Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Warrior Heir

by Cinda Williams Chima

Ever since he had heart surgery as an infant, Jack has had to take a spoonful of medicine every morning. For 16 years he has never missed a dose, until one day, when he is running late for school. Jack remembers about half-way through the school day, but can't get a hold of his mother, and the principle will let him go home only if he will accept a detention and miss soccer try-outs. Because he feels fine, Jack decides to risk waiting to take his medicine until after the try-outs. As the day progresses, Jack not only doesn't feel the affects of not taking his medicine, but he also feels better and more alert than he's ever felt. However, at the soccer try-outs, Jack gets angry at another player and something goes wrong, nearly killing the other player. Thus Jack finds out he is actually a warrior, member of the weir (a group of Wizards, Enchanters, Sorcerers, Warriors, and Soothsayers that live amongst the Anaweir (aka muggles)), that the English War of the Roses never really ended, and throws Jack into a world of dueling wizards and a battle for his life.

While The Warrior Heir is definately fantasy, it has a very "real" feel to it. Jack lives in Trinity, Ohio. While I don't actually know of there is a real Trinity in Ohio, it feels like small town USA as you read it. I just moved away from a very little town and could picture a lot of the things Jack talks about (how everyone knows everyone, when new people move in they are viewed as "fresh meat" etc).

On the whole, I enjoyed the story a lot. Jack was a fun character to follow and root for. He goes through a large range of emotions, particularly when he finds out that his aunt has been lying to him (and his mother) for years about his heart surgery, but it's all done in a way that wasn't too whiney. He grew and developed and was really fun to cheer for. As a result, I was so relieved at how the book ended.

The supporting cast was just as fun. Aunt Linda, Will, and Fintch were hilarious, and I enjoyed their interaction. It was nice to have friends that didn't just go with the flow, but actually made an effort to help Jack - even when he wouldn't allow them. I also really liked Leander Hastings. I was glad that his story was fleshed out by the end; the whole time I was reading, I wanted to know more about him.

There is a lot of action, sometimes quite violent (though never graphic) throughout the story. However, the action never overtook the story, and for the most part, actually added to the storyline. I thought the author did a good job of balancing the two.

My only real complaint is that I wish that the caste system of the Weir (pronounced "ware") was a bit better explained. The Wizards control everyone else and that is about all we know. Do the other groups (non-wizards) get along? In the hundreds of years since the tournament was established has no one really tried to stop it? and various other questions about the world.

On the whole, I really enjoyed the story and would highly recommend it.

4 out of 5 stars

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