Sunday, October 26, 2014

Review: The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima


Review: The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima
Goodreads
Release date: October 6th, 2009
Publisher: Hyperion
Series: Yes, #1 in the Seven Realms series
Length: 506 pages
Source: Purchased
Rating: Demon King? More like DeMAZING King! (Demonazing? Demonzing?)

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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 returned 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.

The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.


You know what's a really fun thing to do if you have bookish friends? Read one of their favorite series in total secrecy and then surprise them by delivering a rave review! Bonus points if they've been yelling at you to read that book for months! The Demon King, first in Cinda Williams Chima's classic Seven Realms quartet, is everything I love in fantasy (minus shippy, but I KNOW that's coming in later books). If you're a high fantasy fan but haven't yet started this series, GET THEE TO A LIBRARY OR BOOKSTORE, because this is gooood stuffs, yo.

I'll start right upfront with my one reservation about this book, and it's that pacing- and plot-wise, this installment is sort of the precursor to the really juicy conflict of the later books (which I have not read yet, FYI). The Demon King is not a fast book, but it does a bang-up job of setting up really great characters and a very complex fantasy world, even if aspects of the ending are a week bit anticlimactic/low impact/obvious. I know some people had (perfectly legit) issues with this, but after a chapter or two I found myself utterly sucked into the world. It broke my bitch of a reading slump and made for a most excellent plane read.

http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ls5iocnWvK1qeng45.gif
Me, to The Demon King*
I found the world a leeetle confusing at first, but my patience was rewarded. And as I've said multiple times, if I like the main characters enough, I will follow them across unsure ground. Han and Raisa (AND AMON BECAUSE AMON) are such characters. They anchor a sweeping story that includes wizards, court intrigue, battling kingdoms (AND QUEENDOMS BECAUSE GIRL POWER HOLLAAAA), and age-old lore.

Raisa is the princess heir to the queendom of the Fells, and she's definitely got that rebellious princess thing going on. She's also sour, stubborn, and really enjoys kissing boys, which means she's awesome. She's under tremendous pressure to get married and is currently being inundated with suitors, but she also feels like she may be the only royal who can see that trouble is a-brewin'. On the total opposite side of the social spectrum is Han, street urchin and former gang leader, trying in vain to support his mom and younger sister in the slums. The poor boy can't catch a break, but he's very charming and constantly runs head-first into trouble. They were very distinct and engaging, and I loved spending time with them.

Raisa in a quote:

"Magret says I'm willful and stubborn. I do try to get my own way, but I think it's because I'll never get my own way on anything that matters."

Han in a quote:

Despite the grim situation, there was something about him, a kind of wild untamed humor and bravado and dogged stubbornness that tugged at her. He expects nothing, she thought, because he's never had anything. And nothing was expected of him.

Now, shippy-wise? I got no clue what's coming. All the various characters are entangled with various other characters, and so much has yet to happen. What will happen? I sure don't know. Do I have seeeecret ships in my heart of hearts? Answer: I DON'T. WHAT IS THIS WIZARDCRAFT? Like I said, it's too early. Except for briefly shipping myself with both Han and Amon (Raisa's bff/possibly love interest/son of the captain of the guard/soldier boy) and and shipping Raisa with independence, I've got no shippy leanings yet. Which is utterly uncharacteristic, but evident of CWC's supreme skill in that she's left me guessing and eager and waiting.

I loooooved the writing in this book. CWC is a master of prose and setting, especially when it came to describing the more unsavory parts of Fellsmarch, the capitol. And then there's the richness of the history of Queen Hanalea and the culture of the clans in the mountains, the different kinds of magic, the strife between wizard and clan, the power struggles of the court and the battling kingdoms in the south... this be epic fantasy, yo. The stage has been set for total epicness. I'm glad I have the full series, because I plan on leaping straight into book two, The Exiled Queen, as soon as I finish this review. Which is now. BYE.

*possibly a wee bit exaggerated for dramatic purposes

8 comments:

  1. GILLIAN GILLIAN OMG OMG GILLIAN GILLIANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

    Okay, let me catch my breath for a second and use it for something else than overexcited screams.

