Monday, October 24, 2011

"The Warrior Heir" by Cinda Williams Chima

The Warrior Heir

From School Library JournalGrade 5-9–

An apparently ordinary 16-year-old boy turns out to have magical powers that make him a target of a covert society of wizards, enchanters, and warriors called the Weir. Jack's small-town world in Ohio begins to unravel when he starts to unleash unintentional bursts of wizardry. When he recovers a powerful sword from an ancestor's grave, he begins to realize how different he really is. A battle with a wizard and some magic-laced conflicts at his high school keep the pages turning while the truth about Jack's destiny slowly emerges. The scene switches to Great Britain, where he learns that he must participate in a duel to the death against a mysterious opponent. Many details about the Weir are initially hidden from readers, as well as from Jack, so the gradual revelations about the society are involving and often surprising. Jack makes a fairly convincing hero. He is disbelieving at first and reluctant throughout, but ultimately finds a way to utilize his new powers without sacrificing his honor or basic decency. An appealing mixture of supporting characters includes relatives with various magical abilities, a couple of nonmagical but loyal friends, and an engaging assortment of villains. Occasional plot developments are unconvincing, as when Jack's protective aunt, an enchanter, takes him straight into the clutches of a wizard who clearly wants the young warrior in her power. For the most part, though, the teen's unavoidable involvement in the intricate world of the Weir is suspenseful and entertaining.

When I finished reading The Warrior Heir, I tried to gather my thoughts to review the book. One word pretty much summed it up for me: OK.
The plot was OK, the characterization was O, the setting was OK, the mythology behind the fantasy was OK. Serviceable and adequate, but nothing I got particularly enthralled with while reading. Then again I didn't get annoyed or frustrated with anything in the storyline either.
I wished for more character descriptions, because I didn't even know what Jack--the title character--looked like until nearly the end of the book. I liked the resolution to the main conflict, although the idea of two combatants-to-the-death deciding they can't kill each other was done much, much better in The Hunger Games.
I enjoyed how Jack didn't just jump right into his role as the warrior heir with joy. He felt anger, annoyance, fear, and hopelessness upon learning what being a warrior meant. Those were realistic emotions, although I did notice the author does a lot of telling rather than showing to let us see how the characters are feeling. I know "show, don't tell" is very important to some readers, so I thought I'd mention that this book has a lot of things like: "Jack was angry, he felt (fill in the blank)."
I saw the revelation of who Jack's opponent would be way before it was revealed.
The book ended with closure, no cliffhangers or loose plot threads. The other books are companions pieces if I understand correctly and not continuations of the story so reading in order or even reading all of them isn't necessary. I think I'll skip the other two books in this sequence, unless there's nothing else at the library I'm really interested in.
Rating: Three Cupcakes

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