seven Realms #3)

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Publisher: Disney Hyperion on August 30, 2011

Source: Purchased

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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.

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So for those of you who aren’t already in the know, the Seven Realms series takes place largely in the Queendom of the Fells, a matriarchal nation ruled by the queens of the Gray Wolf line. Following two teens, the princess heir Raisa and Han, a former street lord with mysterious heritage, this character-driven series will blow the mind of all YA fantasy fans. I especially urge fans of Kristin Cashore to take note: after reading THE GRAY WOLF THRONE, I feel confident that Williams Chima will be a mainstay of complex YA fantasy for quite some time.

THE GRAY WOLF THRONE is by far the most political book in the series to date, and I have zero complaints about that. Raisa is completely in her element managing all the competing interests – and oversized egos – making waves at court. I loved seeing her back in the palace with the home court advantage (pun absolutely intended). But don’t worry: despite a familiar setting and some familiar faces, there’s still plenty of action to be had. Raisa finally gets a chance to use some of the tricks she picked up at the training academy Odin’s Ford, and the results are both impressive and surprising.

Han has also learned a lot since Odin’s Ford and Cinda Williams Chima does an excellent job with his character growth. Even though his character took a backseat to Raisa this time around (rightly so, in my opinion) the Han we see in THE GRAY WOLF THRONE is more grown-up and less impulsive than he has been previously. Characters from his past turn up and their surprise at his new station in life really illustrates how much has changed for Han. Han’s meteoric rise to power hasn’t gone unnoticed by his enemies, either…but that’s all according to plan.

My favourite secondary characters all made appearances too, from the sensitive and wise maternal figure Willo to the cantankerous yet vulnerable former gangster Cat Tyburn. Cat’s relationship with a certain clansman continues to delight and surprise me with its low-key yet adorable vibe.

At the complete opposite of the end of the spectrum we have Raisa and Han, a relationship that no sane person would ever describe as low-key. Enemies or allies, friends or lovers, these two are all fire. And I love it! But my poor heart, y’all. The pain hurts so good! Probably one of my favourite YA romances in recent years, this one delivers on the drama and angst without ever feeling contrived. 

As Han gets ever closer to the revenge he craves and Raisa consolidates her power, they’re forced to ask themselves some tough questions. What will they do if they achieve their respective goals? Who will be left standing in the aftermath, and what is it that they really want?

Raisa for #WarriorQueen2k16

What are some of your favourite relationships in YA fantasy? Have you read any of the Seven Realms books? Let me know in the comments!

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  • Maraia

    I’m just over halfway done with my audiobook reread of this book, and I’m so happy to be back with some of my favorite characters. I love the romance, too. Such a slow, painful burn, haha. Other YA fantasy romances I love are of course Brigan and Fire and the ones in the Lumatere Chronicles, The Archived, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, The Scorpio Races, and The Raven Cycle. I’m trying to be non-spoilery, since I’m not sure which ones you’ve read. XD

    • Oh, nice! How are the audiobooks for this series?

      UGH the slowest of burns! But very satisfying. Haha. I still feel terrible for Amon and by extension Annamays. Hopefully that works out.

      Brian and Fire! *swoon* I liked that they had both had prior partners so it wasn’t all “first love” craziness. I’ve read Scorpio Races which I adored, and I’ve read the first Raven Cycle book. I heard rumblings of a queer ship in that series so I need to get caught up ASAP!

      • Maraia

        It’s…not the best, haha. I’m still enjoying them because I love the books so much, but the narrator isn’t my favorite.

        YES, I agree about Brigan and Fire. Same goes for Raisa and Han. It’s so rare in YA.

        OMG, you haven’t read The Raven Cycle yet? The ship is the BEST. 😀

  • I’m really curious about this author now, after I’ve been seeing some positive things about her newest book Flamecaster, which apparently is the first of a series that takes place in the same world as this one, but seven years later? I’ve not even heard of Cinda Williams Chima before this but now I’m really interested!

    • Yes, Flamecaster is a spin-off book! I believe it’s one or two generations after the protagonists of this series. I’ve heard that you can read Flamecaster without reading the Seven Realms books, but that a few events lose their emotions weight because you’re not familiar with the older characters.

      I quite enjoy Chima’s stuff, especially how unapologetically feminist her YA is!

  • I’m not going to read the review because I haven’t read the second book yet but I’m SO HAPPY you’re still loving this. You just gave me a good push towards buying the sequel, I really need to get on that. I enjoyed The Demon King a lot so I’m looking forward to Han and Raisa’s next adventure!

    • It’s soooo good! The series gets better with each book. If you need more encouragement to buy the second book, here’s two words for you: magic school. BOOM! Not a spoiler, by the way. I know how much you hate those! 😉

      • Nope, not a spoiler, it’s clear where they’re going at the end of book one (and I guess everyone knows I hate spoilers by now, huh?) 🙂
        I’ll get to it soon, promise!

  • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    Glad to see you loved this one!

    • It’s a really great series! Plus, I’m always happy to read the books that have been sitting on my shelves for a while. 🙂

  • Glad you enjoyed this!! Now I have to backpedal! I haven’t been reading this series but this review makes me want to check it out 🙂

    Thanks for sharing Danya! Also, first time on your blog and it looks great! Will be back

    http://www.quiteanovelidea.com

    • It’s a lot of fun, I really hope you get a chance to read the series!

      Thank you so much, Jenn! And welcome to the blog! 🙂

  • Lynn Williams

    I was so happy – 5* review = I want this book – then I realised it’s No.3 and so I’m already behind!! Drat. Never mind. I will have to read quicker – simples 😀

    • Muahaha, it’s all part of my evil plan to make y’all read this series! 😉 Read faster…I need to do that too, haha!

  • I haven’t read this series yet, but I’m all about ‘ships in fantasy — especially when there’s royalty involved. It just makes the stakes so much higher!

    • I know, there’s nothing better than “I’m Royal and you’re not” ship drama. I’m dying to see how this one unfolds in the final book!

  • I kind of can’t believe I still haven’t read the Seven Realms series! You had me at ‘complex YA fantasy’ though. Need! The romance sounds wonderful too..! Great review, Danya!

    • OMG Annika, you would LOVE these books! Admittedly the fantasy elements are pretty light in the first book but by book 2, wow! Very unique. The romance is the slowest of burns and it’s really well done! *swoon*

      Plus it’s about time we got to read about a Queendom rather than Kingdom! 😀