The Demon King
By Cinda Williams Chima
Publication date: Oct. 6, 2009
Hyperion Books, 506 pages
Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for 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 returning 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.
— Goodreads.com description
My friend Heidi loooooves Cinda Williams Chima, and I trust Heidi explicitly on all things fantasy, so I had to give The Demon King a go.
And I see what she is so pumped about! Chima is a master of fantasy writing — beautiful world building, fleshed-out characters and an intricate plot. She clearly knows what she’s doing in this genre.
That being said, I know for a fact that Heidi has more patience for a slow-building fantasy series (and slow-building romances) than I do. So I was TOTALLY frustrated because this book took longer to ramp up than usual. I read a review of it on Goodreads that called it something like a “500-page prologue,” and I sort of have to agree (sorry!).
So I think I need to read on to get more of what the hoopla’s all about (and to figure out which boy I’m supposed to root for — I hate it when I can’t tell hahaha). Probably not the best book for an intro to high fantasy. But for someone who eats these dictionary-sized books up, I see the appeal. I’ll definitely read more of Chima’s books in the future. I just might need a little more friendly encouragement to move it up the list!