In the mountains of Hanalea, sixteen-year-old ex-street gang lord Han Alistar and his clan friend Fire Dancer run into three young wizards setting fire to the forest and force them to stop. To keep them from attacking, Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard. Soon Han discovers that the amulet has an evil history: It once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. And now the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.
Meanwhile, Raisa ana’Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, is dealing with her own troubles. After three years of riding, hunting, and freedom in the mountains with the Demonai clan, she has returned to court to attend her 16th birthday party and Name Day. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But her mother has other plans for her: She intends to marry her off to a suitor who goes against everything the queendom stands for.
When the lives of these two teenagers cross briefly, it ignites a course of events that will fan the flames of a smoldering war between clans and wizards, changing the course of Hanalea’s history forever.
Sometimes novels that focus on two or more characters and split the time between them take too much time to develop each part of the story, leaving the reader bored and wondering, “what’s the point?”. But I never found myself asking that about The Demon King. Chima’s world is fantastic in its new self and at the same time grounded enough in reality that it will be easy for even for the anti-high-fantasy reader to slip into and stay connected when reading. Good exposition, well weaved politics, and memorable/unique characters throughout the entire novel bring this story to life. Especially Raisa. OMG, excuse me for going fangirl for a moment, but Raisa is one of the coolest YA heroines out there. She’s opinionated, strong willed, adventurous, and pushes people to push her to become a better queen. She’s completely aware of the fact that she’s been sheltered as a princess, and is hungry to step into a role which gives her the power to help people. Rare qualities for a character in her position, which made getting to know her incredibly entertaining.
And I can’t forget Han. Oh, poor Han. Street-smart and quick on his feet, he still has the strength to move forward even after getting his ass kicked by the corrupt local Guard. Multiple times. What a guy.Though he is your typical cocky street kid with a heart of gold (can anyone say, Aladdin?), his perspective of the story provided a good balance to Raisa’s princess-party life.
Though I admit that that I found Raisa’s side of the story more interesting (if you couldn't tell), the end of the book left me wanting to read more about Han. Oh why oh why don’t I have The Exiled Queen