The Enchanter Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

The Enchanter Heir, by Cinda Williams Chima, was published in 2013 by Hyperion. It is the sequel to The Dragon Heir.

They called it the Thorn Hill Massacre—the brutal attack on a once-thriving Weir community. Though Jonah Kinlock lived through it, he did not emerge unscathed: like the other survivors, Jonah possesses unique magical gifts that set him apart from members of the mainline guilds. At seventeen, Jonah has become the deadliest assassin in Nightshade, a network that hunts the undead. Emma Claire Greenwood grew up worlds away, an unschooled wild child raised by a grandfather who taught her music rather than magic. Her life changes forever the night she finds her grandfather dying, gripping a note warning Emma that she might be in danger. The clue he leaves behind leads Emma into Jonah’s life—and a shared legacy of secrets and lingering questions. Was Thorn Hill really a peaceful commune? Or was it, as the Wizard Guild claims, a hotbed of underguild terrorists? The Wizards’ suspicions grow when members of the mainline guilds start turning up dead. They blame Nightshade, bringing tensions between the groups to a head. Racing against time, Jonah and Emma work to uncover the truth about Thorn Hill, amid increasing concern that whoever planned the Thorn Hill Massacre might strike again.

I struggled to get through The Enchanter Heir. I found it tedious and lacking in plot and development, with more time devoted to describing how enchanting Jonah is and to music lyrics than to actually advancing the plot. That’s one of the problems I’ve had with Chima, even in her Seven Realms novels (which for the most part I adored): there are always large chunks of her books that I feel are unnecessary and should be edited out.

I did find the setting intriguing, if only because Thorn Hill reads like some tragic superhero origin story. However, I didn’t think keeping the heroes from the first three books the same age was a good move. When I started the book, I thought that this was going to be a “fastforward five or so years” and that Jack, Seph, and the rest would be older. And I was excited about that! But no, these events take place directly after the events of The Dragon Heir (maybe a year or so later), and it actually made no sense to me. If Thorn Hill was such a big deal, and the kids who came out of it are so hated/feared, then why wasn’t it mentioned earlier in the series?

(And yes, I know, it’s because obviously Chima hadn’t thought of it yet and so didn’t include it in the first three books. But that’s why I was expecting a time-jump—it would have made everything seem much more natural than just introducing “hey, new world information!” with no prior setup.)

I also hated how prominent villains of the first three books were dispatched in the prologue of this book. It was incredibly anticlimactic, not to mention that we missed out once again on a Hastings/Wylie showdown. So much for setting them up as rivals in the first book.

A few other things I didn’t like: the introduction of the undead and the poor explanation as to why they were there; the complete lack of plot development during the second half of the book, with time instead being taken up with bands and lyrics and love angst; and the darn cliffhanger ending. I used to not mind cliffhanger endings, but now I am really started to get annoyed by them.

Rating: 1/5

Recommended Age Range: 16+

Warnings: One or two sensual scenes, violence.

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

“Though wizards would have planned the operation, it would have been sorcerers who developed and compounded the poison,” Gabriel said.

They all stared at him.

“Why haven’t you told us that before?” Jonah said finally.

“I thought it was obvious.” Gabriel shrugged. “That’s the role of sorcerers—compounding medicinals and the like.”

“Why would sorcerers collaborate with wizards?”

Overall Review:

Unfortunately, The Enchanter Heir was just full of way too many things that annoyed me, such as the tedium of the pacing, the too-long filler and the too-short plot development, the inexplicability of the whole Thorn Hill situation (as interesting as it is), and the annoying love-angst between Jonah and Emma. I don’t even know if I want to read the last book.

You can buy this here: The Enchanter Heir

The Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

The Dragon Heir, by Cinda Williams Chima, was published in 2008 by Hyperion. It is the sequel to The Wizard 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. Everything changes, though, when Jason finds a powerful talisman—a huge opal called the Dragonheart—buried in a cave. The stone seems to sing to Jason’s very soul—showing him that he’s meant for more than anyone’s guessed. 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 the people of Trinity be willing to fight for—and what will they sacrifice?

