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Battle Magic

By: Tamora Pierce

Briar, Rosethorn and Evvy and visiting the mountain kingdom of Gyongxe, a mystical country filled with temples of many religions, the very earth is filled with power. Before there time is up though they are summonsed to visit the Emperor of Yanjing under the pretense of seeing his glorious gardens.
Things are not as peaceful and pleasant as the emperor attempts to make things seem on the surface. The mages sense and see things they do not like, amongst them the treatment of certain individuals, the emperor’s dark cruelty, a huge army and throng magic that underlies it all, keeping it all together. Unwilling to stay they leave and discover the Emperor as about to launch an attack on Gyongxe and he will do anything to stop the visiting mages from joining the other side. This is omething Rosethorn cannot allow as she has vowed to defend the First Temple of the Living Circle and where Rosethorn is bound to go Briar will not be far away, even if they do get separated for a while.
Another wonderful addition to the world first bought to us in the Circle Of Magic series. This is perhaps though, the darkest and bloodiest of the books, dealing as it does with genocide and war. Pierce uses this context to push her characters through emotional arcs that will forever change them. I won’t go too much into what they go through, the individual things they experience, because that would detract too much from the read itself, and it would be too easy to unintentionally leave spoilers. Rosethorn’s steadfastness, Briar’s stubborn loyalty and Evvy’s wonder and enthusiasm are still there shining through the whole time.
A bigger book than the other circle books but just as un-put downable.
Highly recommended.
Publisher: Scholastic
Published: 1st Oct 2013
Format: Paperback, 464 pages
Genre: Fantasy
ISBN: 9781742990170

Being a Book-a-holic

So here’s the thing, I don’t think I’ve really done a post like this before but I figure now is as good a time as any.

It should be quite obvious to anyone that I am a book-a-holic. It’s not a secret, not even a little bit of one. I unashamedly love reading, books and well all things booky, though sometimes films from books make me a little crazy, in a bad way.

Books though are no different from any other fandom. Those of us who love some authors can have fan girl or fan boy moments. One of my first was when I worked my first Matthew Reilly book signing; I asked when I could get my book signed and was told just add my book to the pile for the store – my response ‘no you don’t understand I will be meeting him,’ and that’s how I ended up working my first signing.


Since then I have worked a few. I have also been fortunate enough to network with some of my fave authors and as such have met some.

Marianne de Pierres is truly lovely and such a generous lady with her time for fans and bloggers.


This year I met Raymond E Feist – whose book Magician I read when I was 11 or 12 and loved it so much I read bits of it by torchlight when I was supposed to be asleep.


I also got to meet Michael Pryor, who is a wonderful and fascinating conversationalist. I loved every minute of my time with him, just talking writing, processes and what ever else took our fancy.


I have also met Jay Kristoff, who writes the Lotus War books. I even stayed in the same hotel as Jay this weekend just gone, how spun out was I? A bit.


The thing is though for me these things are as cool as meeting the movie and tv show stars I get to meet at SupaNova and similar cons.

Fandom is an awesome thing and authors love to meet their fans and get positive feedback. You know I’ve gotten to witness some wonderful moments of fandom over the years and I don’t think fanboys and girls should ever be ashamed to put their hand up to acknowledge their fandom. Sadly I have seen some terrible things said in the name of fandom. There is never any time you should think a writer owes you, don’t ever tell them how to do their job. They don’t report to you.

(If you noticed that there are a couple of book covers instead of pics of me with the author it’s because sometimes it really isn’t appropriate to ask.)

And for heavens sake if there was something you thought wasn’t great, you don’t need to lambast them for it. They make their writers choices, you make readers ones. I will say though, I love meeting writers and don’t begrudge the fact that they like to do things other than writing. This topic is a whole other thing really so I’ll leave it there. I prefer to focus on the positive.

I love the places authors can take me to. I love to sink into their worlds and I love to meet them. Sure my ‘I love your work’, is unlikely to stand out amongst the others but each one counts. I think there is a Authors Appreciation Day, and if there isn’t there should be.

Also, next year I will be going to an event just to meet one of my other all time favourite authors- the incredible Tamora Pierce, and man will I ever be a fan girl. I’ll be the one with a bag of books for her to sign and if she only signs one well that will be fine because I will have gotten to say ‘wow I love your stuff and recommend it to as many people as I can’.

