Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Series: Seven Realms #1
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Recommendation: Ages 15+
This novel marks the first giant step in a momentous fantasy journey orchestrated by Cinda Williams Chima, the author of the popular Warrior Heir series. Its two chief protagonists are ex-thief Han Alister, an impoverished commoner, and Raisa ana’Marianna, the headstrong Princess Heir of the Fells. The Demon King brings them together, creating part of a volatile mix of action, magic, and danger. Empathetic characters; wizardly attacks.
The Deal: When semi-reformed thief Han has a run-in with three arrogant young wizards, that ends with him stealing a magical artifact from one of them, he unwittingly sets in motion a chain of events that will make him a key player in the tense and multi-layered politics of his once great and now struggling kingdom. Mix in a smart, strong-willed princess who is just beginning to realize that she’s already tangled up in lies and intrigue, warriors, wizards, thieves, and a whole world of players and pawns all with their own agendas and you’ve got The Demon King.
The Very Good:
- The World Building- High fantasy can be off-putting for a lot of people, and often this begins with the world building. It can often be clunky, unrealistic, and so bogged down in the authors invented languages, unnecessarily complicated rules, and not-quite-all-there mythology that it’s such a struggle to understand the world many readers give up on even trying to connect with the characters. This was not a problem with Chima’s world in The Demon King, it was vibrant, interesting and fully realized; with just enough new concepts and terminology to feel like a unique world without being too difficult to become familiar with. I loved the history, mythology and society that Chima created and enjoyed every bit of it.
- The characters- Han and Raisa, the main protagonists, were particularly well done. I absolutely loved following the two of them and learning more about their characters. Seeing them really grow and change through the course of the books, becoming more grown-up and self-assured, opening their eyes to what was going on around them (particularly Raisa) but still struggling with their decisions and flaws was really great to see. These two characters had a depth and realism that is extremely rare. The secondary characters were close to perfect; unique and three dimensional they each had their own hopes, fears, and agendas.
No flat villains! There were bad guys to be sure, but nothing in this story was black and white, even some of the ‘good guys’ had some pretty shady motivations. It was awesome.
The Needs Improvement:
- I don’t really have anything bad to say about this book, I flew through it, loved it, and am 95% through the sequel. The only nit-picky problem I’ve had so far is that despite the fact that Chima seems to have no problem beating up on her characters they tend to be healed by magic very quickly and we don’t get a lot of after effects/physical challenges.
Overall: This book is so very good. Even if you’re afraid of high fantasy I’d say you’ll find a lot to love here. Highly recommended.