The biggest compliment I can pay The Warrior Heir, debut outing for Cinda Williams Chima, is that it’s comparable to the Lorien Legacy novels by the mysterious Pittacus Lore. I’m a massive fan of the Lorien books and The Heir trilogy holds many similarities. Some could say that Chima is possibly aping the success of such novels, but to be fair the fantasy genre seems to be constantly suffering from originality.
The book centres on Jack a 16 year old boy who has a scar on his chest and takes medicine every day for a heart condition. He has believed all his life that as a baby he was on the verge of death when an operation saved his life. Jack soon finds that his picturesque life is a lie and that as a baby he was implanted with a Warrior stone. Jack is a warrior in a secret world of wizards, enchanters and magic. It’s all a little cliché, but that never detracts from telling a good story, and Chima certainly does that.
It is later revealed that Jack is being hunted for his warrior abilities and he is soon in training for “The Game”. Upon Jack starting his training the book really comes into its own and sheds the opening third which is a little mundane compared to the rest. In fact, as the novel progresses it’s actually possible to see Chima’s confidence in the story and her writing grow.
The opening thirty or so pages are really quite basic in terms of writing. It’s all very he said this, and then he went there and said that. There’s no flow to the text, it’s all rather staccato. Thankfully the writing grows and by the end is more of a lyrical crescendo. I find myself eagerly looking forward to reading the next part, The Wizard Heir, to see how everything flourishes.
Along with the story, Chima’s cast is strong and interesting. With each revelation I found myself turning the pages wanting to know how each character would react and where their journey would take them. Again, there’s some cliché running through it all as most of Jack’s friends are relatively stereotypical (The Jock, The Nerd, etc), but this never means that they are one dimensional.
It’s here where the similarities to I Am Number Four arise. Jack and his story are very reminiscent to John and his growing powers. The love interest reminded me of Sarah and even Jacks friends each have a sprinkling of Sam from the Lorien books, however, they are equally unique.
Despite any downsides to the novel I found myself really enjoying it. It has a popcorn cinema feel to it, in that you know there’s a little inconsistency and at times and in parts in slips a little, but you walk away having had a great time. Whenever I wasn’t reading I found myself wondering where the story would go next and when the twists in the tale came, I was taken aback and enthused.
The key to an opening part of an ongoing series is to capture the audience, leave them wanting more and despite the book not ending on a cliffhanger the ending was left open, ready for the follow up. I have the second book waiting ready to be read and I genuinely can’t wait to start it. The Warrior Heir is a great fantasy tale that entertains through the high points and even the low.
Available now from Indigo. Paperback – 342 pages, Fiction, Kindly sent by the publisher.