Title: The Demon King
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Series? Book 1 of 4
POV: Third person, past tense, multiple narrators.
My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
About the Book (from Goodreads)
Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for his family. The only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell—the thick silver cuffs he’s worn since birth. They’re clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off.
One day, Han and his clan friend, Dancer, confront three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to keep him from using it against them. Soon Han learns that the amulet has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.
Meanwhile, Raisa ana’Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She’s just returned to court after three years of freedom in the mountains—riding, hunting, and working the famous clan markets. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But her mother has other plans for her…
The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.
I’ve been in the mood for high fantasy, and this book was an enjoyable beginning of a series. I had my reservations about it, especially since it is called “The Demon King.” After reading some trusted friends’ positive reviews, I decided to go for it.
Modern politics annoy me to no end, yet I am intrigued by court life and the political decisions royal families had to make. This book had an excellent balance of fantasy elements, and the royal affairs. First off, it’s a Queendom! I’m pretty sure this is the first book I’ve read set in a Queendom. That alone is pretty cool. But the relationships between the cast members and the royal household really made the book. As is typical with court life, the relationships are complex and sometimes strained. Many of the relationships, including those between wizards, clans, queens, and royal guard are defined by tradition set up by Hanalea a thousand years ago.
The World Building
The world building in this book is just fantastic. We get a clear grasp on how the realm operates, without too much boring information dumping sessions. The history of the queendom is built on legends, which have multiple versions. It was interesting to see how different races and classes interpreted the story to suite their culture. This world is steeped in magic, so a reader needs to be comfortable with that to enjoy it.
The Princess Heir
Raisa is the princess heir and possibly the most infuriating character in the book. I like her, but I don’t. When she is looking out for the Queendom, scheming, or otherwise seeking trouble, she was quite likable. I can definitely root for that aspect of Raisa’s character. But when she was insisting that she is not marrying anytime soon, yet is kissing every young man she meets, I wanted to slap her. It’s not like she was boy crazy, she was just flippant. She acted like it didn’t matter. Raisa was not infuriating because I didn’t like her, but because sometimes I did. I’m really hoping her character grows as the series continues.
Han is definitely my favorite character in the book. He is the man of the house, and is determined to look out for his little sister. He has a history with the gangs, and often ends up at odds with the queen’s guard. At first I found his perspective more interesting than Raisa’s. It was really hard switching back and forth between them, because they were so different. After a while, I didn’t notice this as much because I kept reading to know what happens next.
During the beginning of the book, it was slightly confusing trying to figure out the world I was entering. I thought Han was part of the clan for the first part of the book. Some other confusing aspects are the use of the same word for two distinctly different things. Apparently “girlies” is a type of coin, but is also used when referring to girls. It was VERY confusing at times.
I was really disappointed with the ending of this book. It could have been great, but I didn’t like how it was handled. I can’t really say anything about this without spoilers so….[Highlight to reveal spoiler] I guessed that Han was possibly a wizard. It feels wrong to have hid it from him for so long. I felt just like Han, betrayed by people he trusted. That’s the problem. I feel like we are still suppose to like Willo, and Elena, and the clan. Yet I’m not sure they really did what was wise. It does feel like they are just telling Han because the clan is in need of his skills. And how convenient that Lucius is immortal and can straighten out the legends. Seriously? Plus I hate that his family died. It was the one thing that he really cared about. It kept him from acting entirely for selfish reasons. What does he have now to motivate him to help the clan? [End spoiler] Overall I enjoyed the book enough to continue the series.
d*mn and bl**dy are used couple times. More often “Blood of Hanalea” (a respected queen of old) or “blood and bones” are used like swear words.
There is nothing beyond kissing, but Raisa seems to have kissed every boy she knows and is serious about none of them. It’s not a big part of the story, but annoying all the same.