Review: The Crimson Crown

The Crimson CrownThe Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A thousand years ago, two young lovers were betrayed — Alger Waterlow to his death, and Hanalea, Queen of the Fells, to a life without love.

Now, once again, the queendom of the Fells seems likely to shatter apart. For young queen Raisa ana’Marianna, maintaining peace even within her own castle walls is nearly impossible. Tension between wizards and Clan has reached a fevered pitch. With surrounding kingdoms seeking to prey on the Fells’ inner turmoil, Raisa’s best hope is to unite her people against a common enemy. But that enemy might be the person with whom she’s falling in love.

Navigating the cutthroat world of blueblood politics has never been more dangerous, and former streetlord Han Alister seems to inspire hostility among Clan and wizards alike. His only ally is the queen, and despite the perils involved, Han finds it impossible to ignore his feelings for Raisa. Before long, Han finds himself in possession of a secret believed to be lost to history, a discovery powerful enough to unite the people of the Fells. But will the secret die with him before he can use it?

A simple, devastating truth concealed by a thousand-year-old lie at last comes to light in this stunning conclusion to the Seven Realms series.

As a finale, The Crimson Crown raises all the stakes – there is civil unrest, invasion, political deals, a queen trying to bring her broken kingdom together in the midst of it all. This was more of a Han-centric book since he was trying to find a way to be able to marry Raisa, and not cause a civil war. First half is mostly the rising suspicions against him threatening to separate him from her, and when his machinations crumble back on him, he in a world of trouble. Without allies and help, he is trapped and apart from her. Meanwhile, Arden has brought war at Fells’ doorstep and Raisa is stuck defending her city and palace. Ultimately, the warring clans and wizards have to find a way to peace through them both.

This book kept me more on my toes than any of the previous ones – partly because in a finale book there are good chances for secondary (or sometimes even main) characters to die, and also because the stakes were high in this one. Raisa is being plagued by marital choices, and the one she wants, she doesn’t know she can even have. Han’s propensity to keep his cards close to his chest are his downfall in the first half, as his caginess comes out as fishy to most. And with his ambition taking him higher, people are not happy with his meteoric rise. Micah continues to remain a thorn to them both, as well as many other secondary characters. The plotline called out on the starcrossed lovers Alger and Hanalea frequently, equating their story to this one.

Speaking of Alger, who would have known I would come to like this arrogant ancestor of Han’s? He gains more characterization in this one, with his story and past laid out, as well as the continued support and protectiveness he lends to Han once he finds out who he is. It sucks that his name was equated to evil, but he at least got his happy ending, somewhat. Dancer, another secondary character, really shone through in this book – he is a precious cinnamon roll and I was so happy that he got his peace finally.

The book ended very well, but was a bit anti-climactic, with a sudden reveal about a previous plot arc thrown in after what I had assumed was the main ending. It felt very out of place and something that was done to tie up loose threads. But overall, this was one hell of a finale, and a great ending to the series.

Content warning for racial slurs used in the books.

Previous books

The Demon King (Seven Realms, #1) The Exiled Queen (Seven Realms, #2) The Gray Wolf Throne (Seven Realms, #3)

View all my reviews

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