Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Length: 598 pages
Source: Library Book
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.
Protagonists: Raisa has been named queen of the Fells, something that should give her a modicum of security, however it seems she's in more danger than ever before. With the dangerous kingdom of Arden licking their wounds after Raisa's public refusal of their kings proposal, it won't be long before they set their sights of conquering the Fells. Then there are those in her own court that feel she's too headstrong, that the much more pliable Mellony would be a much more manageable queen, and seek to make that happen. Han has been appointed to the Wizard Council. However he won't stop there. He has a plan, and he's going to do his best to see it through. However, he seems to have a talent for making enemies and for making trouble for himself. This is a queendom divided and on Han and Raisa, with a bit of help, and maybe some strong arming, can unite them to a common purpose. I swear, I don't know how many times I can rave over the characters in these books, specifically the main couple. This author writes some fantastic and multi-layered characters that are the perfect mix of good and bad. There are of course some characters that are worse than others, and though they cannot be easily handled, with these two nothing is impossible. (Have I said that before? I feel like I have. Regardless it's true!)
Romance: This is the ultimate forbidden love. I mean, seriously. Most forbidden love it's hard to see why the two can't be together, I mean usually there's amnesty between the two groups they belong to, but still if feels like there's a way to work it out. Going into this book I was nervous. I mean, there was a large part of me that was all like: It'll have a happy ending I just know it! But that's not always guaranteed, and even if it was it doesn't mean it's the happy ending I want. The impossibility of their ending up together, and not completely shattering the queendom is the trick and one it seemed Han might not be able to pull off. Regardless of if they end up together or not, there are some fantastically romantic chapters and scenes with them, Chapter 29 is my favorite, you'll see. There are of course the two annoying complications, Nightwalker and Micah Bayar, the thing is, something I've always thought is that, while Micah has his faults, at least he's in love with Raisa, Nightwalker on the other hand seems to view it as a purely lustful and political maneuver. He doesn't care about Raisa, not really and so when Micah tries to woo her it's annoying, but when Nightwalker does it just plain old pisses me off.
World Building: So, the biggest revelation of this book is the truth about what happened a thousand years ago when Alger Waterlow and Hanalea were alive and in love. I have to say, in the first book when we get our first version of "the truth" when Han learns he's a wizard descended from Waterlow, and learns what supposedly happened to his ancestor to lead to the Breaking, I thought it was too soon to reveal secrets that appeared to be very important to the overall run of the series. However, when I read the synopsis for this book I was glad to discover that the whole truth hadn't been told, and it's good too! I mean did not see it coming. I had my guesses sure, and on some level I had the correct guess, anyway I was surprised though that while it was a turning point for the story, it doesn't play a huge role in what happens after it's revealed to Han. Honestly, even if that hadn't come out, well I don't see things happening very differently. Still there are some awesome things revealed in this book, things that expand this book in ways I hadn't quite dreamed. It's a fantastic work of fiction and this world is so wonderfully expansive.
Predictability: Looking over the course of this book I don't honestly know how much I truly predicted. I mean sure I picked up on the fact that some things weren't right, that the usual suspect or obvious conclusion might not be the right one. Even then though I wasn't able to perfectly predict what the truth was, in fact there's a point close to the end of this book where I thought we would never get the truth on a couple of mysteries, that we were just supposed to assume it aligned with what everyone thought only to receive the truth through a very interesting and hysterically cliche way. It's a great reveal scene and one things I didn't quite seem coming.
Ending: Cinda Williams Chima seems to have a talent for creating insurmountable odds, and then without relying on Deus Ex Machinas, lead our heroes out into the light in a well written and realistic way. This book has a rather dramatic final climax, and in all honestly I use final rather loosely, there's a finality to the confrontation and set forth a good cooldown period, but the tension doesn't stop there. Going into any final book in a series there's a worry that by the end a series that you love may be tarnished by it's final installment, that the end would seem too easy, or there'd be something that happens which will forever taint your outlook in this series and these characters, but I'm here to reassure you that this book does justice to this series and unless you just sat around hoping for things to go differently than they did, then you'll love this final installment to this groundbreaking series.
Again, not really a surprise. I love this series and while I try not to view the first or last as the best, sometimes it's impossible. This is truly the best of the series, though with a series full of phenomenal books it's really hard to choose.