Unfortunately, for the most part I found The Dragon Heir disappointing. I thought quite a bit of extraneous material could have been cut (something I’ve noticed in all of Chima’s works) and there was a distinct lack of resolution to several different threads throughout the story.

But more on what I liked first: I liked the relationship between Devereaux and his father, because I enjoy it when villains show more than one side to their character. It’s something I talk a lot about in my reviews of the Redwall books. I appreciated that Chima showed both the manipulative, power-hungry side of D’Orsay and the loving, “family man” side of him.

I found Madison a bit irritating as a character, but I also liked the direction Chima went with her, especially since I initially thought that someone else would be the main focus (helped by the summary and the viewpoint of a certain character). The scenes at the end with the dragon were very nice, as well.

But I was mostly frustrated with what I felt was an oversight by Chima of several character threads as the book ended. The characters discuss the dangers of flame, yet there is no mention of Seph having to deal with the consequences after the battle (because he’s conveniently magically cured). I’m also disappointed that we missed out on any sort of discussion between Hastings/Linda and Seph about the flame. Speaking of Hastings, I hated that he wasn’t even seen throughout most of the book and I especially hated that he wasn’t at the final battle to dispatch Wylie. Wylie and Hastings were set up as nemeses in the first book, and the fact that we never see a confrontation between them is beyond disappointing.

Also, Jason is pretty much only useful as a character when he gets the Dragonstone at the beginning. After that, I don’t understand why he got so much attention, and his final scene meant absolutely nothing to me.

And what’s with the random wizards where Madison lives? They felt more like an insertion by Chima to create tension than anything else. They certainly didn’t mesh with the world.

Rating: 2/5

Recommended Age Range: 14+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

She felt the tug of the stone from across the room, dragging her forward. As it had before, the Dragonheart seemed to react to her presence, brightening, colors sliding over each other like brilliant paints sloshing in a jar.

She stood over the stone. As she extended her hand, the light from the stone stained her skin. Her breathing slowed, her eyelids drooped. A rush of brilliant images coursed through her mind: a castle built of stone, a jewellike valley ringed by rugged mountains, a procession of courtiers bearing gifts. She heard the whisper of a half-remembered song, lines of poetry that broke her heart. She heard someone calling a name she wanted to answer to.

Overall Review:

The Dragon Heir was ultimately disappointed, due to the glaring lack of resolution to several plot threads and the amount of extra material that I felt was unnecessary and made the book more bloated than it needed to be. I did like the action, and the scene at the end with the dragon was very pretty, but overall, I’m not impressed.

You can buy this here: The Dragon Heir

The Wizard Heir: Starts Off Slow, But Ends Satisfyingly

The Wizard Heir is written by Cinda Williams Chima. It was published in 2007 by Hyperion. It is the sequel to The Warrior Heir.

Sixteen-year-old Seph McCauley has spent the past three years being kicked out of one exclusive private school after another. And its 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. 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 wicked agenda.

I liked The Wizard Heir a little better than The Warrior Heir, mainly because I was used to the world and the difference in Chima’s style (from the Seven Realms series) all ready. It was nice to see a new character, but also see that new character interact with the old ones. I think I like Hastings even more in this novel, too.

While the beginning took a little bit for me to get into, simply because Seph didn’t start out the type of character I enjoy reading, the middle/ending was really well done in terms of action and tension and kept me reading. The first big plot twist Chima pulls was pretty obvious, especially since her viewpoint switches give it away, but the second one I did not expect at all and was pretty awesome. I also like how each book so far has a stand-alone arc (yes, this one doesn’t end on a cliffhanger! Happiness!) in addition to the continuous one (that I can see more clearly in this one as opposed to the first) and that the main villain of this one is dispatched at the end–not a lot of threads left hanging, everything ends pretty tidily.

The inclusion of Madison Moss seemed a little too convenient, although how they used her Super Special Power was really neat.

The next book has Jason as the main viewpoint, apparently, which I’m not really looking forward to since I found him annoying in this book (but hopefully he’ll be more endearing if I’m in his head).

