Tag Archives: Tamora Pierce

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.

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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

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.

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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

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce

Overview

MastiffTitle: Mastiff
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: Beka Cooper #3, Tortall #3
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Medieval fantasyStrong women
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Random House
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: “She needs to sniff the riverbank,” Tunstall said.

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Synopsis

THE HUNT IS ON!

Three years have passed since Beka Cooper almost died in the sewers of Port Caynn, and she is now a respected member of the Provost’s Guard. But her life takes an unexpected turn when her fiance is killed on a slave raid. Beka is faced with a mixture of emotions as, unbeknownst to many, she was about to call the engagement off.

It is as Beka is facing these feelings that Lord Gershom appears at her door. Within hours, Beka; her partner, Tunstall; her scent hound, Achoo; and an unusual but powerful mage are working on an extremely secretive case that threatens the future of the Tortallan royal family, and therefore the entire Tortallan government. As Beka delves deeper into the motivations of the criminals she now Hunts, she learns of deep-seated political dissatisfaction, betrayal, and corruption. These are people with power, money, and influence. They are able to hire the most skilled of mages, well versed in the darkest forms of magic. And they are nearly impossible to identify.

This case – a Hunt that will take her to places she’s never been – will challenge Beka’s tracking skills beyond the city walls, as well as her ability to judge exactly whom she can trust with her life and her country’s future.

Thoughts

I love this conclusion to Beka’s tale. From the very first page, you know that she is the famous ancestress of George Cooper and there is an allusion to the fact that she was incredibly famous. Terrier and Bloodhound both make you think that this could be the tale. But Mastiff is so amazingly obviously the reason why Beka is so famous. It’s a great tale of betrayal and trust, fate and destiny. But also, just a great crime story and hunt. After all, Beka is a dog on a mission.

I really loved Master Farmer in this story. He’s an incredibly unorthodox magician, and someone that I steadily fell in love with more and more throughout every scene. Although Beka is quite rigid and an adamant pursuer of justice, Farmer is quite possibly completely cracked. He pokes fun at everyone and manages to find a way to seemingly enjoy himself every step of the way. The balance between the characters is really well written. Not only did it help to round out the cast, but it was also a fantastic way in which to balance out Beka’s quite intense characterisation. Although I do enjoy her intensity and independence, it was nice to have a more obviously humorous character throughout this hunt.

One of the things that I really love about this series is that it starts with Eleni Cooper’s introduction to Beka’s past. Throughout the storyline, she meets with many other ancestors of the characters which I have begun to know and love throughout the tales of Tortall. Ending the tale with George’s impression of his ancestor and her famous cat really helped to bring this full circle. The fact that it is so seamlessly woven throughout her tale just makes the mastery of Pierce’s work even more enthralling. It provides an extra layer to the tale of Tortall and gives it a function and form that spreads over generations, rather than characters in the same years.

 <- Bloodhound Review Student of the Ostriches Review ->
Image source: Pinterest

Tortall: A Spy’s Guide by Tamora Pierce

Overview

Tortall - A Spy's GuideTitle: Tortall: A Spys’s Guide
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: Tortall Companion
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Medieval fantasyStrong women
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Random House
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: Two days later, before a crowd of citizens, she ascended the higest tower of the palace, spoke of the king’s inhumanity to his people, and leaped to her death.

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Synopsis

Dear Thom,
Do you remember the room next to my office? You told me it was a danger of fire with all the crates of old papers I stored in there. I’ve been cleaning it out – and reading wome of what’s in those crates. Strange to find so many reminders of how it was in those first days, when King Jonathon and Queen Thayet were deciding how they should rule and your grandfather Myles, Evin Larse, and I were thrashing out the beginnings of the Shadow Service. I’ve even found papers from Daine, Numair and Neal in the lot. Should I save the lessons you boys and your sister wrote, to show your children one day?
Your mother and I look forward to seeing you for the Midwinter Festival and hearing about your mage studies.
Your loving father,
George

Thoughts

I love the world of Tortall. I have done since my mum first gave me First Test when I was ten years old. So, finding out that the latest book on Tortall is just as good, if not better than expected…? Well, it was a fantastic way to spend the afternoon. And it was definitely over much too quickly. Starting with George’s letter to Thom to place the stories to follow into context. It also gives a tantalising hint as to what the future holds for these amazing characters.

Unlike the rest of the books that I’ve laid hands on by Tamora Pierce, this one isn’t really a story. Rather, it’s all of the little bits and pieces that have been used to create the world that many of us know and love. It features profiles, letters and snippets that give shape and form to what happens between the stories. Even the ways in which the royal family’s spouses were originally received at the outset of their reigns.

I loved the visually engaging way in which this book was set out. After all, it wasn’t just a  story, but rather a collection of snippets that make a world truly come to life. Different handwritings, backdrops to the words and images create a sense that this is a collection rather than a chronological storyline.