So if you haven’t already read anything written by these authors I’ve mentioned, do yourself a favour and do so.

The Will of the Empress

the-will-of-the-empressBy: Tamora Pierce

Winding Circle is a long way away for our four mages, at least it is time wise and now they are all back together they find they can’t go back to the way things were. They all experienced things they don’t know how to share and this causes rifts between them. Then Sandry’s uncle asks the others to accompany her on a journey to Namor. It is a journey the reluctant Sandry has to go on because she needs to check out the lands that provide her income.

The problem is that Namorn is ruled by an Empress who is not used to people saying no to her and Sandry has no intention of getting married to the Empress’s choice and settling down to become a tool for the Namorese court. They quickly discover though that the trap isn’t just for Sandry, the Empress wants all of them to become her pets and she already has powerful mages in her employ to ensure her will is never thwarted. The Circle though is not without it’s own power, that is if they can remember what drew them together in the first place and if they can put aside their worries and start working together once again.

What a great read. This is a return to loved characters, ones that have changed and it is good to see characters go though changes like these ones have. The paths they travel on are difficult, the choices they have to make are weighty and the sort of things that would leave a mark on your soul, it is good to see an author give us characters who have changed as a direct result of their choices and actions.

More than any of them Sandry longs for things to go back to the way they were. She missed her family immensely and despite her words to them, never wanted them to go. She however is the most secure in her place, finically and status wise. She will always belong and the others don’t have that kind of security. None of them are without means though, Daja and Briar are very finically well off as their magic provides them with unique products they can sell for a tidy profit. Tris struggles with acceptance more than the others in that her magic is stranger, even more powerful, and with her new ability she is convinced everyone will think less of her.

Pierce has given us a very detailed and thus easy to visualise setting. The realism that shines through here assists in keeping us grounded in the four’s story. It is the breaks in the friendship that are what make this story so strong. We all know what it is like to fall out with friends or family, (or most of us do), it is a battle of wills and a learning curve of give and take. Pierce handles all this skilfully. The Empress is a master manipulator who has power to back herself up. She is a spoilt brat in many ways and it is nice to occasionally see those cracks in her persona. The way the four young mages work through what has gone before and what is happening now is an interesting journey and the overarching story is one that allows us to see how each of these youngsters have grown.

Once again Pierce has created a wonderful adventure within a fantastic world.

Highly Recommended.

Publisher: Scholastic US

Published: 01 October 2008

Format: Paperback 550 pages

Categories: Adventure, Fantasy, Magic

ISBN 13: 9780545074551

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of the page

Melting Stones

melting-stonesBy: Tamora Pierce

Evvy has been an apprentice stone mage for four years now. She really doesn’t want to be on another journey with her mentor, Rosethorn but she finds herself accompanying her and Dedicate Myrrhtide, a water mage, to the Battle Islands. Something is causing the plants and animals to die and it is up to Rosethorn and Myrrhtide to find out what, it is Evvy’s job just to listen and learn. Evvy isn’t so good at the keeping quiet though and she soon discovers something important. With the help of her friend Luvo (a living stone heart from a mountain) she knows it is up to her to help save some ungrateful people from total destruction.

Evvy is a wonderful character, rough around the edges and hard as the stone she is attuned to.  She isn’t so good with people and that makes her an interesting character in a context where dealing with people is important. The environment of the Battle Islands is detailed, and layered. Pierce gives wonderful descriptions of the land and how the different inhabitants interact. The village has tensions all of it’s own that contribute to the overall emotion of the situation. Rosethorn tempers Evvy and if you’ve read the other Circle books you know this is a slight turn around as Rosethorn is usually the most abrupt. The introduction of Luvo is interesting because he adds some weight and age to the tale, he is a solid centre for Evvy and a great source of wisdom.

A wonderful stand alone book that Pierce’s fan will enjoy. I will say this fits best into the YA category though a good reader 10+ would also be okay with it.


Publisher: Scholastic US

Published: 01 August 2010

Format: Paperback 312 pages

Categories: Fantasy, Adventure

ISBN 13: 9780545052658

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of the page

Cold Fire

cold-fireBy: Tamora Pierce

The Circle Opens Bk 3

Daja Kisubo and her teacher Frostpine are wintering with friends of his in Kugisko. It is a port location made up of many islands. A strange place for fire mages to holiday. It is here though that a series of strange fires happen. Daja takes it upon herself to assist local firefighter Bennat Ladradun in fighting them. She soon realises that things may not be what they seem when it becomes clear that someone is setting the fires deliberately. Daja decides to use her magic to create something that will hopefully help in fighting the flames. All whilst finding tutors for the two young mages she has discovered. Daja then experiences something terrible, betrayal.

