International Writers Magazine:Young
Last of the Warrior Kings by Sarah Mussi
London: Hodder Childrens Books, 2008. £5.99
Anona Evans review
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 Maxs 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
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
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
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 ones beliefs and the pursuit of
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 Maxs character develops nicely throughout the book.
However, it was difficult at times to picture his voice. The use of
first person narrative through Maxs 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 Maxs cause.
© Anona Evans April 29 2008
Anona is studying for her Masters in Creative Writing at the University
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