BOOK REVIEW: The Demon King (Seven Realms #1) by Cinda Williams Chima

BOOK REVIEW: The Demon King (Seven Realms #1) by Cinda Williams ChimaThe Demon King (Seven Realms #1)
by Cinda Williams Chima
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Synopsis:

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...

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

“You have to take chances, Raisa. What seems safest on its face may not be in the long run.” 

It was SO GOOD going back and starting this series again. Ever since I finished all of the books the first time around, this has been a go-to series that I recommend people looking for quality YA fantasy. I’m even more excited to keep going, too, because from what I remember the books just keep getting better and better as the series progresses. Whether you’re looking for wizards, a strong beginning of world-building, clashing groups of people, interesting characters (the list goes on)—this book, and entire series for that matter, has it all.

And when you’re in the gangs, loving somebody is like putting your heart on a plate and serving it up to your enemies.

I guess the best way for me to go about this is to start with the characters themselves. We get two main POVs from Raissa, the princess heir to the Fells and Han, a “reformed” street lord who spends half of his recent time either trading mostly legal things for bits of money for his family or up on Hanalea with the clans. While neither of them is perfect in this first book, or by the end of the series, it’s nearly impossible not to fall in love with them (PARTICULARLY HAN). 

“Mercy is never unbecoming, mate,” Cuffs said.

Raissa is a unique princess character in that she a mix of characteristics from all of the different stereotypes that you generally get in YA fantasy. She can appreciate the frivolous things in life like kissing multiple boys and a good party BUT because she is part clan and has spent time outside of court, she longs for more. After hearing from her old friend (now corporal) Amon that things aren’t all what they seem in the heart of her city, she wants to find out more. And not just in the sense that she feels utterly trapped and wants to go out adventuring (which I mean..she still does)…but she wants these things not just for herself but to actually get to the bottom of how her people are living in the hopes that she will be made a better ruler for it. She feels like she’s in the dark (she DEFINITELY is) and she’s constantly grasping for the light. She doesn’t want to keep the wool pulled over her eyes and that’s a pretty big deal if you ask me.

He expects nothing, she thought, because he’s never had anything. And nothing was expected of him. He was free in a way she never would be.

Han…..Han in a word is charismatic. I think that’s why so many people love him so much. It’s impossible not to! As I mentioned earlier, he was a former street lord who now tries to stay on the right side of the law (not that that’s really possible). He wants to provide a better life for his mother and younger sister and is doing the best that he can until he runs into a wizard and *maybe* ends up threatening him because he is threatened and I mean how could he have helped it really because he WAS in fact a street lord. ANYWAYS somehow he ends up with this magical amulet and things basically start to go to shit for him from there. People on the streets close to him start to die and ~things~ are revealed about the past that shake the very foundation of the past that he has always known to be true. In short, this books sets up for the next three to become very interesting.

“Perhaps you subscribe to the notion that princes actually have control over their own lives. I beg to differ. We strut the boards, improvising like mad, only to learn that the script is already written, and we’ve got it wrong.” 
“Not always,” Raisa countered. “I have to believe that sometimes we can write our own.”

The best part of all of this is that when Han and Raisa cross paths, it isn’t under the best of circumstances and Han had no idea that she was royalty at all. ESPECIALLY since they both are headed towards the same place at the end of this book. *laughs maniacally*

Magret’s eyes kindled with pride. “You’re just like she was,”she breathed.
“Like who was?” 
“Like Queen Hanalea herself.”

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3 Comments

  1. Great review! I wanted to read this series for a long time but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I hope I get to it someday.
    Raven recently posted…April Most Anticipated Releases! [2018]My Profile

    • Arielle

      April 9, 2018 at 6:14 am

      Thanks Raven! I actually initially picked them up after seeing Chelsea’s reviews of them all a few years ago! It’s a series that gets better as the books go on, too, so that’s always nice.

  2. I’ve had this series on my TBR for such the longest time, but I’ve never gotten around to reading them though! Here’s hoping I finally get to them this summer! My local library has all of them, so I can happily binge-read the series if I enjoy them enough. 🙂

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