The Demon King – Seven Realms #1 – Cinda Williams Chima

After reading two books in the Shattered Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima and loving it, I decided to read her Seven Realms series. Shattered Realms is a spinoff or rather a continuation with the next generation of the Seven Realms series so I probably should have read Seven Realms first but I kind of like this better because I feel like I know characters already and I know a little of what is going to happen in this series.

I think this series is better than Shattered Realms because I connect with the characters more and, even though I know some of what happens from the other series, this book kept me turning page after page with wonder.

This book starts out with Princess Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the Gray Wolf throne of Fells, getting ready for her name day celebration. It’s a season of many name day celebrations for aristocrats and she is looking forward to flirting with having fun even though she knows there’s a more serious side to turning sixteen. It means she is considered an adult and could be married off to make alliances but she’s made it clear to the queen, her mother, that she thinks it would be better to wait for the civil war to be over in the southern country of Arden to make decisions about alliances.

One thing, amongst many,  I liked about this book is the complex  of the politics and people of the country of Fells, not to mention (even though I am mentioning them) the complexities other countries. The governing rules come from their history and an attempt to never repeat that history.

A thousand years ago, wizards became too powerful and tried to take over until the clans got together and stopped. Now, wizards have limited power and have strict rules. They can never marry into the Gray Wolf line. They can’t go into the Spirit mountains where the clans and Demonai Warriors live. The clans make their amulets which have limited power. All amulets made prior to the rules have been outlawed.

Han Alister left a life of being the leader of a gang in the city of Fellsmarch to be fostered by the clans. He’s known as Cuffs on the streets because of the silver cuffs on his wrists that he’s had on ever since he can remember. He knows they are somehow charmed because they grow with him.

Han and his clan friend, Dancer,were hunting in the Spirit Mountains when they witnessed three wizard boys on horses driving a herd of deer with magical fire. Han and Dancer confronted the boys who turned out to be trying to impress the Princess who was hunting in the lower mountains below. One announced himself as Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard Counselor to the Queen. He reached for his amulet, an amulet that he should not have had yet due to his age, so Han pointed his weapon at him and forced Micah to throw the amulet on the ground. Han was smart enough not to give his real name to the wizards and gave the name of an old rival gang leader, Shiv , instead.

As a result, the mountain started on fire and down below and almost killed the queen and the princess but somehow Micah managed to look like a hero by warning them of the fire.

When gang members of Han’s former rival start showing up dead, the Queen’s Guard think it might be Han so Han sets off on his own investigation to find the real killer.

I and probably every other reader figured it out right away but just in case, I won’t spoil it.

The plot is further complicated by the queen making bad decisions, the clans call her a weak queen and she seems to be, at the very least, manipulated by Lord Bayar, and maybe even having an affair with him. Raisa’s father is married to the queen but is gone a lot of the time. I did not like the queen at all.

I bought the package of all four books of this series because it was cheaper than buying each individual book. I wanted just to continue reading but I figured I better stop to write a review before I get everything confused and jumbled together.

Flamecaster – Shattered Realms #1 – Cinda Williams Chima

I learned of this series on Facebook from one of two authors who care about what their readers are reading and care to promote other authors by asking what everyone is reading and loving this week. It’s one of the places I get ideas of what to read next. It was either posted by one of Larissa Ione’s or Nalini Singh’s followers.

I’m glad I picked this book. I have been dabbling in the Fantasy genre lately and have been really enjoying it. I think this book is Young Adult also…at least, I assume it is because of the ages of most of the leading characters…but I’m always amazed at what can be included in the Young Adult genre. It seems to allow all the blood and gore possible, references to rape and molestation and even have limited sex scenes. I think the only thing that can’t be included is erotic scenes.

This book is written in the points of view of four different characters but two are the main protagonists, Adrien and Jenna.

Adrian sul’Han, also known as Ash, is the son of the Grey Wolf line. His mother is the queen of Fells and he is a powerful healer. His older sister was the heir to the throne until she was ambushed at the border by their enemy, the King of Arden’s soldiers. Even though he is the next oldest, his youngest sister will be groomed for the throne now because only females can hold the throne.

When his father was assassinated in front of him, Ash ran off to healing school under a different name since he was thought to have been killed too. In the summers, he posed as a ferrier and traveled around assassinating key figures in Arden’s army.

After an attack on his life by crazy priests of the major religion of Arden who think mages and healers are evil, Ash decides to travel to Ardenscourt and somehow kill the king himself.

Jenna was working in the mines just outside the city of Delphi when King Gerard of Arden came to the mines on some kind of promotional tour. When one of the minors threw horse dung at the king, he reached down and snapped the neck of little Maggi, an eight-year-old orphan girl who was forced to work the mines by the king’s soldiers. Then he killed her best friend Riley.

