Tag Archives: Mages

The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce

Overview
The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce

Title: The Will of the Empress
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: Circle Reforged #1, Emelan #9
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Fantasy, Mages
Dates read: 29th – 30th July 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Scholastic
Year: 2005
5th sentence, 74th page: Tris made not a sound, her eyes on the hill as Chime behind her.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Long-awaited…
Highly anticipated…
The Circle Reforged

Four mages. One destiny. No turning back.

This sweeping saga is the final in the Circle series. The four young mages, Tris, Sandry, Briar and Daja, are now young adults ad are back together after their years of independence.

Thoughts

I forgot how damn good this novel is. It’s been a long time since I picked it up. And a while since I reread the first few Emelan books. Now I want to pick them all up and read them again and again… I seem to pick them up every few years anyway. There is just something amazing about Pierce’s writing and this is the first of her books that really branches towards a more adult view. After all, it is about four adults reconnecting with childhood friends.

For anyone else who has read the rest of the Emelan books (and you should), in the beginning of this, you just want to smack the four’s heads together. They’re kind of silly and irritating in so many ways. Mostly though, they are just stubborn and proud. A feeling that I can completely understand. Get past those first few chapters where you just want to smack them, and it begins to just get that much better.

I love that this story has the typical spunk of the four… they’re just a little bit more difficult and attitudinal, considering they’re now adults and on their own war path. I loved that this was a full circle story. It not only bought the four back together, it also showed that the people you grow up with can change and alter, but you can all grow together. It just takes a little work to find your way back together.

Reflecting back on this, this is the first book I ever read that introduced an LGBTQI+ character. Funnily enough, throughout the entire series there is a f-f couple who feature heavily in the children’s lives. But, like the children in this story, I really didn’t pay it much heed. It’s not until it is outright mentioned that I really noticed. But that was, you know, when I was a child. I do love how seamlessly Pierce does this though. It’s a great way to show inclusion without making much of a fuss. Now I just hope that there’s another story in the future that shows each of the four finding their happily ever after person…

<- ShatterglassMelting Stones ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Black Gryphon by Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon

Overview
The Black Gryphon (Valdemar: Mage Wars #1) by Mercedes Lackey

Title: The Black Gryphon
Author: Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon
Series: The Mage Wars #1, Valdemar #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Fantasy, Mages, Magic, Medieval fantasy
Dates read: 18th – 25th May 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: DAW Fantasy
Year: 1994
5th sentence, 74th page: Cinnabar, of course, was as elegant as if she had just come from holding court, her scarlet gown cut to mid-calf, showing scarlet leather boots and slender ankles, her sleeves cut tight, displaying her graceful arms without an unseemly show of flesh.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

SKANDRANON RASKAE IS EVERYTHING A GRYPHON SHOULD BE…

with gleaming ebony feathers, majestic wingspan, keen magesight, and sharp intelligence, he is the fulfillment of all that the Mage of Silence, the human sorcerer called urtho, intended to achieve when he created these magical beings to be his champions, the defenders of his realm – a verdant plain long coveted by the evil mage Ma’ar.

And now, as Ma’ar is once again preparing to advance on Urtho’s Keep, this time with a huge force spearheaded by magical constructs of his own, Skandranon is sent to spy across enemy lines, cloaked in the protection of Urtho’s powerful Spell of Silence.

As days pass and Skandranon doesn’t return, all in Urtho’s camp wait anxiously. but there is one among them for whom the possible loss of this great bird will be more than just a major military defeat. Amberdrake – a Healer of boyd, mind, and spirit whose talents are as essential to the army as those of any general – waits on the landing strip with anguish in his heart. For Amberdrake has come to value the vain, cocksure, and brave Skandranon as his closest friend and comrade, and he now fears that this prince of gryphons will never return…

Thoughts

It’s been a little while since I picked up a Valdemar book. Mostly because as much as I love them, they are often pretty heart wrenching. There is always some kind of abuse or emotional turmoil that just doesn’t seem to be as prominent in many of the other fantasy books that I read. So I honestly need to make sure that I’m in a good headspace whenever I pick up one of these novels… which I was when I picked up The Black Gryphon. And boy am I glad. It was enjoyable, fun and an absolutely great read. Even if there was still that signature Lackey tragedy that made the enjoyment a little less… joyful.

