The Demon King
The Seven Realms: Book 1
Cinda Williams Chima
Hyperion, New York, 2009
Chima’s YA fantasy novel was a fun and easy read – great for the bus ride to and from work. It is the first in the Seven Realms series and does an excellent job of establishing the world of the Queen of the Fells and her contentious relationship with the Wizards who were once invaders to the land and the highland Clans from whose line the queens originally came and who were nearly destroyed by the invading wizards.
The Demon King follows three main characters – Princess Raisa, the heir to the throne who is just coming of age, Hunt’s Alone/Han Alister a young ex-thief and street gang member, who discovers some startling things about his lineage and, to a lesser extent, Amon, son of the Queen’s captain-of-the-guards and childhood friend of Raisa. The story follows the parallel discoveries the three characters make about their family secrets, the truth about old myths and legends and the way that their own lives are intertwined with each other and with the ancient story of Queen Hanalea who defeated the Demon King and created the Naéming which governs the relations of the Queen, the Wizards and the Clans.
I enjoyed the clear prose, the crisp pace and the twists and turns of the story. One minor gripe I had with it is that the time of Hanalea was a thousand years ago from when the story takes place, but if felt much more recent. A thousand years of human history is a long, long time and cultures change a lot, even if they remember and still practice their old ways. But other than that I enjoyed it very much. While the novel was definitely the first in a series – the story arch is incomplete - it is still a satisfying tale and leaves me looking forward to continuing on with the next book The Exiled Queen.