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 Micha 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 anna’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–including marriage to a suitor who goes against everything the queendom stands for.
The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Han and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.
I’ve always loved fantasy novels; far away lands, magic everywhere, and kingdoms steeped in darkness and peril draw me like a moth to a flame. So, when I picked up A Seven Realms Novel: The Demon King, I felt confident that I would find everything I love about the genre within its pages. Told from the perspective of two characters–Han Alister and Raisa ana‘Marianna–who live radically different lives, but on whom the fate of a kingdom may hang, I found everything I was looking for.
A millennium ago, the Seven Realms were nearly destroyed by a wizard. He was defeated by Queen Hanalea whom he’d previously kidnapped and was afterwards was known as the Demon King. Afterwards wizards for forbidden from marrying into royal lines and becoming Wizard Kings while clans limited the wizard’s power by being the sole creators of amulets. After a thousand years of peace, however, darkness looms. Wars rage in the south and the power of the wizards is increasing. When Han Alistar steals an amulet from a wizard he quickly becomes a target, placing everyone he cares about in danger. But the amulet–along with magical cuffs that he’s worn since birth–connect him to the ancient events of the Breaking and the Demon King himself. Raisa ana’Marianna–princess heir of the fells–desires to do what is best for her people and emulate Queen Hanalea. But when she becomes the target of the wizard’s designs to break their ancient bindings, she must make a choice, the decision of which could cost her everything she holds dear.
The Demon King was a wonderful book with exceptionally crafted characters especially when it came to Han and Raisa, both of whom caused you to empathize with their plights. Han is an underdog, a reformed thief whose trying to do right by his family and provide for them. He lives a hand to mouth existence–one that many can understand–and his desire to protect his sister is his most humanizing trait and causes the creates empathy when you learn his families fate. Raisa is a princess, but rather than being stuck up she cares about her people and about one day being a queen that they deserve. That–plus a feisty spirit–makes you route for her as she navigates the webs of intrigue that others attempt to snare her in. While the reasons are different, you end up carrying for both of these characters equally and I found myself hanging onto every page as the danger for both of them increased.
The humor and tension were well done in this novel. The humor in Han’s side of the story was woven into his perspective while Raisa’s was reflected in her character. Han’s outlook on situations and some of the things Raisa said had me laughing to no end. I also loved how Chima handled the reveal of certain things–Dancer’s secret and Han’s cuffs to name a few. Some of the reveals I guessed, but most left me flabbergasted, eagerly turning the pages for more.
Despite ending more or less with a conclusion, The Demon King still leaves some questions. Raisa was forced to flee the kingdom and her mother in order to avoid the wizards’ schemes. What will happen to her family and will she be safe where she is going? Han has lost a great deal and feels that almost everyone in his life–the clan especially–has lied and deceived him. Possible tensions with the clan loom on the horizon. Will he fight for them or against them? And will he become strong enough to get revenge against the Bayars? All those questions and a whole new adventure await in the next novel. I can’t wait to find the answers.
Disclaimer: I do not own the imagery used in this blog post and have no claim to it.