Susan's Book Review: The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima
The Crimson Crown is the fourth and final book in the Seven Realms series that stars young Queen Raisa and streetlord turned wizard/bodyguard/hero, Han Alister. Chima does a wonderful job putting her characters in difficult situations and having them rise to the occasion. It’s been fun watching Raisa grow into a just and strong Queen who can make hard choices and stand up for what’s right, no matter the price (which is sometimes very high—like her-sister’s-life high). I love a good underdog story and they don’t get much better than Han’s rags to riches tale. It was gratifying to see all of his hard work and suffering pay off. For probably 75% of the book, their stories happen independently of each other. I enjoy that well enough, but what I really love is the 25% where they get to interact. Finally, a couple in teen literature where I’m shown why they love each other, instead of just being told they do!
CAUTION: SPOILER ALERT!
A lot happens in this last book—Raisa is working hard as Queen, Han is still her bodyguard and sleeping in the next room (much to nearly everyone’s confused chagrin), Han’s not only on the Wizard Council, he’s gotten himself elected High Wizard, the gifted are being killed for their amulets in Ragmarket, Lord Bayer is confronted by his illegitimate half-breed son, and Han trusts Crow enough to let him possess his body to gain access to the Armory of the Gifted Kings. Whew! All of the stories come together at the end as Raisa is betrayed and the Queendom comes under attack. The wizards and clans haven’t coexisted peacefully for ages and now the best chance they have at survival is to work together. Nearly all of the characters we’ve met during the course of the series are involved and there’s something for everyone--politics, strategy, allegiances, love, old laws, magic, lies—there’s even a dog!
Overall, Chima was kind to her characters and I’m surprised so many of them lived. I was waiting for one of my favorites to fall, but I only cried once and it was over a minor character who met a sad end. I was afraid Raisa would have to marry for the good of the kingdom and not for love, but she and Han end up together, so THANK YOU, Ms. Chima. I’m also super pleased that Micah Bayar turned out to be a good guy. I thought he was only playing like he was to get Raisa, but it seems the bigger twist is that he was truly in love with her all along and just a pawn in his father’s sinister plans. I missed the chemistry between Raisa and Amon, but understand that things have changed and enjoy how they’ve transformed their romantic love into a loyal/friendship type of love.
I hope Chima finds a way back to this cast of characters someday. She built a very rich and detailed world and I’m sure there are stories yet to tell. For instance, I would love to read this same story from Micah’s point of view!