Daja’s story is a little different from the others who find themselves with students because she is somewhere where both young mages can find masters, even though she does for a while take over some of their learning. It is in this process she finds out more about herself, and a little about thinking outside the norm, something she should be quiet used to. It is nice to see Daja find someone who treats her more as an equal than a young girl who shouldn’t have the mage qualifications she does. 

The world Pierce has created is crisp and clear in its descriptions, all the snow and frozen activities, it is all so easy to picture. The complex nature of magic is given plenty of attention here as we see Daja’s skills, as well as cooking magic and carpentry magic bought clearly to life. Pierce also uses the juxtaposition of fire and ice effectively in this tale. This is a fitting instalment to the series. It is a pleasure to see each of these characters grow into their own. Once again Piece has excelled and given us a series I will no doubt return to again and again.

Highly recommended.

Publisher: Scholastic

Published: 01 March 2003

Format: Paperback 355 pages

Categories: Fantasy, Magic

ISBN 13: 9780590396561

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of the page

Sometimes – Some Thoughts

Okay so this post will be a little different. Not a book review or a link in to a film to be found. Not really.

Sometimes things in life happen and though you may have a pile of unread books staring at you from over burdened bookshelves you really just need to sink into the embrace of a beloved old favourite.

That is where I happen to be at the moment. My daughter and I have just started reading Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic Quartet together and I found once I started I couldn’t put them down. So I’m sorting of reading them twice at once. Once with her and once at a much faster pace for myself. Sure I’ve read them before, more than once, but so what?


I just love the stories of Sandry, Triss, Daja and Briar. I love to sink into the world created by Pierce. It’s like wrapping a favourite blanket around yourself or putting on your favourite pair of jeans. There are time when escape into the familiar is a very welcome option.

I have several series’ that I love to reread, several authors whose books are in various states of imperfection due to the number of times they have been reread. If whoever I had lent my copy of First Test to had given it back that is probably where I would have started with my munchkin but I obviously need a new copy of that, which will take some time but that’s fine because I have plenty of other books I’m more than happy to revisit.

Is there any author or book you love to revisit?

Lioness Rampant

By: Tamora Pierce

Song of the Lioness bk 4

Alanna has moved on from her shaman duties with her adoptive tribe and is feeling a bit restless. It is a good thing then that a new challenge comes her way. A message from a dying woman sends Alanna on the path of the  Legendary Dominion Jewel. This is a gem of enormous power, the stuff or heroes and songs. It can be a thing of great good – in the right hands. With it in Prince Jonathon’s hands Alanna fells Tortall will prosper.

All is not well though, her beloved kingdom is in great danger from Duke Roger, the man she has already defeated once. Roger is back from the dead and she knows he is up to something. Prince Jonathon isn’t the only one in danger, George the Rogue is under threat from a mysterious foe known only as Claw.

Alanna thrives on challenging herself and I identify with this, maybe that is why I love Pierce’s characters, they set goals and do what they need to to achieve them. We can never have too many characters modeling that kind of behaviour. Liam the Shang Dragon is a welcome addition and adds yet another texture to the fabric of the world Pierce has given us. He challenges Alanna, teaches her and brings what ultimately becomes a beautiful friendship.

I realise that through these reviews I haven’t mentioned Pounce, Alanna’s pet companion (if you have read the Beka Cooper books Pounce will be familiar to you). This cat is a mysterious and wonderful addition to these stories, he is his own character, with his own style and brings a wonderful layer of humour.

This book, like the series, is full of action, adventure and plotting. Strands that were background in other books are pulled forward and masterfully woven to a final climactic conclusion. Characters you’ve missed are back and you can’t help but sigh in satisfaction at the end and a feeling of sadness that the series has finished. The story is complete but you just don’t want to say goodbye to these characters.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Published: 19 April 2011

Format: Paperback 368 pages

Categories: Adventure, Fantasy, Magic, Action

ISBN 13: 9781442427662

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of the page

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