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Seven Realms #1

The Demon King

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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 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 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...

The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.

506 pages, Hardcover

First published October 6, 2009

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About the author

Cinda Williams Chima

51 books11.1k followers
New York Times bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima comes from a long line of fortune-tellers, musicians and spinners of tales. She began writing romance novels in middle school, which were often confiscated by her teachers.

Her Heir Chronicles series (magic comes to contemporary Ohio) comprises The Warrior Heir The Wizard Heir . The Dragon Heir The Enchanter Heir, and the Sorcerer Heir.

Chima's Seven Realms series comprises The Demon King The Exiled Queen The Gray Wolf Throne and The Crimson Crown ).

Her Shattered Realms quartet comprises Flamecaster ( 2016) Shadowcaster (2017) Stormcaster (2018) and Deathcaster (2019.)

Her newest series, Runestone Saga, marries Norse magic and mythology with swordplay (axeplay?) and romance. Children of Ragnarok releases 11.8.22, but is available for preorder now.

Chima is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the University of Akron. Chima has been a workshop leader, panelist, and speaker at writing conferences, including the Northern Ohio SCBWI Conference, the Western Reserve Writers’ Conference, and the World Fantasy Convention. She frequently speaks to young writers and readers at schools and libraries nationwide.

Chima lives in North Carolina with her family, and is always working on her next novel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,788 reviews
Profile Image for Katerina.
422 reviews16.8k followers
February 10, 2017
Hanalea's blood and bones, I just found a new obsession!!

Wow. It's been a while since the last time I read YA fantasy, and I'd almost forgotten why I love this genre so much! The Demon King certainly had its flaws, but it was so riveting and bewitching that I lost the X-Factor final last night in order to finish it and I suspect I'm going to spend the following days lost in this series, with coffee and ice-cream as my sole companions! Burn you social life!

And by fun, I mean books.
“Han always seemed to find trouble, no matter how hard he tried to avoid it.”

Han Alister is a former streetlord who tries to follow the right path and feed his family. But his life changes dramatically when he gets in his hands an ancient serpent pendant that seems to wield powerful and forbidden magic associated with a war that happened a thousand years ago and almost destroyed the world. Hunted by the Queen's Guard for crimes he didn't commit and always on the run, he can't possibly imagine that perhaps the fate of the royal line and the queendom is in his hands.
“The succession, the bloody succession. Well, if you ask me, the lineage of queens is like a chain around my neck.”

Raisa ana'Marianna is the princess heir of the Fells, and her royal duties almost choke her. She can feel that something bad will happen, that the wizards' influence on the queen is suspicious and she can't trust anyone but herself and her loyal friend and guard, Amon Byrne. She wants to do more that dance in fancy balls and nod her head while others make decisions for her queendom, she wants to prove that she is a worthy heir to the Gray Wolf bloodline. But war is coming and she doesn't know who's the enemy, so she follows her gut and tries her best for her people, before it is too late. Before the wizards gain the upper hand once more.
“History. Why do we need to know what happened before we were born?'
'So hopefully we get smarter and don't make the same mistakes again.”

I am officially mezmerized. It is true that it took me some chapters to adjust to the worldbuilding and get a grip on the story and the characters, but after a while I was absorbed in this intricate and fascinating world of adventures, intrigue and magic. I won't pretend I didn't notice the similarities between The Demon King and Falling Kingdoms, especially regarding the characters of Raisa and Cleo and their love interests, but Cinda Williams Chima's writing style is original and her storytelling skills mark her as a great YA fantasy author! I loved the way she entwined Han and Raisa's stories, adding interesting and important secondary characters and the events that happened hundreds of years ago, with the war between the wizards and the Demon King and the part queen Hanalea and the clans played. The magic is divided between clans and wizards, and they distrust each other, but they made a pact and bound themselves to the Vale queens and the good of the queendom. Until recently.

As you can tell, there was suspense and mystery and secrets waiting to come to light, there were so many things the protagonists didn't know (and frankly, some of them were pretty obvious and I kept wondering how could they not see them). The The Demon King's ambience was hypnotizing and vigorous at the same time, and you felt like it cast a spell on you and you couldn't put it down until you were allowed to. The main characters were also alluring, they came from completely different backrounds and had different life goals, but both Raisa and Han were stubborn and resourceful and anything but meek. While I loved Raisa, I have one complaint; why did she keep wanting to kiss every boy in her radius? It was ok at first, but then it became ridiculous!!

But don't judge her because of that, except her love life she was pretty mature and likeable! The weird thing is, I don't have a ship yet. There were flings but nothing meaningful and I was all in for the intriguing story and not the romance! That doesn't happen often! Please guys, do yourself a favor and read this book!

Well done, Cinda Williams Chima, well done!

Profile Image for Eric Allen.
Author 3 books732 followers
July 9, 2012
The Demon King

By Cinda Williams Chima

A Review by Eric Allen

Before I begin, I must say that I was not able to finish this book. I only got four chapters in before I couldn't take it anymore. This book fails on every level possible and imaginable. Let me count the ways. No Hook. No plot. No tension. No conflict. No compelling characters or events. No protagonist. No antagonist. No emotion. No color. No life. No story. No desire to read ANY further. No refunds? ...DAMMIT!!! My dislike for the book could be chalked up to the fact that I am a thirty-something adult and this is targeted at boys less than half my age, but I don't think that's it. Normally, when I review books I'll give a short synopsis, and applicable history of the writer or the book itself, and basically tell what I liked, what I didn't like, and what I downright hated about it. I can't do that with this review as I only read four chapters of the book before setting it down, therefore I will be giving you my case as to why no one should ever read it by, instead, using examples from other books, and to be completely fair these books will be of the same genre: YA fantasy.

*disclaimer*I have received several rather heated messages over this review. This review was published in the April issue of the magazine I write for. In short, IT IS A JOKE! Joke or not, I believe that many of the points that I make DO have validity. So please, set aside your indignity if you have any, and simply enjoy what I have to say about this book. I realize that you may think I am worse than Hitler for bad-mouthing a supposed great and popular author, but it's just a book review. Get over it. I am not arrogant enough to believe that everyone cares what I have to say. In fact, I'm rather surprised that anyone does. So, just as I quit reading this lame book, you can quit reading my lame review on it if you wish. And please, if you are offended by what I say, and absolutely have to let me know about it, firstly I invite you to get over yourself and learn to take a joke, because that's what this review is when you get right down to it. If that does not work, at least be civil in attacking me and realize that if you act like a complete ass toward me I will reply in kind. This is a review of the first four chapters only, not of the book in its entirety and should not be taken as such. If you enjoyed the book, that's fine. It is not my intention to insult you, only to educate you and anyone else on why I could never in a billion years consider this a good book. If someone criticizing something you enjoy offends you, the solution is very simple: JUST STOP READING!!!*disclaimer*

Firstly, genders. News flash people, boys and girls are different, not just physically, but in the way that they act, think, feel, and see the world. It is often a mistake of amateur writers that all of the characters of the gender opposite to their own are either horrible stereotypes, or too much like their own gender.

For example, the female characters of male writers will act no different from men, or be weak, weepy, and incapable of doing anything important on their own. The male characters of female writers might be unwashed, emotionless brutes that think of absolutely nothing but fighting and sex, or they will be too clingy and emotional. A character that does not realistically behave like a person of his or her gender does not feel right to the reader. This is a mistake that I would expect from an amateur, but not from someone with six books in publication. It is my opinion that no man can truly understand women in general, and no woman can truly understand men in general (though they sure seem to think they do) This book is proof that at least some women have no earthly clue how men are supposed to act toward one another. A skilled writer will know that characters of the opposite gender are sometimes incomprehensible to them, and be able to at least fake their way through making their performance believable, or cloak them in enough mystery that he or she doesn't have to. Yo Chima, don't you have ANY male friends you can run this crap by before publishing it to give you some feedback on the behavior of your male characters?

The male characters in this book are doubly bad, they act like girls half the time and then they stupidly throw themselves at violence to no point or purpose. Yes ladies, that's right, men don't just beat on each other for no apparent reason. If we're going to pound someone, we don't just do it because we're bored. There's always a reason behind it. That reason may make no sense at all to the female perspective, but just because you don't understand it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. There is more to men than violence and sex, but don't try to overcompensate for your lack of understanding by making them overly emotional on top of it. It turns out as a horribly, conflicting mess. And BY THE WAY... what in the hell is up with all of the blatant homo-erotic tension between Han and Dancer? News flash, Cinda, NO. Just NO. You're doing it wrong! Take my word for it. Shame on you!

