Monday, October 29, 2012
Amanda Monday: Seven Realms Series
Originally I was going to review the final book of this series, The Crimson Crown, on it's own. However, I found that I really couldn't review that book by itself without talking a great deal about the other three. Like many high fantasy novels, the Seven Realms series is really just one story spread over four different release dates.
Now for a little background. The Seven Realms series takes place in a fantasty world of . . . seven realms (surprised?). However, most of the story is set in the Fells, a Queendom in the north. The queendom is basically divided into three groups of people: wizards, uplander Clans (indigenous mountain folk probably inspired somewhat by Native Americans), and the Valefolk, or those living in the lower lands and the capital. None of these three groups like each other very much, they are filled with ambitious people, they have bad history, and their differences ultimately threaten to destroy the kingdom.
The story revolves around Han Alistair, poor thief and dangerous street lord, and Princess Raisa. Each of them comes into power in their own right and through their own journey, and each will ultimately play a pivotal roll in the saving of the queendom. Along the way, each of them transforms from ordinary to hero/heroine. I love these two characters. Their backgrounds couldn't be more different, but both possess the stubbornness, intelligence, and goodness that all good characters need in order to save the day. Though this story is filled with political intrigue, magic, villains, revenge, and fighting, I would call it first and foremost a love story. Both Raisa and Han have many other motivating factors that propel the plot forward, but it's when they eventually fall in love that their motives shift in such a way that they are able to become the heros that this book needs in order for good to triumph over evil.
However, if you think this series would fall under the category of romance, think again. Han and Raisa barely even meet each other in the first book. Their accomplishments and discoveries of the first book propel them towards the events of the second book, where their individual plots finally start to come together. So if you're looking for straight romance, this book may have too many other things going on in it for you.
I love the world building. The different types of people and culture, the rules of magic, and the history of the realms creates a beautiful and dynamic backdrop for this story. I love the "hero's journey" that Han and Raisa (along with several other key characters) must take. I love that the characters are all so dynamic. Each of them grows up, changes for the better (or worse).
A word of caution to any potential readers: although there is nothing graphic or overly detailed, there are some allusions to sexual relations in the book. So I would not recommend this book to a particularly young reader, but I would not be embarrassed to recommend this book to anyone a bit more mature. The author handles things tastefully and does not take unnecessary liberties.
Overall, I would rate this series with 4.5 stars, both for how much I like the book and how well it's written. It is probably one of the more sophisticated books that I have reviewed so far, and will leave you with many things to think about.