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Stacey O'Neale

We review fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction books in both young adult and adult. Our website also features contests, giveaways, author interviews, guest posts, and more! http://www.fantasybookaddict.com
The Exiled Queen - Cinda Williams Chima This review was completed by Michael Cummings, staff reviewer with the YA Fantasy Guide.The second volume of Chima's Seven Realms series begins right on the tail of volume one. Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han heads south to study in Oden's Ford at Mystwerk House. But leaving the Fells doesn't mean leaving the danger behind, as Han quickly discovers when he learns that his fellow students include the Bayar twins, scions of the High Wizard. Meanwhile, Princess Raisa has escaped to Oden's Ford, looking to hide from those that would try and force her on a path that is not in her best interests. In Oden's Ford she lives an assumed identity, hiding from those that would force her into a marriage that would break the thousand year old laws that bind the Fells.The Exiled Queen is a story of false pretenses and politics, framed within the lives of Han (17) and Raisa (16). This second volume of the series starts off much more strongly than the first, and could easily be broached by readers new to the series. Chima does a great job of refreshing our memory of the plot points without too much backtracking, letting the story carry us forward on its own merits. The Exiled Queen is a solid volume in terms of story. The first book of the Seven Realms introduced us to these two characters, making it clear that they were going to be interlinked some day, but focussed largely on world building. This second volume explores their development as individuals, giving us more depth and intertwining their stories as individuals, focussing on character over scenery. Most of the time in Oden's Ford is glossed over with a few brush strokes, focussing instead on the characters thoughts and emotions. In each character we see the shade of the adults they will become developing, at the expense of the story at large moving along.For that, this book earns some criticisms. Where the first volume focussed on the world around the characters more than it did on the individuals within it, this second volume takes the exact opposite approach. As a consequence, the action is fairly predictable to anyone that's ever read a fantasy hero/heroine novel before. The state of affairs in the Seven Realms at the start of the book is the same as it is at the end of the book, with only a few pawns moving around on the outskirts of the story. The real story is about us watching Han and Raisa make the decisions that will affect the rest of their lives.