Today’s book review is The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima. It is the first book in the Seven Realms series and I came across it through the book club over at the Mallorean Tavern. The folks over there enjoyed it and I have to say that I did too.
This story follows two main characters, so I’ll start with the first one. His name is Hanson Allister, usually called Han. He has a couple other nicknames as well. One of them is “Hunts Alone,” given to him by the clans for his solitary nature. The other is “Cuffs,” the name he got when he was the leader of a street gang due to the large silver cuffs that he wore on his wrists. He doesn’t know where the cuffs came from, but he has worn them all his life. That’s right – they must be magic because as he grew, so did they.
The other main character is Raisa, the princess heir of the Fells. I liked her a lot. She’s a bit silly at times, but she can be hard as steel as well. Her mother, the current queen, is weak and clearly being controlled by others. Raisa doesn’t want that to happen to her. She has to try and weave through the chaos of court politics, where the wizards seem to be attempting to increase their influence, and the loyal members of the guard are no longer taken as seriously as they should be.
It’s this political situation that took me a while to get into. I had a hard time at first figuring out who was who and which factions were fighting which. Since the first main scene involves Han and his friend Dancer getting into a scuffle with a couple of young wizards, I assumed that the clans don’t really like the wizards much. Han ends up taking a very powerful amulet from one of the younger wizards, Micah Bayar, and this act ends up setting in motion a whole host of events. The Bayars are also involved in plots at the palace, which include trying to influence Raisa, which doesn’t go well.
I liked Han. He’s a reformed thug who is just trying to do the right thing, trying to protect and provide for his family. I also liked Raisa. She has spunk and I like how she is trying to do good for the people, by actually going out among them to see what life is really like. The Bayars are interesting adversaries, athough I think Micah is probably not that bad of a guy. I think he’s just being controlled by his father.
I would have liked to hear more about the history of this world. There are numerous mentions of Hanalea, a queen who lived long ago and helped to defeat the Demon King. Their story wasn’t really explained until later in the book, so I got confused a couple of times. The twist at the end was one I didn’t see coming, and I won’t spoil it here.
I will probably read further into this series, if only to see what happens with Han and Raisa come together again. They met briefly in this book, although Han didn’t know who Raisa was. At the end, they are both planning to travel to the same far away place, so you know they have to run into each other again (which should be interesting, since Raisa thinks that Han was killed). So overall, an enjoyable read.
Writing Challenge Update: