Review on “The Seven Realms” quadrilogy


Kate Lychik, Staff

Magic and wizards and queens. Romance, betrayal and political intrigue. Everything I have ever wanted in a story is spread out through “The Seven Realms” by Cinda Williams Chima.  I have never been glued to a book series so fast. The four-book series is brilliantly written with likeable characters and an intriguing plot. It is safe to say I adore these books.

The books have two main characters. The first is Hanson Alister, a reformed “gang” leader that is trying to get his life back together for his mother and sister’s sake. The other is Raisa ‘ana Marianna, the princess heir getting ready to take her throne. The story follows both of these young people as they go about their lives and overcome challenges. And then their paths converge.

I must mention that even though I knew that they would eventually meet, I was still so excited for that moment. They are such different characters and they come from entirely different lifestyles; I was curious as to how the author would handle such a meeting. She handled it perfectly. I will admit I cackled aloud a little bit when they meet.

There are some books that you pick up and can immediately recognize the inexperience of the writer. “The Seven Realms” do not fit into that category. There was nothing that made me cringe from sheer cheesiness (it has happened before). If I did cringe, it was because my favorite character was getting tormented and I felt his pain. Really though, the book was well-written and despite being a “young adult” book, it felt deeper, more… serious to me than most YA books.

The characters. Ah, how much I loved the characters. The male protagonist, Hanson, is definitely one of my all-time favorite characters. He is sarcastic, clever and ambitious among a number of other qualities.  I also liked Raisa, the other lead. She was naive at first but really developed throughout the series. I personally enjoyed Han’s storyline a little more but that is only because Raisa’s was more political. Running a kingdom and all that. As interesting as her plotline could be, it was a bit difficult to stay totally attentive when Han was running around and trying to stay alive.

The important part about these characters is that that are believable. With all their great qualities, they still had flaws— were still human. The author created a great balance between typical perfect protagonists and actual people. The romance between Han and Raisa was also pretty believable. They were rather young, so all the normal drama to accompany such an affair was there. It was not the driving force for the books though— both leads had much more to think about than the other.

Surprisingly, there were some more “mature” themes, those that make you think. “History is written by the victors” plays a pretty big role throughout the series. I cannot say much more than that for fear of spoiling something unintentionally. I like seeing characters struggle with morality, as strange as that may sound. Life is not perfectly black and white: it is shades of grey and it is good to see that being represented in novels. Sometimes ‘hero wins and bad guy dies’ just gets boring. Both main characters were willing to do less than heroic things and some villains ended up being a little bit heroic.

I could go on and on. I loved this series and now it is difficult to fill the hole it left behind. I do not think I was ready to leave that world yet. It should not come as a surprise then that I would wholeheartedly tell anyone and everyone to go read it. Not everyone will enjoy the books of course. Lovers of fantasy and adventure will probably like this series. So go on and give it a try.