The Crimson Crown
by Cinda Williams Chima
Recommended Ages: 14+
In a final installment that more than fulfills the promise of the first three books, Han works with ruthless determination to help Raisa do just that. But it's a tall order. First he has to gain control of wizard politics, though everyone on the council despises him. Then he has to maneuver the wizards and the clans into working together, though he's the only person they want dead more than each other. To manage this, he must dig up the true story of the Demon King that has been buried for a millennium, along with a lost treasure-trove of magical weapons so powerful that it might be better for them to stay lost. And to make sure all that isn't too easy, he has to deal with a series of murders in which he is everybody's prime suspect, while trying to stay a step ahead of the Bayar family. And the Bayars have over a thousand years' worth of expertise in destroying their rivals, using every means from lies and dirty tricks to kidnapping, torture, and murder. They literally burn a whole quarter of the capital city, just to stick it to Han Aliser. And they're not even the biggest traitors. Long after the Bayar threat is more or less neutralized, Raisa and Han and their sometimes uneasy allies must face an invading army driven by religious fanaticism and the malice of a thwarted king. And there's still a killer on the loose.
When Raisa sees wolves circling, it's always a sign of danger. This is not because the wolves are out to get her, though. They're the spirits of the previous queens in her dynasty, appearing only to her and—for reasons you'd best find out for yourself—to Han. The wolves do a lot of circling in this book. Not only are people trying to kill her, take her prisoner, or force her into marriages of their choosing. They also want to use the power of her throne to divide the people of the Fells against each other, to dominate or destroy each other. Their fierce determination to unite the opposing forces of the Fells is what makes Han and Raisa special. It's why you'll cheer for them, even when they make mistakes, or begin to lose faith, or find themselves in seemingly hopeless situations. As the series-clinching climax approaches, they find themselves in some deep, dark places indeed. Come for the romance. Stay for the suspense, the action, the gosh-wow magic, and the complex interplay of political forces. Stay even longer for a final surprise that may even change the way you remember half of the book.
The Crimson Crown completes the quartet that started with The Demon King and also includes The Exiled Queen and The Gray Wolf Throne. The same Ohio-based author is also behind the ongoing Heir Chronicles, which is currently up to its fourth book: The Enchanter Heir. I'm eager to get hold of it—more than ever after reading this book!