Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Wizard Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

Main Character: Seph
Location: Toronto, Maine, and the Sanctuary town of Trinity
Time period: Contemporary
Genre: YA Fiction, Fantasy
Series: sequel to The Warrior Heir

Once again, I am reading a sequel to a book I read long enough ago that the details of the earlier book have faded. However, Chima has done a very clever thing in her storytelling that doesn't leave me feeling lost and confused. (I doubt that she planned it specifically for memory-impaired people like me--but it worked out very nicely.) She shifted focus to a brand-new character who has no knowledge of the events of the first book.

Seph McCauley is a young wizard, but he doesn't know that he is--he just knows that strange things happen around him. After his uncontrolled powers accidentally cause a fire which kills a friend of his, he is sent to a strict boarding school in a secluded part of Maine. There he is told that he is a gifted wizard and that there are others like him at the school who can help him learn to control and use his powers. He just needs to pledge his allegiance to the headmaster, something that Seph is not willing to do. After his refusal, Seph is subjected to systematic bullying and abuse until finally his guardian swoops in to rescue him and take him to Trinity, the sanctuary town that Jack Swift set up in The Warrior Heir.

I really like Seph (short for Joseph) who has a strong moral core despite not having had a lot of parental guidance. As he learns more about the world of the Weirs, it gives us a chance to remember the events of the first book without having a lot of awkward exposition. (Okay, there was one "do you remember what happened last summer?" conversation, but it was handled well and had a natural flow to it.) For those that really liked Jack and Ellen in the first book, don't worry--they are absent from the first part of this book, but they make up for it once they do show up. The more I read in this book, the more details I was able to remember from the first. ("Oh, THAT's who that girl in the nightclub was!" "That's right, that was the doctor who replaced Jack's heartstone.") I just appreciated the way that was done.

There was a climactic battle, but the forces of good have merely won a temporary respite, not a total victory. For that, we will have to wait for the third book, The Dragon Heir.

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