Seven Realms: The Gray Wolf Throne

 

Raisa has escaped from her captor, Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard of the fells. The person her mother wished to marry her too months prior. But imprisoned with Micah may prove to have been safer than escaping him. Soon after, Raisa finds herself alone, her guards killed, surrounded by assassins. With no hopes of escaping.

Han Alister desperately wishes to find Rebecca Morley, a girl who was kidnapped from Odens Ford by his nemesis, Micah Bayar. But when he finds her, hours from death in the Fells, he learns that she is not who he thinks she is. She is Raisa Ana 'Marianna, princess heir to the Fells. Someone he can never be with it.

But she still needs his help. For when news arrives that Queen Marianna is dead, Raisa must assume the position of Queen or forfeit it to her younger sister Mellony, who will be married off to Micah Bayar. And Han is the only one who can help her do that.

With threats closing in all sides, will Raisa be able to survive long enough to become Queen of the Fells? Or will the Bayar's finally see the line of Gifted Kings restored.

 

 

 

/*** THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPHS MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ***\

**/** SPOILERS ARE PRESENT **\**

 

 

After the first two books, I knew I couldn't just stop reading the series (even though the first books were not that good); and thank god I didn't stop. For this book is considerably better than it predecessors. The plot line is exciting. The stakes are higher than ever. And once Raisa becomes Queen of the Fells, her hundreds of enemies make for very good antagonists.

 

Now for analysis …

 

The book begins with Corporal Byrne (Amon's father), the Captain of the Queen's Guard, locating Raisa in a tavern south of the Fells. Obviously, bound by the oath he made, he is required to protect the line of Gray Wolf Queens (for anyone wondering why he was off finding Raisa while Marianna is busy getting herself assassinated) and he succeeds in that by getting Raisa back into the Fells. Otherwise, Mellony would become queen and all hell would break loose.

I liked Corporal Byrne from a character standpoint. He seemed to know what he was doing and protected Raisa to the best of his abilities as his oath dictates. I was disappointed when he was eventually killed in the attack in the mountains, for I would have liked to see him later in this book as well in the finale, The Crimson Crown.

 

Speaking of the Attack in the Mountains, that was an interesting sequence of chapters. I knew Raisa wasn't crossing the border with no attack, but I didn't expect the massacre that actuall occurred. Her attackers were very well prepared and equipped, fairly easily dispatching of the guards and Corporal Byrne (even though it was in a rather non-glorious way).

I was happy to see that Raisa got to finally end the reign of terror that Mac Gillen had issued over the Fells.

And then the final deadly attack. I knew she would at least survive (or else their would be no book four (plus it kind of said so on the back of the book)), but I was kind of stunned by the amount of men it finally took to put at the brink of death. It sounded like she was being chased by like five people and then ran head on into five more people. And they still didn't kill here. Whoever the assassins are, they need to find a new job. Why would you just assume that the poison would work. Why not go over and actually kill her using a sword. That way you could be sure she was dead and not just assume that some poison would kill her quickly enough.

Because sure enough it didn't. Thanks to Han Alister.

 

It was a good thing Han had taken that healing class at Oden's Ford. The one he said he would never use. That class saved the Fells from falling into chaos. I was surprised that Han was able to actually keep the healing spell working for long enough to get Raisa, or Rebecca as he knew her, to Marissa Pines camp. I figured he would be able to stop the poison from spreading and that would buy Raisa enough time, but he actually had to keep the healing spell working; while riding horse. I doubt there were many wizards who would have been able to perform that feat.

We can also briefly discuss the effects of that healing magic. I thought the premise behind how that all worked was kind of odd; healers taking on the injuries and ailments of their patients, but I wasn't going to object to it. It made for the next important action of the book interesting.

 

While Han is recovering from his healing at Marissa Pines camp, he finally learns of Raisa's true identity as Princess Heir of the Fells. He took the news as I expected. He felt that she was a standard "blueblood" who just took advantage over him for sport. While that's not the true story, that was pretty much the story he maintained for this book. I was personally surprised that Raisa so freely volunteered to tell Han of her identity. Being who he was, there was no telling how he would have used that information. But I guess the events of their relationship in, The Exiled Queen, warranted the truth.

