The Exiled Queen is the second book in the Seven Realms series, and follows newly-minted wizard Han and runaway Princess Raisa as they separately flee the Fells for two schools at the neutral territory of Oden's Ford. Han is bound for Mystwerk, a school for wizards; Raisa, in disguise, is going to Wein House, which is an academy for warriors. While Han struggles with his newfound wizardy and ongoing problems with the Bayars and their company, Raisa learns to fight and about other views of the world, and how prejudiced some people are against her home and her throne.
Again, Raisa remained the more interesting character to me, though Han grew on me some more. I find Raisa's struggles to figure out how to become a good ruler in spite of not actually being a ruler yet fascinating, and also her romantic feelings for Amon despite the magical bond keeping them apart. Han became much more interesting after arriving at Mystwerk; on the way there, I found him rather bland, but upon arrival he formed several entanglements with various characters, new and old, that have some promise. In this book, Raisa and Han also cross paths to a greater degree than in The Demon King. This held a lot of promise, because it seems like it might be building up to a recurrence of the Hanalea/Demon King incident, or at least a play on it. As I always thought that was a fascinating background story I would like to read more about, I think there's a lot of promise there. I'm really looking forward to seeing how that plays out in future books.
Because this isn't the first book in a series, it's kind of difficult to talk about too much without spoilers, but I will say this: I really liked it. Han grew on me much more than he did in the first book; while I still found Raisa's chapters more interesting, probably because she's exactly the type of character I like, I didn't dread Han's chapters or skim through them as much as I did in the first book. Han's character itself is more interesting now, because I can't quite tell which direction he's going to go; the first book was all about hinting who he was, which was easy to figure out, but it's more difficult to determine who he will be, which is what the focus is now. Seeing him interact with Raisa is fascinating, too, because there's clearly some chemistry there, and Han is trying really hard in regards to it, but there's that whole covenant against wizards and royalty being involved... Will that hold? Will Raisa end up with Amon despite the magical bond currently keeping them apart, because of changing circumstances? Or will she end up with Han, despite his wizard-ness, in some sort of way that subverts the covenant and rectifies the separation of Hanalea and the Demon King a thousand years ago? The possibilities both appeal to me. What doesn't appeal to me so much is the possibility of Raisa just turning entirely to duty. I mean, sure, it would subvert tropes and blah blah blah, but I love me a good romantic HEA, so I would like to see her end up with someone...
The library, for some reason, does not have The Gray Wolf Throne, despite having the other three books in this series, so of course I went out and bought all four of them. These books are worth it; they're a great fantasy for readers of all ages, with young characters who are still facing some very adult situations, and a full-bodied world that serves as a backdrop. I think they're much better than the Heir series, and I can see myself reading them over again in the future.
4 stars out of 5.