The Demon King is written by Cinda Williams Chima. It was published in 2009 by Hyperion. It is the first book in the Seven Realms series. Chima’s website can be found here.
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
“Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for himself, his mother, and his sister, Mari. Ironically, the only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell. For as long as Han can remember, he’s worn thick silver cuffs engraved with runes. They’re clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off.
Han’s life gets even harder after he takes a powerful amulet from Micah Bayar, the son of the High Wizard. The amulet once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece so powerful at stake, the Bayars will stop at nothing to reclaim it from Han.
Meanwhile, Raisa ana’Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. Although Raisa will become eligible for marriage after her sixteenth name day, she isn’t looking forward to trading in her common sense for a prince with a big castle and a tiny brain. Raisa 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.
Raisa had begged her mother to reopen an apartment at the far end of the hall that had lain barricaded and unused through living memory. There were many closed-off apartments in Fellsmarch Castle, since the court was smaller than it had been, but not many in such a prime location, with easy access to the queen.
Some longtime servants said the apartment had been abandoned because its walls of windows made it cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Others said it was cursed, that it was from this very room a thousand years ago that the Demon King had stolen Hanalea away, the incident that led to the Breaking. In this version, Hanalea herself had ordered the apartment sealed, vowing never to set foot in it again.
Legend had it that the ghost of Hanalea sometimes appeared at the window on stormy nights, hands extended, her loose hair snaking about her head, calling for Alger Waterlow.
That was just silly, Raisa thought. Who would wait at a window for a demon, let alone call his name?
Han finished off the last of the bread and cheese and licked his fingers. “Thanks for dinner,” he said, yawning and lying back on his pillows, hoping she would get the hint and leave.
But instead she came and sat down on the edge of his bed, seized hold of his good hand, and pushed back his sleeve. “You’re wearing the silver,” she said, glaring at him like he’d tried to pick her pocket. “You’re Cuffs Alister, you got to be.”
“What’s it matter?” he said, wishing for the thousandth time he could get the bloody bracelets off.
“They say you got the bluejackets in your pocket,” Dori said. “They say that in your secret hideout you got treasure lying around all over the place—di’monds and rubies and emeralds stole from the nobility, and you dress all in gold and keep beautiful rich women for ransom, and they all fall in love with you and don’t want to be let go.”
“I don’t know how that rumor got started,” Han said, desperately wishing her gone.
Warnings: Kissing/seduction, violence
Recommended Age Range: 16+
What I Liked:
Wow! I’m really impressed with this book. It was much better than I was expecting it to be. At first, when I read the back summary and started the book, I thought it would be one of those dreaded “princess rebels against propriety/standards/etc.” plots, which I cannot stand. But, thankfully, it’s not. I really enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to the next three books.
Micah is an interesting character. At this point, he could go several ways in regards to characterization and development and I’m curious to see which one Chima chooses.
I liked both Raisa and Han; it’s really obvious that they’re going to be love interests in the future, but it will be interesting to see how Chima resolves this in light of certain developments from this book. Also, the name Han just makes me think of Star Wars.
I’m curious to see what Chima will do with the plot over the next three books. I really don’t see how it can go another three books; in fact, it probably could be cut down to three books instead of four, but since I haven’t read the next three, I don’t know about that. I guess I’ll just have to see what develops.
What I Didn’t Like:
It took me a little bit to get into this book because Raisa is one of those annoyingly stubborn, demanding characters that you just want to slap/shake. Also, there are a lot of annoying characters (Micah), and when there are annoying characters, I find it hard to like/get into a book. Luckily, Raisa gets better. Han actually gets annoying towards the end, but that’s more understandable in light of what happens to him.
The Demon King is a promising start to what will hopefully be a great fantasy series. This book alone made me want to read Chima’s other fantasy series. It’s a layered, complex world with lots of intrigue, conflict, and tension. In a book like this, you know that things will only get worse before they get better, and you look forward to seeing how the characters will deal with the worst.
Coming Up Next: The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle