Life in the Fells hasn't been easy for Hanson Alister. He's left a life of crime behind and now is just trying to keep his mom and younger sister off the streets. While hunting in the woods one day with his friend Fire Dancer, the two come across a trio of young wizards who should not be anywhere near the mountain. Trying to make the wizards pay for their trespass, the boys take an amulet of magic from their leader, Micah Bayar, not having any idea how powerful said amulet is. But Micah's father is the High Wizard and he knows exactly how powerful the amulet is and will stop at nothing to get it back.
As distant from Han and his troubles in the streets is Raisa ana'Marianna, Princess Heir of the Fells is struggling with her own set of problems. Even though she's only 16, he mother wants to marry her off as soon as possible, a move which Raisa can only see as bad for everyone in their country. Unlike her flighty mother the Queen, Raisa wants to take a more hands-on approach to the monarchy, but continually meets resistance at every turn. When Raisa's clandestine escape from the palace takes an unexpected detour and she ends up in the path of 'Cuffs,' her entire outlook on the city - and the criminal himself - will change.
There are so many good things going on in the Demon King. While I really enjoyed Cinda Williams Chima's Heir series, I often found myself not completely focusing on the story at hand, but The Demon King? It shares no such flaw and is miles above it’s predecessors. Fabulous world-building, flawed characters with closets stuffed full of skeletons make this an unputdownable read even though it boasts a weighty 512 pages. I will confess that it did take me a good 50 or 100 pages to really get into the rhythm of The Demon King. Perhaps it was the setup of so many characters and different cultures, but I did have a hard time at first connecting. But boy howdy, once I got Ms. Chima’s groove – I was moving fast and hard through the Fells so completely caught up in the story, I was more than miffed when it ended unexpectedly. Cliff hangers!! Gah!! I don’t know how to handle the wait.
And speaking of characters, let's talk about Han for a moment: the boy is a chameleon – he’s a dutiful brother and son who is trying his hardest to keep his nose out of trouble when the easiest way for him to protect and provide for his mom and sister would be to return to his life of crime in the streets. Han was fostered with the Marisa Pines clan, a group who live separate from most of the people in the Fells: full of earth magic and splendid craftsmen where everyone has a story; a past and a future. Han would like nothing more than to be a part of that structure. Then there are the silver cuffs on his wrists he’s had since birth, which no blacksmith has ever been able to scratch, no less remove. And ironies of ironies is that they are one thing he could really sell for money but simply won't come off. Han’s emotions are full of turmoil and you Just Know he’s got a past full of secrets that will make everything understandable if only you (or he) had all the pieces. Trust me when I say I'm sticking around to find out.
series reading order:
~ The Demon King
~ The Exiled Queen (2010)
Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Carrie's YA Bookshelf review
Library Lounge Lizard review
Oops...Wrong Cookie review
The Story Siren review
book source: my local library