The Demon King (Seven Realms #1) by Cinda Williams Chima
Published: 2010 by Harper Voyager (first published: 06.10.2009)
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Source: TBR (Physical Copy)
Rating: 4/5 stars – ★★★★
Synopsis: Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch, and reformed thief Han Alister must rely on all his skills to provide for his mother and his sister. While out hunting one day, Han and his Clan friend, Dancer, discover three young wizards using a magical amulet to set fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han wrestles it from them, but without realising that his heroism has put him and his family in great danger. For the young arsonist is Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, and the amulet a treasure with immense power; it once belonged to the Demon King, the legendary wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. The Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back. Meanwhile, Raisa ana’Marianna, Princess Heir of the Fells, has just returned to the city after spending three years with her father’s Clan in the mountains. She aspires to be like Hanalea, the legendary warrior-queen who vanquished the Demon King and saved the world, but her mother has other plans for her – plans that will put both the queendom and Raisa’s future in great danger.
I can’t tell you how long I’d been putting off this book. I think it was on my shelf for 3 years before I picked it up? I know, such a shame. Here’s my reason for it though: I was scared. This book has been getting some hype for YEARS. I can remember people talking about it years ago, telling me I’d love it. That’s a lot of pressure, okay? Hype can be a scary thing. But I’m glad I finally picked it up, because I did quite enjoy it.
I’ll start with a complaint. With this entire book, I have 2 little complaints. One of them is related to the world. My book doesn’t have a map. That made it less visual, and sometimes more confusing, to read while people are talking about different kingdoms, travel and regions. why don’t I have a map?
Okay. Complaint aside, I actually genuinely loved this world. There are basically three prominent regions in THIS book. There’ll be more in the next. However, in The Demon King we have the mountains where the Clans live, the Vale which is where the “normal” people live and then there is Fellsmarch where the royals live.
There are two clans prominent in this book: the Marisa Pines Clan who live on the mountain Hanalea and the Demonai Clan. Marisa Pines is a clan of healers and such, while the Demonai are warriors and therefore travel most of the time. The Clans have many rituals of story telling to keep history alive, naming day rituals to choose a vocation and a Clan to live with from the moment you come of age. I actually thought the Clans were the most interesting of all the people in this book.
Then there is the royal family, who live in Fellsmarch, and the wizards -who live nearby. Since the Breaking and the Naéming (did I write that correctly??) wizards are forbidden to enter and walk on the mountains. The mountains are Clan territory, and their people get their magic from their connection with nature and everything organic. The Wizards however, have a different magical source.
I absolutely loved this world. You get some court life at Fellsmarch, some regular citizen life in the city Han navigates, and the Clan life in the mountains. It’s all so interesting!
I really enjoyed this world and its people. I’m hoping the next book I buy has a map, so it’ll be even easier for me to navigate the story.
P.S. I also love the fact that this is a queendom, and not a kingdom. And the fact that spellcheck says queendom doesn’t exist but kingdom does makes me question the spellcheck-people.
This is my only other complaint for this review: the synopsis of this book is misleading, in my opinion. It’s not the story of Han being hunted by the Bayar, and Raisa who tries to be the legendary Hanalea. So if you go into this book expecting that, you’ll be sitting there like: when is this thing going to happen?
I think the synopsis of this story should mention Han taking the amulet, and trying to survive his complicated life. And Raisa is trying to be the queen she always wanted to be, and is starting to wonder who she can trust. That’s a better synopsis of this story.
I loved the story line of this book though, aside from my expectations. I really liked the characters, and thus is was a pleasure to follow their journeys. I wasn’t bored, nor did I prefer one perspective over the other. I think I do love Han just that tad bit more though…
I don’t really want to say anything about the plot because I don’t want to spoil you. Let’s just say that some of it was quite predictable, but I never minded, nor did it bore me. I was just as happy reading until the revelation took place. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so predictable to me if I’d read it 6-7 years ago?
My point being: this was a fun story. I was never bored, and just wanted to keep reading. In fact, I read this on the train and tram to work and back, and finished it in 2 days.
Okay, let’s talk about Han. I have a soft spot for characters like him. The ones with good intentions, who resort to thieving out of necessity. The ones who take care of their friends and family. The lost boys. Just let me hug you. But he also made me laugh and cheer for him. It wasn’t just a wounded puppy act. He’s a smart and kind person, and I hope he crushes all his enemies. I also really enjoyed how adorable he was with Bird.
Raisa is a fun character too. She’s a smart woman, who knows she wants to be a better queen than her mother is. She just doesn’t quite know how to do that. So she asks those she trusts for advice. I like that she didn’t just try to figure out everything on her own, but instead also relied on her father, her best friend and her grandmother.
At one point, I was like: don’t let this be a love square, please. But this isn’t really even a love triangle? Raisa kisses 2 guys in this story, yes. But she doesn’t see herself as in love with them. She just likes them, and wants to kiss them. And you know what: you do whatever you want, girl. And Han has a quite fling/romance too. I love how it wasn’t all serious like: how can I possibly choose between these two people when I would die without either of them? No. It was just like they were dating. Or just making out, really.
I also loved Dancer, Han’s best friend. Here’s a quote to illustrate my love:
“Relax, copperhead.” Bayar licked his lips, his eyes fixed on Dancer’s knife. “Here’s the thing. My father says that girls who go to the camps come back proud and opinionated and difficult to manage. That’s all.” He smirked as if it were a joke they could all share. Dancer did not smile. “Are you saying that the blooded heir to the throne of the Fells needs to be…managed?”
YES DANCER. YOU TELL THAT IDIOT.
All in all, I’m both happy and sad. I’m happy that I enjoyed it so much. I’m sad because I didn’t pick it up sooner, and because I don’t own the sequels. And it’s one of my goals to buy less. BUT I SHOULD MAKE AN EXCEPTION, NO?