Writing this review, it is actually really difficult to pinpoint those aspects of this story that I really enjoyed. It took me a few chapters to really get sunk into the storyline. I think mostly because in the other Valdemar books that I’ve read so far, the characters are somehow known. Mostly they know each other. But even in The Last Herald Mage, the lead character has been mentioned again and again and again throughout the later books in the series. That’s not really the case for this. Not only are there totally new characters and events that I can’t remember being mentioned in the later books (that I read earlier). But there are also whole new species, gryphons and the such and different groups of people who have totally different names. It took quite a bit to get used to.

After I started to get connected to the characters however, I realised what a great series this is. Or at least, what a great novel to start off a series. Skan might not be human, but I think he is one of my favourite characters in this series. He is strong and sarcastic. Plus, I absolutely adored the constant inner dialogue whenever he’s doing something kind of stupid. Even if that stupid has the best of intentions…

Although this isn’t really like any of the other Valdemar books, I can see how the characters and groups of species / people act as the precursors to the rest of the books. You can see a hint here and there of the collegium and the healers and the different schools of learning throughout the books that I’ve already read. And I’m honestly looking forward to understanding more of this as the series unfolds. That and finding out more about Skan, Winterheart and all of the other wonderful characters.

<- More Mercedes LackeyThe White Gryphon ->

Image source: Goodreads

The High Lord by Trudi Canavan

Overview
Image result for the high lord book cover

Title: The High Lord
Author: Trudi Canavan
Series: The Black Magician #3, The Black Magician World #4
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Fantasy, Mages
Dates read: 11th – 16th September 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Orbit
Year: 2002
5th sentence, 74th page: There was a giggle.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

In the city of Imardin, where those who wield magic wield power, a young street-girl, adopted by the Magicians’ Guild, finds herself at the centre of a terrible plot that may destroy the entire world…

Sonea has learned much at the Magicians’ Guild and the other novices now treat her with a grudging respect. But she cannot forget what she witnessed in the high lord’s underground room – or his warning that the realm’s ancient enemy is growing in power once again. As Sonea learns more, she begins to doubt her guildmaster’s word. Could the truth really be as terrifying as Akkarin claims, or is he trying to trick her into assisting in some unspeakably dark scheme?

Thoughts

I really didn’t love how this story ended. Alright, luckily there is a trilogy to follow on. But seriously… the way that ended?!?! It was a freaking frustrating ending to a trilogy. Although I still loved it. And couldn’t put it down. And had a huge smile on my face even as I was screaming on the inside. Alright, I was also cheering on the inside, because after all, the good guys won and Sonea actually did get a bit of a happily ever after. Just not the one that I wanted for her…

The Black Magician Trilogy is one of those series that I didn’t feel like I had to rush to pick up the next book. But I also wanted to find out what happened next. Which is why it took me about two years to read all three books. Which, ironically is the timeline of the actual story. Maybe that’s why I was happy to take a while to read it… the storyline isn’t incredibly fast paced, but it is super intense.

I loved how this story comes full circle. In the beginning, Sonea starts her life in the Slums and is running in fear from the Magicians’ Guild. Throughout this final instalment, she is returning to parts of her life in the Slums, and is, once again, kind of on the run from the Magicians’ Guild. Although not as seriously as previously. The end scene also sees her working both her magician life and old life into one another into a hopeful future. Actually, all of the mini storylines throughout this story emphasise this hopeful and bright future for the fantastic cast of this series.

Although I didn’t rush to pick up each book in this series, reading this did remind me of why I have got many, many books by Trudi Canavan on my shelves… her writing is amazing. Her characterisation is intense. And the storylines never quite work out the way I had expected… which I just adore. There is nothing I love more than a good surprise. And this finale definitely has that in store. Along with a number of other little moments which will have you staying up ridiculously late at night, unable to put the book away…

 <- The Novice ReviewThe Ambassador’s Mission Review ->
Image source: Amazon

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

Overview

Tempests and SlaughterTitle: Tempests and Slaughter
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: The Numair Chronicles #1, Tortall #9
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, MagesMedieval fantasy
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Lothian
Year: 2018
5th sentence, 74th page: Chioke was still present, reading in Ozorne’s chair, when they entered the room.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

THREE STUDENT MAGES, BOUND BY FATE… FATED FOR DANGER

Arram Draper is on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness – and for attracting trouble. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the ‘leftover’ prince’ with secret ambitions.