If you have no earthly clue how men are supposed to act, DON'T MAKE YOUR "PROTAGONIST" (and I use that term VERY loosely here, hence the quotation marks) A MAN YOU DUMBASS!!! Or at least explain why your characters are too much like the opposite gender. And also realize that even effeminate men are still men, and tomboys are still women. They still think, act and see the world as their own gender would. We are all still what we are, despite any outward facade.

Oh, but Eric, you say, give her a break, male writers have been messing up their female characters for centuries and I don't see you bitching about that. I do bitch about it actually, as is quite apparent in my review of The Omen Machine.

Stereotyped characters, when done well, can work for a story, but when they're bland, boring, and generally unlikable it just makes the whole thing fall apart. Stereotypes are often used in YA books to get children to identify with the characters more easily. In my opinion children are smarter than adults give them credit for and can follow complex character development without the use of stereotyping, but then again, I was reading and loving the Wheel of Time at eleven. An example of stereotypes done well is the Harry Potter series. You've got the outcast, the bumbling sidekick, and the know-it-all bookworm. These are stereotypes that most kids can relate to. They are, or know someone that is much like one of these characters. And the way that J.K. Rowling does it gives them all life and depth, giving them realistic personalities and character, giving you reasons for why they are the stereotypes that they are, and why you should care about them. You get to see them learn and grow out of their stereotypes into stronger, more rounded characters as the series progresses. In The Demon King, however, the characters are basically just cardboard cutouts with whatever their stereotype is written where their faces should be. Every one of them is uninteresting. Even the supposed protagonist fades almost completely into the background because he has no personality at all except for his stereotype. It makes for a rather dull and boring reading experience.

The plot and pacing of this book are atrocious. When you have a book this short, SOMETHING better damn well happen by the time you reach chapter four! But nothing did. Here's a rundown of everything that happens in the first four chapters. Bland character one and bland character two whine about foraging, they decide to go hunting, they meet bland characters three, four and five. They have a bland, tensionless spat over Macguffin number one. meanwhile bland character six waits for bland character three and company to return. Then bland character seven shows up for no particular reason and does basically nothing but add boring, soulless dialogue to an already colorless world. When writing a book you have to start with something big, or something exciting, or something mysterious. You have to give the reader something of interest to make them want to continue. This is called The Hook. You have to give the reader a sense of excitement, or a question that they truly want to see answered or they're not going to care. There was no hook in this book. There was nothing exciting about this beginning, nor was there anything mysterious. No questions to which a reader can desire to find answers to were given at all. As nothing happened at the beginning, a reader can only assume that this book is about nothing.

Here's some examples of how a fantasy story for young adults SHOULD begin. Every one of them is of the YA Fantasy genre, and each of these books is generally the same length as The Demon King.

In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, by chapter four Harry has had his parents murdered, been raised by people who hate and oppress him, and has discovered that he is a wizard and been accepted to Hogwarts to learn magic. His character and plight have been well introduced by this time, and his hopes and dreams are very clear in the reader's mind. Though his plight is played for comedic purposes, we still FEEL that it IS plight. We've gotten a look at the wizarding world and the tenacity of the owls that deliver their mail. By this time, we know what the book is about, and we know what makes the main character tick.

In Jonathan Stroud's Barimaeus Trilogy, book 1: The Amulet of Samarkand, by chapter four Nathaniel has summoned the demon Bartimaeus and bound him to his will, and Bartimaeus has stolen the Amulet of Samarkand for him. By this time we've been witness to quite a bit of Bartimaeus' sarcasm and wit, and quite a bit of humor to make him rather lovable and we feel his plight as a slave to his human master. Demons and Magic, and a lot of how the world works have been explained to us by this time through the comical rantings of Bartimaeus.

In Garth Nix's Abhorsen Trilogy, book 1: Sabriel, by chapter four Abhorsen has brought a dead infant back to life, Sabriel does the same for a dead bunny. Sabriel is contacted by a being from Death that gives her her father's sword and necromancer's bells, giving her a message that he is trapped by one of the Greater Dead. Sabriel leaves her school to head from the world of technology to the world of magic where she is from to rescue him. We are are shown how Death and Necromacy work. We are shown the wall that keeps the two worlds apart from one another, and we discover that many things are going horribly wrong on the other side of the wall. We've gotten to know Sabriel by this time. We know her reluctance and fear, but also her determination to save her father and prove herself his worthy heir.

In John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice series, book 1: the Ruins of Gorlan we've already seen the Dark Lord plotting vengeance and raising an army of nightmare creatures. We've been introduced to the characters and their likes and animosities toward one another. We've been given the mysterious Ranger Halt and his slip of paper given to the Lord while he decides Will's future profession. We can feel Will's burning shame at being turned down for battle school, the only thing he's ever wanted in life, because of his size, and his curiosity over what the mysterious Halt might have to say about him, and what is written on the paper. We've already seen that he is not afraid to defend himself against people twice his size, and that he is naturally good at climbing and sneaking. We want to know why Halt seems to have an interest in him, and what his fate might be after being denied every profession he hoped for.

In Brian Jacques' Redwall by chapter 4 (which, by the way is only ten pages into the book) You've been introduced to the villain, the protagonist, the love interest and the mentor. You've gotten to know that the orphaned Matthias does not fit in amongst the others at the abbey. He yearns for adventure and something more than the quiet life of devotion to others that he has been raised to. There is a build up with a festival planned and the villain setting his sights on Redwall Abbey. You just KNOW that these two events are going to coincide and go horribly wrong, and you can feel anticipation building with each page that you turn. And might I remind you that all of this was set up in only TEN PAGES! TEN PAGES and Redwall is already a more compelling, and better set up story than The Demon King, and it is a book about MICE!!!

By the time that you get four chapters into a young adult book you should know the setting, the characters, and have a pretty good idea about what is in store for them. You should be thoroughly invested in the plot, and actually WANT to continue in it. SOMETHING interesting SHOULD have happened, because young people typically tend to lose interest quite quickly if you don't grab them early with something they care about. You should hopefully be connecting with the people you're reading about, perhaps thinking that they seem a bit like you. You should be excited to discover what happens next. The plot should actually be going somewhere by this time instead of puttering around, running in circles chasing its own tail to no point or purpose.

Now, let's play a little game I like to call "Who is the Protagonist". In a work of fiction the Protagonist is the central figure around whom the events of the story revolve, and with whom the reader is supposed to identify. The protagonist will learn and grow, and through a great deal of turmoil and such will rise above his or her weaknesses in the end to defeat the antagonist (i.e. bad guy). First of all, to have a protagonist you really kind of need an antagonist, and, you know, some sort of conflict between them. Well, we might as well stop playing Who is the Protagonist right now, because neither of those things seem to exist within The Demon King. BUUUT let's just pretend that they do for a second.

First of all we've got Han... I think... *shrug* He fades into the background, is bland, boring, COMPLETELY unlikable in ANY way shape or form, and generally fails completely at everything we've seen him do by chapter four. He has no reason to do anything, he has no conflict, he has no nemesis, and I don't know about you, but I sure as hell can't identify with someone this bland and pointless. Next we have Dancer. He's hot-headed... I guess... and... well... Yeah, that's about it. His name might as well have been Hotheaded Stereotype, why bother even naming him? No conflict here either, though you KNOW he's really spoiling to jump Han's bones, because, as we all know, that's TOTALLY what men do when there are no women around, right Cinda? I guess he's not it either. Bird... Nope, can't be her, she just randomly appears to sow false tension and spout boring, soulless dialog that really has nothing to do with anything. Princess I forget how to spell her name correctly Raisa was it? Well, no, she seems more a love interest not essential to plot, and who can identify with a spoiled princess who doesn't want to be a princess anyway? That goes completely against what the stereotypical tween girl wants, right? By the way Cinda, that was an example of how to correctly employ irony in your writing, you might want to take note of it. Annoying douche #1 perhaps? I forget his name, because, well, he's a pretty forgettable character. You know, I think we may have a winner here... if not for the fact that he's obviously being set up as an antagonist... But, by the time this book hits chapter four he is the one and only character in the entire book that has shown even a shred of humanity and ambition, and he's the only character I can even come close to identifying with. And he's not a very interesting character either, he's just the ONLY character. The others are so thin and lifeless that they can't even be considered characters at all. He's a young nobleman chafing under his father's strictures and wanting very desperately to prove that he's worthy of being his father's son by stealing magical artifacts to prove he knows how to use them. I can identify with that. Can you? I know what it's like to feel as though I'll never live up to my parents' examples.

