So recently I decided to re-read the Heir Chronicles by Chinda Williams Chima. It’s a Young Adult, Sub-Urban Fantasy series set in Ohio. One of the reasons I chose to do this is because these books are so re-readable. Seriously, the first book especially, I had read twice already and I didn’t remember a whole lot about the book except that I had really enjoyed it.
On top of that, I also realized that since I had read through the books that two more books had been published in this series. So naturally, I had to read the first three over again before I read the new ones. Here are my thoughts on the first three books before I dive into the next ones.
Book 1 Synopsis: The 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.
Synopsis: Wizard Heir
This story starts about two years after the events of the first book and we are following an entirely new character. Seph McCauley is a sixteen year old wizard living in Toronto.
Seph is having some difficulties. He has no idea who his parents were. The sorcerer who was his foster mother has died. On top of that, he has hardly any idea on how to use his wizard powers. The result is that he ends up having a lot of magical accidents, like setting stuff on fire. This causes him to get kicked out of schools a lot.
Seph eventually ends up at a school for “troubled” teen boys, which he then learns is a front to help find young un-trained wizards like himself. The headmaster, Gregory Leicester, turns out to be a wizard as well. He offers to help train Seph, but at a steep cost. It turns out that Leicester, like most wizards in this world, has his own agenda.
Synopsis: Dragon Heir
This book focuses around the two main supporting characters from the previous book: Jason and Madison. The Covenant, a magical contract that kept the wizards from warring against each other, got stolen, and as a result the magical world is in chaos. War is brewing and all roads lead to the sanctuary of Trinity, OH.
Jason is a seventeen year old wizard, and not a particularly powerful one. He is determined, however, to make a significant mark on the world. He’s desperate to be a part of the upcoming battle, but he feels passed over compared to all of his powerful and talented friends. When Jason makes an attempt at a solo raid on an enemy fortress, he finds a long forgotten cache of magical artifacts. Stealing what he can, he brings them to his allies. One of these stolen pieces, the Dragonheart, seems to be connected to the very source of magic itself. Now the entire wizard world wants it back.
Madison is an elicitor, not a member of the Weir Guilds, but special and powerful none the less. She has the unique ability to draw in magic and dispel it elsewhere. However she has little control over it. When she gets a call from her mother that she’s needed back home, she leaves Trinity, but not before encountering the Dragonheart. Madison has to go back home, leaving behind both her boyfriend, Seph, and the Dragonheart. Can she stay away? It’s dangerous for her to stay in Trinity. It’s also dangerous for her to be outside the Sanctuary.
One thing I feel the need to address is the element of Catholicism in the books. It is referenced throughout the series, but especially in The Wizard Heir because the main character, Seph is portrayed as a practicing Catholic. From a certain perspective it makes sense that Chima would write it this way. The ritual of Catholic prayer that Seph associates with is a nice contrast to the dark magic/pagan rituals of the villain in that book.
The main problem I have is that one of the mentor characters claims that wizardry is compatible with Catholicism. As a Bible-believing Christian and practicing Catholic myself, I can assure any readers that in real life this is not the case. Real-life wizardry is condemned in Scripture. That being said, since this is a work of fiction, there is nothing to prevent us readers from enjoying it as a work of fiction.
So far I have really enjoyed this series. I have greatly enjoyed Chima’s writing style and I think there is a lot I could learn by studying it. I can also tell that she improved in her craft with each book, but that’s not to say that the earlier books are bad. I really appreciate her development of characters, ESPECIALLY her villains. They are great in a love-to-hate sort of way. Her magical world building is also well done, and the way magic works in her world feels real and tangible. On top of all that, every single book has fun plot twists that you don’t always see coming, but upon re-reading the book I was able to see the foreshadowing. I’m really looking forward to reading the next two books.