Together, these friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. But as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram realises that soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

Thoughts

This book was either going to be amazing or amazingly crap. Mostly because it is dealing with the backstory of one of my favourite characters in this series. That, and it is a bit of a departure from Pierce’s normal stories – it features a male protagonist going through his coming of age story, instead of a female. But, all in all, I was MADLY IN LOVE with this tale. I read it in 2 days… it would have been one, but my partner told me that I had to sleep…

The first in this trilogy follows Arram Draper as he begins to learn of his powers and make two incredibly powerful friendships. I found one of these friendships a little difficult since I know that the child eventually turns into a horrible man. Yet, the foundations for this are already there. Along with the reasons why the two became friends in the first place. It’s a great reminder that not only is Tamora Pierce GREAT at characterisation, she’s also fantastic in revealing that there is a reason for every character’s decisions. Although Ozorne makes some truly horrible ones, in the beginning they don’t necessarily come from horrible places. Just places of fear, spoiltness and an inability to be understood and loved by others.

Although I love the person that Arram eventually ends up with, his relationship with Varice is quite cute. It is the epitome of young love and shows how two young people growing up next to each other an change and still accept one another. Which, honestly is what I think love is – accepting the change in another person and seeing them for who they truly are, not who you want them to be. It’ll be interesting to see how this relationship develops in the rest of the series. Now it’s just a long wait for the next story…

 <- Lioness Rampant Review The Exile’s Gift Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

Shatterglass by Tamora Pierce

Overview
Shatterglass

Title: Shatterglass
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: The Circle Opens #4, Emelan #8
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, FantasyMages
Format: Novel
Publisher: Omnibus Books
Year: 2003
5th sentence, 74th page: His mage fire grew until the front half of the room was mercilessly lit, without a shadow anywhere.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Tris is one of the most powerful mages ever born: her lightning magic flows through her veins and her bones. When a series of brutal crimes break the fragile peace of Tharios, Tris is angry that the city fathers do not seem to care. But she knows she has to keep hold of her magic – she can’t let anger take her over…

Thoughts

Of the four in the Emelan realm, it is Tris that I have always loved best. And have always best been able to relate to. It goes beyond her love of books and frustration at the stupidity of others, to recognising that feeling of not quite feeling wanted and needed. So, as always, I LOVE to revisit her in any way shape or form… and honestly, Shatterglass doesn’t let you down if you’re like me and just longing to see how she turns into a full mage with her first student.

Although I love the construction of Tris’ first student, Keth and the unique difficulties that they both have in getting used to one another, my favourite thing about a mage-Tris is her mage kit. Although everything about this series is wonderfully unique to the characters, how Tris manages an immense power was completely unexpected. And really, really clever. I love, clever, sensical, unexpected surprises in my loved novels.

Stories that comment on the inequalities of social castes are always some of my favourites… and Pierce’s first real look into this is great. Although it is a topic that is touched on in many of her stories, Shatterglass takes the injustices that can be perpetrated and really enforce the consequences that come from this. For me, it acts as a great reminder not to take others for granted and to never judge someone else by what you first see. From Tris to Keth to the prathmum, everyone has their own hidden powers and lives that no one could ever envisage or understand.

<- Cold FireThe Will of the Empress ->

Image source: Comparative Cover Art

Cold Fire by Tamora Pierce

Overview
Cold Fire

Title: Cold Fire
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: The Circle Opens #3, Emelan #7
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, FantasyMages
Format: Novel
Publisher: Omnibus Books
Year: 2002
5th sentence, 74th page: Every business deal is a crisis for her.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Daja is a metal mage – iron speaks to her senses and fire is her friend. She is more powerful than a student should be, some think. Staying the winter in snow-locked Namorn, Daja is determined to enjoy herself, and her host’s twin daughters are good company. But there’s more to this pretty pair than meets the eye…

Thoughts

There is nothing more terrifying than an arsonist – at least, for someone who is from rural Australia. In Cold Fire, Pierce explores the motivations and the true destruction that such a horrible motivation can wreak upon a small community. Daja’s love of fire is also seriously challenged by the ways in which the destruction of life and property can come about. Actually, her whole outlook on life and the adventures of travel are seriously tested. Add to this the fact that she is forced to take on not one, but two fledgling mages. Add to this great storyline the beautiful Namornese setting, and this is a great story that is impossible to put down.

