I am the king's Demon Slayer.
I am the most feared girl in the kingdom.
I am also the young prince's bodyguard.
The kings of the other kingdoms have been murdered.
I am on the run with the prince, to keep him safe.
But the enemy is nearing.
The young prince is predicted to be the savior.
He is the One in the Dragon King's prophecy.
I have to keep his safe so he can fulfill it.
We've set out on search of a ruby that controls the seas.
It will give the prince a chance to regain control of his fallen kingdom.
It will help me raise him into a king.
I will protect the young prince.
I will battle evil soldiers, demons, and shamans for him.
I will ensure the safety and victory of the prince.
My name is Kira.
Hey guys! Today, I am the one and only Demon Slayer, Kang Kira!
Author: Ellen Oh
Series: The Dragon King Chronicles
Book Standing: Book 1
Setting: The Seven Kingdoms (fictional world)
POV: third person, told by Kira
Genre: YA fantasy, a bit historical
Reading: first time
Favorite line: "Your differences are what make you unique. They're what make you special. You have nothing in common with these ignorant wretches who thrive on superstition and fear. You were meant for greatness."
Categories: "We Need Diverse Books," feminist
Rating: 4 stars
My initial reaction to the first chapter: Holy crap, you go girl!
The beginning of this book sets up Kira, who happens to be the only female in the King's guard. She's different than everyone else, being able to identify demons, and thus kill them. But marked by her strange yellow eyes, that's exactly what makes everyone so afraid and hateful towards her. We get that right in the beginning, when all Kira is trying to do is do her job, yet the superstition of the villagers provide an obstacle. Nevertheless, Kira still gets her job done in the most awesome way. The next part that set her character up was the sudden announcement of her betrothal. Kira is a warrior, and now she's expected to marry and "settle down" into a more "womanly" role? No. Just no. And you can see Kira fighting it, not wanting to becoming some wife of a shallow fool. Her desire to be who she is and not be judged or hated for it is really strong, and I loved it.
What I found interesting was the historical setup. The author successfully brought back an old tradition, one that makes me cringe: stereotyping women, and betrothals. I mean, really? Marrying off your daughters? Fine, I guess, if you've lived your life knowing it would happen, but still. Next issue would be all the other females in the book. They (the court ladies) are all shallow and weak. Weak, I say! Weak! Of course, they play excellent foils to Kira, and only enhance her independence and bravery, but still. They're all fawning over soldiers and clothes, gossiping about Kira and how she's doing "a man's work", how she doesn't look pretty due to her ruggedness and her armor, blah blah blah. I'm sorry, but am I the only one who notices that Kira is the one keeping them safe from demons? She's a warrior. She has an extremely strong sense of honour and duty, much more than the women of the court do combined. She can handle a sword, a dagger, a bow, and if there are no weapons available, she has her fists. She doesn't turn away from danger, doesn't cower in the presence of fear. Now that is a true hero. What does it say when the women of the court all decided to jump into the ocean, rather than fighting back? What does it say when Kira, beaten and battered, still rises up to protect the prince, all while coming up with a plan to save the kingdom? Who's the real hero, the women of the court or Kira? The answer is Kira. I agree with Kira here: shallow women like them are pretty much useless.
What also makes Kira strong? Her duty to protect the prince (who's twelve) and her honour to her family. She has two brothers, Kyoung and Kwan, and I love their relationships. They are the most awesome siblings I've ever read. Given, their father is the king's general, so obviously the three of them would be expert fighters. There's no hostility towards one another, no competition over who's better. They're all equals, regardless of their age and gender. The part when Kira and Kwan fight side-by-side to protect the prince? YES. That is duty, honour, and family all in one. What could be better?
This book also falls under the We Need Diverse Books category. It's set in a fictional world very similar to Ancient Korea, and the terms they use are Korean as well, like Oppa and Noona. I think it's safe to say that Kira is clearly not white. But quick question: how many books do you know that feature a non-white protagonist in a world that isn't dominated by caucasians? Not many, right? That's what I thought. Well, look no further, for you can this one to the list! Kira is equally, if not more, kickbutt than the caucasian protagonists of a few other series I know. I approve :)
I loved the strong female character of Kira. I loved how she challenged and rose above the stereotyping of her gender, showing the world what she has. I can see her saying, "Yes, I'm a girl. Problem?" So. Good. Too bad it was so short. But I still have the next two books to read through, so I'm looking forward to it!