The Demon King, The Seven Realms #1 by Cinda Williams Chima
Release Date: October 6, 2009
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Source: E-book via OverDrive via Library
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.Review:
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 Seven Realms will tremble when the lives of Han and Raisa collide in this stunning page-turner from best-selling author Cinda Williams Chima.
I've heard a lot about this series. From bloggers to my brother, everyone has talked about how much they love this series. But this hype scared me away. What if I didn't like it? So I didn't read it until I decide to pick up this book when I was browsing my library's catalog on OverDrive. Needless to say, I read this entire series (this book is 506 pages; the entire series is 2207 pages long!) in about a week. In my opinion, The Seven Realms Series has everything I'd want in a fantasy novel: a kick ass main character (in this case, TWO!), romance, the world building, politics, danger, adventure, magic, and you know, everything else! To be fair, The Demon King was a slow book but it was wonderful none the less.
In terms of plot, this book is very, very slow with it. Even though it's 500 pages, a lot of it is establishing the two main characters and the world in which they live. There is some action and adventure and the first few pages gets your really excited but the majority of The Demon King kind of felt like a prologue. I would have been bothered by this but for some reason, it just worked with this book. It's probably because the world building takes center stage and it is one heck of a world (AND THERE IS A MAP OF THE WORLD IN THE BOOKS; I LOVE MAPS IN BOOKS!). With clan people and wizards and the people of the Fells, not to mention the others of the Seven Realms and all of the politics, there is a lot going on in this book but it never feels overwhelming. I loved every big of it!
Oh Han and Raisa, how I loved both of you! While they're so different, Han and Raisa have some characteristic in common: they're both stubborn, brave, flawed, occasionally impatient, don't always think before they do or say something, and they're both very passionate about the things they care about. Han is a thief and a street lord but there is something regal about him. He has a tough exterior and does not always seem like a nice guy but he has his moments. Raisa, too, is three dimensional and has her own issues to deal with. In many fantasy novels, the main character is the rich, powerful one with zero power and while Raisa fits into this mold as well, her attempts to go beyond a pretty face and a princess do not seem cliched. Instead, I rooted for her all the way through this series.
And this is going to get it's own paragraph but I love, love, love how Raisa's sexuality is portrayed. Too often in this situation and in YA books especially, girls who kiss multiple boys or have had a few boyfriends in their past are branded as sluts. But Raisa, the future Queen of the Fells has kissed more than one boy. Raisa describes kissing more than one boy on more than one occasion and it doesn't seem ridiculous or slutish. I love that kissing is just that: kissing. Raisa knows her own limits and she refuses to be judged for her actions.
Overall, I loved this book. I won't lie: it is slow. Like S---L---O---W. But it is so worth the read. I know people will give up a little ways but believe me when I say that you'll come to appreciate all of the world building and set up Chima does in The Demon King. It left Chima plenty of room to add as much action in the next three books as she wanted. I honestly hope fans of high fantasy or fantasy in general will give this book a chance!