CATSS Critics: Warrior Heir

This entry has been published on October 15, 2021 and may be out of date.

The Warrior Heir, by Cinda Williams Chima (YA FIC CHI)

Reviewed by Zoe R. (12th Grade)

In The Warrior Heir, Cinda Williams Chima blends a “normal” high school life with elements of fantasy. From the outset, protagonist Jack Swift seems to be a regular high schooler: he balances social life, sports, and academics, as well as handling his ex-girlfriend and the familiar bully. What sets him apart is a scar on his chest and his daily medicine, both consequences of post-birth surgery for his “heart”—his cardiac difficulty a truth, he finds out, to be a lie. The day he forgets to take his medicine marks his gateway into a world of warriors, enchanters, wizards, and other magic guilds where Jack becomes a valuable piece in a millennium-long conflict.

The book itself is a light read focused on action, including elements of mystery and romance; several areas of the novel, however, felt rather underdeveloped. When it comes to the characters, no quirks or complex traits make them stand apart; their depth is limited and their personal difficulties—those not directly tied to the main plot—are often overlooked. While side characters were relatively likable, such as Jack’s aunt Linda and his friend Fitch, they end up accessories in the final act, providing little impact on the story’s conclusion. And, though the romance aspect was expected, it came off as forced. The main pair, Jack and Ellen, had few moments together, and when they did, fewer instances existed—be it a tender line or a sweet gesture—that would give you a sense of, “This is why they’d work well together.”