Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter…it is no secret that fantasy has always been a weakness of mine. Whether it’s the magic, knights, time-travel, dragons, or a combination of all, this genre continues to lure me in no matter my age.
I have been reading fantasy novels since I was 5, but there are only a handful which I hold dear. Even now at 21, I find myself constantly looking for fantasty novels. I mean, why not? Even Albert Einstein said you should let children read fairytales in order to become more intelligent. Whether or not I’m a child is irrelevant.
“The Demon King was the monster in every scary story. The devil you wouldn’t name for fear of calling him to you. The one that waited in the dark down a crooked street for bad children to come his way”
What You Need to Know
Age Group: 14+ due to some mild language.
Length: 519 pages
This is book #1 in a tetralogy, followed by The Exiled Queen, The Gray Wolf Throne, and The Crimson Crown. A companion series is set to come out on April 5, 2016.
What’s All The Talk About?
Ex-street lord, Han “Cuffs” Allister, has decided to turn his life around. No more stealing, no more spending time with thugs, and definitely no more fighting. Han’s focus is now on providing for his impoverished family, doing whatever it takes to make sure they don’t go hungry. Unfortunately, things aren’t looking so good and the only thing of value he has are the inescapable silver cuffs he has worn around his wrist since he was a baby. Han knows they hold magic because he has yet to grow out of them, but the mystery surrounding the cuffs grow year, and his mother refuses to speak.
When Han and his best friend, Fire Dancer, encounter three wizards setting the mountain of Hanalea ablaze, a fight takes place. One of the wizards, Micah Bayar, begins to use magic against them, and Han takes an opportunity to steal the amulet that controls his powers. Unbeknownst to Han, the amulet once belonged to the legendary Demon King, who single handedly broke the world a thousand years ago.
Han soon finds himself on the run from The High Wizard, who also happens to be Micah’s father, and will stop at nothing to see the amulet back in his hands.
Princess Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells, has decided to let go of propriety and seek some adventure. Disguising herself as a maid, she travels along the roads of Fellsmarch to witness the way her people live. Appalled at the poor living conditions, Raisa becomes determined to do good by her people and earn their loyalty. Little does she know that her mother and the High Wizard have plans of their own for her. As her sixteenth birthday approaches, she is pressured into marrying, but her three years at Demonai Camp have changed her. Living amongst her clan people have taught her how to be a warrior–a warrior Queen. As a hidden evil begins to creep itself into her kingdom, Raisa and Han’s world collide in a way that leaves the reader hungry for more.
What I Thought
How she created this world is beyond me, but one thing is for sure, she is one fierce writer. I’ll admit, I was a bit lost at the beginning of the novel, but as the world began to unravel, I was pulled into this story of magic, love, grief, and madness.
This story focuses on two perspectives: Han and Raisa. While they definitely seem to embody some of the cliché molds fantasy writers use for their characters fellow blogger Fantasy Faction has talked about, the story itself is extremely entertaining. More importantly, we see the characters grow from one phase to another. Sure, Raisa is a spoiled and entitled princess, but she recognizes it and tries to fight it. One of the things I found most intriguing was the relationship between Raisa and her mother. Although her mother is cold and infuriating, Raisa’s love for her the Queen makes it difficult to hate her completely.
“When she was little, Raisa used to creep out from the nursery to watch her mother sleep, afraid that she would stop breathing if Raisa wasn’t there to intervene. The fact that there was something ethereal, almost otherwordly about her mother only reinforced Raisa’s fears.”
Next there was the love aspect of the novel. I shipped Han and Raisa from the moment I read the first chapter, they’re meant to be, end of story… I wish!
To my dismay, we don’t see much of Han and Raisa together in the story. While it is clear that their lives will intertwine at some point, it doesn’t happen until more than halfway into the novel. They don’t even spend much time together and quickly go about their own way. At first, I didn’t like this, but as I reached the end of the novel, I realized that The Demon King is only an introduction book. There is much more to come, and more importanly, hope for my ship!
Still, we see Raisa struggling with her feelings for Amon (her guard), and Micah Bayar. Honestly, I felt bad for Amon, it is obvious that he loves her but can never be with her because of an oath he took. Micah, on the otherhand, I did not feel sorry for. He is rude, entitled, arrogant, and clearly has a hidden agenda.
I also want to talk about The Demon King the author keeps referring to.
“The Demon King stole Hanalea away on her wedding night. He chained her in his dungeon when she refused him. He tortured her with dark sorcery, trying to win her heart. When she resisted, he broke the world.”
The legend rises more questions than answers as Han tries to figure out the truth about The Demon King: Was he truly evil? Why were the Bayars in possession of his amulet? Who killed The Demon King? Why are they hiding the truth?
Although the legend was a bit cheesy, I felt like it provided enough of a mystery to keep the reader interested. I wanted to find out more about Han and his connection with The Demon King, and I wanted to know about what the amulet would do to Han.
I was in a trance-like state when I learned Han was a descendant of The Demon King, even though I should have anticipated it. The cuffs were placed on Han in order to control his magic because he displayed great power as an infant. This knowledge is shared after his mother and sister are killed by The High Wizard, and makes Han feel even more culpable.
I appreciated the fact that Chima does not compromise the depth of the novel in order to satisfy readers. His family’s death was devastating, but I find that good fantasy novels are rarely free of death. Again, this novel definitely fit into the classic fantasy trope that people always use, but as The Book Smugglers said, “Ms. Chima proves that even the oldest tropes can still be really entertaining. “
The novel ends with Han and his friend Fire Dancer heading off to Mystwerk House at Oden’s Ford, in order to control his powers. We also see Raisa running away to Wiens House at Oden’s Ford, in order to complete her warrior training under disguise.
Yes, cliff hangers are overrated, but…
Surprisingly, I found satisfaction in the ending, knowing this first novel was only the beginning. Chima definitely made this novel a thrilling one, and packed on the heat for the last few chapters. I can tell you one thing, you won’t regret picking up The Demon King, happy reading!