    I AM SO HAPPY THAT YOU READ THIS AND I HAD A LITTLE BIT OF A FEELING IT WOULD BE THIS BECAUSE YOU MENTIONED HIGH FANTASY BEING YOUR GO-TO GENRE BUT THEN WANTING TO READ FLUFFY BOOKS BECAUSE OF ZE SLUMP AND I WAS LIKE READ SEVEN REALMS BECAUSE I'M ALWAYS LIKE READ SEVEN REALMS BUT ALSO BECAUSE IT'S FLUFFY FANTASY WELL AT LEAST THE DEMON KING IS UNTIL THE LAST FORTY PAGES WHICH ARE OW OW OW OWOWOW OW

    AND I'M SO GLAD YOU LIKED IT AND YOU ARE HEREBY CORDIALLY INVITED TO JOIN THE OT3 SHIP ALSO BECAUSE YOU ARE OBLIGATED TO JOIN IT ALSO BECAUSE IT IS THE BEST SHIP AND AS YOU WILL SEE HAN AND AMON LOVE EACH OTHER SO MUCH AS WELL AND AMON OMG AMON ISN'T HE THE BEST

    So I don't remember the specifics of my personal situation because I binged all of them in six days so it's a bit of a haze but I thiiiiiiink I wasn't hardcore shipping anything yet but also a bit conflicted because I am in love with Amon but I also remember texting Meg like "Raisa and Han are the ship right because they haven't even met but I already ship it" and then Meg decided to reread because friendship. Also, you will see in the later books why you would need a buddy who understands exactly what you're going through hmmmmmmmm.

    Raisa is so boss and it only gets better from here on out. She's joined a very important member of my true-born queen club and also very important to me personally. Also also the fact that the Gray Wolf Queens' legacy basically is casually sexing whomever they want to sex and that not being a problem at all because it doesn't interfere with their natural ability to rule because this society is boss as fuck and has their priorities sorted is just aszjkidldakildkdchcn.

    ANYWAY I WILL END THE DISTRACTION THAT IS THIS COMMENT NOW BECAUSE YOU NEED TO READ THE EXILED QUEEN AND THEN THE GRAY WOLF THRONE WHICH IS MY PERSONAL FAVOURITE AND THEN THE CRIMSON CROWN WHICH IS NOTHING BUT PAIN BYE.

    BUT BEFORE I GO STOP READING THE SYNOPSES BECAUSE EXCEPT FOR THE GRAY WOLF THRONE THEY ALL GIVE AWAY PLOT POINTS THAT HAPPEN RATHER LATE IN THE STORY BECAUSE SOMETIMES SYNOPSIS PEOPLE ARE HELLA IRRESPONSIBLE IDK WHY

    OKAY BYE GO READ BYE

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  2. I read the Demon King last year, and I thought it was fantastic! I was a little reluctant to read high fantasy because of my (poor) experience trying to get through the Lord of the Rings-- it's one of the world-building and plot-driven sort of books, but I struggled to get any sort of attachment to the characters, which I NEED when I read books. If I don't care about the characters, then I don't care about the world or the adventure. After that, I just assumed that's what high fantasy was and avoided anything that fell under than genre. Then I read the Demon King and it changed my mind entirely. I found myself getting lost in the Seven Realms but also falling in love with all of the characters. Han is so mysterious. Amon is so dashing. Micah Bayar is so devious. RAISA IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE CHARACTERS EVER because she reinforces that you don't have to eliminate femininity if you want to be a strong, independent, kick-butt heroine.

    I usually only read the first novel in series because I'm satisfied with how book 1 ended and don't care enough to continue, but that's not the case with the Seven Realms books. I'm almost finished with the Exiled Queen! (The pacing in the first part of the book seemed kind of slow, but the second half of the book is INCREDIBLE!)

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  3. DeMAZING King hahah! That is perfect! There's been a lot of sneaky reading going on lately, I love it and I'm SO GLAD you loved this book!!! It seemed like such a Gillian book. I liked it, thought it was good, but wanted more romance. Wish granted in the rest of the series! The world building is so great and I loved the deep sense of history, especially for the Gray Wolf queens. It's another one of those series that gets better with EVERY book and had one of my favorite conclusions ever :) Can't wait for your future reviews!

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  4. Loved this series. It was one of those things where I thought: THIS is what I want to write. Funny you mention the royal guard....I did a blog entry about that very thing: http://johnzeleznik.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-smoldering-hot-royal-guard.html

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  5. As someone who loves fantasy, I never read this book until my brother literally binged the entire series in a week. Now it takes a lot to get my brother to see so seeing his fall in love gave me the push to read AND BASICALLY JUST EVERYTHING YOU'VE SAID IN YOUR REVIEW. THIS SERIES IS AMAZING AND WONDERFUL AND JUST...EVERYTHING.

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  6. OMG GILLIAN I KNEW IT I KNEW IT. vindication has never felt so good. PREPARE TO HAVE YOUR LIFE TAKEN OVER. I binge read the last three books and wandered around my house in a daze mumbling to myself. I AM SO JEALOUS YOU GET THE READ THEM FOR THE FIRST TIME BUT ALSO NOT HAHAHAHA BECAUSE I HOPE YOU ENJOY PAIN.

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  7. Meeek! Love your review. <3 And now I feel like I must read my box set of this series. Soon. Probably. So glad you loved this book :D

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