Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Review: The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

One day Han Alister catches three young wizard setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet away from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to ensure the boy won’t use it against him. The amulet once belonged to the Demon King, who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece so powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna has her own battle to fight. She’s just returned to court after three years of riding and hunting with her father’s family. Raia aspires to be like Hanalea, the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But it seems that her mother has other plans for her—plans that include a suitor who goes against everything the Queendom stands for.

Pages: 506
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Add It: Goodreads
Series: Seven Realms (#1)
Publisher: Hyperion
Rating: 4/5

The Demon King is, admittedly, a book that might lose your attention in the first two hundred pages. No one wants to be bored for that long. Generally, I give a book a hundred pages to catch my attention, and if nothing is striking me then I put it down. Thankfully, The Demon King was one of those books that I thought had enough interesting elements and characters that it might get better, and on the advice of a friend I ended up diving back in to the book a month or so later. I finished the last 3/5 in two days time and didn’t want to put it down. If we hadn’t gotten off to such a slow start, this book might even have made my favorites list, as I suspect that future books in the series will.

One of the strongest parts of the story is its characters. The cast is varied but Chima does not scrimp on the development of her large ensemble. Nearly every character is fleshed out and we see different sides of supporting characters like Amon Byrne and Micah Bayar. We visit the clans and come to love Willo and Mother Elena and Bird and Dancer and Averill Demonai. The only characters I would say were not sufficiently developed were Raisa’s mother and sister, but that made sense given Raisa’s need to hide from them herself, and there’s always room for that in the later books if necessary. With such a wide and involved cast of characters I think Chima did a great job balancing them all. I also love that there are some POC in the story (including Raisa!) because sometimes authors write as though we’re living in a world filled with people of one color, which obviously isn’t the case. I respect any author who includes diversity in their cast, and even more so one who so clearly gives us a main WOC heroine to root for.

Of course, I can’t mention characters without commenting in more detail on our two main heroes, Hunts Alone and Princess Raisa. I grew to love both perspectives equally. Hunts Alone is a former gang leader who still sometimes thinks as if he is the leader of the gang, making decisions others would see as bad, but are decisions that make sense to him and allow him to protect and provide for his family. I loved that we were given such a gray area character in Hunts Alone. It’s not often that authors give us a character to root for who has murdered and thieved for a good portion of his life. I thought Princess Raisa was a little less unique, she is your typical princess trying to break out of the shell of what everyone expects of her, but at the same time she was also deeply flawed and incredibly selfish, which gave her a more interesting personality and lots of room to grow throughout the series. I really liked Raisa’s bold and oftentimes inconsiderate personality and am looking forward to watching her develop as the story takes her further away from where she needs to be.

The plot itself is also wonderful. I can’t say too much without giving things away. It’s very involved and very intense. The plot moves in all different directions which keeps it fresh and exciting. It reminds me of the Song of Ice and Fire series in that way, but obviously for a younger audience. I can actually say that I have no idea what direction the story is going to go in, which is rare these days when so many books seem to follow a certain formula, and I cannot wait to read on to the other chapters in this story.


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