“A vocation is not something you slap on, like a coat of paint, and change whenever you want. A vocation is built into you. You have no choice. If you try to do something else, you fail.”
Blurb (Goodreads)- 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.
Thoughts- This is it. This is the book that I never knew was waiting patiently for me to pick up. Basically, I love The Demon King, and I wish I read this series when the hype was first around, because I can’t wait to talk about this.
Let me preface this review and just go ahead and say that this is not a fast paced book. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s boring (far from it, I’d say), and that I didn’t read it extremely quickly, rather the pace is on the slow side. That might not be the thing for everyone, so do be aware of that. However, that didn’t bother me, and the book was perfect to me.
You all have probably figured out by this point that I absolutely, 100%, love the political aspects of fantasy books, and that’s what The Demon King focuses on. Wizards and clan folk do not get along one bit, and that angst is written so well. The clans have their own terms for wizards (Jinxflingers), and the tension between the two is so prominent it’s almost palpable. With following both an ex-gang leader raised in one of the clans, and the princess of the Queendom, you really do get the best of both worlds.
Han and Raisa are both fantastic protagonists because they’re flawed, and yet they don’t wallow in self pity and let the flaws be their prominent trait. Raisa is direct and bold (which I identify with, which may explain why I love her so much) and feels trapped in her position. We see this a lot in YA fantasy, but Raisa actually does something about it, which is very refreshing. Han is then a very loyal, and extremely flawed character, who still has that charm that makes readers fall in love with him. Han’s had a pretty terrible life, and what I liked in this book is that his situation doesn’t get better, in fact it gets worse, but we get to see how Han handles that.
The world is so rich and beautiful, and Chima’s writing style definitely accentuates the world she’s created. Both the geography and the culture (especially the culture) are so well developed throughout the story, it’s what really hooked me in. The clans vs. the wizards even have different dialects, which I love seeing.
Another thing I truly enjoyed about this was the romance. Both Han and Raisa are 16 or a little older, and of course romance is on their mind. Especially Raisa’s as she’s suppose to get married soon according to the culture. Chima portrays the romance in such a real manner. Humans in a general sense don’t ever find only one other human attractive and only date that one! Han and Raisa both share quite a few kisses throughout the book, with different people, and it’s not overwhelming… just realistic. Even when Han and Raisa meet, they both acknowledge attractiveness, but there’s not insta-love (thank goodness).
Overall, I highly, highly recommend this book (and the series) if you enjoy a fantastic world to get lost in, full of magic, political intrigue, and fun characters!