Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Review: The Demon King

The Demon King (Seven Realms, #1)The Demon King

Series: Seven Realms, #1
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Reading Level and Genre(s): YA Fantasy
Features: Sorcery
Publisher: Hyperion
Publication Date: October 6, 2009
Source: Public library
This novel marks the first giant step in a momentous fantasy journey orchestrated by Cinda Williams Chima, the author of the popular Warrior Heir series. Its two chief protagonists are ex-thief Han Alister, an impoverished commoner, and Raisa ana'Marianna, the headstrong Princess Heir of the Fells. The Demon King brings them together, creating part of a volatile mix of action, magic, and danger. Empathetic characters; wizardly attacks.
I picked up this book after reading raving reviews and seeing its cover many, many times sitting in the public library. It looked like the type of book I would read. The title, the cover, the map on the inside flap... it depicted an entirely new fantasy world that captivates its readers. I tend to compare books I read with previously read books, and this is one I would compare with Eragon. Mostly because of the original setting that this novel takes part in.

Chima is obviously an experienced writer, and I really enjoyed her writing style and prose. The book is an adventurous coming-of-age novel, with a pinch of likable humor and mystery. The world she creates has layers. It's not just a shallow setting, but a deep world with a history. This is where I found what I consider a flaw. There's too much old history in this book that is mentioned, but never really explained. The Breaking? The Demon King? Hanalea? There's so much backstory, and we never really know what any of them are. Especially the Breaking. All I know is a bunch of wizards went ballistic or something. Also, I found the geography of the world to be confusing. The many languages and dialects that are spoken in the one country, along with the many cultures and groups got all mixed up in my mind. The flatlanders? The uplanders? The highlanders? Who's who? Who lives where and speaks what? It was too much for me, and the map wasn't very helpful.

The novel started out slowly for me, but it got more exciting near the end when it actually got dangerous. And of course, a rather large bomb was dropped that wasn't entirely surprising. The entire time, though, I was questioning exactly what was going on. For the main part of it, we were just going along with Raisa and Han, following them on their little adventures. There seemed to be no overall goal or objective in this novel, such as saving the life of an important character or, heck, the entire world. (Which isn't like Eragon. He had to train and kill the evil king.)

As for the many characters, I didn't really find any I particularly enjoyed except some of the wise, old adult figures. Namely Raisa's dad and Mother Elena. Raisa's mom is a completely different story. A weak-minded, easily-controlled Queen who's being deceieved and misled, and not realizing it at all. It's rather aggravating, really, considering the fact that we all know what's going on. It was all the more infuriating because the Breaking was constantly mentioned, and from what I could gather, it seemed that it started when a Queen was manipulated by an evil wizard. Which is exactly what is going on right now. HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF, PEOPLE. 

I found Raisa annoying when it came to her relationship with guys. Sure, she can flirt and have fun all she wants. But her attitude felt too flippant to me. I did admire her independence and strength, though. She's definitely going to be a better queen than her mother.

Han was also rather disappointing. He was a sad character, the shadow of a formerly notorious streetlord. Despite his experience and so-called skill, he was beaten up numerous times and seemed to be trapped quite often. Or just useless and lounging around. Which he's allowed to. I mean, he's a kid. Go ahead and relax. But he just had no meaning with life and I found myself not really caring for him. However, with the end of this novel, my hopes lifted, and I think he'll become more interesting later on in the series.

Having voiced all my complaints with this novel, you guys, the readers, must remember that I always point out the bad things over the good. Simply because those come to mind more easily when I'm plotting my review (Yes, I do that). I'm just not great at complimenting things.

I recommend this novel to the fantasy adventure-hungry middle or high schooler. It's an good read that you can easily get caught up in, and I am gladly continuing the series. I see definite potential for the rest of the books.

First Line:

Han Alister squatted next to the steaming mud spring, praying that the thermal crust would hold his weight.
Disclaimers: Per the FTC regulations, please note that iLive, iLaugh, iLove Books does receive books for review for free by publishers or authors. For every book reviewed – whether sent by publisher, author or books purchased, it will be graded with a clean and open mind. A free book received will not influence any opinion of the contents of the book.
Spoilers may or may not have been present in this review. While iLive, iLaugh, iLove Books does review honestly, reviews are not specifically checked for spoilers. Attempts at avoiding spoilers are made, but not all are removed or fixed. This disclaimer is a general statement placed on all reviews as a warning to those who read them.


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