Now, there is something HORRIBLY WRONG when your ANTAGONIST (and I use that term VERY loosely here, as he is not clearly introduced as the antagonist in this story or not... NO ONE IS!!!) is the ONLY character in the entire book a reader can identify with at a point in said book where you should already know your characters reasonably well. You should know, by this time, generally what they want out of life, and why you should care about/hate them. Look back on my examples. In every one of those series by the time you got to chapter 4 you knew without a doubt who your protagonist was, and why you should care about them. You knew their hopes and their dreams. You knew what kind of person they were. You, perhaps, felt sorry for them because of their horrible lives, or felt a lot like them, knowing what it's like to be downtrodden, or shipped away to school away from everything you know and love, or feel inferior to your parents and desperately want to prove your worth, or be turned down for something important to you because of a physical deficiency. You identify with them. They are clearly the hero of the story and you want to see how they overcome the trials in their lives. Where was all of that in The Demon King? Who is the Protagonist? Who is this book about? Who am I supposed to care about? Why am I supposed to care about them? Where is the conflict? Who are these people the author keeps talking about and why do I care? Is something supposed to be happening? Did I miss something? Why does she keep talking about Han when Annoying Douche #1 is clearly the more compelling character? I don't get it. What's going on?

In conclusion, The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima is a horrible book that I could not even finish. The characters are ridiculously bland, and she does not seem to understand men well enough to write believable male characters. There is no plot of which to speak. Nothing happens in the first four chapters that will even come close to grabbing you. At a point in the story where you should have a pretty good idea who the characters are, and why you should care about them, she still hadn't even really introduced them to us properly. This book could be used in writing classes as an example of exactly how NOT to begin a story. I can sum this book up for you in one word. Bland.

It is my opinion that a Young Adult novel should be something that not only children but adults should enjoy as well. All of the series I cited as being better than this one, save Redwall, were books that I read as an adult and loved. Sabriel was even targeted at teenaged GIRLS and I still loved it. I doubt that my being double the target age of this book was what made it so hard for me to read it. In fact, I find it hard to believe that a boy half my age would not be incredibly bored to death by it, or even make it as far as I did. The characters are bland, the world is bland, nothing happens, there's no catch to get you interested in anything. If I could give this book negative stars, I would. It's just plain BLAND!



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Profile Image for Cece ❀Rants, Raves &Reviews❀.
250 reviews930 followers
April 3, 2023
I love this book specifically for its POVs: We have the village idiot and the spoiled princess.
Except thats just the surface-- there much more to these characters and I absolutely adored how their stereotypes were ripped to shreds

The village idiot with mysterious cuffs on his arm with weird symbols no one understands
“Maybe if you knew how to use them, you could— I don’t know—shoot flames from the palms of your hands.'
Han was thinking he was just as likely to shoot flames from his rear end”

Both have their own stories that merge a couple times but we are constantly wondering what is the connection between these extremely different characters??? Han use to be a streetlord that stole but tried to do better for his family. He has been accused of several murders and must go on the run. Dum dum duuuuum


The spoiled princess who would rather be warrior.. She knows she is naive on the ongoings of her own kingdom but she wants to know more, to do more. And i loved that about her
“Right, Raisa thought. If there ever comes a day that I can’t get into more mischief than Mellony, I’ll cut my own throat.”

Raisa has some very strong opinions. I just hated her name because for a while i thought of her as 'raisin'. *shrugs*

She fears that the wizards are becoming too powerful and when a certain high lord begins to controls the queen's thoughts or perspectives, she decides to take action on her own.


But don't worry its not all epic political manuevers, personal vendattas, and powerful magic hidden within amulets. Theres also a REALLY REALLY cute love interest solider guy that just wants to do his part in the world but can't control his feelings for the one he must protect
“At first she thought he was grumbling because she was late, but it seemed he was practicing some sort of speech.
“Your Highness, may I say how honored I am that you . . . ah . . . how pleased I am to be remembered . . . gaaaah.” He shook his head in disgust and cleared his throat. “Your Highness, I was astounded—no—surprised when you spoke to me, and hope that you might consider our friendship . . . Hanalea’s bloody bones!” he exclaimed, smacking himself in the forehead. “What an idiot.”


And when the two characters finally meet......!! Han is the friggenn worse to Raisa.
“She paused long enough to make up a lie. “Applying for a job.”
“Really? What kind of job? What are you good at?”
Her expression said, Cutting the hearts out of thieves and kidnappers."

(Have i mentioned how much I love Raisa??)

It was a mysterious world of clans, high lords, and several conflicting stories about the old powerful Demon King....
*highly recommend!!!
Profile Image for Mikee (ReadWithMikee).
203 reviews1,280 followers
February 10, 2017
Wow! I'm really surprised to say that this book blew me away. I only decided to pick this series up because I have the Flamecaster on my shelf and I didn't know that it was actually a follow up to the Seven Realms series. I wasn't sure what to expect from The Demon King but my expectations were pretty high considering how I went into this book comparing it to the Falling Kingdoms series. Although this book did have similarities to Falling Kingdoms, it's definitely its own separate story.

One of the things I didn't like about The Demon King was the slow pacing. It took about 200 pages until the story started to pick up. And even then, some parts still went by a little slow throughout the story. Things weren't exactly boring but they sure weren't too exciting either.

The worldbuilding did start off a little rocky. Cinda Williams Chima really seemed like she tried her best to explain the Seven Realms but it was a lot to take in and came off as a little info dumpy at times. It wasn't until the last half of the book that I was able to finally have a good grasp on the world and how things worked.

At first, I didn't care too much for the characters. Han was boring and I felt Raisa was a bit pretentious and stubborn, but I was able to warm up to them after 200 pages in. I also thought that our two main characters would've crossed paths for most of the story but surprisingly, they've only ran into each other once the whole entire book. I'm really curious to see these two working together again in the next book since I actually enjoy them as a duo. And I'm pretty sure this ship is canon so I'm 100% shipping it.

The romance, or shall I say ROMANCES, in The Demon King closely resembles that of the romance in the Falling Kingdoms series. Everybody is in love with everybody? Precisely. But since Falling Kingdoms probably had a love octagon to say the least, The Demon King only had a love... pentagon, if I'm not mistaken. So if you survived Falling Kingdoms, you'll surely survive The Demon King.

I keep comparing this series to the Falling Kingdoms series so I'm just going right ahead to say that if you love the Falling Kingdoms series, you'll definitely enjoy The Seven Realms series. It starts off a bit slow but once the story picks up, you won't be able to put this book down! It's an older book that came out in 2009 but I believe that it's worth a read. :)
Profile Image for Samantha.
416 reviews16.7k followers
September 19, 2016
This book lays a good foundation for the rest of the series, but it definitely drags at times and the story doesn't really get started until the end. I love the protagonists. They have a ton of room for growth. My biggest complaint was the abundance of love interests, but at least it wasn't the main theme of the story. Just a pet peeve of mine. I plan to continue with the series and I'm excited to see where it goes.
Profile Image for Anne.
3,917 reviews69.3k followers
August 8, 2017
Re-read 2016

I'm bumping this one up a star! LOVED IT!
But I'm seeing a lot of mixed (bad and/or DNF) reviews from friends, and it suddenly strikes me...


Hmmm. Well, I will admit that this is a pretty slow book in the beginning. In fact, it takes quite a few chapters to get to anything that I would personally consider even remotely interesting. I'm thinking that, perhaps, the reason I enjoyed this so much more the second time around was because I knew where everything was headed.
And make NO mistake. It is headed to somewhere fantastic.


There's a ton of world-building to get through, and maybe the POV switches aren't all that easy to stomach in this first one, but if you can ride it out...
Totally worth it. <---just my opinion.

Original 2012 review:
3 stars

It's not exactly a fast-paced read, but I enjoyed it enough to grab the second book in the series. If you're a true lover of fantasy, then you will probably enjoy the descriptions of the clans and all of that stuff...much more than I did, anyway. It wasn't as bad as adult fantasy tends to be, so that may be why I enjoyed the book.
It read more like a book that's setting up the next book, if that makes any sense.
I'm rambling, aren't I?

