The Demon King - Seven Realms #1 (Chima)

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Apparently, this is the year for re-reads of old favorites!

“You have to take chances, Raisa. What seems safest on its face may not be in the long run.”

It was SO GOOD going back and starting this series again. Ever since I finished all of the books the first time around, this has been a go-to series that I recommend people looking for quality YA fantasy. I’m even more excited to keep going, too, because from what I remember the books just keep getting better and better as the series progresses. Whether you’re looking for wizards, a strong beginning of world-building, clashing groups of people, interesting characters (the list goes on)—this book, and entire series for that matter, has it all.

And when you’re in the gangs, loving somebody is like putting your heart on a plate and serving it up to your enemies.

I guess the best way for me to go about this is to start with the characters themselves. We get two main POVs from Raissa, the princess heir to the Fells and Han, a “reformed” street lord who spends half of his recent time either trading mostly legal things for bits of money for his family or up on Hanalea with the clans. While neither of them is perfect in this first book, or by the end of the series, it’s nearly impossible not to fall in love with them (PARTICULARLY HAN).

“Mercy is never unbecoming, mate,” Cuffs said.

Raissa is a unique princess character in that she a mix of characteristics from all of the different stereotypes that you generally get in YA fantasy. She can appreciate the frivolous things in life like kissing boys and a good party BUT because she is part clan and has spent time outside of court, she longs for more. After hearing from her old friend (now corporal) Amon that things aren’t all what they seem in the heart of her city, she wants to find out more. And not just in the sense that she feels utterly trapped and wants to go out adventuring (which I mean..she still does)…she wants these things not just for herself, but to actually get to the bottom of how her people are living in the hopes that she will be made a better ruler for it. She feels like she’s in the dark (she DEFINITELY is) and she’s constantly grasping for the light. She doesn’t want to keep the wool pulled over her eyes and that’s a pretty big deal if you ask me.

He expects nothing, she thought, because he’s never had anything. And nothing was expected of him. He was free in a way she never would be.

Han…..Han, in a word, is charismatic. I think that’s why so many people love him so much. It’s impossible not to! As I mentioned earlier, he was a former street lord who now tries to stay on the right side of the law (not that that’s really possible). He wants to provide a better life for his mother and younger sister and is doing the best that he can until he runs into a wizard and *maybe* ends up threatening him because he is threatened and I mean how could he have helped it really because he WAS in fact a street lord. ANYWAYS somehow he ends up with this magical amulet and things basically start to go south for him from there. People on the streets close to him start to die and ~things~ are revealed about the past that shake the very foundation that he has always known to be true. In short, this books sets up for the next three to become very interesting.

“Perhaps you subscribe to the notion that princes actually have control over their own lives. I beg to differ. We strut the boards, improvising like mad, only to learn that the script is already written, and we’ve got it wrong.”
“Not always,” Raisa countered. “I have to believe that sometimes we can write our own.”

The best part of all of this is that when Han and Raisa cross paths, it isn’t under the best of circumstances and Han had no idea that she was royalty at all. ESPECIALLY since they both are headed towards the same place at the end of this book. 

Magret’s eyes kindled with pride. “You’re just like she was,” she breathed.
“Like who was?”
“Like Queen Hanalea herself.”

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Arielle Hemingway
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