Cold Fire is one of the darker stories of Pierce’s collection. Yes, the entire Circle Opens Quartet is a little darker and investigates a seedier side of life, but I find that the betrayal, death and arson of this novel far more intoxicatingly terrifying. Mostly though, it’s the unexpected identity of the bad guy that really hits home. After all, many serial murderers tend to blend in beautifully with the surrounding communities…

Nia and Jory’s hidden powers are some of my favourites – after all, the ambient magic of trades are something that I can relate to, and cooking and carpentry are two of my all-time favourite past times. Well, cooking is, but the smell of wood and carpentry is a great way in which to remind me of my childhood…

<- Street MagicShatterglass ->

Image source: Amazon

Street Magic by Tamora Pierce

Overview
Street Magic

Title: Street Magic
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: The Circle Opens #2, Emelan #6
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, FantasyMages
Format: Novel
Publisher: Omnibus Books
Year: 2001
5th sentence, 74th page: Cutbane, spread neatly over the splits in his left eyebrow and cheek, drove off infection and worked to close the wounds.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Briar is a plant mage – he can distil medicines, grow a garden in the blink of an eye and persuade a tree to trap a criminal. Learning how to channel your power is vital. Briar’s empathy with nature can heal – but it could kill just as easily. Evvy is a street urchin who doesn’t even know she has stone magic, let alone know how to control it, and she doesn’t want to learn anything. But when gang warfare breaks out, Briar and his mage may offer the only protection Evvy can count on…

Thoughts

Briar’s past as a gang member and what that truly means is so beautifully illustrated when he is forced to take on his first student. Evvy is a street kid (as Briar was) but she refuses to join a gang. Her constant, stubborn refusal and her clear-sighted insight into the dangers and perils of this life are kind of dark, but in a great way, they force Briar (and myself as a reader) to look further into what this truly entails for a street kid. The added complexities of stone magic, and a city that breathes exhaustion from its very pores make this a great journey to undertake as Rosethorn and Briar travel further East from Emelan.

Gangs are often toted as the bad aspect of bad neighbourhoods, however, for Briar, they have always just seemed like the best choice for a kid in a bad situation. It isn’t until he is forced to face up to the realities of not only his own actions, but those of the Chammurian gangs that he realises that it is not a good system. The objectification of children (which sadly, happens all over the world) is repeated again and again in front of him until he is forced to admit that everything he ever thought was normal or right was in fact, a gross misuse of his time. It is Evvy’s persistent voice that helps him to see what is so wrong about his past.

Evvy is a great balance to Briar’s nature, and their interactions work beautifully throughout the story. Stone and plant magic is both earth based, yet, this is the last point at which they are similar. Stone is tough and unyielding – stubborn, where plants are flexible and full of life. The way that these characteristics are manifest in these two is a brilliant and often humorous interaction.

The class system of Chammuri is a great reminder of the class system within our own societies – the rich can get away with a lot more than the poor. However, the Lady’s actions do eventually gain justice, and her abuse of the poor is taken into account with her sentencing. It is horrible that such a  woman is able to act in such a way though, and it is a reminder that we should care for everyone, regardless of their socio-economic status.

<- Magic StepsCold Fire ->

Image source: Goodreads

Magic Steps by Tamora Pierce

Overview
Magic Steps

Title: Magic Steps
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: The Circle Opens #1, Emelan #5
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, FantasyMages
Format: Novel
Publisher: Omnibus Books
Year: 2000
5th sentence, 74th page: The dragonsalt they fed him kept him dreamy for most of the time.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Sandry can weave magic like thread. her skill leaves others in awe, although controlling and channelling her power is second nature by now. And this is why she is horrified to find that an untrained boy, Pasco, is dancing complex magic – with no idea that he is doing it…

Thoughts

I always love revisiting a world that has swept me away. It was no different when I first started reading The Circle Opens series. Four years after the conclusion of The Circle of Magic series, Sandry is alone, moving in the adult world. That in and of itself would make a fantastic story, but the addition of Sandry’s first student makes this story irresistible. Add in a dash of crime, mayhem and mystery… and this tale is dark, twisted and brilliant.

It is human nature to pass on our knowledge to others, it’s how we learn and how human culture has been formed. It is wonderful to see Sandry (and through this series, the others of the circle) pass on their wisdom to their students. Yet, Sandry’s first student is nothing like I expected. Pasco is a dancing mage with a talent for getting into mischief. Although they are almost the same age in years, the difference in maturity and learning between the two is immense. Which makes for an entertaining read as they try to find the murderers who are stalking through Emelan. Yet, up until the very last moment, Pasco manages to get himself into trouble. Sandry is forced to not only face a huge moral dilemma, but also save her wayward student.

