I recently re-read The Warrior Heir by Cinda Willimas Chima, for the third time I believe. One of my favorite things about this book and this series is the re-readability. The first time I re-read it, the only thing I remembered about the book was that I had enjoyed it. And it’s not that the story is forgettable. It’s got a lot of fun plot twists and turns that you don’t see coming. I don’t know. Maybe one of the wizards in the book cast a memory charm on it.
Synopsis: Warrior Heir
In some ways, The Warrior Heir is a typical Young Adult fantasy. Set in modern time, sixteen-year-old Jack Swift is just a normal kid living in a small Ohio town. Then one day something weird happens and he comes to realize he’s something MORE. This is actually a pretty decent template for any young adult coming-of-age story because that’s part of what becoming an adult is all about: discovering there is more to the world than just your homeroom class or soccer team.
In this case, Jack discovers he’s a Warrior, a class of magical people with impressive natural fighting abilities. The main problem is that there are two feuding houses of Wizards (a different magical class), the House of the Red Rose and the House of the White Rose. These Wizards use Warriors to settle their disputes in a magical tournament. Each house sponsors a Warrior in a fight to the death and the winning house rules all the magical guilds until the next tournament. Not surprisingly, Warriors have become rather scarce over the centuries. So Jack goes from hoping he makes the soccer team, to hoping he doesn’t get captured or killed before summer break.
The world building is impressive, and I think Chima did her research. I really like that not only is the story set in modern times, but she ties it into our actual history really well too. The idea that the War of the Roses is still ongoing in the magical world is a nice touch.
I also liked the different Magical guilds and the different abilities they all had. There are wizards, enchanters, soothsayers, sorcerers, and warriors. Wizards are the most powerful, or at least the most cunning, since they managed to enslave all the other guilds to them in a magical contract centuries ago.
I think the magic system is well built, and the politics of the magic world are intriguing (pun intended). However, the limits of the magic seemed like they could have been spelled out more. There are a couple of times where I’m asking, “Isn’t there a charm that can solve that problem?” But honestly it was more spelled out than it was in Harry Potter so I can’t complain too much.
I’d give the characters a B+ They aren’t the most in depth characters I’ve ever encountered, but they aren’t flat either. The main character Jack is likable and easy to root for. However, my favorite characters are Jack’s two best friends, Will and Fitch. They are just good guys and the kind of people I’d want to be friends with myself.
I also really enjoyed the mentor character (I’m being vague so as not to spoil anything.) The mentor is intriguing since you don’t always know what his agenda is or who’s side he’s on.
And finally, the villains. They are appropriately nasty in a love-to-hate sort of way. They give you just another reason to root for the heroes because you want to see someone take the bad guys down.
There are four more books in the series. Some of them I have read, other I haven’t, so I’m really looking forward to making my way through this series again. I’ll be posting my thoughts on each book as I finish them. The next book is the Wizard Heir.