(Shattered Realms #1)
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Hardcover, 544 pages, HarperCollins
Genres: YA, Fantasy
The first in a thrilling new four-book fantasy series from New York Times bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima, set in the same world as her beloved Seven Realms series, a generation later
Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic—and a thirst for revenge. Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now Ash is closer than he’s ever been to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. As a healer, can Ash use his powers not to save a life but to take it?
Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told that the mysterious magemark on the back of her neck would make her a target. But when the King’s Guard launches a relentless search for a girl with a mark like hers, Jenna assumes that it has more to do with her role as a saboteur than any birth-based curse. Though Jenna doesn’t know why she’s being hunted, she knows that she can’t get caught.
Eventually, Ash’s and Jenna’s paths will collide in Arden. Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the king, they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine.
Set in the world of the acclaimed Seven Realms series a generation later, this is a thrilling story of dark magic, chilling threats, and two unforgettable characters walking a knife-sharp line between life and death.
It’s been over three years since I’ve read a Seven Realms book, and I had no idea I missed this world so much until I started reading the spinoff book. The characters are unbelievably real, the world-building amazingly complex, and the action terrifyingly engrossing.
Within the first fifty pages of this book, I knew Cinda was putting her Seven Realms characters into situations only the most evil and vicious authors (*cough* George R.R. Martin *cough*) would create for these poor, made-up people. Adrian/Ash, my poor little princeling healer and the son of two of the characters from the previous books, went through an event that I didn’t think Cinda was capable of torturing her readers with. (Why, Cinda?! Why?!) But he wasn’t alone in his grief. Jenna, a girl with a mysterious magemark, manages to have a rough go of life as well. However, Cinda does a great job of creating strong characters who rise above their pain and attempt to make a difference in the lives around them. Whether those differences are entirely ethical is up to the reader to decide.
Honestly, the best part of this book was the characters. Each had a unique voice, including Destin, Lila, and even the antagonists of the story. Because they’re so believable, there was only one time that I questioned any of the characters’ actions or feelings, and that particular situation revolves around a relationship that developed a wee bit fast in my opinion.
As for the book’s plot, I have to say that there was really no stop to the action. Practically every chapter featured some attack/death/explosion that had my heart racing a little too hard for comfort. I was concerned at first because the characters started out at 12–13 years old, and I simply thought that was too young to be considered a YA novel, but a four-year time jump nicely fixed all of my worries and aged a certain princeling very well.
I’ve also got to say that, despite a few exceptions, the plot was steadily unpredictable. I typically had no idea what the characters were going to do until they actually did something. Of course, this did not decrease my apprehension in any way whatsoever while I was reading. Ash really needs to stop trying to increase my blood pressure with his risky antics.
All in all, this spinoff series is a win for Chima in my book. She’s spun another glorious tale of revenge, redemption, and self-discovery, all in one epic storyline. If you’re in any way a fan of fantasy, Chima’s Seven Realm books should be at the top of your ever-growing TBR list.
*Note: I received an ARC copy of this book to review via the publisher. This in no way affected my opinion/review.