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Featuring soon on Welcome to my Library – My interview with Australian author P.J Tierney.
Title: Jamie Reign: The Last Spirit Warrior
Category: Children’s Fiction / Fantasy
Author: P.J Tierney
Publisher: Harper Collins Australia
Pages: 385 Pages
Short-list: Readings Children’s Prize for Children 2014
My Rating: 4 stars
‘The set-up of kung-fu fantasy adventure Jamie Reign by PJ Tierney had us all hooked and we admired Jamie’s character.’ Judges for the Readings Children’s Book Prize.
Summary: Jamie Reign can’t read a word, but he can handle a tugboat better than most. All his life he has dreamed of becoming a kung fu expert, like the legendary Master Wu. But that sort of kung fu, the sort that draws on the ancient and mystical force called the Way, is only for the Chinese boys and Jamie isn’t Chinese enough for that. While diving on an uncharted reef, Jamie discovers a terrible force that exposes his connection to these ancient warriors and to the warlord intent on destroying them all. He must quickly learn kung fu and the secret skills of the Warriors of the Way. Jamie’s past and the future of these ancient warriors are inexplicably linked. And as the two collide, Jamie and his new friends set off on a desperate mission to save them all.
My Review: Jamie Reign has relied on himself for years – his father Hector is a drunk, treats Jamie with disdain and doesn’t seem to release that he himself relies on Jamie when he turns to the bottle every day. The story begins on Jamie’s 12th birthday, which is also Chinese New Year.
I was drawn in straight away by Jamie’s situation – he is unsure of his place in the world, neglected by his father, and is not accepted fully into the community, a small Chinese fishing village, because of his mixed heritage. He doesn’t know the fate of his mother, who disappeared after his birth, has never been to school and can’t read – but he can handle their boat, the Swift, and knows the sea and its secrets better than most with his strange ability to find things lost below the surface.
On New Years Day Jamie meets some school children who bully him into a fight leaving him with a bloody nose and a bruised ego. As the fight continues Jamie draws every bit of energy – he wanted to land just one punch – and strange silvery orbs burst into the sky and zoom towards them.
Soon after Mr.Fan boards the Swift and asks to go out to an uncharted reef. Jamie dives into the depths, and with his uncanny ability to locate lost items at sea he finds and retrieves a mysterious box. Against the wishes of Mr.Fan, Jamie’s Dad Hector greedily opens the box and unleashes a sinister spirit which leads to trouble for Hector.
Jamie learns of The Way, the universal energy of life and for a small number of people….it can be a means of communications, of transport and of defence. He also learns of the Spirit Warriors, and of Zheng, an evil spirit who causes mayhem and catastrophe in the world.
Jamie life changes forever when he is drawn into an exclusive group of warriors known as the Warriors of the Way, who uphold honour and protect the vulnerable – it is here that Jamie begins kung fu training in earnest and the secrets of The Way – although, he soon finds out that he has a lot to learn! Mr. Fan takes Jamie to Chia Wu where he meets Master Wu, a world-renowned kung fu Master who had disappeared from public view when his fame was as its highest.
Jamie had never been special to anyone – after the abandonment of his mother and the neglect of his father, it is with the Warriors of the Way that Jamie finally feels accepted, feels like he belongs somewhere and has friends for the first time in his life in Lucy, Wing and Jade. As the story unfolds, Jamie learns more about his powers, self-defence and self-respect – and uncovers some secrets about his mothers past.
The book is well-paced with plenty of twists, turns and action to keep readers turning the page. It addresses issues such as abandonment, lack of self-confidence and of not belonging or fitting in, the discipline of kung fu and introduces the reader to Chinese cultural history.
With magical energy, ancient texts, a cheeky monkey, action packed fight scenes and the evil spirit Zheng, Jamie Reign: The Last Spirit Warrior is a fantastic read, and I highly recommend it to readers from ages 9 and up.
I can’t wait for the next book, as the ending was very climactic and showed Jamie’s bravery and protective instinct. There are plenty of mysteries to uncover and I think Jamie’s adventures have only just begun…Book 2 – Jamie Reign: The Hidden Dragon out in August (see below).
