Tag Archives: Fantasy

REVIEW | The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

THE DEMON KING
BY: Cinda Williams-Chima
SERIES: Seven Realms #1
GOODREADS RATING: 4.21 out of 5.00 Stars
MY RATING: 5.00 out of 5.00 Stars
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WHAT THE BACK OF THE BOOK SAYS: 

Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for his family. The only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell—the thick silver cuffs he’s worn since birth. They’re clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off.

One day, Han and his clan friend, Dancer, confront three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to keep him from using it against them. Soon Han learns that the amulet has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Raisa ana‘Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She’s just returned to court after three years of freedom in the mountains—riding, hunting, and working the famous clan markets. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. 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—including marriage to a suitor who goes against everything the queendom stands for.

The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.

LIKES
  •  Princess Raisa! My goodness, I didn’t realize how badly I’ve been in need of a strong heroine. One thing that I love is when a character completely transforms over the course of the book, and Raisa is no exception. She starts out as a naive, ignorant princess heir but who she is at the end of the book is not the same girl.
  • Han Alister. Or Cuffs Alister. Or Hunts Alone. You know – whichever name you decide to call him! Han is such a unique character as well. He is often thought of as this vicious street gang leader who has no care or regard for anyone, but that is so far from the truth! He is a complex character, and I cannot wait to see where the rest of the series takes him. He has immense potential, so it will be interesting to see if he ends up as a hero or villain.
  •  The world-building. This is a giant world – uh, hello, it’s called the Seven Realms series – and it’s incredible how easily the landscapes come to life right off of each page! From the grimy, dirty streets of Ragmarket or Southbridge, to the royal castle of Fellsmarch to the Vale and the camps – Marisa Pines and Demonai – each is unique and incredibly detailed.
DISLIKES
  • It started off reading a little young, but the content didn’t match that. I enjoy the writing, but it did take me a few chapters to really connect.
  • A few events were predictable.
  • I didn’t realize that there was a map – my Kindle copy opened to chapter one, skipping the title page etc., so I didn’t know there was a map included! Duh!
MY THOUGHTS

I don’t know how I haven’t read this book yet. I mean, seriously – it was THAT good. It just really missed my radar. We start the book thrown immediately into action, and pick up information about the main characters and the realm along the way. I enjoyed that the story was told from alternating perspectives as well. It was a great way to contrast Raisa’s life growing up as royalty, and Han’s life, growing up as a street thug. I thoroughly enjoyed Williams-Chima’s writing style. She writes in such a fantastic way, that the characters came to life on each page. I was able to feel everything that Raisa and Han did – from happy moments to really heartbreakingly sad ones.

I also love the character growth in this book. Raisa becomes such an admirable character by books end, that it’s hard to believe she came from where she did. She always had it in her to start a revolution, and now she’s ready to carry it out. She isn’t the type of future monarch to sit around and let her people live in squalor while they live in grandeur in the castle.

Another great part of this book is the range of characters. From humans, to those who wield magic, to those who create magical amulets. I love, love, loved the magical themes in this story! We had good magic users and of course, bad. It was written beautifully, and I cannot wait to see how the magical use will evolve in the next books. It was nice to see such an array of characters as well, from all races and walks of life. It really added a diversity to the book that was wonderful.

The world building was helped greatly by the provided map in the beginning of the book of the Seven Realms. It can be a little overwhelming at first, since the books takes place in many different parts of the world – and different areas are mentioned often. But once you really get a handle on it, it’s incredible how author’s can create these worlds in their minds!

WOULD I RECOMMEND IT? Whether your a newbie to fantasy or an avid fantasy reader – you’ll love this book!

Happy Reading!
Laura

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REVIEW | Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Snow Like Ashes
AUTHOR: Sara Raasch
SERIES: Snow Like Ashes [Book #1] | Ice Like Fire [Book #2] Release Date: October 13, 2015
PUBLICATION INFO: Harper Teen | RELEASE DATE: October 14, 2014
CATEGORY: Young Adult, Four Star Rating, Fantasy, Romance, Kick Ass Heroine
ACQUISITION: Library | EDITION: Hardcover; First Edition, 416 pages
RATING: 3 STARS | GOODREADS RATING: 4.05/5.00
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT: A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

MY THOUGHTS: Snow Like Ashes was one of my most anticipated reads for 2014. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to it last year, and I also didn’t get it for Christmas – even though it was on my Wishlist. So, when I was recently at the library and saw a copy sitting there on the shelf, my greedy little hand grabbed it so fast I swear there were flames!

