THE DEMON KING
Cinda Williams Chima
Series: Seven Realms #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Release date: October 6th 2009
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.
“History. Why do we need to know what happened before we were born?”
“So hopefully we get smarter and don’t make the same mistakes again.”
The Demon King is an amazing YA Fantasy novel. The world-building is extensive and rich, the characters are layered and developed, and the pace, despite being quite slow at the beginning, picks up and remains steady throughout the book. This book is a wonderful introduction to what I’m sure will be one of my new favorite Fantasy series.
Cinda Williams Chima does know how to set up the beginning of an adventure. Her writing is solid and engaging, and it is very easy to lose yourself while reading and totally forget about the world. Told mostly in dual-POV, The Demon King takes a little while to get into, but once you do? It delivers an awesome tale of magic, clans, street gangs, court intrigue, and a little bit of romance to boot.
I have to be honest: I went in expecting great things of this book. So I am extremely glad to say The Demon King meets all of my expectations and more!
There are so many good things about this story, starting with the world-building. There is a very handy map at the beginning of the book which, for once, is a great resource when reading. The author doesn’t go light and vague when it comes to describing and establishing the rules of this fantastical universe she created. At the beginning, it does take a little while for the reader to become familiar with the Seven Realms, though, but everything gets cleared up as the story progresses.
All of the characters are great! The story is told mainly in two POVs: Han and Raisa’s. They’re both teenagers, which means they can be impulsive and lack common-sense at times. Their voices are very different, which is a compliment to Chima’s writing, and they also feel very real, teenage bravado and all. The sets of secondary characters also enrich the story, and all of them have their own backgrounds, motivations, and parts to play in the plot. No one is useless and/or a flat character, which, yay!
There are a lot subplots in The Demon King, all of which end up entwined in one way or another. Chima does a great job threading them all together, as well as developing the main arc. There are a lot of twists and turns: some which we get little hints of and others that take you completely by surprise. It makes reading this a delightful experience; like you’re right there with the characters, figuring it out all out.
Honestly, The Demon King is an incredible read. As a huge fan of the Fantasy genre, this has everything I could have asked for. Fantasy fans, especially those who like YA as well, will certainly love this. Now excuse me while I go read the second installment: The Exiled Queen!