Today, I'm reviewing Ellen Oh's Warrior. Jess was a big fan of Oh's debut novel Prophecy, and we've been excited about this upcoming release!
Hardcover, 327 pages
Expected publication: December 31st 2013 by HarperTeen
Format read: E-ARC
Synopsis via Goodreads:
But her fight rages on.
Kira, the yellow-eyed demon slayer who fiercely protected her kingdom—and the crown prince—has been proclaimed the Dragon Musado of the prophecy. With the defeated the evil shaman.
But it wasn’t enough.
Hansong is in chaos. The Demon Lord’s minions have infiltrated the city, treason is brewing among the military ranks, and Kira is buried by the overwhelming loss of her parents. She’s also plagued by the annoying feelings that blossom whenever she’s around Jaewon. But she is determined that nothing will stop her from finding the second treasure needed to fulfill the Dragon King’s prophecy. Not even the army of half-breed demons hot on their trail. If only she could learn to trust others…
Her father always said one person can change the world. Will it be Kira?
Warrior begins in the immediate aftermath of Prophecy, with Kira and her family still struggling to recover from the losses that they've suffered.
Both Kira's parents and her aunt and uncle - who were also queen and king of the region - have been lost, but Kira's more committed than ever to protecting her cousin Taejo, from both demon and human factions aiming to prevent the twelve-year-old prince from rightfully accepting his crown.
Part of that protection involves Kira's continued quest to seek out the second of the three artifacts needed to help defeat the Demon Lord. This particular artifact involves Kira traveling to Mount Baekdu this time around, to find a dagger that will give the bearer the ability to wield serious powers.
For her sophomore novel, Oh's writing is even richer and more detailed this time around, particularly when it comes to Kira. Oh fleshes out her heroine more, balancing both Kira's anger and almost fanatical sense of duty after suffering devastating losses, with the realistic growing pains of a seventeen-year-old girl.
I was especially impressed with Oh's ability to show the multiple layers behind the insecurities that Kira initially expressed in Prophecy. Despite having a rotating case of old and new characters attempt to show Kira that her insecurities of being different and an outcast is unwarranted - e.g. a captain assures Kira that her presence on his ship is a story to tell his grandparents - Kira's still impacted by her background and an unfortunate new connection to the Demon Lord.
I think that educators, librarians and readers will appreciate Oh's tacit lesson on the struggles of determining individualism and learning to accept one's self - even in the face of having been teased, bullied and treated differently.
Outside of characterizations, Oh takes the opportunity to build up Kira's world in Warrior, in a way that shows readers that we're really only scratching at the surface of the mythos for this series. Mysteries are revealed, obstacles are added, politics are incorporated, and more friends and foes are thrown into the mix. Oh introduces readers to new characters that make a strong impact on the series, including a certain shaman - and I hope that they'll be back.
Even though Warrior definitely wasn't a short book, the hours absolutely flew by as I read - especially as I got to the ending of the book. Kira is left in a tricky confrontation and a cliffhanger, and I know that I and other readers will likely be dying until we get the next installment in the series.
Things to consider:
After reading Warrior, I stand by what Jess said in her review of Prophecy: I think that Oh's writing has a lyrical quality that is really reminiscent of Asian texts translated into English. There's a beauty in her writing, which I think a lot of readers - though maybe not all! - will appreciate.
I also recommend Warrior for fans of both historical fiction and fantasy fiction - Warrior will definitely have something for all of you.
As for me personally, Warrior just reinforces the idea that Ellen Oh is a writer to watch. She only gets better and better with each book, and I look forward to continuing with both the Prophecy series and with whatever she writes in the future.