The Demon King (Seven Realms, 1) by Cinda Williams Chima, 2009; 512 pages. Published by Disney Hyperion. Source: Borrowed from Library.
Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for himself, his mother, and his sister Mari. Ironically, the only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell. For as long as Han can remember, he’s worn thick silver cuffs engraved with runes. They’re clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off.
Han’s life gets even harder after he takes a powerful amulet from the son of the High Wizard. The amulet once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece so powerful at stake, the Bayars will stop at nothing to reclaim it from Han.
Meanwhile, Raisa ana’Marianna, Princess Heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. Although Raisa will become eligible for marriage after her sixteenth name-day, she isn't looking forward to trading in her common sense for a prince with a big castle and tiny brain. Raisa aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But it seems like her mother has other plans for her—plans that include a suitor who goes against everything the Queendom stands for.There are two reasons that for why I picked up The Demon King. 1. I had been looking for something new within the fantasy genre, which happens to be one of my favorite kinds of books to read; 2. because the second book in the series showed up for review and sounded really interesting that I promptly looked into the author and put the first book on hold at the library (I was also currently on a book buying ban at the time...so no buying it).
Now that you know why I picked it up let me tell you that I absolutely LOVED it and cannot wait to read The Exiled Queen. I'm also planning on checking out the rest of Cinda Williams Chima's books, which my library just so happens to have (score).
Usually with a fantasy book I can tell pretty much within the first three pages whether or not the book will be one that I'll enjoy, but with The Demon King Ms. Chima's writing had me completely hooked from the very first page. I loved how the beginning of the book starts off with just a dash of humor at Han's expense (it made him really likeable).
In my opinion, alternating POV's make for some of the best fantasy reads. I believe that it helps to keep the story flowing when you can see more than one characters take on what is happening at any given moment and The Demon King did a brilliant job with that. I loved the switch between Han and Raisa's POV.
With Han you had lots of danger and his ruminating on how things were harder since he went straight (he's a former gang leader); in Raisa you had a strong willed girl who isn't about to let the court decide upon how she lives and who would like to be more like the ancient queen who saved her people from ruin. I know I'm not explaining it well, but they were both amazingly strong characters that you just wanted to see them succeed.
One of the best things about this book would have to be the pacing, some might think that the book starts out a little slow, but it was more like the calm before a storm to me.
For a fantasy book to be truly good it has to have an antagonist that is absolutely horrible. I mean one that you just hope will get whatever they have coming to them and The Demon King more than delivered. I could go on an don about the villian, but I fear I would spoil the book for those who haven't read it yet.
While the characters are great, the story and plot is absolutely amazing and pulls you in from the very beginning. Rarely do I get so into a story that I cannot even begin to guess how the story will end or predict all the twits and turns that the plot will take. The Demon King is now up there with some of my favorite fantasy read.
My favorite thing about The Demon King would have to be the back story for Han, and how the story of what happened during Hanalea's time with the Demon King slowly unfolded. It had one of the best build-ups to the actual telling that left you wondering when will the whole story be told, but it wasn't so slow that you got bored and were just thinking get on with it already. It was in short perfectly done and I loved it.
I cannot think of a single thing that I did not enjoy about this book, which is nice for a change.
Final Verdict: The Demon King is one of the best fantasy books I have read in ages and its one book that I would definitely recommend everyone should read. But again that is just my opinion; I leave y'all to choose for yourself.
Sorry about the super long (maybe even rambling) post, but there's just too much I loved about this book.
The Demon King earns 5 out of 5 pineapples.