Emperor Mage, Tamora Pierce – Book Review

Hello Humans! Welcome to part three of my reviews of Tamora Pierce’s Immortals quartet. You can go back and read my reviews of Wild Magic and Wolf Speaker if the fancy so takes you. I am so head over heels for this series I can’t wait to get started with the third review. 

Emperor Mage, Tamora Pierce

Goodreads Summary:
Sent to Carthak as part of the Tortallan peace delegation, Daine finds herself in the middle of a sticky political situation. She doesn’t like the Carthaki practice of keeping slaves, but it’s not her place to say anything — she’s just there to heal the emperor’s birds. It’s extremely frustrating! What’s more, her power has grown in a mysterious way. 
As the peace talks stall, Daine puzzles over Carthak’s two-faced Emperor Ozorne. How can he be so caring with his birds and so cruel to his people? Daine is sure he’s planning something. Daine must fight the powerful Emperor Mage, knowing that the safety and peace of the realm depend on stopping Ozorne’s power-hungry schemes.

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To recap, I adored Wild Magic and was only marginally less enamoured with Wolf-Speaker so I was going in with reasonably high expectations. I should also mention at this point that I read Tempests and Slaughter earlier in the year, having not read any Tamora Pierce before, so this is the first time I’m really joining those dots. Obviously, since this book came first, you don’t have to read that first, in fact it’s probably better to read them in the order in which they were published (but I’m not the kind of person who feels the need to read a series in the ‘correct’ order so you do you). What I’m trying to say is that this book did have a lot more to it for me because I had read both of them so I would recommend reading not only this entire quartet but all the other books as well if you have time, this world gets richer with every book I read. 

This might be my new favourite? Just tipping over Wild Magic (but it’s a close thing). This felt like a return to that political intrigue mixed with talking animals feeling which I’m almost certain is everything I have ever needed from a book. 

But this book has more, it goes further. Not only are our characters starting off at more of a disadvantage than normal, being visitors to a strange land where they must negotiate a new political landscape, but there is the looming threat of war at all times, urging everything into something even more high stakes. 

And in the middle of these huge political goings on is Daine, who at her core just wants to hang out with the animals. I love her. I relate to her. I should say, this makes Daine sound apathetic, but she’s aware of what’s going on and she cares about what is going on, she just has different priorities to everyone else. It’s a great example of the ‘I don’t want to be the chosen one but somehow it keeps happening’ idea. Daine’s character comes through as often exasperated (relatable) but never annoying, never juvenile (in a bad way, you can have wonderful juvenile characters don’t get me wrong), always uniquely herself. 

I talked about this in my review of Wolf Speaker but again you have that sense of things ramping up towards that final conclusion. I know that it’s kind of obvious, this is a book series, of course, it’s building towards something big in the final book. My point is that Tamora Pierce manages to handle that expectation, that building tension, while still writing a book that is for the most part self-contained. I can’t explain how satisfying it is to read a book in a series that doesn’t end on a massive cliffhanger. There is a time and a place for cliffhangers, don’t doubt that I know that, but I feel like they’re becoming too much of a staple, it’s nice to feel like a book has ended well. 

The animals, the magic, the politics, the budding threads of a romance all of it rolls together to make a book that, for me, was exactly what I wanted to read. Again. I have to fall back on my highest commendation, that I was left wanting to start the next book in the series immediately! 

My rating: 5/5 stars

I received a digital copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

What say you? Are you enjoying these reviews? You may have to wait until Monday for the conclusion to this series, as tomorrow will be NaNoWriMo updates, but I think we can all agree it’s going to be good. 

J

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