Wednesday, September 4, 2013
The Crimson Crown - Cinda Williams Chima
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.
Through a complicated web of lies and unholy alliances, former streetlord Han Alister has become a member of the Wizard Council of the Fells. Navigating the cut-throat world of blue blood politics has never been more dangerous, and Han 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?
A simple, devastating truth concealed by a thousand-year-old lie at last comes to light in this stunning conclusion to the Seven Realms series.
Opening Line: It was the largest gathering of the Spirit clans Raisa had ever seen.
It is so rare for the last book to be my favourite in a series (I can only think of The Amber Spyglass receiving that honor, although I'm sure there are others). This series so clearly improved as they went on. I wasn't enamored with the first couple books. They were good, but while I enjoyed the books, I really didn't love the series yet. Both Han and Raisa were a bit too Mary/Gary-Sueish. Does EVERY guy who isn't related to Raisa fall in love with her? And the same seemed to be true of Han for a while as well! Except, you know...girls. Apparently due to Hans' heritage he has this charisma that can't be explained. It's sort of a weak excuse, and while Raisa is the crown princess, there's a difference between loving her and wanting her power - and most seemed to want primarily the former. Once the story starts moving along and more action is involved, they both round out quite nicely. What I did love about characters that start out so rough (and honestly, they both annoyed me a little bit) is that through the series they really grow and mature, and you can feel them growing up. Because despite the fact that they are crazy powerful and and main characters - they are also 16. And I think two years pass between the beginning and ending of the series? I might be wrong about that. But imagine the difference between the you at 16, and the you at 18. It's pretty different, no? Now add in all the life changing experiences Raisa and Hans go through, and it really makes their growth as characters very nicely done.
That being said, I wish a little more time had been spent on the secondary characters. Micah is a nice grey character, but it still feels like something is missing somehow. Maybe it's that so much is implied about him, but Chima never really has him move from being grey to black or grey to white, which is less of a problem with her character or writing, and more of a problem with me being unsettled, which in writing is an excellent thing to do to your reader. I still think the secondary characters just didn't feel quite real enough to me, but it wasn't obvious to me right away that I didn't really connect to them. It really was well written and I'm only coming to this conclusion on thinking about it.
But since I'm reviewing the last book, and not the series as a whole, let's move on shall we! The last book was WOW. It was PACKED with action and I literally had to put the book down because my heart started pounding so fast I wasn't sure I could handle it haha. I seriously had like heart palpitations and thought I wasn't going to be able to finish the book that night! In the middle of me reading this series, I had an AWESOME friend who I haven't seen in months come stay with me for a week, and I was really excited to see him! But it was physically painful for me to put this book down and go explore the city with my friend, despite the fact that it was loads of fun. As soon as I got home I just devoured this last book. I mean seriously, if you need action in your books to interest you, you NEED to read this series, because it is nonstop madness, particularly in the last book. And at this point I was really invested in the characters, so while it might take you a while to warm up to them, it is worth giving this series a shot. I think part of the reason this book feels so crazy is that if you look at those graphs of how a story moves (intro, rising action, climax, etc)...practically this ENTIRE book was the climax! I also think I liked it because our main characters finally affirm their love for each other and stupid love triangles are put (mostly) to the side. Whatever qualms I had about the secondary characters and the endless stupid love...shape that has more sides than I have a word to describe...this series is worth it. This last book alone is worth it, let alone all the other great stuff about the previous books.
And on another note about love triangles, despite my complaining about these ones, I did like that none of the main characters' love interests were their first loves (well except Micah because I honestly don't know who else he liked, really). Because if you think about it...what exactly are the statistics for people snagging their first love? I mean I probably won't ever see mine ever again, considering he's on the opposite side of a completely different continent! So I liked that I think Chimas was trying to accomplish a more realistic approach to relationships with her use of love triangles, not just drama to help the story tension. Even if I do still hate stupid love triangles. I at least understand a good purpose to hers.
Overall, I thought the book was a fantastic ending to a great series. I was a little let down by the ending - and it is not for any reason I have mentioned, or even any reason that I feel is a GOOD reason. If you've read the series, you might know what I'm talking about and proceed to the spoilers below. If you've not read the series, trust me when I say that this reasoning is 100% not even #1000 of a list of reasons I could come up with to tell to not to read the series (I couldn't even think up 15 reasons you shouldn't read this series). In fact it is very much a reason you might WANT to read this series. Also if you haven't read the series, I REALLY recommend you don't read said spoilers because they will Ruin. Everything.
This next part has some spoilers, so I REALLY recommend you don't read it unless you're either not going to read the series or you already have.
*SPOILERS* There's something sad but true about character endings. I hate to say this, because I really do get so attached to characters that I mope for days about them, but...books appeal to me more when my heart is ripped out. I guess this shouldn't surprise me since I'm a Joss Whedon and J.K. Rowling fan, but still. It's just not as satisfying in a way if the people you love don't die, or at least get seriously maimed. Which really makes me question my sanity. That being said, I think this ending was as satisfied as I could get without people dying. I would have loved more time spent on Reid Nightwalker and his madness...you know what I really want? I wish the series was a couple books longer so that the other characters got fleshed out a bit more. That would have been fantastic. But all in all the series was a really worthwhile read, and if you read these spoilers and haven't read the books, SHAME ON YOU (but seriously go read this series), and if you have read the series, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! *SPOILERS*
So take my word for it that this series was awesome, and you should go read it RIGHT NOW!