Since that day, Jenna has been working with a secret group called the patriots to sabotage the Arden army.

Jenna is unique. She has a magemark on the back of her neck yet she isn’t a mage and mages don’t have magemarks. She has never met anyone else with the mark.

Ash and Jenna’s lives become intertwined later in the book but it would spoil some things so I won’t go into it.

This book was a winner. I loved it and have already started the second book. I looked up the author and discovered she has two other series related to this series so this might be a spinoff but I’m not sure if the books share characters or not. I might read them later.

Crooked Kingdom – Six of Crows #2 – Leigh Bardugo

This book was packed full of action just like the first book but this book let us get to know the characters a little better. It tells how each of Kaz’s crew members ended up joining his gang which I’m not really going to get into here.

Hopefully, no one will try to read the second book without reading the first book because the following will spoil the ending of the first book.

At the end of the last book, Kaz and crew had just pulled off the impossible job but were double-crossed by Jan Van Eck, a member of the Merchant Council who run Ketterdam. He had promised them thirty million kruge (dollars) if they handed over the scientist who was responsible for inventing jurda parem, a drug that gives a certain race of people, Grisha, who wield magic super powers but has devastating side effects for the Grisha who ingest it. One dose will addict the Grisha and it is almost impossible to kick the habit. Two doses and the Grisha will never beat the addiction and they’ll do anything to get another dose so their masters can ask them to do anything and they will do it. So far, jurda parem is not something that is widely known and there is only a small amount available since the scientist has kept his formula a secret.

Luckily, Kaz had the foresight to know that Van Eck might try to betray the deal so he hid the real scientist when he met him to get the money. Van Eck kidnapped one of Kaz’s crew members, one that Kaz has a soft spot for, and told Kaz that he had a week to hand over the scientist or he would start torturing Inej.

Van Eck is rich and powerful. He had originally told them that the entire Merchant Council wanted the scientist to keep him safe and out of the hands of anyone with nefarious inclinations but he lied. The Merchant Council had no idea about jurda parem or the deal he made with Kaz…and Jan Van Eck was just the kind of evil person who should never have the formula for jurda parem. Kaz can’t go to the Merchant Council without proof or without Van Eck killing Inej.

I love how Kaz schemes and how he does things that seem unimportant at the time but then we find out later that is was something ingenious. Unfortunately, the odds are stacked way against him this time so I was not sure if things would end up good or bad.

I think this was the conclusion to the story. The author has written a trilogy called The Grisha Trilogy that sounds interesting. I might have to read it.

Blood and Black Suits – Briar’s Daughter #1 – D. M. Nash

Before I begin the actual review, I have to point out how similar the book cover design of this book is to the series that I just finished reading A Shade of Vampire.

The author asked me if I would read his/her book and review it so I did.

I have to admit that I enjoyed it. I used to steer away from the YA paranormal romance genre because I didn’t think I could relate to teenagers or take any teenage relationship seriously but I have started to read more and more of them if the teenage characters are exceptionally mature and I don’t have to put up with high school drama. I can usually tell pretty early on in the book if it is too young for my tastes or not.

This book was about a sixteen-year old girl named Catherine whose father is a hunter of supernatural creatures so her life is a bit different than other teenager’s lives. She has to, of course, keep her dad’s job secret from people and her family has moved around a lot. Her mother died when she was fairly young and her older sister is away at college so now it is just her and her dad.

When her dad tells her that he thinks it is time they move again, she isn’t on board with it. She really likes this town and has established relationships with people with whom she doesn’t want to leave like her best friend Becca but also because she has met a vampire named Richard who she has developed feelings for. Unfortunately, she isn’t real sure if Richard returns those feelings for her.

Her father tells her that there is a huge threat to the entire town by something known as Black Suits. They look like human men wearing black suits and sunglasses who go around knocking on doors and questioning people to death. He has never actually encountered these creatures before now and even the agency he works for isn’t even sure they exist but two other hunters have told him about them and he heard that these Black Suits once wiped out an entire town in Texas so he is pretty nervous about this new threat. He lets her decide if they should stay and fight them or leave.

I think the storyline was original and the main character, Catherine, was mature enough that I was able to relate to her without thinking I had a huge generation gap. The only thing I think the book lacked was humor. I only remember kind of laughing in one spot. Other than that, the book was really enjoyable. I liked it enough that I bought the second book in the series.

I have to add one little thing that is driving me nuts. It has nothing to do with the actual book or I guess it does a little. The book was written in the first-person POV with Catherine telling the story but I kept thinking that Catherine sometimes thinks more like a guy than a girl so I decided to look up the author to see what gender he/she was. But even after looking at the Facebook page and a few other sites like Amazon and Goodreads, I could not figure it out. I can only assume this author does not want anyone to know who he/she really is. It’s a mystery!