“The Demon King (Seven Realms #1)” by Cinda Williams Chima
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Summary from Goodreads:
One day Han Alister catches three young wizard setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet away from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to ensure the boy won’t use it against him. The amulet once belonged to the Demon King, who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece so powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.
Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna has her own battle to fight. She’s just returned to court after three years of riding and hunting with her father’s family. 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.
The beginning is VERY slow moving. Seriously the first 150 pages or so were almost painfully slow. Thankfully things got better once Han and Raisa finally met up.
There was some real depth to the characters which was nice. Raisa doesn’t want to get married anytime soon. She just wants to be a good royal. She hears how the people are being treated by her guard and goes out to see the situation herself. Raisa’s marriage prospects are obviously very important because she will be queen but I appreciated that romance wasn’t the main focus of the story.
Han turned out to be an interesting character as well. He is a former criminal trying to reform. You see how badly he wants out of the criminal life but you also see how difficult it is to escape from it. He makes mistakes but in the end his heart is in the right place.
Even side characters like Micah and Amon were interesting. I don’t think Micah is completely evil. I think he’s being drug along with a plan he doesn’t agree with and doesn’t know how to get out of the situation. Amon isn’t simply the childhood friend turned love interest. He’s a good friend with no magic powers that is bound magically to protect the royal blood line. All of that has the potential to be very engaging as the series continues.
One of the things I love about huge fantasy stories like this is how the story is so detailed and everything goes together perfectly. The Demon King did not disappoint in that respect. There were little hints about things from the beginning of the book foreshadowing what was to come. The politics were very interesting. The royals, the wizards, and the clans were all competing for attention in the book so sometimes it was difficult to keep up with all the political drama and who wanted what. It made for a fascinating story though. The last 50 pages everything came together beautifully.
The bottom line? Quite enjoyable. I think the length and denseness of the book held me back from completely loving it.