Read this soon: Jamie Reign: The Hidden Dragon is out in August!
This is the series for every young boy who has dreamt of living on a boat, having extraordinary adventures – and discovering he is totally awesome at kung fu! This thrilling sequel to THE LAST SPIRIT WARRIOR sees Jamie takes to kung fu training with fervor, knowing that Zheng, or at least part of him, is so close. And despite this, Jade insists on training Jamie in upper body strength only. If this continues he’ll never beat Zheng. It’s only Jade’s ability to see into the future that stops Jamie from rebelling entirely. ‘intriguing and ingenious… Jamie Reign keeps the plot bubbling and the pages turning’ – John Flanagan, author of The Ranger’s Apprentice.
Author Bio: PJ (Paula) Tierney grew up in the Blue Mountains where every day was an adventure. When PJ left school she enrolled at the University of Wollongong in the Creative Arts Department and majored in Writing. It was there she discovered the magic of theatre and producing concerts and has worked all over the world. Following this came a stint working on the production of the Hong Kong Handover Celebrations. It was while in Hong Kong that PJ spent time in the world where the real Jamie lived, and so it was the story grew and came alive.
Thanks to (BookVibes Harper Collins) for the Teachers notes & discussion questions.
1. What does the prologue in this novel add to your understanding of the narrative? →I loved this prologue – sometimes prologues seem to be there just for an info dump, but this one was mysterious, and tense. The presence of Ki-Lin heralds the arrival of someone special, born on New Years Eve – the Year of the Dragon which leads well into the first chapter where Jamie wakes on his 12th birthday – 12 years after the prologue.
2. Jamie has had to rely on his wits and has few people to assist him. What particular qualities (apart from his magical skills) have helped him to survive thus far? → Jamie has had no one to care for him properly – his father neglects, beats him and treats him with disdain – and the village doesn’t accept Jamie because of his mixed heritage, but also because Hector who is disliked by the fisherman for his boat salvaging activities. Because of Hector’s drunkenness Jamie who has learnt the skills to handle the boat in the roughest of seas, and cook and fend for himself. It has made Jamie very self-reliant and strong in character.
3. Is Mayling really dead? Why did she have a child with Hector and why did she leave Jamie? I can only speculate here – some of this was answered in Book 1, but I suspect we won’t know all the answers until Book 3 with a few hints through Book 2. Towards the end of Book 1 we learn that Mayling was a Warrior of the Way herself, a Recollector, who knows her life plan, but disappeared from Chia Wu before the final ceremony. Perhaps she saw her life plan – but was she running from it – or making sure it happened as she saw it? I suspect she left Chia Wu to have Jamie, who would be needed to fight Zheng one day. We shall see what unfolds throughout the next two books!
4. What do you think of Jade’s behaviour? Is she as fierce as she seems? She is fierce… but she is a Recollector which means she may not have forgotten her past lives, and may know her life plan. She’s is suspicious about Jamie because his Spirit Guide isn’t present (we find out why Jamie’s guide hasn’t turned up towards the end of the book). I also think in past lives, she had some sort of connection with Jamie.
5. Who is the least admirable character in the novel, and why? Well, my first thoughts are of Hector, Jamie’s father who turned to alcohol after Jamie was brought to him as a baby. He is a terrible father and deserved to be inhabited by an evil spirit! But, I suspect there is more to his behaviour – something from the past to do with Mayling. Perhaps he can redeem himself, or maybe he is truly evil and part of Zheng’s crew??? (just speculation!).
Don’t forget to enter to win signed copies of Jamie Reign: The Last Spirit Warrior & the sequel Jamie Reign: The Hidden Dragon.
For your chance to win: Share this review via Twitter or Facebook, or other social media and let me know on by commenting on this page, tag me on Twitter @LisaFleetwood, or via my Contact page. Each share is one entry. Entries close 31st July. (The winner will be drawn randomly and prize posted in August. Worldwide entry).
I’ve read this book as part of the Australian Women Writers challenge 2014. To join click here