Ok. I really liked The Demon King, and I'm going to read the next one.

The End.
Profile Image for Maureen.
507 reviews4,201 followers
June 1, 2016
Probably even more like 4.5/5 stars

I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did - I just got it on a whim and thought this will be fun! And it was fun, and hecka addicting.
I loved the world building and the story, but mostly I just loved getting lost in a fantasy book without a lot of complicated magic systems and things to keep track of. It was so fun to just lose myself in it.
It took a bit for me to get into at first but once I was in I WAS IN TOO DEEP.
Definitely loved this and will be continuing on ASAP!
Profile Image for Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~.
347 reviews931 followers
April 18, 2018
Uhh... WELL. I don't really know what went wrong with me and this book.

I was supposed to enjoy it.

I was supposed to really enjoy it.

I was totally expecting to really enjoy it.

But sadly, I didn't.

I have heard so much praise for author Cinda Williams Chima, but for now I'm left wishing I could see what so many others have seen in her books.

I actually had a weird experience where I was under the impression that this series was a completely different story than it turned out to be. I'm sure that's the result of reading hundreds of synopses between the first time The Demon King crossed my radar & the time I finally picked it up.

Standing at the end of this book, I can't even remember what story I expected to read when I began. But me getting something I did not (or forgot to) expect is not the fault of the book. I should've just reread the damn synopsis like a regular person would.

Anyway, we follow two main protagonists:

Han, former leader of a thieving street gang, primary caretaker of his younger sister & mother, curious type willing to take possession of any ol' amulet even though might potentially kill him.

Rasia, princess heir to the Fells, cares about making the lives of her citizens better, has too many love interests.

Both of these protagonists are, predictably, 15-17 years of age.

I feel mostly indifferent about both of them. Their personalities end up feeling inevitable because I've seen them so many times before. No one is unbearable to read about, and both have plenty of potential to grow into people I may care about in the future, but for now they're just sort of there for me.

I've talked about this before, but one thing I usually can't deal with in Young Adult books is unrealistic characterization vs age. Han apparently accomplished status as a gang leader, lived it up, and decided to retire from that life all before fully completing puberty. And I just???

Why do we keep doing things like this, authors?

This is part of the reason I couldn't fully take Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo seriously either, though that book is much better than this one on many fronts.

But I always get this disjointed feeling when I am told I'm supposed to view 12-17 year old characters as hardened, badass, criminal types, but conversely shown they still possess an overwhelmingly juvenile mindset.

Around halfway through, there is a scene that squicked me out which involved a male character copping a feel of a female character's ass. In response, the female victim... well she proceeds to have sympathetic thoughts about the male character & how he's probably misunderstood. He's even on the board as a love interest in some capacity.

Uhm, no? *huge sigh*

I'm just tired of things like this, friends. It's not cute, it's gross.

Even when individual situations between characters are meant to be dramatic or interesting, I just could not force myself to engage.

This was my face while I trekked my way through this book:


The only thing I truly liked here was the political elements (surprise, surprise).

I wanted to hear more about the war in the South & the details of the conflict. I wanted to see more of the relationship between the people of the Clans and the people of Fellsmarch. I wanted more worldbuilding.

But unfortunately, time that could've been spent further developing the landscape of this series was wasted on silly relationship nonsense & small scale conflicts, neither of which captured my interest in any meaningful capacity.

I've heard from many fans that this first book is difficult to get through, but I am concerned that the parts most people found difficult are the only parts I seemed to care about (aka the political situation). I may get around to trying out The Exiled Queen, I may not. Either way, a pretty disappointing beginning.

Buddy read this with the gorgeous Wren! Here's a link to her review, if you're interested. ♥
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,606 reviews1,480 followers
March 4, 2016
Re-Read with my crew at Buddies Books & Baubles starting Feb 22, 2016

One of the best things about this book for me is that in YA usually the MCs meet and instantly it is all about them being together. Raisa is 15 almost 16 so I really like that the author has her meeting different boys (she has quite a few suitors) and playing the field a little. She doesn't just fall in love with the first of second man/boy to show an interest in her. The same goes for Han....he gets a little kissing time too with other people and when he meets Raisa he likes her but doesn't fall head over heels in love with her or anything.

For YA that is rare and I love that it is more about the story than the romantic arc of a few characters. But since I know how this series ends the slow burn of it makes everything way more believable and real and I totally love that.

However at the moment I'm totally #team Amon because *rawr* (a little secret though....Han will steal my heart in the end) but this is totally Amon's book to shine.

Original Bad Review (this is one of my very first) May 2013

We follow two separate characters of Raisa the princess and heir to the throne and Han Alister a street wise boy with a pair of magical cuffs on his wrists that he has had since infancy. This installment of the seven reams series had a lot of world building to do. By following the two different story lines we get an idea of how both the nobility and poor live. It is a rich world full of magic, sorcery, treachery and heroes. None of the characters are perfect to say the least. They all are flawed; Raisa is caring but headstrong and defiant normally rushing in without completely thinking things through. She feels trapped by some of the traditions of her kingdom. She is supposed to marry soon for the good of her country but really just wants to be free and longs for the time she was fostered by her father’s clan. Han grew up poor and to provide for his family has lived a less than honest life stealing and scheming but now he is trying to be honest but it hasn’t been easy as his old life always tries to draw him back in. Han’s life forever changes when he takes a mysterious amulet off a young wizard it leads him down a path he never dreamed of taking.

Once you get past the first hundred or so pages the story really starts to pick up momentum. I really enjoyed how well the world was described in a show me and tell me way that leant well to the overall story. It was good to see how the world was so different depending on what side you are standing on. The way the characters intertwined and met up and fell apart was also interesting. I loved the lore and backstory of the Queen and the Demon King. There was a lot of action and all of the characters were written so well and so differently it made it so easy to either like or hate them. The twists the story took made it even better and definitely unpredictable.

The way that the plot and sub plots of the story intertwined receded and merged was masterfully written. When characters met up or passed close to one another was exciting and really built anticipation for book 2 in the series. This is one of the best fantasies I’ve read.

If you are a fan of fantasy this has a little bit of everything in it romance, intrigue, magic, tragedy and hope. A definite recommend. Sure it is a slower start but well worth it.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,460 reviews9,615 followers
July 8, 2022
Reread 2022 - 3.5 Stars- I think I’m going to trade all of these in and get them in a kindle sale. This first book went from 5 to 4 Stars

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾


Old 5 Star Review 2015


I loved this book! I'm very excited about this series. It's off to an awesome start!

I love most of the characters in the book. The two main stories revolve around Han and Raisa. Han is a poor boy that lives in the towns outside of the kingdom. He has some kind of cuffs that are around his wrists and I wonder what these could be there for?... He does his best to take care of his mom and sister. At one time he was the leader of a gang, but he saw the error of his ways.

Then you have Raisa who is a little bit of a brat, but I love that she takes her life into her own hands and also that she is a princess of the Gray Wolf Lineage. She is to be a Gray Wolf Queen. Hells yeah, my favorite animal! :)

We have wizards, jerks that are guards, gangs, more jerk wizards. I just think it's a great book.

I love Raisa's dad who doesn't live at the castle. That is a whole other story you will have to read about yourself :) I love her best friend Amon, who has become a queen's guard like his father, and they don't like the corrupt guards that are in there with them, but nothing they can do for now.

I look forward to the other books.
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
838 reviews3,755 followers
February 15, 2021

Here went my night.

Yes, you read correctly. Despite my reading slump that drove me to DNF more books that I'm comfortable with yesterday, despite today being my last day of vacations and as usual busy as hell, despite the objective flaws of The Demon King, I couldn't stop reading for the life of me, and closed my reader at 6am pretty exhausted.

Worst is, I'm fighting the urge to start The Exiled Queen right now, and I can count on the finger of one hand the number of times it happened with a YA Fantasy series.

I hated Red Queen.
I thought I would die of boredom in A Court of Thorns and Roses.
I didn't care one way or another about The Young Elites, and I quickly lost my interest in Shadow and Bone.
Don't even mention the borefest that was The Kiss of Deception.
I loved the Lumatere Chronicles, but we're talking about Melina Marchetta, and The Demon King sure can't compare with it one second.

And yet, despite my issues, I enjoyed my read like nobody's business.

First of all, I ended liking the main characters even though they're far from perfect - or perhaps because of it. See, when it comes to series that go on for 4 books, I genuinely think that flaws are needed in order to picture a believable growth, especially when we meet the characters at 16.

