Title: The Demon King
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
My Rating: 3 stars
This book took me a while to get into, but eventually I found myself enjoying it. The world building is done really well, and I became immersed in the world and the characters pretty early on. Nothing major happened right away, but I enjoyed getting to know everyone and learning about this new universe. This is going to be a long-ish series, and as I was reading I had a feeling that I would be looking back fondly on these character’s beginnings and everything that happened at the start of this journey. The MCs are easily likeable, and I’m looking forward to finding out how they progress and change as the series goes on.
– a castle with secret passageways, magical amulets, a queendom, glimpses of life on the streets and life in the castle
– likeable characters and strong world building, an interesting magic system
– MCs that want to change and grow, and that care about the people around them
– lots and lots of names to keep track of; one person could have 2+ nicknames
– very slow to start, not much action in this installment- it was a lot of setup
Occasionally I did have a hard time keeping all the people and places straight. Plenty of people had a name and a clan name, and it was a lot to keep track of, especially when there were so many characters and territories. Keeping a list of who went by what, and which alias belonged to which character did help me keep everything straight, and I’m sure I’ll have them all memorized as I continue the series. Then there was the romance; it didn’t overshadow the story, but for a long time I had no idea where everyone stood. It seemed like each MC was interested in 2+ people at a time, and I could never tell which couple to become invested in and what was something done halfheartedly in passing.
“There was Han Alister, son and big brother, breadwinner, deal-maker, and small-time conniver. There was Hunts Alone, who’d been adopted by Marisa Pines and wished he could melt into the clans for good. And finally, Cuffs, petty criminal and street fighter, onetime streetlord of the Ragger gang and enemy of the Southies. From day to day he slid out of one skin and pulled on another. No wonder it was hard to sort out who he was.”
None of the MCs are powerful right off the bat- they’re actually pretty helpless, and have to struggle to get what they want and to try and change things, which I liked. Raisa is very sheltered in the beginning, and has barely any say in her own life and future. She’s rarely told the truth about the true state of things, and her mother is anxious to have her marry as soon as she is of age. Han gave up his position as a gang leader, but nobody seems to believe him, so he finds himself on the wrong side of the Queen’s Guard, very poor, and always being hunted by rival gang members. Both characters are trying to figure out what their place is in the world and how they want to shape their lives, and I’m sure there will be plenty of character development as the story progresses and they grow older.
“Magret says I’m willful and spoiled. My mother says I’m stubborn. I do try to get my own way, but I think it’s because I’ll never get my way on anything that matters.” She looked up at him. “I won’t get to choose where I live, or who I marry, or even who my friends are. My time will never be my own.” She blew her nose, feeling bad about Amon’s handkerchief. “It’s not that I don’t want to be queen, I do. I guess I don’t want to be my mother.”
I think that my only major issue with this book was that it seems like a lot of the story is spent laying the groundwork for the rest of the series, and that makes things a bit slow. We have a ton of introduction into the world/characters/religions/customs/etc, and that can get tiresome when there isn’t some main conflict or plot device reeling you in. There were a few interesting things thrown in here and there, but nothing major really happened til the end of the story. The positive thing you can take away from that, though, is that there was a ton of room left open for the story and characters to expand and grow. I’m confident that the series will only get better from here, and I’m excited to see where everything goes.