Title: The Warrior Heir
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: Hyperion Paperbacks (2007)
Synopsis from Cover: Before he knew about the Roses, sixteen-year-old Jack lived an unremarkable life in the small Ohio town of Trinity. Only the medicine he has to take daily and the thick scar above his heart set him apart from the other high schoolers. Then one day Jack skips his medicine. Suddenly, he is stronger, fiercer, and more confident than ever before. And it feels great – until he loses control of his own strength and nearly kills another player during soccer team tryouts.
Soon, Jack learns the startling truth about himself: he is Weirlind, part of an underground society of magical people who live among us. At their helm sits the feuding houses of the Red Rose and the White Rose, whose power is determined by playing the Game – a magical tournament in which each house sponsors a warrior to fight to the death. The winning house rules the Weir.
As if his bizarre heritage isn’t enough, Jack finds out that he’s not just another member of Weirlind – he’s one of the last of the warriors – at a time when both houses are scouting for a player.
It’s been a while since I’ve read a book with straight up magic and wizardry and magical factions, and I’m really glad I picked this one up while at Barnes and Noble. It didn’t blow me away, but I was sucked into the story and couldn’t put it down (even while at a Fourth of July party!). I know, I’m a terrible person. But everyone else was playing Call of Duty, so I was allowed to break out the book.
I give this one a 3.5 because while I will be keeping it (and reading the rest of the series), I didn’t love it, but I greatly enjoyed it. The sequels are shipping in now, and I should be getting them next week, but I’m not “OH MY GOD I need them now.” It’s rather more like an “ah, yes, I am excited for their arrival, but I’ll survive the wait and read a few books in the meantime.” Let’s just get the reasons I only really liked, rather than loved, this book, out of the way.
- Chima seems to switch names for a lot of her characters. I felt like I was reading Crime and Punishment for a while before I sorted everyone out. The really important characters, and best friends to Jack, were referred to by their last names for most of the book. It wasn’t mentioned that they preferred their last names, so it came off as a little disconnected. Jack also alternately called his mom “Becka” and “mom” like he couldn’t decide which to use.
- There were times when I was really frustrated because I didn’t understand what was going on, as far as the lore that Chima has created. This can be seen as a pro as well as a con, I suppose. Pro: I learned right along with Jack, and really went on the journey with him, feeling the same emotions (read: rage and frustration). Con: 75% of the time I was just like, “Dammit – give me some dramatic irony! I want to play God and know what’s happening before it actually happens. I want to see Jack squirrrmmmm.” Queue evil laughing and hand wringing.
- The secondary characters weren’t as developed as I would hope for. They had great starts to their personalities, and were distinct enough, but I felt the edges were a bit fuzzy. Nothing too terrible, but just a small nitpick I had.
So that’s the bad. The good, however, far outweighs the bad.
- The concept was really unique, at least as far as my reading experiences have taken me. Each Weirlind (magical person), is born with a stone that determines what class they are. Wizards are the most powerful, and Jack, while genetically meant to be a wizard, was given a warrior stone when they found that he actually had no stone at birth. Apparently, warriors are really rare, and thus the hunt for Jack’s loyalty to the White Rose or Red Rose factions ensues. Once you understand most of the lore, it’s actually quite well done and very interesting.
- I think this is one of the first urban fantasies that I’ve read that isn’t solely based on a romance. *queue hallelujah choruses* Seriously, I just want to read some fantasy without the unseasoned protagonist falling in love with the “seasoned” savior that eventually shows him/her the way to their true power and blah blah blah. You know what I’m talking about. While there is a little bit of romance (ie: Jack kisses a girl – a peck, really – and then we move on to the war between the Roses), it’s not really until the very end that it’s hinted at their canon relationship. We’ll see where Chima takes it in the sequels.
- PLOT TWIST AHOY. While I kind of saw this one coming, just a teensy bit, it was more a “hey wouldn’t that be funny if…” but I was actually off base and it was way more jaw-dropping than I had anticipated. That was about the point where I shut everyone at the party out and crouched over my book. Major “DO NOT TOUCH THE READER OR SHE WILL BITE YOU” signals.
The three above really overpowered the cons of the book, and overall I would definitely recommend it!
Also – it’s really late and I’ve had a long day, which probably contributes to the use of caps lock and general silliness of this post. I apologize
not really. Anyway, next on the reading list is Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card. Keep an eye out for my review in the next few days!