Raisa, the somewhat selfish princess, shows the best of intentions but sometimes fails to think things through before acting, resulting in several illed-thought-out decisions that border on TSLT behavior. She's immature, annoying, and I understand why some readers had a hard time standing her. Yet despite being royalty, her issues - feeling trapped and needing to take control on her life - seemed pretty valid to me, and I LOVED the fact that she could kiss several guys without falling in love in a happily ever after fashion right away (please, am I the only one who cringes at teenager's weddings?). You go girl. I just cannot wait to see her grow into a character I can admire, and I have a feeling that I will.

Han's past as a street lord made me roll my eyes a little, because COME ON NOW, the guy's sixteen for crying out loud! That's how life rolls in the mountain city of Fellsmarch, though, so I chose to suspend my disbelief and accept it because sometimes, you just have to. I genuinely liked his free and impulsive personality and if he comes as a little whiny sometimes, you have to recognize that the guy needs a break! Oh, well. I'm not sure why, but I LOVED the guy.


Both of them make mistakes, and you're likely to fight the urge to strangle them at some point, but I cared nonetheless, for better or for worst. Moreover, after all this build-up, the anticipation to see them interact together is killing me. There, I said it.

As for the plot, many readers complained that nothing really happened in this book and that's true that it reads more like a big introduction to the world of the Seven Realms than anything else. Yet again, I was hooked from the very beginning and couldn't stop reading, so there's that. Not to mention that I guessed all the twists, because if you read Fantasy before, you just cannot help. Did it bother me? In all honestly, no. That's what I call the good kind of predictable, because every time a guess was confirmed, I was glad it was. The Demon King is full of Fantasy tropes, but it stays clear of girl hate and instalove, and then I was able to enjoy the hell out of it. Don't judge me.

However, my biggest complaint would be the way grief is handled. I don't know about you, but when characters face awful events, I expect to feel something, and sadly I didn't. It was Mockingjay all over again, letting me stunned and rather indifferent when I ought to despair.

► All in all, The Demon King was a good introduction to the Seven Realms, and if I can't recommend it blindly, if you're not put off by Fantasy tropes and characters who take stupid decisions sometimes, I'd say that you should go for it, because it's damn entertaining and addictive.

For more of my reviews, please visit:
Profile Image for Kristi.
1,188 reviews2,893 followers
October 27, 2009
Three words; fa, reaking, awesome!

Now I remember why I love fantasy so much! Especially a kick-butt high fantasy like this one.

Chima has masterfully created an intriguing world, with a cast full of memorable characters.

The chapters somewhat alternate between Han and Raisa. Divulging the depth of each character and the world around them, presented in their own P.O.V. I love when authors do this. I like that connection you get when the story is presented in this format. I am emotionally invested in these characters, I actually care what happens to them!

The plot was insane, in a good way. I didn't even begin to try to figure out where this story was going to take me, I had some inclinations (and they happened to be right) but it was nice just to go with the flow and let the story lead me where it wanted me to go.

The writing... I'm just going to throw masterful out there again, because it was just that. I was transported to another world. Fantastic!

I can not wait to read the rest of this series! I'm not looking forward to waiting, I can tell you that much. Will definitely be adding this one to my personal library.
Profile Image for Amy.
150 reviews54 followers
April 28, 2010
THE DEMON KING was a perfect maelstrom of practically everything I love in a book. Court intrigue, captivating characters, intricate plotting, enticing romances, and brilliant world building coalesce to deliver the best high fantasy story EVER.

The characters in Chima's story are extremely well developed; each had their own unique personality that distinguished him or her as an individual entity, subsequently allowing me to easily love or hate them. In the case of Han Alister- LOVE. Han is a reformed streetlord who has a hard exterior but a heart of damn gold on the inside. It's cute. Trust me. Princess Raisa ana'Marianna is headstrong and independent and occasionally annoying in her tendency to want things her way, but then again- she is a princess. And because she is a princess, there are duties aplenty that await her when she comes of age and strict rules everywhere to prevent her from ever stepping out of line--it is evident that she chafes under these restraints and so therefore when she finds ways to evade these expectations and find adventures on her own or defy the rules, it's extremely satisfying and adds even more excitement to the plot. These are the two main characters but there is also a diverse array of other well fleshed-out characters that give the story greater color and taste.

The story is told in the alternating viewpoints of Han and Raisa, with an occasional insertion of the viewpoint of other, slightly less major characters. If I had to describe the story in one sentence, I couldn't. The subplots merge and diverge; they tell separate stories of Han and Raisa and the hardships they face, and occasionally combine in the chance occasions when their paths meet. Because this is the first of a trilogy, Han and Raisa do not quite get to ah, know each other's true identity yet, but this only adds to the thrill of the story and to my keen anticipation for book 2.

One of my favorite parts of the story was the wonderful world building that happens. Wow- this world that Chima has created is so resoundingly real in its descriptions and traditions and people. It is reminiscent of Tamora Pierce's works in several ways, and because personally I am a huge fan of Pierce, this could only add to my love of the story. For example, there is, in this story, the inclusion of street gangs, and thiefs, and temples, and lively and diverse and vibrant cities full of trade and corruption and poverty and splendor and legends, all juxtaposed to forge a unique identity that cement the magnificent world building at work here. If and when you read this book, you will be immersed in this world as you turn the pages and when the story ends, you might very well be reluctant to bid this world farewell and re-enter the real one. I know I was.

I've always been a fan of books with court intrigue and other courtly functions, and this book does not disappoint. There are irresistible wizards and gallant soldiers, secret escapades in the night and intoxicating flirts, extravagant balls and pretty dresses. The romantic scenes in this book, when they do occur, are extremely satisfying to read. But okay, before this starts sounding like a Harlequin romance, let me tell you- it's not. The inclusion of these romantic aspects lend an air of the game of flirting and politics that is rife among any royal court in any land or any story. This is mostly in Raisa's portion of the story, but in Han's end there is romance as well.

This review does not do the book justice, period. I've tried my best to convey the sense of wonder and love and interest I felt while reading this book, only to succeed with paltry results. Nevertheless, this book is the perfect fit for fantasy readers as well as everyone else out there. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink.
259 reviews4,891 followers
June 5, 2017
YAS. Thank goodness- another legit series to get into!!

Wahoo... Okay. Initial thoughts....This is going to be a quick review because really I just want to read book #2 after all the raving reviews from friends... (though I'll probably come back and update this review later. Whatever.)

So here we go.

The world is MY kind of world. Quarreling kingdoms, forbidden magic, clans... street gangs... yeah baby. Love it.

The pace was a little slow to start but I didn't mind too much. I think most of this book was a nice set up for things to come. Whatever.. I'm thrilled about the possibilities.

There are several characters just brimming with possibilities. A certain someone has Darkling potential (though on one will ever measure up...mmk.. but I'll take what I can get...), and another character is basically a mix between Day (from Legend) and Liam (from Darkest Minds). Gotta love him. The princess... well honestly I like that she's a naive but determined- and eager to do the right thing. Definitely relatable. MK and the ships? I can't tell much yet but I'm fine with any of them.

Oh and the ending? YES.

OOOOK gonna go read book 2 because I don't want to wait. I'M READY FOR THE FEEEELS.

Wow this might be the crappiest review I've ever written. Sorry guys.

My Blog ~ Instagram ~ Twitter ~ Etsy
Profile Image for Jiana.
296 reviews818 followers
March 5, 2017
1.5 Stars

Buddy read with Cait, who liked it way more than I did. If you want to check out her positive review, here it is.


I should've just DNFed this. I'll be honest, I did consider doing it a few times, but noooooo, I had to give it a chance. I kept on hoping it'd get better. But nope.


Obviously, I'm an unpopular opinion here since this has a 4.20 average rating. But oh. It wasn't my cup of tea.

I'm just SO SAD AND ANGRY AND DISAPPOINTED. Do you know how excited I was?! I was so damn excited. Caitlin and I were so excited to read it and buy the boxset. I needed this to be good so I could buy the boxset, man. Caitlin really enjoyed the book and told me I'd have to push through the first 10 chapters because they are slow and confusing and then the book would get really good. And so I did. Did the book get any better? Not for me. Here, I started considering DNFing it and even Cait encouraged me because she knew it wasn't going to get better for me past that point. Oh well.

