A review two days in a row? Impossible, you say? Well, yes, if I had started reading this book yesterday, but I finished this book early last week. I debated on saving this review until the weekend, but I figure that would be selfish of me. Besides, the longer I wait, the most spotty my recollection of the book gets. And this is a good one, so I want to do it justice.
The Wizard Heir
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Score: 5 stars (out of 5)
Review: The Wizard Heir is Chima's sophomore offering in her Heir series. In this book, our hero is sixteen-year-old Seph McCauley, a trust fund baby with no parents and a history of disasters caused by the magical energies he can't control. Blowing up and melting things involuntarily has forced Seph to hop from school to school and country to country, seeking a fresh start as well as instruction that will help him harness his talents and prevent further catastrophe. Unfortunately, Wizard teachers seem to be in short supply.
A final incident at a Toronto rave lands Seph at a boarding school for troubled teens, where Seph finds a headmaster willing to teach Seph to hone and control his gift. However, Seph soon learns that the headmaster's intentions for him and the school are anything but altruistic, and the price of training goes far beyond any amount of money or time.
Chima's second foray into this world of incantations and intrigues is even better than her first. I thought that The Warrior Heir was a superb read, but The Wizard Heir features a tighter plot and more complex character development and interaction. Since this is not our first exposure to the magical Guilds, Chima bypasses much of the setting and background exposition that may have slowed her first story. She jumps immediately into the action and plot building, even using the prologue to reference characters and events from the first book's final chapters. The author does a good job of including some cursory background at strategic points so that a new reader isn't completely lost. But as with any series, you get much more by having read what's come before.
I thought the transition to a new suite of main characters was a refreshing move. The protagonists from book #1 (Jack, in particular) are still important pieces on the board, but their roles are more subdued to allow Chima to flesh out another set of characters for our enjoyment. The new cast members are also, perhaps, more interesting than their predecessors from a moral and motivational standpoint. Seph is a selfish, sorcerous playboy when we first meet him. Not evil by any means, but also not the innocent, wholesome specimen that Jack was/is. Jack is immediately likeable, but Seph is, in some ways, more relatable, much as we may hate to admit.
The Wizard Heir is a fine follow-up to the first book, showing further refinement in Chima's storytelling strengths and setting our heroes up for a 3rd book showdown that will rock the realm of magic.