Skip to main content

The Gray Wolf Throne: A Seven Realms Novel, Book Three

Review

The Gray Wolf Throne: A Seven Realms Novel, Book Three

By this time, I would think the majority of devoted fantasy readers would be familiar with at least one of Cinda Williams Chima’s young adult series. Chima is the creator of The Heir and The Seven Realms, the former an enjoyable and fun trilogy and the latter an impressive work of grander scale that is shaping up to be quite a marvelous read.

Thus far, this series has not been all that heavy in action, but the tale is no less brilliant than others for its imagination and use of every other element in high fantasy. We see medieval characters of different varieties, introspective themes, edgy conflict, prophesies and hidden meanings, romance, politics, grandness of scale, imminent danger, and a central mystery that propels the story forward and makes readers like me anxious for future installments.

The first two volumes (of a planned four) familiarized audiences with the multicolored, energetic, variable landscape of the medieval world called the Seven Realms. Numerous well-designed characters enticed audiences in the first volume, and complex problems were presented. We are introduced to corruption, mixed loyalties, disguised politics, and provincial issues like poverty and crime. We’ve become acquainted with imperfect individuals who are fascinating, particularly an ex-streetlord with a sordid and disreputable past. We have come to care for most players here --- both good and bad --- many in a position to shape the futures of all peoples in the Realms.

Whereas Book I laid out grand schemes and architecture, all the meticulous details making this high fantasy come to life, Book II fleshed out characters and added missing elements such as magic and action. Cryptic prophesies and alternate outcomes were introduced, and now moving in a new direction, this third installment focuses on two main characters: Princess Raisa, the feisty heir on the run, and Han Alister, a thief lord with an unexplained connection to the Demon King.

THE GRAY WOLF THRONE is more quickly paced than the previous two, made of more dialogue and less vivid description. Plots thicken here, and audiences will be thrilled with the many love interests Raisa continues to be plagued by. Romance sizzles, literally, and the outcomes of this are extraordinarily difficult to predict. Hidden motivations abound, revealed only in mystifying and maddening puzzles.

Meanwhile, Raisa has grown up and become quite an impressive and qualified figure. She is learned and wise to the ways of the world, aware of the many hidden motivations of nobles, the Wizard Council, Clan warriors, and even some ordinary individuals who might seek to use her. She’s endured kidnapping, plots to marry her off, and numerous attempts at assassination. So far, she has escaped unscathed, but this third installment will see her running for her life, beaten and bloodied, and within an inch of death before the first half of the book is even reached.

As Raisa’s situation becomes more and more grim, the gray wolves look after her and begin to follow her constantly. They warn of imminent danger and reveal the barest hints of prophesies and turning points in the survival of the gray wolf line. Assassins still follow her and jump out of every shadow and corner. Before she claims her crown, Raisa will be betrayed by someone close to her and indebted to many different friends and to one man in particular.

THE GRAY WOLF THRONE is an impressive addition to the series for many different reasons. It makes a definite break from the style of the first two books, being more personal and revealing. We get to see first-hand all the stuff that heroes and heroines are made of, and there is also a growing sense of urgency and impending disaster with the fallout of wicked politics. The events that unfold will clearly affect not only Raisa but all her friends and the countless strangers and commoners who live in places like Ragmarket and Southbridge, the very place that Han Alister calls home.

The only questions left by the close of this third installment surround the meanings behind the prophesies about the Demon King and the issue of Raisa’s love life. Will she choose love over duty, and how will she stand up to the impending catastrophes that await the ruler of a land faced with worldwide war? THE GRAY WOLF THRONE is a quick and satisfying read that will leave fans of the series eagerly awaiting the close of this worthy epic fantasy.

Reviewed by Melanie Smith on November 4, 2011

The Gray Wolf Throne: A Seven Realms Novel, Book Three
by Cinda Williams Chima

  • Publication Date: August 7, 2012
  • Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult 12+
  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
  • ISBN-10: 1423121384
  • ISBN-13: 9781423121381