Something about this haphazard collection of tales and letters makes me think that every time I read it, I will find something else that adds an extra layer to the stories of Tortall. Something that I look forward to reading and experiencing again and again over many years.

 <- The Dragon’s Tale Review Terrier Review ->
Image source: Amazon

Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce

Overview

BloodhoundTitle: Bloodhound
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: Beka Cooper #2, Tortall #2
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Medieval fantasyStrong women
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Omnibus Books
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: I will write my proper Sunday journal tonight.

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Synopsis

Beka Cooper is finally a Dog – a fully fledged member of the Provost’s Guard, dedicated to keeping peace in Corus. But there’s unrest in Tortall’s capital. Counterfeit coins are turning up all over the city, and merchants are raising prices to cover their losses. To avert a looming crisis, Beka delves deep into the gambling world, and she won’t let anything – or anyone – jeopardize her mission. To succeed she’ll have to learn to sniff out the criminals – to be a bloodhound…

Thoughts

No matter how many times I read the Beka Cooper series, I am entranced by the stunningly simple and provocative words. This time, Beka is after forgers and her chase brings her to the bright and vibrant port city. Here Beka is not only forced to face up to a Rogue gone very wrong, but also her own feelings towards a man, and the first movements of a binary view on women that are beginning to surface. This story is not only a great addition to the world of Tortall, but it begins to tell the tale of just why Alanna is forced to hide her gender when she becomes a knight many generations later.

One of the reasons I have long loved Pierce’s books is that she normally focuses on a female as the story’s hero. The sexism that is inherent throughout the world is normally quietly written into the story. But, in Bloodhound Cooper and Goodwin are told in no uncertain terms that women can’t do the same job as men. That they are meeker, should be veiled and certainly aren’t up to the rigours of crime work. Beka’s ability to capture the criminal that no one else is willing to tackle definitely begs to differ. I love that although there are many who think that Cooper isn’t able to stop a potential kingdom destroyer down because of her gender and her background, she ignores them and acts in a morally inspiring way. It is also a wonderful reminder that we can all find our own autonomy, regardless of what others think and say.

There is something terrifying about someone idiotic being in power… (anyone thinking of America right now?). Pearl is the perfect example of this – power, drive and an inability to think beyond immediate pleasure are a horrible mixture in such a vindictive package. It is a pleasure to see the karmic justice which is meted out to her.

This is one of the darker stories of the world of Tortall, although, the entire Beka Cooper series flows in this vein. It really makes you look further into crimes and the reasons why people commit them. It makes you question what is morally right and wrong, and what would happen in a lawless existence. Or at least, a world like Beka’s where corruption and bribery has an overt place in society…

 <- Terrier Review Mastiff Review ->
Image source: Wikipedia

Terrier by Tamora Pierce

Overview

TerrierTitle: Terrier
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: Beka Cooper #1, Tortall #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Medieval fantasyStrong women
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Omnibus Books
Year: 2006
5th sentence, 74th page: I do love it there during the day.

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Synopsis

Beka Cooper is a trainee Dog in the Lower City. It’s a tough beat, but it’s where she was born. Shy Beka’s talent is listening to the ghosts that pigeons carry, the cries of the unhappy dead. When she hears of a brutal underlord committing crimes against the children of her city, it is up to her and her Dogs to see justice done.

Thoughts

It doesn’t matter how many times I read this book – I love it every damn time. Although Terrier is another tale set in the world of Tortall, it is so incredibly unique and different from the other tales set in this world. Partly this is because it is set hundreds of years before the Song of the Lioness Quartet, but it’s also because Beka is just so completely different from the other heroines throughout the series. she is from a lower social class than any of the other characters, and occupies a world that is nothing like the rest of the realm of Tortall that we’ve been introduced to.

Although Beka is different to the other heroines that I have thus far had the privilege to meet throughout the series, she is also similar in one key way – she’ll do anything to see justice served, and constantly goes out of her way to protect those in her care. It is this that earns Beka the nickname ‘Terrier’ and leads her on a merry chase through the slums of Corus in pursuit of a murderer and kidnapper. Her bravery and innate sense of what is right and wrong is inspiring, and it drives the storyline beautifully – it is impossible to put down when you know that Beka is trying to save children and the poor from almost certain death.

Diaries are a great way to hide our inner thoughts, secrets, dreams and hopes – so reading a story that is written as a diary gave Beka’s words and journey so much more emotions and potency throughout the story. Reading her diary takes you through Beka’s experiences as she undergoes her first months of puppy training – every moment, every trial and tribulation is lived alongside Beka as she struggles to find her place in the world and search for justice amongst her childhood companions.

 <- Tortall: A Spy’s Guide Review Bloodhound Review ->
Image source: Tamora Pierce Wiki

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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