I DON'T KNOW HOW TO EVEN REVIEW THIS. It was so, so, so, uttely slow and boring. I could go on and on about how boring it is and it still wouldn't describe how boring it was for me. It was mind numbing. I get that first books in series are usually slow because of all the world-building and that, but it's not okay for me when the entirety of the book is boring as all hell. At first, I was enjoying the female MCs chapters, but then I quickly lost interest.

Now. The world-building. Oh my God. I also understand when world-building is confusing at first. It's normal. But this way too confusing and overwhelming. Everything was confusing! I was lost during most of the book. Personally, I don't think Cinda Williams Chima did the best job explaining the overall world. Don't get wrong, I did understand things here and there; I wasn't completely oblivious. But I shouldn't reach the end of the book still unsure if I understand the world right. I shouldn't feel overwhelmed throughout the entirety of a book.

The MCs, Han and Raisa were just... well, I don't really care about either of them. I felt no connection to either of them. I never cared about Han, not for one chapter even. His chapters were the most confusing and I didn't understand where his plot was going. Raisa's chapters were much easier, but did I care? Nope. As I stated before, I was actually enjoying her chapters at first. They gave me Falling Kingdoms vibes, but then I quickly lost interest and I didn't give a damn about Raisa wanting to rebel against her family's wishes and the Queendom's rules or all the boys she's kissed (I'm not against that - she can kiss whoever she wants, but every time Raisa introduced some boy, it would be a boy she shared a few kisses with here and there. Is there nothing more to say about said boy??????). As for the side characters, I also didn't give a damn about any. I liked Amon at first. He reminded me of Chaol (Throne of Glass) and Theon (Falling Kingdoms) and I quickly liked him. But once again, I quickly lost interest.

The plot... was there really a plot? It was just small random subplots here and there. No big conflict. EVERYTHING WAS SO BLAND. Nothing big was happening. It was just random events being told. GAH. I think the actual plot started with the last two chapters. Too late. Chima's writing was personally bland. It didn't hold my attention and I basically got distracted 1827832 times reading this. I'd literally wake up, read a bit, end up falling asleep again. Wow.

All in all: boring, bland, nothing special.

GAHKADFHJKDDSJFJDS. I'm so disappointed. I wanted to love this! I was so sure I would. I even read reviews of people comparing it to Falling Kingdoms and I loved Falling Kingdoms. I gave it 5 stars... but GAH. OH WELL. I'm still sad, okay. I do understand why people would've enjoyed it, I think it had lots of potential, but again the execution was lacking in all areas. Maybe the series gets way better and an actual plot develops and occurs. Will I give the second book a try? Nope. BYE, BOOK.


I'm super excited for this and I JUST NEED THIS TO BE GOOD. Please don't disappoint.
Profile Image for Ashley Nuckles.
190 reviews7,257 followers
February 10, 2021
I didn’t like this one as much as I’d hoped BUT I have a feeling the second one will be better! Still enjoyed this one for the most part though

Good things: I lovedddd Raisa, once the story got going I read most of it in one day, though the plot/plot twists were predictable I still enjoyed the story overall!

Not-so-good things: the pace was VERY slow in the beginning and took me a long time to get into, some of the description I was not a fan of (specifically when it came to Han’s POV), & there didn’t seem to be an actual plot but more so a bunch of threads and subplots that twined together

Looking forward to reading book 2 to see where this goes!
Profile Image for Tani.
245 reviews256 followers
March 21, 2020

“Hanalea's Bloody Bones!!!!”

Finally, I've found myself to be crazy about a book after a very long time. I had lot of anticipation of the book because I had procrastinated to read it for a while. I've tried my level best to hate this book, but unfortunately I couldn't. I know many of them hated the slow pace of the book but I think patience is a must to read this book as it was worth it. At the beginning, the description about the kingdom, clans, history, geography, etc. were too tedious for reading but eventually as the story progressed the attention - grabbing grip of this story increased. It is later realised that the lengthy details given are important, too. I'm overwhelmed with curiosity to continue this series due to the cliffhanger. So who cares whether the story was slow paced or fast paced if one’s going to get an amazing story in return?

This is the beginning of the saga about Hanson Alister a.k.a Hunts Alone a.k.a Hans a.k.a Cuffs, a former street lord of Raggers, who lives his life by earning daily bread and butter by doing odd jobs and Princess Raisa ana’ Marianna, the heir of the Grey Wolf throne of the Fellsmarch, who has returned to her kingdom after living with Demonai clan. It was entwined with a revered legend about the terrible ‘Breaking’ occurred after the use of dark magic by the Demon King followed by the destruction of the Demon King by Princess Hanalea ana’ Maria, the last queen of the old line of the Grey Wolf throne of the Fellsmarch. Their tale was expected to be the triumph of the good over the evil only but there was more to it.

“History. Why do we need to know what happened before we were born?”
“So hopefully we get smarter and don't make the same mistakes again.”

Hans Allister, a former leader of gang, is guilt- ridden for his past actions and tries his best to keep his family safe and sound. His life is mixed with dangerous threats as he’s still recognised as the leader. He was a grifter. He has a pair of cuffs, each on his either hands, which is considered to be magical as they've changed their sizes throughout his entire life since his birth. One day, he takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to protect his friend and himself from further harm by the wizard. Later, it is revealed to be similar to the amulet of the infamous wizard, the Demon King.

“Take the charge of the horse you're riding before you try to rein in someone else's.”

Princess Raisa was enigmatic, headstrong and fiery girl who was driven by her ambition for the welfare of her kingdom and a strong urge to find freedom for herself. One might consider her as outrageously rebellious but I think she's just a girl who doesn't want luxuries and comfort as she was born in royalty but earn her own respect and strength over the kingdom by sympathising the people and being vigilant to bring the prosperity to her kingdom. She tries her best to warn Queen Marianna, her mother, about forthcoming threats on the kingdom but her mother turns a blind eye towards it.

Initially, the book felt it was dragging every ounce of patience and tolerance within me but I kept reading because I didn't want to leave it unread and lose a chance for getting to know what exactly made some of my friends like this book. At last, I was very wrong to consider it was boring. The turn of the events when the protagonists meet for the first time dumbfounded me. Seriously, that was unexpectedly surprising. I felt more connected to Raisa than Han. I liked that the queens were given more importance in the royal line which is unique. After almost 35 % of the book, the story kept up increasing its tempo till the end. The cliffhanger made me to like this entire book and actually understand everything that was left unexplained. The climax of the story created internal conflict of emotions within me because at first I was definitely going to give a negative review but I couldn't after reading everything.

The characters had depth and intriguing spark with their own charisma which kept building up. The flow of the writing was captivating as the story begins to be interesting. The conversation / dialogues were good enough for the story. The world building was mesmerizing and vibrant. The overall plot was dynamic and exhilarating. The novelty in the story was that both the protagonists had different lives and almost nothing was common between them. The protagonists are together in the book for almost 10% or less.

About the flaws, I felt the book could've been improved a bit. The starting of the book was the main drawback. But considering most of the fantasy series’ first book don't create a wham- bam great impressions, I felt this book was lot better comparatively. There wasn’t any cheesy and mushy romance. Instead we get acquainted with the characters a lot. It has no love at first sight or insta- love. If anyone’s up for a fantasy book with no insta- love, no irrational melodrama and no over and above ridiculousness, the book can be a fun for reading.

Thanks for reading my review. Happy Reading!!!  😊
Profile Image for Choko.
1,197 reviews2,583 followers
April 10, 2023
*** 4.55 ***

A buddy read with my wizards at BB&B!

I loved it! What else can I say? The Old School Fantasy feel that this book exudes is magnetic and magical! Someone said it was also very obviously written by a woman, implying that this somehow diminished its value as a Fantasy.... I call that bull! This is a story strong enough to attract and keep both male and female audiences enraptured with it on its own merits, regardless the gender sensitivity of the author....

The world building is meticulous without being obstructive, the characters are vibrant and alive, the story is strongly reminiscent of the classic High Fantasy works, but at the same time it is unique and beautiful in its own way. Yes, there is a very strong and willful female protagonist, but there are several male counterparts who are strong, complex, and sometimes even moody:-) And I hope they continue being so, because I am planning on reading every darn page of this series!!!

I recommend this book to all who love Fantasy and just plain good storytelling!!!

