Title: The Demon King
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Number of Pages: 506
Plot Overview: Hanson Alister goes by many names. Han. Cuffs, his street name, for the silver bracelets locked around his wrists. Hunts Alone, when he stays in the Spirit Mountains, among the native clans of the Fells. With a mother and sister to support, he makes a living however he can, be it hunting, running errands, or stealing and killing. Raisa ana’Marianna, princess heir to the throne of the Fells (the crown passes through the female side of the family) realizes that she may be a mere pawn in a deadly fight for power between Lord Gavan Bayar, the High Wizard, her clan-born father Averill Lightfoot, and her mother, Queen Marianna ana’Rissa. Raisa battles for her freedom. Han battles for his life. The Kingdom of the Fells teeters on the brink of disaster.
What I liked: This book checks all of the major boxes required for a excellent book.
- Characters: Well-drawn and relatable. Extra props to the smooth, only slightly evil Micah Bayar (son of Gavan) for his suave arrogance – he was a royal pain but so fun to dislike. Amon Byrne, Raisa’s childhood friend, earned points (P.S. The point system is completely arbitrary) for his steadfast loyalty. Han wore so many faces throughout this novel, making it hard to pinpoint exactly what he was like, but his sarcastic, dry wit was a delightful constant. And Raisa! Witty, intelligent, brave Raisa, determined to rule wisely and be an effective queen by herself. She’s one of my favorite female characters in literature.
- Story/Plot: The world felt fully detailed. The story was unique, and the plot unpredictable. Chima was smart to hide her plot twists as secrets: since the focal characters were unaware of what was to come, so was the reader.
- Writing style: Descriptive while not overly flowery. The writing was just icing on the proverbial cake; it added another dimension to an already rich story.
What I disliked: The only thing I found annoying was the sometimes blatant nature of Chima’s exposition. Occasionally, she resorted to unabridged moving along of the plot, even if it meant a character asking an obvious question. Other than that, I really enjoyed it!
Other Notes: Cinda Williams Chima has also written the Heir Chronicles, which I took up briefly, then stopped. The Demon King is the first of four books. The middle two (titled The Exiled Queen and The Gray Wolf Throne) are not terribly exciting, but worthwhile, because the fourth book (The Crimson Crown) is breathtaking. She’s just released another novel, Flamecaster, set in the same world as The Demon King, which I’m so excited to read.
Other Reviews: Thea James, at thebooksmugglers.com, has published a longer review (as well as reviews for the other three books), which can be found here.
Final Verdict: Read it! I loved it.