Rating: 4/5

Recommended Age Range: 14+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

“Jason, what do you know about Joseph McCauley?” The voice was complex, full of fire and ice, sorcery and menace.

Jason toyed with his earring, frowning, as if struggling to remember. “He’s the one you told me about, right? He spent a lot of time in this building over winter break. I think I’ve seen him in the workout rooms.”

“We’ve been working with him all year, but we aren’t making the kind of progress we would like. He’s hallucinating. Delusional. Dangerously symptomatic. But refuses our help. And now there’s been a change in his behavior that makes me think perhaps he’s been spending time with you.” The voice was gently on the surface, but then was steel underneath. “Do you remember our discussion about your negative influence on the other boys?”

Overall Review:

I am starting to like the world of The Wizard Heir a little better, and although the book starts out a little slow, by the end it’s fast-paced and gripping. Madison Moss is a little too convenient and is more of a Chekhov’s Gun than anything else but her power is cool. Hastings really fits the role of Enigmatic, Powerful Wizard well and is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters. The book is still a little strange and Chima’s prose could be a little better, but the series seems to be improving.

You can buy this here: The Wizard Heir

The Warrior Heir: Awesome Cover Art, Not So Awesome Story

The Warrior Heir is written by Cinda Williams Chima. It was published in 2006 by Hyperion. It is the first book in the Heir Chronicles.

Before he knew about the Roses, sixteen-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 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 society sit the feuding houses of the Red Rose and the White Rose, whose power is determined by playing the Game—a tournament in which each house sponsors a warrior to fight to the death. The winning house rules the Weir. As if his bizarre heritage weren’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.

I didn’t like this book nearly as much as Chima’s first Seven Realms novel, but I do prefer my fantasy set in fantasy worlds or an alternate version of this one, not in our own. However, it was still well-thought-out and interesting in terms of world, and I really liked the dynamic between Jack and his non-magical friends. While it took me a little time to get into the novel, the ending was fast-paced and exciting.

I was actually surprised when everything wrapped up neatly by the end. There are five books in this series, so I guess I was expecting some sort of plot thread to be left for the next book. But no, this book is stand-alone, and so everything is solved by the end except for some character developments. It makes me wonder what will happen next.

This is Chima’s first book, and it does show. Although I thought the Seven Realms series was a little bloated, overall the plot and world building were really great, so I suppose I was expecting the same thing here (I know, a little unfair of me). But The Warrior Heir is not written or developed nearly as well, and the romance between Jack and Ellen felt thrown in just to cater to the audience.

I also think the book would have been better if the reader doesn’t find out before Jack does about Lee and warriors and wizards and things. Since we do, the beginning just sort of slogs on until Jack gets caught up with the reader.

Rating: 3/5

Recommended Age Range: 14+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

He set the flashlight on the ground, gingerly grasped the hilt, and drew it out, noticing how the grip fit his hand without slipping. The sword created its own light as it emerged, a silver flame that ran along the blade. It was double-edged, and the metal appeared rippled in a way that meant the steel had been folded and refolded to strengthen it. How he knew this, he couldn’t say. After a century in the ground, it bore no trace of rust, but seemed ready for immediate use.

Will and Fitch, drawn by the light, looked over Jack’s shoulder. “Wicked,” breathed Fitch.

“No,” said Jack. “Not wicked at all.” He lifted the weapon before him with two hands and knew that it was his, although this had been forged long before he was born. It was lighter in his hands than he expected, lighter than one would expect from the size of it. “Shadowslayer,” he whispered, as if the weapon spoke to him. And the power in the blade ran into his hands and up his arms as if, somehow, the sword were wielding him.

Overall Review:

The Warrior Heir was a little disappointing, just because I loved Chima’s Seven Realms series so much and this wasn’t nearly as good. The world was interesting, but not all that developed (although, granted, this is only the first book), and some of the elements included felt a little forced, such as the romance between Jack and Ellen. I liked it, but it wasn’t amazing.

You can buy this here: The Warrior Heir