THE DEMON KING
BY CINDA WILLIAMS CHIMA
[✓] A thief lord and a princess in one book?! Game on.
[✓] Magic. Need I say more?
[✓] A queendom in trouble? Bring it on.
THE (STORY)LINE - from Goodreads
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 returning 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 - including marriage to a suitor who goes against everything the queendom stands for.SINK OR SWIM?
The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Han and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.
Sometimes, you just can't say no to your cravings. Like me, for example. I've been waiting for a chance to get a dose of good, old-fashioned high fantasy. I was fortunate enough that The Demon King delivered. Grandly, at that.
I'd throw words like "awesomesauce"and "amazeballs" but I suppose "magical" will suffice for the first installment of the Seven Realms series.
Like other books from its genre, The Demon King takes its time to create its backdrop that's both dreamily fantastical and hauntingly familiar. With the help of the alternating POV between ex-street lord Han "Cuffs" Alister and princess heir Raisa ana' Marianna, we are shown two sides of the coin- what lies within and beyond the castle walls.
Though that may sound not particularly new, the way by which Chima executes this in Han brings justice to the plight of the poor- one that I am no stranger to as I live in a developing country. In the same way, Chima paints the picture of extravagance through Raisa and other nobles with great precision. Chima further masterfully injects the rich culture of the clans that parallel to that of ethnic tribes. Certainly, a luscious and vivid scenery to the roller coaster ride that followed.
Our hero, Han Alister, has pledged to change his ways in hopes to keep his family safe. But with Han's luck, well, trouble is as far away as his own shadow. Life's a struggle when you have to escape from lethal wizards, blood-thirsty soldiers and the fate he's been dealt with. Luckily, Han is gifted with the sexy and exciting mix of good looks, charm and wit that just might save him.
Then there's Raisa ana'Marianna, the queen in the making. Raisa is one of those characters who you'll either love or hate. As for me, I absolutely adored her: her pride, stubbornness, practical-mindedness, ferocity and even her boy-mindedness. Though Raisa wants what she wants, it isn't at all close to being superficial of her. She is simply being true to herself. Likewise, she is sincere towards her people, for at her core lies the genuine desire for equality and equity through just governance.
It goes without saying that the lives of Han and Raisa are worlds apart and yet equally intriguing. Just when you think you're close to a breakthrough, Chima hands you a different set of eyes and drops you into the "other world". At first, you'd cry out in frustration; grit your teeth because you have no choice but to go on. But sooner rather than later, after a few pages in, you'll find yourself giving into the distraction which of course must become a full-blown situation. All the while having the "other story" knocking at the back of your mind, creating the perfect hair-pulling, page-turning suspense!
There is definitely no going back once you dive into its pages. For one thing, you'll be hard-pressed to know when and if our lovely hero and heroine will ever meet. And as you near the climax, you'll notice your fingers gripping the pages and your mind going on overdrive. You'll feel everything collapse against itself, fall into its place and build back up again. You might even find yourself almost wishing for the slow, smooth swagger at the start of the journey back! Almost!
Other things I liked about the book are the supporting characters: Fire Dancer, Han's brave and hot-blooded best friend; Magret, Raisa's not-so-frail, fussy nanny; and Willo, the gentle matriarch. I've grown fond of them, together with Han *cue swooning* and Raisa. Plus, their names are just so adorable. I mean, come on, I'd want to be called Fire Dancer too! In addition, maybe because I'm a geek, I especially enjoyed the intricate "historic" accounts, not only did it mold the plot together but also added a degree of realism to the book.
The Demon King is certainly a great way to kick off such a promising fantasy series. With its well-founded setting, lovable characters and a tightly woven plot, this book is sure to keep you clamoring for the next installment, The Exiled Queen.
THE VERDICT: Four out of five stars! Ah, swimmy, swimmy, swimmy, swimmy, lalalala~