For a book that features not one, not two, but three assassination attempts, this was a very uneventful book--and that's only if you're counting Raisa's entire time running at the beginning as one attempt. Otherwise, that count could get up to five or six assassination attempts. The story picks up shortly after the end of The Exiled Queen, with Raisa fleeing back to the Fells, and carries on all the way through Raisa's coronation and claiming of the Gray Wolf Throne. But other than that, not a heck of a lot happens. In fact, the most interesting happenings seem to have occurred off the page to people other than Raisa, and even Han. But these events are mentioned once or twice and then never again, and seem to have little to no effect on the story at all--which made me wonder why they were included.
There are two main things to which I'm referring. First, while Raisa is on the run, she learns that Amon and the Gray Wolves have ended up in Tamron, where they are being held prisoner inside a besieged city because they've led people to believe that Raisa is with them. When Amon and the Gray Wolves show up later in the book, Amon mentions a few things that happened, but then it's pretty much just...let go. Considering the horros that supposedly occurred in that city, it seems like a weird thing to just drop, especially because we've had chapters that focused on Amon the past. While that side plot, such as it was, didn't contribute directly to Raisa's climb to the throne, I think it could have added a lot of atmosphere to the book if it had been included, especially in the area of "threats Raisa is facing as Queen of the Fells."
Related to that is the plot, or lack thereof, regarding Micah and Fiona Bayar. Though their plans to abscond with Raisa at the end of Exiled Queen didn't work out, one would have expected to hear or see a little bit more of how they got out of being captives of an entire army. But no; again, this is something that just "goes away" in the background while much less interesting things are happening in the foreground.
This book is even woefully lacking in romance. With Raisa's return to the Fells comes the revelation of her true identity; things between herself and Amon seem to have been put to bed, and between the release of her secret and the new seriousness of her situation, things between her and Han are basically at a stand-still, too. There's like one good romantic scene in this entire book despite the fact that people are falling all over themselves to marry Raisa. It was kind of disappointing, honestly. And while the clan camps, Oden's Ford, and even Fellsmarch itself had a lot to offer in the worldbuilding category, the palace itself really doesn't. Even the culture of those other areas isn't explored as fully as it was in the first book. Sure, the funeral and memorial themselves are wonderful, but beyond that, the worldbuilding that so captured me early in this series isn't really apparent.
This book served one purpose, and one purpose only: to get Raisa onto the Gray Wolf Throne. She doesn't really have to fight for it, she doesn't really have to do anything except show up at the right time again, and then she's there and not much else is really going on. I'm already partway through The Crimson Crown (a weird term, because, uhm, it hasn't shown up anywhere else yet?) and am seeing a little more movement, but The Gray Wolf Throne disappointed me overall, not really offering much of the magic, both literal and figurative, of its predecessors.
2 stars out of 5.