Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Series: Seven Realms, #1
Princess Raisa ana’ Marianna would like nothing more than the freedom to be anyone else than who she is. Destined to inherit the queendom from her mother, Raisa struggles to accept her destiny as the future ruler and the expectations of an arranged marriage. Han Alister is a former street thief struggling to support his mother and sister, but with his reputation and the trouble that always seems to follow him, finding a honest job may be the least of his worries. The conflict between clan members and wizards borne from a war started long ago by the infamous Demon King spills into both of these young people’s lives, throwing them together and sending them on a journey that will shape the Queendom of the Fells forever.
“The gloom on either side of the trail seemed to coalesce into gray shadows loping alongside her, their bodies compressing and extending…Raisa caught a glimpse of narrow lupine heads and amber eyes, tongues lolling over razor-sharp teeth, and then they disappeared.”
I found the two main characters, Raisa and Han, to be young and naive, and although one expects these two to coincide, I expected more out of this popular series. Raisa is every bit a fifteen-year-old girl and I don’t mean it as an insult. She can be careless with herself and others. She has a certain amount of arrogance that is either a result of her age or station, but probably a little of both. At times I didn’t like her choices, but reflecting on it now, I can’t say it means I disliked her. I sort of wanted to pat the girl on the head and say, “Oh, sweety, one day you’ll learn, but do keep your lips to yourself.”
Han’s shyness is at first endearing, but became a little confusing when you learn what a seasoned criminal he is. A former leader of a street gang and possible heart breaker, Han’s past doesn’t for me scream naivety. I did admire Han’s drive to take care of his sister. I didn’t think either of the main characters exhibited enough character development and at times was a little put off by how often their thoughts strayed toward kisses, highlighting once again how young they are.
I expected more mature characters, but perhaps it is too much too soon. There is a lot of room for growth and I hope that Williams treated this book simply as a starting point for introducing her protagonists and her subsequent books in the series polish them up a bit. I think The Demon King has its audience, but I’m afraid I’m not part of it. The book did improve as it progresses and while I love big books, I think a shortened version would have been better.