“Han Alister squatted next to the steaming mud spring, praying that the thermal crust would hold his weight.”First line in The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima
Hi, guys and welcome to my post about The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima. I hesitate calling this a review because it’s more or less just going to be a spew of thoughts from me. When I started writing it, I realized that most of what I wanted to talk about was quite spoilery. Therefore this post is going to feature a small non-spoilery section about my overall feelings about the book and then a spoiler section with some random thoughts I had while reading.
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Published: October 6th 2009
Series: Seven Realms, Book 1
My rating: 3 stars
Synopsis: 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 had been on my TBR almost a year and on my mind even longer before I decided to pick it up. I was afraid that it would be too old. YA fantasy is a fast changing genre and tropes are easily overused. However, I kept hearing or reading positive reviews for this series so I decided to read it, keeping in mind that it’s from 2009.
I ended up with some conflicting emotions but my overall feeling was positive. Yes, there are tropes we’ve seen before (a lot) and not everything made perfect sense. Somehow that didn’t affect my reading experience very much. I loved reading it! The world and the political landscape were quite intriguing to me and I got the sense that those will be explored even further in the next books. It was very much a book with a lot of set-up. The plot was barely there and you don’t really see it until the end. I don’t mind books without plot because I love to just learn about the characters and the world. To someone else, this first book might be a tough start to the series.
About the characters… well, there’s potential at least. The only character I really latched on to was Dancer and he’s barely there. He seems to have a very interesting story that we don’t know very much about. The other characters were all right but nothing spectacular. The female MC is very close to slipping into the “not like other girls” trope but I think she just steers clear. The male MC was a little bit all over the place in this first book. Like he was trying to be several characters at once. But as I said, there’s great potential for some character growth in the next books.
Stop reading if you don’t want to read SPOILERS! I’ve made a list of all the random thoughts I had while reading.
- Dancer is so intriguing! He seems to have so many layers that I can’t wait to learn more about in the next books. Also, as far as I understood, his mother was raped and he came from that? I was quite shocked by that because that’s pretty gruesome for YA.
- The parts of the book that takes place in Marisa Pines were definitely my favorites. I found the whole clan thing and that culture very interesting.
- How many love interests does Raisa need? I mean, wouldn’t one be enough? How is three necessary? I liked her relationship with Micah in the beginning. Not because it was perfect, but because there was so much obvious possible growth in both characters through that. I also enjoyed that it was more playful instead of serious which I think is rare for me to find in YA fantasy. However, I guess he’s off the table now that his father tried to force Raisa into a marriage with Micah. That’s got to be a dealbreaker.
- We’re also introduced to Amon, the second love interest. When you compare him to Micah (which you sort of have to), he’s just so… boring. He’s very much the stereotypical “nice guy” who values honor and all that. I’m going to say that there’s room for him to grow too but please don’t let Raisa end up with him.
- Is Han also a love interest? I’m not sure what to make of their interactions. I didn’t like his relationship with Bird. I was so happy when they were prophesized to not work together.
- “*character* seemed to know what *other character* was thinking”. I’ve read this too many times! I need there to be a plot twist in the next books explaining how every character in this series is a mind reader.
- They actually killed Han’s family?!? I mean, I appreciate the whole “actions have consequences” that it represents but damn… that’s dark.
- I’m not sure what I think of Han. I have trouble piecing his character together because he has so many sides and some of them are a bit contradicting. How can someone become a streetlord at 15 and at the same time be so slow to piece stuff together? That guy doesn’t see anything coming! I guess we have another character with room to grow.
That was my post about The Demon King with a little bit of everything. Let me know what you think about this book if you’ve read or plan to read it. I’m going to be reading the second book very soon and plan to do a similar post about that one. Until then, I hope you’re having a great reading life.