Saturday, March 17, 2012

REVIEW: The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima

This ended up arriving at the bookstore on Friday afternoon so I went and picked it and immediately started reading it - sorry Treason Keep! I was a little dismayed to find out after a quick Google that this is in fact the penultimate novel in the series, the final being The Crimson Crown; so more waiting in store! Because these novels are relatively short and I read the previous two some time ago, I found that I had forgotten some crucial twists and details which detracted from my read of The Gray Wolf Throne. Occasionally I can find a detailed synopsis online which helps, but alas, not with this one. I said this of The Exiled Queen and I will say the same with The Gray Wolf Throne, that my biggest criticism is it's length. It's far too short and I am left feeling robbed! This story could be on the same par as The KingKiller Chronicles (in terms of length and depth) and in fact it does share many similarities (I found myself often getting confused between Kvothe and Han and with Imre and Oden's Ford). So far I feel that all of the books could have been combined into one. I'm obviously expecting more than what Chima has to give us.

The Gray Wolf Throne has a great cast of characters who are extremely genuine and likeable. Yes, they can be a little archetypal at times (the headstrong feminine lead, the loyal captain, the urchin-turn-powerful underdog, the evil wizard) but each one has a strong and commanding presence. This is especially true of Han and Raisa who are the two points-of-view through which the story is told.

Not a lot actually happens in this novel and I felt it was lacking the drama and action its predecessors; it was all a bit too safe and killed the momentum of the story a little. The end was a little disappointing with no real climax and little to no foreshadowing for the final book - I found too many things were resolved for this stage in the series; this should be when things are heating up and getting complicated!

Some elements of the story are dragging a little after being spread too thinly across each book. Han's dealings with Crow are obviously important and especially after this book, are easy to see as potential for a major plot turner. However, Crow was only given a couple of short appearances in The Gray Wolf Throne, Chima obviously (hopefully) saving him for later. But I wanted to know more; I wanted to spend more time with these smaller asides.

Overall I really like this series. It's fast-paced, it's unpredictable and I really enjoy the depth of political intrigue and insight into each character's motives. It's thick with history and tradition, which always goes a long way with me too, but without being too cumbersome. In saying all that, it's nothing groundbreaking and I can see why many others wouldn't warm to it - there are many other books on my shelf that I would recommend over it.

Now ... back to Treason Keep!

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