Hello humans! The time has come to review a book which I’m pretty sure everyone in the bookish ya/fantasy community has heard about. I am talking, of course, about Tamora Pierce’s Tempests and Slaughter. I will confess here and now that this is the first ever Tamora Pierce book I have ever read. I think I must have been just the wrong age to encounter these as everyone else I know seems to have read them! Well, after having read this one I think it’s safe to say I will be reading the rest as soon as possible (by which I mean as soon as payday comes around). I know there’s probably a lot of nuances that I totally missed because of not having read the earlier books but I still adored this book.
Arram. Varice. Ozorne. In the first book in the Numair Chronicles, three student mages are bound by fate . . . fated for trouble.
Arram Draper is a boy 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 danger. 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 three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram begins to realize that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.
In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.
Since I tend to read books in large chunks, it takes a lot for me to call a book ‘unputdownable’. The last time I felt that was about a book it was Now I Rise from The Conqueror’s Saga. Now, in this case, things were a little more complicated since I read this book on my breaks on my work PC. Let me tell you, every moment that I wasn’t reading that book, including the time between going home at the end of one day and coming in the next, I was thinking about getting back into reading this book. Having been through a reading slump for almost the whole of July that was a powerful change. If that’s not enough to convince you that this book was amazing, I suppose I can go into a bit more detail.
This story has some of my favourite elements from stories, there are magical animals (Preet the bird is my favourite character), finding friends after feeling like an outsider, ethics, magic school and more, this book checks almost every box I could possibly have on a ‘make Judith read a book’ list. But none of them feel like anything else, so often ‘magic school’ books feel like they are trying to be Harry Potter but this is all it’s own. Again, I’m sure that’s because there have been all the previous books to build up that distinct detail, but for me, that was totally refreshing.
The characters in this story are just phenomenal. I loved Arram, who could easily have been the kind of young, gifted male protagonist that just irks me, instead he has a lot of different aspects to his character, he doesn’t have one character flaw that’s put in there to appease the reader, he’s multifaceted. While Arram is quite young at the beginning of the book, Pierce manages to capture a young voice without it feeling forced or annoying (a problem I often have with younger characters). But it is the side characters that really make this story, not just Arram’s friends (though they are wondrous) but the host of other students, teachers, and people out and about in the world, all have the same level of detail applied to them, the overall effect is that you are totally immersed in this story from page one right through to the end.
I think some people will critique this book for the lack of plot? It’s certainly true that the story doesn’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end that some other stories do. Instead, this actually reminded me a lot of The Name of the Wind, in that the story is much more of a slow progression, unfolding in a much more natural manner. You grow up with these characters, they make things happen and things happen to them as time goes by. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for me it makes such a nice change from the ‘Sidney was just living his perfectly normal life when SUDDENLY he ends up overthrowing the government, falling in love and summoning a demon made out of saucepans all in the space of a week’ formula.
Overall I was left feeling like I wanted more (in the best way) and thankfully I have a whole host of books to read now – I can think of no higher commendation!
My rating: 5/5 stars
I received a digital advanced review copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What say you? Have you read any Tamora Pierce before or are you as naive as I am? Let me know in the comments below!