Saturday, June 8, 2013

Heir Chronicles - A Perfect Blend

1. Warrior Heir :
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.

Jackson Swift (Jack) has always had a normal life in the small college town of Trinity, Ohio. The only difference between the 16-year-old and his fellow classmates has been the star-shaped scar on his chest and the medicine he is required to take daily. Strange events begin to take place, however, after Jack forgets to take his medicine one day. When a rival named Garrett Lobeck tries to start a fight with Jack during soccer tryouts, Jack defends himself sending Lobeck flying across the soccer field.

Then his strange but cool Aunt Linda pays an unexpected visit to Jack and his mother, Becka. Aunt Linda decides to take her nephew/godson on a road trip to look up some of their family's genealogy. Jack invites his loyal friends Will and Fitch to join the expedition. What is supposed to be a tedious fact-finding mission turns into a dangerous game of cat and mouse, when the three guys discover that Linda is being stalked by a man looking to steal a family heirloom. Jack suspects that there is more to his aunt's story, but decides to help her locate the sought-after heirloom. The three friends get more than they bargain for during a night of digging around an old cemetery when they are attacked shortly after Jack uncovers a medieval sword that contains remarkable powers.

The road trip changes everything for Jack, and the truth about his heritage is slowly revealed. His Aunt Linda is an Enchanter and Jack is Weirlind, a member of an underground society of magical people that has been ruled by the feuding wizarding houses of the Red Rose and the White Rose for centuries. The feuding houses determine who rules the Weir and its magical artifacts by playing the Game, a deadly tournament in which each house sponsors a Warrior to fight for their supremacy. Unfortunately for Jack, he is unique even by Weir standards and is a prime target as each of the houses scout for a new player by any means necessary. Fortunately for Jack he has some help on his side, which includes his old friend, the knowledgeable caretaker Nicodemus Snowbeard, and the mysterious new assistant principal Mr. Hastings, who teaches Jack the ways of the Weir and how to use the powerful sword called Shadowslayer as defense against known and unforeseen enemies.

Soon Jack is off to England, where he is thrown into a high-stakes chase from Dr. Jessamine Longbranch a wicked person who helped saved his life years before and the Roses. Perhaps the most daunting challenge of all for Jack will be remembering who he really is underneath it all.

THE WARRIOR HEIR is a thrilling fantasy set in the 21st century that seems to be different from some of the other wizard stories out there. While I did wish that the novel contained further information about the Weir and that some of the mentioned characters of Jefferson Street were included in the story line a bit more, I did find the book to have a great mix of relationships, historical references, action (at times gory) and suspense. I would suggest having an extra copy on hand because you might find it disappearing temporarily from your bookshelf once your family and friends see it.

2. Wizard Heir : 
Sixteen-year-old Seph McCauley has spent the past three years getting kicked out of one exclusive private school after another. And it's not his attitude that’s the problem.  It’s the trail of magical accidents—lately, disasters—that follow in his wake.  Seph is a wizard, orphaned and untrained--and his powers are escalating out of control.  
After causing a tragic fire at an after-hours party, Seph is sent to the Havens, a secluded boys’ school on the coast of Maine. At first, it seems like the answer to his prayers. Gregory Leicester, the headmaster, promises to train Seph in magic and initiate him into his mysterious order of wizards.  But Seph's enthusiasm dampens when he learns that training comes at a steep cost, and that Leicester plans to use his students' powers to serve his own dangerous agenda.

In this companion novel to the exciting fantasy The Warrior Heir, everyone's got a secret to keep: Jason Haley, a fellow student who’s been warned to keep away from Seph; the enchanter Linda Downey, who knew his parents; the rogue wizard Leander Hastings, and the warriors Jack Swift and Ellen Stephenson. This wizard war is one that Seph may not have the strength to survive.

Like The Warrior Heir, this novel gives a refreshingly new view of magic, the classic story starter. We begin to see more of the underlying major plot of political warfare that was barely tapped into last spring, a power struggle that both contrasts and mirrors our own world. Not many authors can practically restart a story with a new protagonist and setting, and weave it into what we the readers already know, but Chima does so with such spectacular ease it causes one to wonder why so many series stick to one point of view, thus limiting the richness and variety in the writer's universe.

Chima has a flawless balance of almost every element you can find in a good story. She has no qualms about scaring her readers, but isn't so ruthlessly horrible that sensitive readers are afraid to finish the series or even the book, as is the tendency of authors like Rowling. The density of the individual and overall stories does not choke a casual reader like Herbert's masterpiece Dune and while a careful reader can guess early on the identity of the Dragon and of Seph's parents, it's not a matter of clear and obvious assertion from page one as was found in Paolini's Eldest, but a matter of educated guessing with the several plausible options.

