Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

First thoughts here.

I loved this book just as much on the second read as I did on the first. Just wanted to get that out!

I won’t spend too much time recapping the plot synopsis, but what we’ve got here is a high fantasy set in a world that is not our own. 1000 years ago Magicians made some mighty big mistakes and in their greedy insane quest for more power they pretty much almost destroyed the world. They needed the Clanfolk to help clean up their mess. The Queen, fostered among the Clan to learn their ways now has complete power over her kingdom. The magicians are under her control. The Clan make and control the magical amulets that the wizards need. Basically it is a system with checks and balances. Until now, that is. Things are afoot and it doesn’t look like things are going to end well.

It is a fantasy told from two perspectives. We’ve got Han, a reformed thief, who is trying to make an honest living to support his family. He’s street smart, tough, and has a way of being in the wrong place at the wrong time drawing him into events he’d sooner avoid. He’s a bit of a stock character (he’s very much the loveable rogue type), but his character is so well developed I think he moves past that. He clearly struggles with the guilt from the consequences of his actions and this is part of what rounds him out.

We’ve got Raisa, the princess heir who is trying to be more than just another empty headed princess. She’s tougher than her small stature would indicate, independent, and willing to do what it takes to make her kingdom a better place for all its citizens. What I liked most about her was that we see her struggle against expectations and barriers to learn things. She’s got to fight for everything. She also makes more than her fair share of mistakes, but she manages to learn from them.

The secondary characters, while rich and varied, were not as well developed. It didn’t bother me. I think that Chima has endowed them with enough humanity, especially the villains (although perhaps not the main one - Mr. Big Bad Wizard I’m looking at you) to make the development of them in sequels possible. As they become more important to the storyline I have every belief that they will become more developed.

It is a suspenseful plot driven book. I loved it even on my second reading. I can’t wait for the next one in the series.

Book Source: ARC provided by publisher


joanna said...

Finished! It is very good and a book that did live up to the hype for me. I do need a re-read since I flew threw this one at breakneck speed. One of my favorite reoccuring parts is that Raisa, the Queen-to-Be with all that seriousness, keeps thinking about fooling around with boys. I thought that made her flawed and real. She's not a perfect warrior princess. She's 16.

Also, I love that Raisa's father was the one who created the library in the palace. Not the hoity toity wizards or heirs. The guy raised in a tent who is pretty much dismissed as a wanderer and trader.

joanna said...

Okay, also adding that I appreciated the perspective that all the royal heirs were tied to their fates. No choices, no freedoms. It's thought that they have power but they don't. And some of them realize that. It's and interesting look at people who we would think would have it all and have no cares in the world. I'm espceially thinking about the prince Raisa danced with at her naming.

I loved that Raisa has to take it upon herself to ask questions to learn. She really doesn't know anything about her queendom or the other realms. And she is pissed off over that.

Patti said...

You know, i really felt like both Raisa and Han were stock characters (gutsy princess, loveable rogue)that became so much more because of the good writing and character development.

And yes, there is a lot of destiny going on here. People are definitely tied to their fates. That's interesting...Probably just because the other series I'm obsessed with is so opposite and all about personal choice (and yes I did somehow find a way to bring up Knife of Never Letting Go. Geez.).

So...we'll need to talk about Han. LOL.