I am an avid fan of Tamora Pierce, and have been since my mother first let me buy Wild Magic to entertain myself at summer camp when I was still in single digits. I love her stories, the strong female characters, the fantastic world building, and the strong plots and character arcs. Last month, she had another Magic Circle book come out, Battle Magic.
As always, I had it preordered to hit my doorstep on pub date, but I was in the middle of moving and didn’t get to it until last week. But it was worth the wait. In The Will of the Empress, Briar, Evvy and Rosethorn hint at a rather nasty war with Yanjing that they ended up helping out with, and in Battle Magic, Tamora goes back to give us that story.
The first 7/8ths of the book are phenomenal. We get to see Briar and Evvy at their best, ripping apart armies with the help of Rosethorn, and playing with the gods, the first overt and characterized interaction with religion in the Magic Circle set of books. It was a fun change of pace and worked well with the world, even though until this point, this set of series had steered well away from actually characterizing the gods of this universe. It was the last bit of the book that rankled.
SPOILERS FROM HERE UNTIL THE LAST PARAGRAPH!!
Tamora pulled a trick from another of the Circle of Magic books and puts everyone to sleep, but this time, it actually works for the bad guys. At least for a little bit. Then the gods decide to actually step into the confrontation. I grumbled. It was a bit too deus ex machina for my taste. I would have much preferred for Briar or Evvy to convince the God’s to step in, or at least take an active hand in the final confrontation with the Emperor of Yanging. As it was, it just felt too pat.
Beyond that bit of machina putting a burr under my saddle, I loved the book. It was a fantastic expansion to their world, and I loved seeing Evvy and Briar again. And, of course, Rosethorn as well. However, the book I’m really excited for is Arram which is slated to come out next year, and its about damn time. I have wanted this back-story for Numair since she first announced the concept years ago, and its finally coming of age. See you with that review next fall! Until then, I’ll just have to be satisfied with other offerings…
Tamora Pierce‘s Beka Cooper series came to a rousing conclusion this year with Mastiff. I have long been a fan of the YA fantasy author and was excited for this year’s fix. Beka Cooper, a City Dog (basically a police officer of the realm), finds herself a mature agent of the law and assigned to the hunt of her life that takes her across the realm with her partner, Tunstall, a new mage, her scent hound Achoo and, of course, the cat née constellation Pounce.
I don’t want to ruin too much of the plot for Mastiff, but I have to make a few veiled comments for my own satisfaction. When they finally unmask the traitor, I cried; the award she wins was incredible; her choice in lovers was at first surprising, but in retrospect makes a lot more sense than any others. There, I’m done being cryptic, but I just had to get that out.
As always, Pierce approaches the adventure with a wit and urgency that draws her readership in, regardless of their age. I remember picking up Wild Magic when I was a prepubescent bookworm and immediately falling in love with her worlds and characters; I have spent every year since gleefully awaiting the next book. And my favorite thing about her work is that it has matured along with her audience. The material has gotten more complex and deals with more significant cultural issues while still maintaining the approachability that has made her a favorite among the YA audiences. As always, Ms. Pierce, a job phenomenally well done.