It is one thing to watch in your mind’s eye as the circle comes of age and gains control over their own powers. But, they are always there to help one another. By separating these amazing characters, Pierce is able to show us what each and every one of these mages are able to do in the face of adversity. And, Sandry, with her dignity and stubbornness is able to pass with flying colours. She has finally taken her place in the adult world, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

<- The Healing in the VineStreet Magic ->

Image source: Amazon

The Healing in the Vine by Tamora Pierce

Overview
The Healing in the Vine

Title: The Healing in the Vine
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: The Circle of Magic #4, Emelan #4
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, FantasyMages
Format: Novel
Publisher: Omnibus Books
Year: 1999
5th sentence, 74th page: When Rosethorn came back, he dragged her to Flick’s bed.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Former ‘street rat’ Briar leads a comfortable life at Winding Circle Temple, learning plant magic from Rosethorn. When a friend becomes ill, she turns to Briar for help but her disease proves beyond even Rosethorn’s power. Briar realises that all of Summersea is in danger. Then the unthinkable happens and Briar must save that which he loves most.

Thoughts

There is something especially terrifying about the plague. Actually, there’s something that is horrible about being sick in general – the feeling that your own body has turned against you. The final book in the Circle of Magic Quartet is a great reminder of how potently terrifying an incurable disease can be. Especially when it can pass undetected from person to person. After all, if anyone can be sick, how do you trust those around you, even your own family?

Although the curing of diseases has progressed far in the past century, it is still a battle to find a way to stop the onslaught of contagious diseases. The horrors of quarantine and the tedium of it are beautifully displayed through Briar’s trials. It is also the first moment of separation from their foster family that Briar has felt. The feeling of loss and homesickness reverberate through the whole story, and make it slightly darker than the other tales in this coming-of-age year that the four mages must go through.

Yet, it is the idea of death in Western culture that seems to scare us most – death is something to be conquered and overcome. And for Briar and the girls, the final death is battled with everything they have. To the point that they accomplish the impossible. Yet, the thing that I like about this tale is that although death is seen as the enemy, it is also seen as a time of rest. It is the end, but it is also the beginning of a new challenge, and although the four still fight against it, there are some within the tale who understand the need to accept its presence, and embrace it when the time is right.

<- The Fire in the ForgingMagic Steps ->

Image source: Amazon

The Fire in the Forging by Tamora Pierce

Overview
The Fire in the Forging

Title: The Fire in the Forging
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: The Circle of Magic #3, Emelan #3
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, FantasyMages
Format: Novel
Publisher: Omnibus Books
Year: 1998
5th sentence, 74th page: For an area that big – rain to cover this whole valley?

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Outcast Trader Daja, along with her fellow mages-in-training, journeys to the Gold Ridge Mountains, where drought threatens widespread famine. There, Daja creates an astonishing object: a living metal vine, and Daja’s dealings with her former people reawaken a longing for familiar ways. Daja must choose – should she return to the Traders or remain with the Winding Circle folk who have become her family?

Thoughts

Of all of the Circle of Magic books, it is The Fire in the Forging that I have always loved the most. There is something about Daja’s trials and choice throughout this story that have always hit a chord with me. We’re all faced with difficult choices about our futures at one point or another in our lives, and Daja’s is something that made it impossible to predict how the story was going to progress.

As someone who lives in Australia, I have a constant awareness (sometimes fear) of the dangers of bushfires. Especially after the last few years. Daja’s ability to face down such a ferocious aspect of mother nature, and the respect for fire that this story will give even the most ignorant of people is astonishing. As the trial to be overcome within this novel – fire is definitely one of the most fearsome and terrifying which must be faced down. At least, for me – I’ve never actually experienced severe flooding, cyclones and storms.

I love how throughout the Circle of Magic books, Pierce uses a number of different cultures to inform her characters. The use of the Traders and Daja’s people, and their prejudices and beliefs are an interesting way to approach a group of people. Yet, it is her ability to question the beliefs and traditions that she was raised to that I find truly interesting and inspiring – she is able to question what is completely unfair and unjust (her status as trangshi) and realise that just because it has always been doesn’t mean that it should be.

<- The Power in the StormThe Healing in the Vine ->

Image source: Comparative Cover Art