 

I believe that they all remain at Marissa Pines camp for a few days (possible less) before they receive the news of Queen Marianna's death. I expected the Bayar's (until the real culprit was revealed) not knowing who else had a motive. I also wasn't surprised when Raisa was told, should she not reappear soon, Mellony would be crowned Queen of the Fells. That topic had been addressed briefly in the previous book, and the fact that came to light again was not a surprising one. I did not expect how Raisa took it. She did not at all seem happy about the fact that she would become Queen. I know she was expecting her mother to live quite a bit longer and not to take the throne for a while, but I, at least, expected her to be somewhat excited about ruling the Fells.

 

With the news that Mellony would be crowned should Raisa not return, the elaborate plan hatching I enjoy occurred. The plan, honestly, was a good one. It was by far the safest one they could have come up with. Han making the wolf spirits visible was a good idea. And the fact that she timed her return at her mother's funeral was a good one. It was very opportune, though I admit it would seem suspicious that she disappears for a year and then returns at her mother's funeral to claim the throne.

After she does reappear (with no attacks from the Bayars!!!!) I expected things to go down fairly smoothly from their. I was very wrong. She's freaking almost inside the castle walls and an assassin decides to try and shoot her. We never learn the identity of this assassin (it was not the same person who killed Marianna) but I have my suspicions (possibly the Bayar's but not my prime suspect). I was very surprised by this assassination attempt, because it was out in the open for everyone to see. Should Raisa have been killed, the assassin would have bee hunted down by Mellony and half the Fells. There would be no hiding.

 

Now that Raisa is safe inside the castle, we can discuss Han's deals. I liked the ambitious bartering that Han did. What he wanted was reasonable, though out of the ordinary for the Queen of the Fells. And the fact that Raisa agreed to it was not surprising. After the lying she had to do, this was her only shot at getting Han to accept her for who she was and not just completely leave her life for good (because that’s not what she wanted).

The fact that Han wanted to be Wizard council told me a couple of things. One: he was done with being ruled by higher ups. He wanted power. Two: he wanted to be as close to the Bayar's as possible. And Three: he wanted to be High Wizard. That much was obvious.

The wanting a room next door to Raisa did not make as much sense, but I went with it.

 

Some weeks in to her reign as Queen to be, we get some excitement with Raisa. Like when two assassins try to kill her in her own rooms in the castle. It was a cleverly thought out assassination attempt, and, had Raisa not trained with her Waterwalker staff, it probably would have succeeded. Of course, Han being in shouting distance was helpful as well. I was somewhat disappointed when this proved to be the final assassination attempt in this book. The attempts were fun and I was expecting the Bayar's to continue trying until she was officially crowned. I was also sad to see no poison attempts.

 

Now, sometime in this string of events we finally find out who Crow is. And I can't say I wasn't surprised. He is Alger Waterlow, the Demon King. I thought Crow was just some super powerful wizard that was in hiding somewhere and had happened upon Han. Instead, we get this convoluted tale of how Crow trapped himself in his amulet to avoid being killed by the Bayar's a thousand years ago. His identity becomes important in the next and final book, when Han needs some bartering room.

 

Also sometime in this book, Cat returns. As Lady Tyburn. Han posted her to be a first line of defense in case more assassins tried to get Raisa. Personally, it was a good idea on Han's part. He can't be their twenty-four seven. And Cat is as loyal as can be. She makes the perfect first line of defense. Any assassin is going to have a tough time getting through her.

 

Now, with Raisa being Queen, it would be a good time to step back and look at what her love life looks like. Amon is getting married, so we can check him off the list. Han is a wizard and their marriage is forbidden by the Naeming. Same thing with Micah. And no one outside of the realm is looking too good either. So now we can narrow the scope down to being between Han and Micah. Both are forbidden, but they at least give some sense of security to her. She obviously still despises Micah and suspects his family of killing her mother. But Han is still angry with her about lying to him. Got to love love shapes. They don't make any sense to they.

 

Speaking of Raisa's love life, I am glad she finally spouted off at Gerrard Montaigne. I was sick of him. Good job Raisa for formally announcing that he is no longer on you marriage ballot. Woohoo!!

 

The story ends with Raisa being formally crowned Queen of the Fells but we have one running theme to discuss. Wizards are being killed throughout Fellsmarch. Killed and then left with Han's street symbol burned into them. I was pretty sure it was Bayar's killing people to set up Han. I was partially right, but not proved so until the end of the last book.

 

With that, we can advance onward to the final book, The Crimson Crown, where everything that’s wrong with Raisa, Han, and the Fells, is resolved.