Happy reading to all!!!
Profile Image for Zain Otoom.
130 reviews187 followers
November 18, 2017
I really enjoyed this book. It wasn't what I expected but nonetheless, it was good. This book is so slow at the beginning. It picks up roughly after chapter 12/13, or page 200 or so. It's definitely a build up book. There's so much world building in this book it's crazy, and I have to say, it was one of my favorite parts about this book. I listened to most of this book on audiobook because I was struggling to get into it, so if you seem to have the same problem, I recommend listening to the audiobook instead. The narrator is quite good!
Now I'd like to talk about the characters:
I like Raisa a lot. Her personality is explosive, she's stubborn and strong-willed. Even if you might feel like a boy who thinks himself a little handsome might sway her in anything involving her Queendom, you're wrong. She enjoys the company and silly dates and stolen kisses, but she's a future warrior queen, alright. She's spunky and clever and has her wits about her which I really liked. I see a huge character development that Raisa will go through and, oh I can't wait.
One thing though, why is she like 15? That's too young, but what am I to say when I'm 16 myself.
Even though I preferred Raisa's pov over his, I still enjoyed it. Though, I find Han to be more of a little lost puppy than a former streetlord. Not that he's not badass or anything, but he's just too sweet. When someone says streetlord, I think of a cunning asshole who has no conscience with a maddening level of genius. But I guess that just me. He doesn't seem to think sometimes, but I tried to keep in mind his own situation and the way his life is. Lies, mistrust, abuse, grief and some loneliness, and let's not forget the fact he's just 16. I'm glad he has Dancer to be his friend.
I love him? I found him really comfortable and really caring for Raisa. And even though you see from his perspective only twice, he truly makes an intriguing character, and I wish to know more about him. Honestly? Despite the predictable nature of the romance, I wouldn't mind if Raisa ended up with him.
All the other characters—expect Amon's father, Raisa's and Dancer—were annoying as fuck, as they were meant to be. So bravo, Chima, you succeeded in creating insufferable characters. From her fuckity the Queen to that asshole Bayar and his son. Micah is such a tool. I hate weak tools who have no character beyond their outer looks.
World Building
It's so complex and interesting, and so full of things I have yet to learn. It's evident that the author spent time actually thinking of the world. From politics to the really intriguing magic system, and to the intricate history full of lies and deception, consider me amazed. I didn't find myself bored whatsoever reading the parts that involved world building. So well done.
The Plot
This book is just a build up for the main plot. An evident plot doesn't appear in this book till the very last end. Not to say it's entirely boring, not at all, but you do have to be patient. There are, of course, parts where I found to useless to the plot, but they were good for character introduction. I feel like I truly, now, know both world and characters well enough to get to the butter of this series. And boy does it sound promising.
All in all, I do recommend this book to anyone with enough patience, because I'm sure you'll rewarded with a really good and unforgettable YA fantasy series.
I will definitely continue this series on, and soon, I hope!
Profile Image for Nouf *LostinFantasy*.
145 reviews127 followers
November 7, 2016
I didn't expect to enjoy this book so much but I ended up loving it! The world building, setting, and characters were everything I look for in a fantasy book! I guess you can say this first book in the series was pretty much 500 pages of introducing and setting up the plot. But I was still completely wrapped up in the characters' adventures and how everything came together in the end!

The dark history between the wizards and the clans and the line of queens (yes, it's a queendom!) is what shapes the plot and secrets of the book. And all the trouble and adventure kicks off when Han, one of the two main characters, takes home a magical amulet that turns out might be connected to the legend of the Demon King (the wizard that almost ended their world a thousand years before). The story is told mainly through two POV's -- moving between the extravagance and deceptions of royal life with Princess heir, Raisa (and her best friend and guard, Amon), and then the hardships of being targeted on the streets with former thief, Han Alister.

I liked all the characters, really - even the shifty Micah. And usually I get really annoyed with romantic triangles in YA fantasy, but I'm excited about all the character relationships here. I shipped Raisa a little bit with all three guys in the story (not sorry). Still, those few hints and sparks of romance don't drive her actions or take over the plot. I loved Raisa as the heroine of the story. She's stubborn and acts like an entitled sixteen year old princess but I really like how proactive she is as a character, not allowing herself to remain a naive princess or to turn a blind eye to anything - I can really see her developing wonderfully through the series.

I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens next. There's a few books I was planning on reading before continuing this series but I'm ready to pick up the next book right now despite having just spent the entire day finishing this one!

Profile Image for Lexie.
222 reviews195 followers
February 7, 2016
Reviewed at The Honest Bookclub.


Han Alister:
• a drifter and a grifter
• a life of perpetual uncertainty
• a home he can't visit and a foster camp he can't call home.

Raisa ana'Marianna:
• a princess
• a life planned for her before she was even born
• a home she can't leave, far from a camp she calls her real home.

Han and Raisa are about to meet - in a world brought down by wizards but where wizards rule from the shadows, and in queendom run by a queen who circumvents conflict. They'll meet in street-gang territory where street gangs are the least dangerous denizen. And though Han and Raisa's worlds are about to collide, their stories will unveil separately.

Needless to say, The Demon King is a wonderful mass of contradictions. Its biggest contradiction to date is how good it is, and how it never quite got the acclaim that it deserves.

(Based on book one, at the very least.)

Before I get into any aspect of the story, I will be kind and generous and impart this great advice - STAY AWAY FROM THE SYNOPSIS. This, of course, varies depending on which edition of the book you have (or which edition you look up on Goodreads). But the synopsis on the back cover of my book (bought as a box set, to whom it may concern) was so needlessly detailed that it revealed half of the book's plot, and pretty much gave me a rundown of all the plot twists meant to take me by surprise. If ever there was a series where knowing less is more, this is it. The synopsis is your enemy. If you aren't best friends with spoilers, at any rate. Now... *clears throat* Moving on to the book praise.

First off, I am biased. I am biased as heck about this series. Fantasy is my literary home. It's where I run when things get really scary in other genres (only to be re-traumatized by fantasy in turn - but that's a self-inflicted, masochistic sort of thing). This is mostly because I find that when fantasy fails, it doesn't often fail as dramatically as other genres. A fantasy book/series can go wrong, of course. There are almost mapped pitfalls where it can hit a snag and drag, drag, drag.

The Demon King, needless to say, didn't. And witnessing it swerve around the pitfalls was beautiful.

Some of the time, the world and the overall plot in fantasy serve as a kind of muted, faded backdrop for the rampant romance in the forefront. The Demon King doesn't. (If you're noticing a theme here... the theme is noticing you back and winking. It's wearing glitter, so you know it isn't going for subtle.) Sometimes I will still read a romancey fantasy series, because I'm a hypocrite who basks in their own hypocrisy. But most of the time, I'll feel cheated. The Demon King follows two separate protagonist in same, yet vastly different worlds, as they fight their vastly different battles. The natural assumption is that they will naturally meet and interact. And so they shall. But if you're expecting awkward teenage sexual tension and dream sequences where that was the first night Raisa dreamed of Han Alister - HA. That's my professional assessment - HA. Make of that what you will.
Alternatively, fantasy can be slow. The Demon King... you guessed it, isn't. In the interest of not spoiling you to anything beyond chapter one, I will say that in this first chapter alone, there are wizards, a forest fire, a standoff, a making of arch nemeses, cursed talismans, and a mention of demons. So there.

These, incidentally, aren't even the highlights. The highlights, in my fantasy-loving heavily-biased opinion stand thusly:
I love the worst thusly and it's a highlight in and of itself.
Queens, wizards and shamans are in power. Cue epicness Wizards and shamans lowkey hate each other. Cue epic power struggles.
QUEENDOM! MATRIARCHY! Not only is this land ruled by a long line of QUEENS, all from names to titles and status is inherited from mothers. Even in camps which adhere to very few rules of the queendom, the matriarchs are in charge, and women are beyond respected.
The story touches on some themes explored in The Giver - the curse of one who sees the world for what it is clearly, and who knows it for what it was.
NO ONE writes teenagers like Cinda Williams Chima. Even in this charged, epic fantasy setting, the teenage characters read like teenagers! They aren't precocious fifty year-olds in teenage bodies. They are, you know, sixteen years old, with all its occasional awkwardness and poor decision-making. Han's relationships with his friends and his inability to find his own independent identity at times should resonate with just about every human being, if only in retrospect. Seeing Han laugh at the urban legends surrounding him and exclaiming that "[He is] only sixteen, how could any of [the legends about him] be true?" was a new high for me. Raisa's constant questioning and occasional spite are also quintessentially sixteen. The easiest thing to get Raisa to do something is to inform her that it's forbidden. She disappears in a poof of smoke like a cartoon character, and she's off doing it right now, immediately, this very second. She isn't every sixteen year-old, but she is in no way a wise, sensible adult. (Just in case such people exist. I've heard rumors. Scary, scary rumors.)

