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Summary: Thief extraordinaire Han Alister and his friend Fire Dancer continue their journey to Oden's Ford to begin their studies at Mystwerk House, a school for magical arts. Princess Raisa (daughter of the Grey Wolf Queen) is also on her way to Oden's Ford. She is escaping an arranged marriage to Micah Bayar and wants to become an expert in military affairs to be a better queen some day. She cuts her hair, changes her name to "Rebecca," and enrolls as a regular student Wien House, the military academy. Having finally reached Oden's Ford, Han and Raisa (who calls herself Rebecca) have secrets to keep if they are to stay alive. Wizardling twins Michah and Fiona Bayar quest for revenge is just one of many perils the two will face. When Raisa and Han cross paths, their lives - and those of friends and enemies - are about to change. Forever. This is the second title in the Seven Realms fantasy series for teens. This is a high interest / low readability option for older fantasy lovers.
Type of Reading: independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 10 and Up; read yourself: 12 and Up
Interest Level: 10 and Up
Reading Level: 5.1
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: I did not read The Demon King (Book 1), but thanks to the author's phenomenal writing, I did not feel lost at all. Now I will go back to read it so that I can get some of the more nuanced references before heading into the last book of the trilogy.
This is not an "easy" read. The story is quite detailed; the points of view shift between different characters' stories; and the story is intense. That's not to say I didn't like it. I loved it. The characters are exceptional and realistic. No one is all good or evil; noble goals may require ignoble acts.
Pros: A page turner of the first order that will have readers at the edge of their seats. Note: To fully appreciate the story, read book 1 first.
Cons: There is violence and implied violence. For example, in the first chapter, Micah Bayar orders the execution of a group of musicians and Lieutenant Mac Gillen describes killing Hans' mother and sister by burning them to death.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. Like many trilogies, this is a series to enjoy, but once you know the fates of the characters, you're not likely to read it again.
Educational Themes: This is a book to read for fun. Because of the number of characters, their birth realm, and the various territories, it may be helpful for some readers to create character maps / trees.
Notes: The publisher donated an Advance Review Copy (ARC) of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.
Literary Categories: Fiction - fantasy, adventure, friendship, family, series
Date(s) Reviewed: December 2015
Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.