The Demon King
By: Cinda Williams Chima
Synopsis (from Goodreads): 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.
While out hunting one day, Han and his Clan friend, Dancer catch three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. After a confrontation, Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to ensure the boy won't use it against them. Han soon 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 relative freedom with her father's family at Demonai camp - riding, hunting, and working the famous Clan markets. Although Raisa will become eligible for marriage after her sixteenth name-day, she isn't looking forward to trading in her common sense and new skills for etiquette tutors and stuffy parties.
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 it seems like 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 new page-turner from bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima.
I got the audiobook from my library's website. It was a daunting 10 hours long. But, two trips up to Idaho and a couple commutes to work did the trick. I have to admit, the narrator's voice took a little getting used to for me. Carol Monda, the narrator, did a fantastic job with the male voices. I could tell who was speaking just by the different voice she used. But, oddly enough, her female characters sounded pretty masculine. I also would have liked to have a little more theatricality in the reading, perhaps some sound effects or music. But, overall, it was very entertaining to listen to and moved at a very good pace.
The world building in this novel was phenomenal. I haven't read The Warrior Heir or its series yet, but if this is what all of Cinda Williams Chima's books are like, then I'm hopping on board. This was a complex environment with court intrigue, wars, political feuds, gangs, and a bit of native spirit.
Han was a fantastic protagonist in all his reformed bad boy charm. I don't like bad boys, but if they have reformed, I can get on board. Han had a rough life and it seems that no matter how hard he tried to stay out of trouble, it keeps finding him. I loved how incidents at the beginning of the story that were almost skipped over at the beginning became very important to the story.
Now, about Raisa. I loved her, hated her, and then loved her again. I could not understand her fascination for Micah. What a little snake (Micah, not Raisa). But, she has a good heart, which tells me that I may like her a little better in the sequel. She was spoiled and extremely naive, which is why I hated her. However, as time went on, she definitely grew. I suppose it is unfair to hold Raisa accountable for her actions at the beginning of the book since she really was sheltered by no fault of her own. She has conviction, and while many of her actions were selfish, she does acknowledge that later in the book and even makes penance!
My favorite characters in the book were Aman Burn, Corporal Burn, Willow, and of course Averil Demoneye. Some may find the sheer number of characters overwhelming, but maybe because I was listening to the audio version, the different voices made it a little easier to tell them apart.
Here is my one complaint about the book. Many of the major climactic events in the story had several pages/minutes of dialogue leading up to them. After about 2-3 minutes of dialogue I knew exactly what was going to happen. This wasn't a bad thing in itself, but it was a little lengthy. At one point I yelled at the audiobook, "Oh just get on with it already!" It, of course, did not respond. The book could have been a little more succinct and just gotten to the point a little faster.
The ending of this novel was PERFECT! I do not like cliffhangers. Catching Fire may be the only book I've ever actually thrown, and it was for this reason. The Demon King wrapped up beautifully. Many of the main conflicts in the story were resolved, but there is definitely more to the story. I am kind of reminded of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. At the end of that book, you knew there was more to the story. Voldemort was not defeated. It was only the first leg of a journey. This is how a good series should be.
I can't wait to read The Exiled Queen when it is released in September. Until then, I have many more Cinda Williams Chima books to keep me company.
Profanity: None (Only the fake, made up kind like "Hanalea's Bones!")
Sexuality: Mild (kissing and the like)
Drugs and Alcohol: Mild
Book-a-likes: Harry Potter