As for the bad? Well, I saw the plot twists coming from about page five. But I'm almost certain that this is the oversharing synopsis's fault far more than the book's. The synopsis is that one aunt at a family gathering who never stops talking, usually about unsightly moles and surgeries. During meals. In glorious detail.

So avoid the synopsis, really. But absolutely give this book a chance. I hear the series gets better with each installment, too, not that that's even possible. But I dare you, in an official-challenge capacity, to find out alongside me.
Profile Image for Caitlin.
339 reviews701 followers
March 4, 2017
Buddy read with Jia!

Wow. I had high hopes for this series and I was not at all disappointed. It was such a promising start to what I know will be an amazing series. This book was highly intimidating because it was high fantasy and the chapters were 20 pages long. I'll admit, I did struggle through the first 5-10 chapters because it was a lot of world building and characters to process and learn about. However, when I sat down and really dedicated my time to the book, I flew through it and adored it.

I've seen some comparison to the Falling Kingdoms series and I'd definitely say that if you love Falling Kingdoms, this will be right up your alley (and vice versa). The story in both series are definitely very different but there's certainly similarities. However, there's way less death in this book - which kinda sucks. I want some crazy shit to go down and everyone just DIE.

Okay, so for some reason I normally like male characters way more than female characters. However, I instantly formed a connection to Raisa and I adored her throughout the entire book - she's definitely my favourite character. I think this was definitely because of the fact that her story seemed to be easier to follow and even though there were lots of characters in her plot, you could still easily understand the dynamic. However, Han was definitely a more complex character. He's mixed up in a whole bunch of shit and his story isn't as easy to follow, I guess. I really struggled with his chapters for about maybe half of the book but it definitely got easier when you understood who was who and what the hell was happening in his life. When Raisa and Han met I almost screamed. I loved seeing these 2 characters meet and seeing their perspective of each other. I want to see way more of their interactions and, from the blurb of the next book, there will be lots of them together. Is it bad that I already kinda ship it? I have 0 idea about the ships but I feel like they'll be endgame and I can 10/10 be on board this.

Look, plot wise this book is pretty fast paced when it gets into it - even though it has a bit of a slow start. I enjoyed seeing the dynamic between all of the characters and what the hell is going on in this mess of a Queendom. Overall, this book was great and I can't wait to see what's to come!
March 15, 2016

He called her Briar Rose, he said, because of her beauty. And her many thorns.

It's not often that I find a YA fantasy series that enraptures me the way this one did. It's no secret that I am very picky when it comes to reading these, as well. Needless to say, I've been side-eyeing this series for FOREVER, yet I have never taken the plunge. I've mentioned it to a couple of my closest friends and have felt there was something special about it for a long while. So why not leap right in then? I don't know...because I'm stupid???

There comes a time when my cautious nature and blurred lines cause a lot of missed opportunities, and this one is by far one of the greatest. Had my great friend, Jen, not bought me this for my birthday (among many others, sigh, spoiled), it might have even been another year before I even considered it again. I go through phases, ya know? So, anyway, here comes my husband's family vacation and I know I will likely have time to basque in the glory that is no drowsiness from work. Whatever should I read, I thought? Well, this one was on my list. My only mistake (besides having to listen to people incessantly talking in my ear 24/7 whilst I tried to cram read)? Saving this one for the end of the week.

Or was that a gift in disguise? It's also no secret that I found another series I absolutely fucking adored from the minute I picked it up, enrapturing me for 90% of the trip, and for that I can't say I made many mistakes. However, I do regret only having a couple days, in the end, of Han time. Because I waited, though, here I am getting to post a more coherent review than any of my poor Nevermore books did, and that breaks my heart, because there will never be enough time in my life to go back and re-write all those mini-reviews. I do plan to add quotes to them ALL, though, so be warned *pointy finger emoji*.

ANYWAY, my time is winding down even as I dawdle on meaningless chit chat. All I really wanted to portray in this review for my great friends is this: This story was addicting beyond words, creative beyond measure, and Han will steal your heart before you even realize the little thief has weaseled his way into your soul-He has an uncanny knack for such things. And, hey, even better, he hasn't even fully developed into the hero I know (and hear, from a little snake/Dark Pup) he will become. I can't even WAIT for book three and four (YES, I AM DONE WITH BOOK TWO).

He was not the sort to try and reconcile the warring souls that lived inside his body.
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.

So why only four, you ask, while I wrap up this pitiful mini-review? I can't be sure other than the fact that maybe I wanted a little more, in the end. For a fantasy, I found this book was not boring, but, in fact, unputdownable. From the beginning I was captured in it's alluring web with no way out, and Han was nipping at my heels, making my heart beat faster than I could have possibly expected. But then, at the end (and maybe I was tired), I wanted more as the last 20% began to unwind. Oh yeah-I'm saving that last star for the last two books. Let's hope they impress me in ways I can't fathom, at this point.

Peril? Oh boy, this series is guna have it in spades.
Romance? I CAN'T EVEN.
World? What's not to love?

I dunno. This isn't what I wanted for ANY of my reviews in the last week, but at least this one got some more from me than just 'oh my GAWD, I can't even.' *shrugs*

For more of my reviews, please visit:

This. Book. Was. Excellent ! I can't even begin to explain how happy I am that I loved this...I've been eyeing it for years and finally my lovely Jen took fate out of my hands and got it for me for my birthday...THANK YOU, LOVELY!!!! I ADORED this.

HANNNNNNNNN.!!!! Onto book two...so frikkin' excited I read this on my vacation. :D

RTC! *fingers crossed* hopefully...
Profile Image for Stacia (the 2010 club).
1,045 reviews3,955 followers
January 3, 2013
I have the hardest time reviewing fantasy books. I'm not sure why this is. Maybe because so much is constantly going on, it leaves me a bit stumped as to how to summarize everything in an eloquent fashion.

Fans of traditional fantasy, whether it be adult or YA, will most likely appreciate this series. The Demon King read very much like a slightly scaled down version of a good adult epic fantasy - not much was held back for the sake of a younger audience.

From the good to the evil characters, I found most, if not all, of them interesting. This doesn't happen often for me in books, which makes me look forward to reading the next installment.

Profile Image for Victor.
254 reviews4,536 followers
December 29, 2018
SENSACIONAL. Não tem outra palavra. Já soube logo no começo, de tão forte que me envolveu nas primeiras páginas, que o livro todo seria fantástico.

A história é incrivelmente complexa, cheia de detalhes e subtramas, mas ao mesmo tempo muito fácil de compreender. Ela se constrói na sua cabeça, junto com esse universo maravilhoso e personagens únicos, que quando você vê, está completamente imerso e não consegue parar de ler. Eu, de verdade, não conseguia fechar o livro no fim de um capítulo sem a vontade de continuar na mesma hora.

Acredito que a forma mais convincente de compreender o quão bom esse livro é seja só lendo mesmo. Não tem como explicar todos os sentimentos que ele trás. A escrita é muito boa, profissional, bem regrada e deliciosa. O ritmo é perfeito e eu amei ambas as realidades: a da princesa e a de Han. Me apeguei muito a todos os personagens e consegui desenvolver muitos sentimentos ao longo da história por eles, seja aversão pelos ruins ou amor pelos mais queridos. O universo também é muito bem construído e o sistema de magia é incrível. Sério, mal posso esperar pra ler sobre outros lugares do mapa que ainda não foram mencionados no primeiro volume. Parece que todo esse mundo já existe, sabe? Só falta você explorar.

Estou mega ansioso pra continuar e descobrir o que vai acontecer. A trama é surpreendente e vai para todos os lados, então tenho certeza de que muita coisa imprevisível ainda pode acontecer. Não vou negar, tiveram alguns momentos de previsibilidade em que pareceu que a autora não soube esconder muito bem e criar um suspense maior ao redor de algum mistério. Para mim, alguns segredos eram um tanto óbvios. Mas, de qualquer forma, não deixou de me surpreender em muitos outros aspectos. Talvez eu tenha lido muita fantasia já, e algumas coisas acabam se repetindo no gênero, só isso.

Agora com licença, vou ali dormir abraçado com o livro.
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