Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce
Release date: September 24, 2013
There are just a couple days left before Battle Magic comes out! We got a bit of a tease about what happens in this book in Will of the Empress (2005) and Melting Stones (2007), both of which happen chronologically after Battle Magic. But now we get all those blanks filled in. When nature mages Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy stop by the emperor’s summer palace as honored guests, they discover the Emperor’s plans to invade a neighboring country. In a race against time, the three mages have to figure out a way to escape the cruel Emperor’s court to warn their friends and allies of the impending attack.
We get wit, brutal tragedy, adventure, and fantastical creatures. Alongside the compelling characters and fun callbacks to previous books, we also get one of the emotionally heaviest books to date. Like, mass graves and a torture scene sort of heavy. Then again, Pierce has never shied away from intensity in her YA, and each subsequent book has pushed the envelope just a bit more. If you love this series (especially the last two books), this is a good addition. If the last couple books made you uncomfortable, then so will this one.
Speaking of books, Battle Magic is the third novel in the third series in the “Circle” universe. For those of you who haven’t read the books, here’s what you should know and more than you ever thought to needed to know. (If you’ve read the books, skip down!)
Circle of Magic
Sandry’s Book, Tris’s Book, Daja’s Book, Briar’s Book
First published in 1997, these books follow four gifted and troubled youngsters as they discover that they have powerful, wild magic. They are brought together under the guidance of eccentric teachers and find that they have to live and learn together.
Beyond just having to figure out how to control their powers, each kid has to overcome their inner demons, from Briar, an orphaned street kid, to Daja, whose entire trading clan had been los at sea, to Sandry with her claustrophobia and noble upbringing, and Tris, the unwanted child full of angry, deadly storm power.
Magic Steps, Street Magic, Cold Fire, Shatterglass
The kids are all grown up and are on their own, scattered in the four directions. Each encounter trouble of the deadly sort – murder, gangs, arson. And if that wasn’t enough, they find themselves mentoring their very own young apprentice whose powers are just as unique and just uncategorizeable as those that had once set Sandry, Tris, Daja and Briar apart.
Will of the Empress, Melting Stones, Battle Magic
In a sense, this series is an umbrella for subsequent books. Will of the Empress reunites the four mages – all of them adults now – while Melting Stones follows Evvy, Briar’s apprentice in a novel that can be read as a standalone. Battle Magic, the third in this series, happens before the events of Will of the Empress but after Street Magic.
But you say, “That’s a lot of books. Do I have to read them all if I want to read Battle Magic?” Good news, there are options!
- The Everything Option: READ ALL THE BOOKS
- Most-Relevance Option: Briar’s Book, Street Magic, Will of the Empress, Melting Stones, and Battle Magic
- Follow Evvy’s Story Option: Street Magic, Melting Stones, Battle Magic
As a loyal Tamora Pierce-ovite, I’m reluctant to accept anything less than the Everything Option, and failing that, try to convince you to read as many as possible. And then, failing that, that yes, you should absolutely just pick up this novel. But if I attempt to be objective, I will say that this book probably won’t work as a standalone.
As a longtime reader of everything-Tamora-Pierce ever, I loved Battle Magic. The reluctantly pseudo-objective reviewer part of my canary brain though, did note down that instance of convenient coincidence, the couple of flashes of deus ex machina, and characters I might not have connected with if I hadn’t been loving them since age 13.
Also, unlike most of Pierce’s other works, we get a story that jumps points of views every few pages (well, okay, ebook pages). On the bright side, this means we get a glimpse into what Rosethorn, Briar, and Evvy are thinking (and even a brief jump into the thoughts of a villain). On the other hand, if you’re not already familiar with these characters and their backstories, well, you might be a little lost.
This filling-in the backstory approach to story-writing looks like it might be the new thing. Tamora Pierce’s next book will be a prequel about the mage character Numair from her other series, taking us back to his time at university. Numair being my favorite Tamora Pierce character, I don’t know whether to be nervous or super-excited.
But I know I’ll be getting it.
Book provided by Scholastic and Netgalley.
- Back to the Book: Tamora Pierce
- Series review: Terrier and Bloodhound
- Shoving Our YA Heroes Out of the Nest