- The Elves and the Shoemaker
In this companion novel to The Warrior Heir (BCCB 7/06), another teenage boy, this time a wizard, is awakening to his powers. Seph has been reared to believe he is an orphan; he knows that he belongs to a magical race called the Weir but has no idea what that means or how to connect with others like him. Now that his powers are emerging in their full, uncontrolled force, he is becoming a danger to those around him, so he is actually grateful to be sent away to a secluded boys' school. There he meets Gregory Leicester, who is nursing his wounds over the upset in the previous book's concluding battle and looking to train an army to retake the power that the Wizard's Guild lost in that encounter. Seph is rightfully suspicious of his new headmaster, especially as classmates who defy Leicester disappear; after months of mental and physical torture, he manages to get a message to his guardian Linda Downey, who rescues him and takes him to join Warrior Heir protagonists Jack, Ellen, and Nick in the Sanctuary town of Trinity, Ohio. Here Seph joins forces with the crew who overthrew the wizards, and they work to cement a new constitution that will release the other guilds from their servitude to the wizards. Though Chima's prose is clunky and lackluster at times, much can be forgiven in light of her meticulous plotting and her compelling development of a vast array of fully realized, complex characters. It's best to read The Warrior Heir before picking this up; while some characters who were developed there drop back to bit players here, others require the context of the first book to be fully appreciated. Knowledgeable readers, though, will again be drawn into a world that ably straddles the chasm between the ordinary and the magical, and the strong message of teamwork and interdependence underwrites the political theme of realizing true democracy among the Weirlind.