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The Demon King

May 21, 2011

Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

Hyperion Book CH (October 6, 2009)

Summary: Hanson “Han” Alister, has lead a hard life. Losing his father when he was young, he has had to support his mother and younger sister by any means necessary. For a while he was the “Streetlord of the Raggers,” but realizing the short life a street thief, Han has tried to find a way to make an honest living…well, semi-honest at least. However, the transition out of a life of crime is more difficult than one would guess. Everyone from the corrupt law enforcement to his former gang members and rivals is out to get him. It is made harder by the silver cuffs (bracelets) that Han has worn as long as he could remember. The cuffs make it impossible for him to hide from other criminals or from the law. What is it with the silver cuffs that cannot be removed and seem to grow with him? Will Han ever be able to live in safety and have enough to eat?

Raisa’s destiny is set. Such is the life of the first daughter of the Queen of Fells. She will marry who she is told to marry, behave the way she is told to behave, and she will, in time inherit the crown from her mother. She definitely should not sneak out of her room at night to visit her childhood friend Amon, and she surely should not go running around the most dangerous parts of town in disguise. Raisa just wants to find out what life is really like outside the walls of the castle and outside of the circle of noble friends. As her 16th name day approaches, the day when Raisa will be considered an adult and of age to marry, Raisa takes a chance to secretly leave the castle and find out what is really going on in her city. What she finds surprises her. Even more surprising are her mother’s plans for her future! Will strong willed Raisa be able to be the leader she wants to be, or will she be forced to comply with her mother and her advisors.

In a world where there is a struggle between the elite, sophisticated, and very corrupt wizards, and the warriors of the Demonai clan, what role will Han and Raisa play in the future of their kingdom.

The Good: This is an intriguing series told from two different perspectives. As with any story of this type, Han and Raisa’s story lines do eventually cross (I’m just not going to tell you how). While both of the main characters are interesting and well developed, my favorite character is Amon, Raisa’s childhood friend and the son of the chief of her mother’s guard. Amon struggles with his familial duty to protect the willful Raisa. Keeping her safe may be too big a job for one 17 year old boy!

The Bad: Okay, folks, I’m going to be honest with you…this book was a little hard to get into. I like fantasy so it seemed like my kind of book. A friend (and fellow teacher) who does not really like fantasy told me “This one is so good! You have to read it!” However, at about 50 pages in I called and asked her when I was going to get into it. She told me to just keep reading.  Shortly after that I realized that I did not want to put the book down. I wasn’t sure why, but I was hooked. All of my students who have read the book have loved it. This one may be a little slow to start for some (myself included), but it is worth it. Just keep reading!

The Ugly: Ahem…Okay, Han is a street rat (albiet…one who is trying to reform) and he hangs out in some pretty sketchy places and with some pretty sketchy people. As you are reading, just keep in mind that he is trying to get out of the life he has fallen into. Raisa is willful and is not above deceiving people to get what she wants. Both of these characters have flaws to go along with their redeeming qualities. Also, both characters get into some questionable situations and there are allusions to “mature situations,” but please trust me that both characters behave appropriately for the middle school reader (well…mostly).

The Awesome: There’s more! This is one of those books where you must read the next in the series. When I finished Demon King I absolutely had to read the next book, The Exiled Queen. You will be happy to know that it is just as engrossing as the first in the series and there is no lag time in “getting into” it since you already know the characters and the situation.

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