Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Review: The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima

The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: Aug 30th, 2011
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5

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. The costs of his efforts are steep, but nothing can prepare him for what he soon discovers: the beautiful, mysterious girl he knew as Rebecca is none other than Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells.
 Han is hurt and betrayed. He knows he has no future with a blueblood. And, as far as he’s concerned, the princess’s family as good as killed his own mother and sister. But if Han is to fulfill his end of an old bargain, he must do everything in his power to see Raisa crowned queen. Meanwhile, some people will stop at nothing to prevent Raisa from ascending. With each attempt on her life, she wonders how long it will be before her enemies succeed. Her heart tells her that the thief-turned-wizard Han Alister can be trusted. She wants to believe it—he’s saved her life more than once. But with danger coming at her from every direction, Raisa can only rely on her wits and her iron-hard will to survive—and even that might not be enough. The Gray Wolf Throne is an epic tale of fierce loyalty, unbearable sacrifice, and the heartless hand of fate.

If you read my review of The Exiled Queen you may recall that though the book remained very feminist friendly, I was quite disappointed. I still enjoyed it, but the magnitude of my disappointment had me fearing reading The Gray Wolf Throne. Everyone kept telling me it was amazing, but the fear was strong.

I needn't have worried. The Gray Wolf Throne not only manages to be even more feminist friendly than its predecessors – it’s also just really darn good!

I struggled to think of how to structure this review, because there isn’t much that is new for me to say. The queendom of the Fells still exists and every time I see QUEENDOM I fling my head back and squeal with joy. The queendom of the Fells continues to treat women as entirely equal to men. The female characters continue to be varied (actually, I’m looking forward to the ladies becoming more involved in general).

So...what to focus on?

I think it has to be Raisa.

A lot happens in this novel and most of it centres around our favourite princess. I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers, but suffice to say that Raisa has been through a lot by the time the final page comes around.

We start off with Raisa fending for herself and surviving. I loved that we see her simultaneously being smart, but also not knowing all the answers. Quite quickly, she is thrown back in with other characters and from there her journey really kicks off. We see her fight physically, we see her be saved, we see her fight with words, we see her stand up for herself, we see her grieve, we see her as a WARRIOR QUEEN, but then we also see her as a girl.

And all of this feels natural. I think that’s really important. Raisa is always tough, but she’s tough in different ways and only when she needs to be. There are a lot of dimensions to her that are hard to find in some heroines.

I also continue to adore how this series treats girls and their sexuality. Cat has ‘walked out’ with Han before, but nobody cares that she’s now with Dancer. Bird also had a thing with Hans, but now clearly has a thing with Nightwalker and nobody cares. Raisa kisses and flirts and loves whoever she wants (BUT OBVIOUSLY HAN THE MOST – FIGHT ME) and even though she’s a princess, it’s all good. And hey, let’s talk about the boys as well. Nightwalker and Han have both got around, but it’s never painted as a bad thing. It’s simply painted as young people getting with other young people because they are single and it’s really not a big deal! I LOVE that message.

One final note, and it ties in loosely with Raisa. While we don’t see Marianna or Mellony too much in this book, they are presented as pretty much the opposite of Raisa. I like it. I like that they aren’t as tough,(not in the typical sense anyway) and that they are more focused on parties and dresses. As I’ve said before, I like the variety – not all girls are tough as nails (I’m certainly not). That said, I have my fingers crossed that Mellony gets a bit more depth in the final book and doesn’t end up being little more than a pawn. But I think that’s the only slightly nitpick I can think of?

Fun Note: I’m really glad I didn’t mention Han much in this one – because everytime I wanted to add SOLO. Star Wars on the brain because OH MY GOD DID YOU SEE THAT TRAILER. BRB. WATCHING IT 5000 TIMES. 

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