Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Demon King

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.

Beth says 4.5 Stars...
I adore Cinda Williams Chima. Her books are just so much fun to read, filled with adventure and danger. This series has the potential to be epic in more than one sense. Already in this first of a series Chima has created a rich and lush world rife with varying traditions. There are the mages, the Clans, and the royals; all of whom have different desires and complexly intertwining histories. This story is set in a completely new world, and has the feel of classic high fantasy; a departure from the Heir series. The change is accomplished with relative ease, despite a few less than stellar pieces. It takes a little bit at the beginning to get your bearings in the book, but it isn't too bad.
The main characters are fairly good. I still have lukewarm feelings about Han, but the end of the book was so great that I think there's potential for me to really love his character. Raisa is delightfully spunky, with true wit and strength. The secondary characters are fantastic, and really help to enhance the book. Everyone is layered, and the fact that this is just the beginning will really allow their depths to be plumbed.
I'm giving this book a slightly higher rating because it's the beginning of a series and the end showed such amazing potential for the rest of the books. Overall, this is a great read for someone looking for a sweeping fantasy to transport them to a different realm.

Nathan says 4 Stars...
Cinda Williams Chima is pretty awesome. Her Heir series was action packed and immersive, but if The Demon King is any indication Chima is embarking on a completely new, and dare I say, better adventure.

I was immediately struck by the influences of Chima’s universe. Every people seems to have a very particular culture that resonates with some actual culture. Native American, feudal, and Scandinavian pseudo-societies make up many of the factions, and though it has yet to be fully revealed, there appear to be even more cultures to explore.

This intricately conceived world is further set off by strong and dynamic characters. I did feel that the characterization of the Heir series was a little more sophisticated, but this book lags behind only slightly.

The plot lags in the middle; however, by the end, Chima is fully in the driver’s seat. The conclusion reveals that much of this novel is set up for the rest of the tale, and I’m really excited to see what she can do with it in the future.

Chima once again delivers a book well-worth reading.


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