Format: Hardcover, 506 pages
Release Date: October 6, 2009
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
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.
The Demon King is the first installment in Cinda Williams Chima's Seven Realms series. This series that alternatives narratives between two characters. The first is 16-year old Hanson "Han" Alister aka Hunts Alone. Han is a former street lord who has tried to stay on the straight and narrow for the sake of his mother and little sister. The second is Raisa ana'Marianna, the princess heir of the Fells who has been seeing the Grey Wolves that indicate that trouble is brewing.
These two characters couldn't be more different. Han wears silver cuffs on his wrists, while Raisa has been raised not only in her mother's world, but also her fathers which is much more exciting. Hans best friend is known as Fire Dancer and seems to know a lot about magic. Raisa's is Amon Byrne who comes from a long line of guards who have sworn to protect the monarchy with their lives, if necessary. One could hint that Amon would have been the perfect romantic interest for Raisa had things been different.
After a brief encounter with Micah Bayar and friends who are all magicians, Hans finds an amulet that only he is able to touch. An Amulet that people will kill in order to find. Raisa, in the meantime, finds that her own mother may be under the sway of magic that nearly destroyed the seven realms during the reign of the Demon King and Hanalea who Raisa tries to emulate. Raisa's curiosity and bravery really gives this book the much needed kick it needs to get going.
My reading of this particular novel became necessary after I read Chima's Flamecaster which takes place 20 years after this series. It became necessary because this novel really hits on several characters who will be important cogs in Chima's new series. The Demon King, for all purposes for this review, takes place a thousand years after an agreement between the clans and the Wizard Council ended the calamity that nearly destroyed the world. Yet, as history is often likely to repeat itself, readers will find subtle hints that things aren't exactly all that copacetic when it comes to peace and harmony in the Seven Realms.
The Demon King is slow paced for the first part of this book and that's fine since you need to understand the world and the characters that you are attempting to connect to. Han truly is the most intriguing character because of his silver cuffs and his street creed and the clans who have basically raised him. Whenever I find myself reading an Epic Fantasy novel, I have to suspend disbelief at the situations that these characters find themselves in.
Aye, I dare say that Raisa is a bit pretentious and snotty at times. She spends too much time thinking about who she is supposed to marry, or who she is supposed to kiss, and ignores what is going on right under her eyes. When the grand scheme is finally exposed, it is then that Raisa shows who she is really capable of being. That being said, and this being the first book in the series, reading The Exiled Queen next is almost mandatory to ensure that you remember how this book ended.
In the end, The Demon King is a story that is filled with magic, treachery, heart breaking loss, action, and a whole lot of interesting secondary characters that hopefully will carry over into the next installment.