THE DEMON KING
– #1 Published 6th October 2009
THE EXILED QUEEN
– #2 Published 24th September 2010
THE GRAY WOLF THRONE
– #3 Published 30th August 2011
THE CRIMSON CROWN
– #4 Published 23rd October 2012
by Cinda Williams Chima
*May contain small spoilers!*
It’s becoming a thing now that when I go abroad I usually have to pack less so carrying around four or five books like I used to can no longer be done. I’ve always loved reading and I suppose I can read quite fast but there have been many times in the past where I’ve not even been able to complete one book because of how busy I’ve been on holiday. I’ve now taken an oath with myself that if I do take any books, I only take one paperback and maybe a few on my phone/iPad Kindle app. If I get through that then it’s highly likely the hotels or hostels where I am staying will have a small selection of books left by past travellers. I decided it was time to trust that what they are reading is also something I might like and so last year, whilst in Dominican Republic I picked up The Demon King having no clue as to what it was. Three days later I was finished, longing for the second book (The Exiled Queen) which I had to wait for. As soon I was home, I ordered it online.
The plot follows Han, head of a street gang and infamous heartthrob. Running a gang isn’t quite as easy as some people think as he deals with a lot of harassment from the queen’s guard. After fostering with the clans, Han (also known as Hunts Alone) deals with his friendship with best friends Dancer and Digging Bird. A big secret brews between Han and Dancer whilst a new relationship seems to blossom between Han and Bird. When that secret is revealed, it insights a huge test between Han and Bird since any love between them should now be forbidden.
On the other side of the social spectrum, Raisa, the princess heir, deals with constant parties and balls. Wearing a new dress everyday, and accepting hundreds of gifts from her admirers and possible marriage candidates, she chooses to do good and offer up funding for those less fortunate at the local school. Meanwhile, one of the gifts is a little too charming. A gift from the High Wizard’s son, Micah. Wizards are forbidden to marry into the Gray Wolf line after the war but her mother and the High Wizard think this could be a new opportunity. Micah is only too happy to oblige. Raisa, however, refuses to upset the rest of the Queendom. Her only option is to escape.
The following books continue the story with more forbidden loves as Raisa and the head of her own guard, Amon, begin a fling. But an old bond between them physically forces anything further to continue. Having run off to study at Oden’s Ford, unknowingly Han bumps into Raisa, under the name of Rebecca Morley. Whilst they study and strengthen all that they can, tensions are rising in joining lands and an inevitable war is about to break out. If Raisa doesn’t return to her mother and marry for politics soon then her own land could be the battleground, but if she marries Micah a war will break out among their allies. It would also give the Bayar’s the power they do not deserve. Han makes a mysterious friend who is adamant on destroying the Bayar’s so perhaps they two of them could work together somehow.
Things don’t go to plan when someone is sent to kill Raisa and Micah believes the only way to stop her from being killed is to kidnap her and attempt to navigate through the already fighting brothers of Arden. Han and Amon both ride to find Raisa. Amon finds himself stuck in the fragile land of Tamron, mid seige whilst his father, the captain of the guard, tracks down Raisa and helps her get home safely. The ride back to the Fells is not so safe at all and instead ends up being the death of all the guard with the captain on the Princess Heir’s return trip. Raisa herself is poisoned but Han is able to be the saviour no one believes he could be.
Upon her return, Raisa is faced with mourning her mothers death and new position as queen. A political marriage still has to be on the cards or else all of the people of the Fells will be going to war at a complete disadvantage. With Han and Amon at her side, Raisa is able to be the queen her mother was too weak to be, nonetheless a refusal of a marriage results in her home being put up siege. With no help from the wizards and the Demonai unable to cope with the flatland soldiers, there appears to be no help. The worst comes at the news of Han’s death during his search for the Wizard King’s Armoury. All is not as it seems as truths come out that question all beliefs and the people of the Fells are forced to put aside their differences and old laws.
WHERE HAS THIS SERIES BEEN?! WHY HAVEN’T I HEARD OF IT BEFORE?! I have been unable to put these books down. The second I start reading them I get hooked into the story line and next thing you know I’ve finished the whole series. The story perfectly blends from one books to the other, continuing right where you left off. The characters clearly have their own personalities throughout. I struggled to hate just one character throughout. There were times where I got annoyed with Raisa and thankfully the point of view flipped to Han giving me a well needed break at the right time and then just when you’ve had enough of Han, it flips back again. I love-hate both of those characters which is refreshing compared to other books I’ve read. I enjoy being able to be annoyed at the main protagonist but then seconds later love them again. There isn’t anyone you could really hate either and even the villainous characters have lovable moments, maybe with the excetion of Gavan Bayar. I would be interested to read something about Gavan’s childhood. You get a sneak peak when Willow explains about Dancer’s father but not enough – I WANT MORE! I would probably say Amon is my favourite character though. Maybe I have a soft spot for strong men in leadership who are still the romantic type. It’s heart breaking to learn that he can’t be with his childhood sweetheart. That said, they are all about the typical age of “childhood sweetheart” so that’s a confusing one. Still, I wished Amon got more than his betrothed. She sounds lovely, but still. Then ending was both sad and beautiful. Bird was set up to be a bigger character towards the end of The Demon King but remains an underlying character who appears to help the plot along subtly. It was quite beautiful for her to be the big final hero at the very end, especially when you just about think the story is coming to an end. Typical, there is always another twist or something you forgot was mentioned but plays a huge roll.
I would love to read more about the Seven Realms. Perhaps the stories from history or Willow’s childhood until she meets Gavan. I’d love to know more about Earth magic in comparison to high magic. There is so much more that could be explored. It just proves how much I loved this series since I’m sat here right now typing what else I would like to read about. Though the world seems torn apart by war, it wouldn’t stop me from wanting to jump right into the story and go for a wander around the Fells. Luckily, Cinda Williams Chima wrote another series called The Shattered Realms focusing on the next generation. I look forward to buying and reading those. The fourth in that series is due to be release in 2019 so maybe I can time it so I can read straight from one to another – I don’t think I could bare a cliff hanger!
I definitely recommend reading this series if you haven’t already!