25 April 2011

The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

Before he knew about the Roses, 16-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 the head of this magical society sit 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 magical 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.

  • So I can tell it’s Cinda Williams Chima’s debut novel.  I still loved it. This was published in 2006 and in the years since (having read her latest works The Demon King and The Exiled Queen) I can see the growth in her work.  Comparing The Warrior Heir with say, The Exiled Queen, I can see how she’s settled into a certain style, but she still retains her signature humor, elegant prose, and talent for telling a really good story.
  • As always, I love some good old fashioned humor.  I love authors like Cinda Williams Chima who have an incredible talent for comic timing.  She’s really clever, I think.
"Well now, Jack," Hastings said from the sidelines. "I'm afraid you've been beheaded. Not a good start."
Excerpted from the paperback edition, pg. 191
  • There was a mixed bag: there was beautiful prose and ingenious plot twists, but then again some of her characters came off as flat and cliché.
  • When I say ingenious plot twists, I wish I could cite the one I’m talking about, but then again, I am entirely dedicated to my Spoiler Free blogger status.  But let me just say this: I loved how it caught me ever so slightly off guard, but I was still triumphant that I’d caught it when, finally, the twist was revealed and I was right.  I love stories that make my parents yell at me from downstairs to be quiet.  (Yeah, I’m pretty loud when I really get into a book.)
  • I really enjoyed the characters—especially Jack and Hastings and Ellen—and the world that Cinda Williams Chima put together here.  Is it just me, or did she build her Seven Realms books (The Demon King and The Exiled Queen) off of this series?  I thought I recognized some familiar markers from this book and it kind of had me thinking.
  • While Jack was a fun character, some of the others weren’t as fully-fleshed as I’d prefer.  Like his best friends, Fitch and Will.  For one thing, (maybe I was just being dense or wasn’t paying attention) but it took me a little while to work out that Fitch was also one of Jack’s best friends.  He came off more as a “circumstantial” best friend—one of those bonds you develop after going through a tough situation. 
  • Another one of the plot points that fell through for me was the whole deal with Leesha in the beginning.  (But that’s all I’ll say on the issue—can’t say much more without being spoiler-y.)
  • There was one other thing I was kind of confused about: the point of view.  It was mostly Jack’s, but it did switch between characters a few times, but I had a hard time sometimes distinguishing who was the narrator between scenes.  That was just a minor thing, though.
  • Cinda Williams Chima’s started off well in regards to her plot: everything came together nicely and there wasn’t any unnecessary loose ends.  (Remember this is a series.)  And it was all glued together with her smooth writing style.
  • Overall, I can really see how Cinda Williams Chima developed the way she did.  You should absolutely read this book if you’re like me and have only read her Seven Realms books so far.
"More and more, there were no revelations, but simply the uncovering of truths long known but dimly remembered. Everything had been written long ago. There was nothing truly new in the world, but only the slow, circular march of time that revealed the old things once again."
Book Info:
  • pages – paperback, 426
  • published – March 2006 (paperback April 2007)
  • publisher – Hyperion
  • genre – urban fantasy
  • received via – Borders
  • rating – 5/5
  • other books by Cinda Williams Chima
    • The Heir Chronicles:
      • The Warrior Heir
      • The Wizard Heir
      • The Dragon Heir
      • The Enchanter Heir (coming soon)
    • Seven Realms novels:
      • The Demon King
      • The Exiled Queen
      • The Gray Wolf Throne (coming soon)