The Warrior Heir

The Warrior Heir

Author: Cinda Williams Chima

Publication: 2006, Hyperion

Pages: 426

Overall Rating: bth_5-star-rating_zps467d5332[1]                         

Rating for Action: bth_25_zps13f4f4eb[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_25_zps13f4f4eb[1]

Age Category: 13+

Brief Summary: Jack was born with a heart condition, and every day for sixteen years he’s faithfully taken the medicine given to him by his heart surgeon – Dr. Jessamine Longbranch.  But one day he forgets, and instead of getting weak he feels stronger and healthier than ever – and almost kills the school bully during a soccer tryout.  Before long Jack begins to uncover the truth about his heritage.   He is one of the weir – a hidden society of magical people who live among us.  There are sorcerers, enchanters, and, most powerful of all, wizards.  But Jack is none of the above.  He is a warrior, and warriors are rare.  Jack soon finds himself on the run from the two competing wizard houses – the Red Rose and the White Rose.  The Red Rose wants to kill him and the White Rose, under the direction of Jessamine Longbranch, wants to recruit him to fight for them in a tournament.  The winning house rules the wizard council.  The only catch – the tournament is a fight to the death.

Age of Main Character: 16

What I Liked the Most: Chima has written a beautiful book here.  The characters are full and brimming with life.  And I’m not just talking about Jack.  Even the most minor supporting characters come to life in Chima’s hands.  The dialogue is snappy and fun, the scenery amazing.  And don’t even get me started on the sheer depth of imagination that went into creating the world of the Weir.  Chima has laid it out down to the smallest detail.  The story flows effortlessly from one scene to the next, building momentum as Jack is pushed ever closer to his ultimate fate.  This is an amazing book.

What I Liked the Least: Other than the action, which I go into below, my only complaint is extremely minor.  Prior to fighting in the tournament Jack claims to have come up with a strategy, but throughout the tournament I never had any sense of what that strategy was.  The outcome, which I won’t say anything about, was almost entirely out of his control, and I could never figure out his goal was or what he was planning to do in order to stay alive.

How Good was the Action?  It’s fair at best.  Now, normally that wouldn’t be a problem.  I’d just say, well this may be a book with an action component but the action isn’t central to the story.  That doesn’t work in this case, because the whole premise of the story is that Jack was born to be some kind of supernatural warrior.  There are a lot of powerful people out there who want to kill him, and he’s going to have to fight to the death in a gladiator style tournament.  A plot like that kind of requires good action, and in that respect Chima doesn’t deliver.  There only one or two relatively brief chases, and most of the fights that take place consist of broad descriptions rather than blow-by-blow action.  Take the following example:

“When he slammed his blade against hers she almost lost her hold on it.  Sometimes she had to grip the hilt with both hands, which closed her reach even more, leaving her vulnerable to a quick thrust from the side.  But Jack never seized the opening.  His play was strictly defensive, although at times he stepped into the opening between them and forced her backwards.”

The fights are teeming with emotion, and they even have moments of real tension, but they’re almost utterly lacking in the kind of blow-by-blow detail that really brings a fight – or any good actions scene –to life.  And with a book that’s all about warriors and fights to the death, that’s a disappointment.

How Engaging was the Story?  I was caught up from page one.  Jack and the other characters are incredibly rich and the story itself was so utterly compelling that I didn’t want to put the book down.  Put simply, Chima is a masterful storyteller.

Overall Assessment: The Warrior Heir is an enticing blend of magic and reality, brimming over with richly drawn characters, snappy dialogue, and a powerful story.  The action is a bit of a letdown given the story’s premise, but don’t let that stop you from reading this truly amazing book.  You’ll be glad you did. I promise.

Profanity: None

Sex: Very little.  There’s some kissing and mild flirtation, but nothing more.

Violence: Some, but none of it is particularly graphic.  A few people die and there is a bit of blood, but it stays at a pretty mild level.

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