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The International Writers Magazine:Young Adult Reviews

The Last of the Warrior Kings by Sarah Mussi
London: Hodder Children’s Books, 2008. £5.99
ISBN: 978-0-340-90322-3
Anona Evans review

The Last of the Warrior Kings is a mystery thriller aimed at teenage readers. It tells the story of Max, a young teenager living in London. The reader is drawn straight into the story with Max and his twin brother Angelo running from a hooded gang. The gang are chasing a famous rapper, Mogul King who thrusts a package containing an ancient sacrificial dagger into Max’s hand before being killed. Within a few hours Angelo has also been killed, and Max comes to realise that his brother was involved in the dangerous campaign to send the Benin Bronzes back to Nigeria where they were looted years ago.

Max and his friends Sapphire and Roland piece the puzzle together whilst being pursued by the More Dread crew, who are out to retrieve the dagger and hide the truth. Max and his friends instigate and carry out a daring plan to free the ancient treasures of Benin and reveal the More Dread crew to the world.

As a thriller, The Last of the Warrior Kings does not fully deliver. The plot was predictable during the first half of the book and although the pace was fast and the characters interesting, it lacked any real suspense. The book attempts to be gritty and modern but at times the characters lack raw reality and depth in their emotions.

However, The Last of the Warrior Kings is contemporary and Sarah Mussi cleverly draws the ancient past into the present day. The imagery of the ancient Nigerian culture with their beautiful swords and bronze plaques is very effectively contrasted against the dirty streets of London.

The theme of being robbed is particularly blunt and realistic. There is also a perception of conspiracy by those in authority who will resort to anything in order to keep these secrets concealed. There is an enormous sense of pride, standing up for one’s beliefs and the pursuit of the truth.

Max is portrayed as a modern day hero. He is a lone crusader, fighting to restore the faith and property of an ancient civilisation. Through his quest, Max overcomes his own conflicts and childish traits as he transforms into the heroic role. During the second half of the book he becomes the embodiment of the ancient Nigerian faith and pride. He becomes a modern day warrior.

On the whole Max’s character develops nicely throughout the book. However, it was difficult at times to picture his voice. The use of first person narrative through Max’s eyes was effective. However, at the beginning of the novel his voice through the narration and voice through the dialogue did not completely coincide.

The Last of the Warrior Kings has an overly political theme and is too long. The reader has to persevere through the book to arrive at the exciting scenes. It includes needless material such as the letters describing the attack by the British in Nigeria. It can clearly be seen why they were included as they demonstrate the back story and history. However this has already been covered effectively and previously in the novel and it is all too easy to skip through these parts to get back to the actual story.

The Last of the Warrior Kings fails to maintain a high degree of interest for the reader and ends somewhat abruptly. However, the final quarter does contain eventful and enjoyable poetic scenes, which make the reader empathise with Max’s cause.

© Anona Evans April 29 2008
anona.evans at

Anona is studying for her Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth

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