World Building
Snow Like Ashes follows the story of Meira, a sixteen-year-old girl who is one of only a handful of refugees from the kingdom of Winter. In this world, there are eight kingdoms – 4 Season Kingdoms (Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn) and 4 Rhythm Kingdoms (Cordell is the one that plays a major part in this book). Spring is ruled by Angra, the major villain in this series. He has taken over Winter and enslaved all of the Winterians in slave labor camps within the kingdom.
A majority of the first few chapters is spent on world-building and back story. We know that deep in the Klaryn Mountains is the source of the magic that exists in this world; however, the entry into the caverns has been lost over the centuries. Each of the rulers of the kingdoms has a conduit (be it jewelry, a weapon, etc.) that contains the magic, and they can only use it for the good of their kingdom. It also passes down by bloodline, and gender. The conduit for Winter – a locket – has been confiscated by Angra, and the sixteen years since Winter fell have been spent trying to recover the locket, which of course, Angra has split into two.
So the book begins with a mission to steal back the first half of the locket, and sets into motion events that will carry us through the rest of the book.
Plot & Pacing
We are thrown immediately into action, and for the most part there really isn’t much lag in this book – it’s pretty must fast paced until the end. I can’t remember many slow parts, or parts where I was bored. I also found Raasch’s writing to be enjoyable. Unfortunately, though, I did have trouble connecting with Meira in the beginning. I have to admit first though, that I was distracted at the start and may have not given the book the full attention it deserved. I found myself having to reread some paragraphs. Such is life with a one year old *insert ‘wah-wah’ face*.

Characters & Development
The major characters of this book are:
Meira – the main character; Winterian Refugee
Mather – the heir to Winter; son of Queen Hannah and future King of Winter.
Sir – Winterian General; leader of the refugees
Theron – Prince of Cordell
Angra – King of Spring
Herod – Angra’s Second in Command
Noam – King of Cordell
The Refugees – Alyson (Sir’s Wife), Finn, Greer, Henn, Dendera
Queen Hannah – Queen of Winter when Winter fell
Nessa, Conall, and Garrigan – Winterian slaves in Spring labor camp
I think each character had their own personalities and desires that were conveyed well; however, I felt as though the main character, Meira, was lacking. I was able to connect more with Theron, whom I dare say is my newest fictional crush! Together, I believe Meira and Theron can become a force to reckon with. They each have characteristics that the other lacks, so as one they will be unstoppable. Nessa, a winterian currently enslaved in Spring’s labor camp with her two older brothers was also one of my favorite characters. Her hope is what keeps her going, that someone will free them and lead them back to a free Winter. I also feel as though a “good” character at some point may turn “evil”. I can’t explain it, just a hunch. It is also interesting to see how the alliance between Winter and Cordell holds up. Not in the aspects of Meira and Theron, but King Noam.
Writing
I found myself enjoying Raasch’s writing style, and I found her ability to tell Winter’s story pleasing. However I did have trouble connecting with Meira’s character in that I couldn’t “read” her. I knew what she wanted and how she felt, but I was having a lot of trouble getting inside of her head. I truly felt that Winter’s story was being told, not necessarily Meira’s. I believe this will change in the second book – at least I’m hoping for it. I truly want to know more of Meira.
I also felt that when it came to the world-building, Raasch did a little too much telling, and not enough letting my mind “show” me what the world looked like. It caused me too much confusion, and feel that it was rehashed too many times what the world was like. Especially since the major kingdoms are season kingdoms and reflect the characteristics of their said season. Regardless, I really enjoy the world she has created and I definitely look forward to spending more time here once the second book in the series is released.
It doesn’t happen very often, but I found myself very intrigued by the villain in this story. Angra has been able to take in dark matter/magic “decay” and make himself a sort of “conduit” and that is how he carries out his evil deeds. He is a dark, evil character that I’m so interested in that I cannot WAIT to see what happens in the rest of the series. If Meira can become this amazing, kick-ass heroine that I think she has the potential to be, it could make for an interesting fight between the two.
 
Review Summary
A less than impressive introduction to this fantasy series, but enough excitement, action, intrigue and potential to make me excited for book two.
Would I Recommend This Book? Yes. If you love YA Fantasy with magical themes and evil villains with a heroine who has tons of potential. There is lots of action and adventure; magic and romance mingled in to keep anyone fully engaged.
SIMILAR READS: The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas |  Winterspell by Claire Legrand | Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White | Lark Rising by Sandra Waugh | Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburn

Happy Reading!
Laura

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