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.View Spoiler »

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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!