Chasing Pavements

The Exiled Queen  - Cinda Williams Chima
”It seems to rain a lot wherever you are,” he said.
“I was thinking it was you,” she said loftily.

I’m sensing a pattern in this series. Williams Chima likes to start slow doesn’t she?

I can’t find it in me to give this a 4, unfortunately, but it isn't a bad 3 either.

At the end of The Demon King all roads lead to Oden Ford aka Seven Realms University. Raisa flees the Fells with Amon under disguise as Rebecca Morley to escape efforts to marry her to Micah Bayar; Han is sent with Dancer to hone his wizarding skills, sent by the Clansfolk to be their weapon in the anticipated conflict with the Wizard Council; and Micah is about to start school.

Much of the book was spent with these three story lines dancing around each other creating a potent mix of anticipation and frustration. Which was quite distracting to be honest as all these things go on while you learn better about the socio-political landscape beyond the comforts of Fellsian Court. So that was a bit of an issue for me, in terms of focus. This demands that you keep track of each storyline geographically, recall the socio-political issues from the first book that are given better depth here while being invested with each characters’ personal matters. It was quite a challenge.

Especially in the beginning. 
Yes, I do realize I’m echoing sentiments from the first book.

I can’t seem to get fully lost in this instalment’s story. I felt some of the creativity was reined in. Once the story gets to Oden Ford, I realize how JK Rowling pretty much owns a patent on the words: wizarding school. It may or may not be Hogwarts University. It may or may not have a Dumbledore’s Army. There may or may not be a Hogsmeade. There were scenes that called to mind certain details of Half Blood Prince and Chamber of Secrets. 

For me anyway.

The magical aspect felt tempered and watered down, there were some oddities in the world building: it felt odd that the Seven Realms uses a Gregorian calendar… and why do Wizards hold a high position in the Realm by the way? Seeing as they seem to be reviled by most and with very little contribution to the well-being of the realm (the clan has some economic value as they do trade so I get their seat of authority, but is there a giant boulder hovering over the Seven Realms kept afloat by the power of these jinxflingers?)… I don’t get it. Maybe I am getting too nitpicky or just impertinently impatient, but that’s probably because this failed to put me under its spell completely. 

The My Fair Lady bits did help the book’s cause in the charm department better. 

High Fantasy is a tedious genre, world and character building are not accomplished in two or three chapters. It opens itself to a lot of opportunities to lose the reader’s interest or focus as mysteries are built, foundations for conflicts and alliances created. The Exiled Queen triumphed in some but faltered in others for me. But I do feel the characters’ layers and texture is where this series’ strengths lie. So much promise in all that complexity of emotions, motivations and purpose, amping up the anticipation for the next. 

Especially after reading the blurb for The Gray Wolf Throne.