Review written by Jennifer Lewis.
The Exiled Queen is the second book in the Seven Realms series. The Demon King (book 1 in the series) ends with Raisa fleeing her home to avoid a forced marriage to Micah Bayar, son of the high wizard Lord Gavan Bayar. The law prohibits a wizard from sitting on the throne, but the wizard council has been steadily manipulating Raisa’s mother to insinuate themselves into positions of power. Raisa escapes to Oden’s Ford to become a cadet in the military academy to hide from the wizard council and to expand her education in order to be a better ruler when she is queen.
Meanwhile, the clans have sent Hans Alister to Oden’s Ford with his friend and fellow charmcaster Dancer to learn more about the magical power they possess. The clans are severely anti-magic due to past wrongs they have suffered at the hands of magic users, but they have recognized that they will need magic to combat the magical force growing in the city capital that has no love for the clans.
The Exiled Queen follows both Han and Raisa through their time at Oden’s Ford as they find each other again after having parted ways in Fellsmarch and confront their own unique challenges both with and without the other’s aid.
SPOILER ALERT: Things you might want to know before suggesting this to your kid
Strong Female Characters
Raisa continues to develop as the strong female character I so enjoyed in The Demon King. The Exiled Queen has Raisa grappling with being in love with either Amon (captain of her guard) or Han more than is sometimes enjoyable to someone my age, but it is likely something a younger audience would enjoy. Raisa’s willingness to separate herself from the comforts of home in order to learn to be a better leader as well as the caring manner with she treats those around her are refreshing traits to see in a teenage heroine. She’s wise enough to know when she needs to accept help and strong enough to survive on her own.
Woven throughout the plot are hints at how complicated the politics of a realm can be. Raisa repeatedly notes how little she knows about what goes on her own queendom let alone the true motivations behind the actions of the other realms. It’s intriguing to see these other kingdoms with their motivations and desires unfold almost as a backdrop to Raisa’s story, motivations that I believe will come into play more in the next two books.
There is no sex in this book. However, there are some scenes between Raisa and Amon (head of Raisa’s guard) and Raisa and Han, as there were in The Demon King. This book finds Han and Raisa beginning to shed clothing, but the action stops there when they are interrupted by Amon.
There is some violence in this book. As Raisa escapes the capital for Oden’s Ford, her traveling party is repeatedly attacked. Han and Dancer are pursued and attacked on their way to Oden’s Ford by Lord Bayar’s daughter since Lord Bayar wishes to assassinate Han for stealing the Demon King amulet from the Bayar family.
There are multiple kidnappings in this book. Han and Dancer get kidnapped on the way to Oden’s Ford by a prince who wants to use their magic to help him fight his war. Members of Raisa and Amon’s troop are kidnapped by Waterwalkers when they travel through the Fens to avoid those who wish to find the princess. Raisa is kidnapped by Micah so she can be brought home and forced (again) to marry him.
Portrayal of Family and Relationships
Amon and Raisa’s relationship as head of the royal guard bound to the queen through magic continues to develop. Amon’s triple, to which Raisa belongs, becomes a family as they travel to Oden’s Ford and live together there. It is interesting how little the main characters rely on their biological family, and how much they must depend on their friends and themselves to get by.
Another type of relationship on Raisa’s mind is one of a marriage without love. While this may be a common occurrence in political arenas, it’s a concept that might be troubling to some readers.
Lastly, one of Raisa’s friends who is always trying to set Raisa up with Han is in a lesbian relationship with another woman at the school. This is not something that is dwelled upon but that just is part of Raisa’s friend’s life.
Most of the students at Oden’s Ford drink alcoholic cider. Alcoholism doesn’t seem to be an issue related to this, but “keeping your wits” does. Han and Dancer are drugged with turtle weed before they are kidnapped on their way to Oden’s ford, as is Raisa when Micah kidnaps her. There are also references to “razor leaf” users, and the effects razor leaf addiction has had on their lives.
There is much tension between the clans (e.g. Dancer’s family, the Demonai where Raisa’s father is from) and the Wizards. This stems from the Breaking when the wizards, led by the Demon King, almost destroyed the world. Now, the clans control the artifacts the wizards need to channel their magic, which has led to a strain in the relationship between the two. Occasionally, this leads to conversations that hint at racism towards either the clans or the wizards.
Amazon recommends ages 10 and up for this book. I was comfortable letting my 12 year old read it, but I would probably want to read it with my 10 year old to talk through the concepts that come up.
The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima
Published in 2010 by Hyperion
Book 2 of the Seven Realms series (follows The Demon King, followed by The Gray Wolf Throne and The Crimson Crown)
Read the paperback