Not to mention the diversity of Chima's endless supply of characters, new and old. Any girl who tires of the stereotypical heroine will be pleased at the power and skill each female character that defines their personality and place in the story, though the men are by no means left plain in comparison. But what makes them stand out more than their magical powers ever could is how real the characters are, in emotion, thought process and personality.

Living up to its predecessor and even surpassing its brilliance, The Wizard Heir has something for everyone to enjoy, from funny and unconventional romance to hair-raising situations and a surprisingly fitting happy ending. Readers can expect to close on the last page absolutely dying read the story with The Dragon Heir, and beyond.

3. Dragon Heir : 
The covenant that was meant to keep the wizard wars at bay has been stolen, and Trinity must prepare for attack.  Everyone is doing their part -- Seph is monitoring the Weirwalls; Jack and Ellen are training their ghostly army; even Anaweir Will and Fitch are setting booby traps around the town's perimeter.  But to Jason Haley, it seems like everyone wants to keep him out of the action.  He may not be the most powerful wizard in Trinity, but he's prepared to fight for his friends.  When Jason finds a powerful talisman --a huge opal called the Dragonheart--buried in a cave, his role takes on new importance.  The stone seems to sing to Jason's very soul -- showing him that he is meant for more than anyone guessed.  Trinity's guardians take the stone away after they realize that it may be a weapon powerful enough to save them all.  Without any significant power of his own, and now without the stone, what can Jason possibly do to help the people he cares about -- and to prove his mettle?
Madison Moss can feel the beating heart of the opal, too.  The desire for it surges through her, drawing her to it.  But Maddie has other things besides the Dragonheart on her mind.  She has a secret.  Ever since absorbing the magical blow that was meant to kill Seph, she's been leaking dark powers.  Although Maddie herself is immune to magic, what would her friends think if they knew what kind of evil lay within her?

 Trinity's enemies are as enthusiastic about her powers as she is frightened.  They think they can use her to get to the Dragonheart -- and they'll use anyone Maddie cares about to make her steal the stone for them.
Moral compasses spin out of control as a final battle storms through what was once a sanctuary for the gifted.  With so much to lose, what will Jason and Maddie be willing to fight for -- and what will they sacrifice?  Every man is for himself in this thrilling conclusion to the Heir trilogy.

A lot of times, when a new author emerges in the world of fiction, it seems like every good idea they've ever had 20 or 30 or 40 years of dreaming finds its way into that brilliant debut. Then, when it's time for the sequel... well, there's not much left. And that's why I'm so amazed that Cinda Chima's books just keep getting better.

The Dragon Heir is the third and final book of the Heir series, which started out following young Jack Swift as he found out that he was born to be a warrior fighting in the name of wizard politics. Now full war is breaking out among the magical guilds, and the wizards are determined to put everyone back in their place.

But we're not just following Jack anymore in each book of the Heir series, Chima writes from a new character's point of view. It's a technique that seems, well, incredibly simple, but it creates a slew of unique perspectives that engrosses you immediately. In The Dragon Heir, we see the world through the eyes of Jason Haley and Madison Moss, who were supporting characters in The Wizard Heir but could probably carry a series by themselves.

All of the characters in Chima's books are incredibly well-developed. There's the perfect combination of magic and teenage problems (Does he really love me? And how come things blow up whenever he's around?) that makes young adult fantasy so appealing, even to those of us who have already inched into full adulthood. The best example of this comes when the characters are finally forced to reveal some of their secrets to the non-magical people around them (the muggles, if you will). Most series just make sure that situation never happens, but Chima's characters handle it with the pitch-perfect amount of shock, logic and intelligence (My son is a WHAT?!). They behave like real people, and it makes you wonder why Spider-man didn't fess up to Aunt May a lot sooner.

Each of the Heir books has been better than the last, and The Dragon Heir ties it all together with a conclusion that just seems to fit. It doesn't have some of the brilliant moments of suspense that The Wizard Heir had, but it weaves layers of plot and intrigue in a way that is elegant instead of muddled. You might figure out the ending -- maybe -- but you'll feel smart for getting it.

The Dragon Heir stands on its own as a great read, but why would you want to do that? You'll love all three.

And it has been announced that the next book The Enchanter Heir is to be released on October of 2013. So have to hang in there to know what awaits in the next book !! Argh!!!