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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

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

Magic in the Weaving

By: Tamora Pierce

Circle of Magic series bk 1

Sandry is of noble birth, rescued from a bricked in chamber, Tris is a merchant girl abandoned by her family. Daja is the only survivor of a shipwreck that wiped out the rest of her family. Briar is a thief, taken from certain imprisonment, for reasons he doesn’t understand. These four children are the new residents of the WInding Circle Temple. Even there they don’t really fit in and find themselves at Discipline under the guidence of Dedicates Lark and Rosethorn. These four children have something in common, their powers are unusual and manifest differently to most. When disaster strikes will they be able to work together to survive?

Sandry, Tris, Daja and Briar are wonderfully crafted characters, at odds with yet somehow drawn to each other. Sandry is key to this and it is represented in her ability to weave. In each other they find friends who accept them as they are. The places they come from are well established and in a short amount of time you learn so much about each of them. The Winding Circle Temple is bought off the page by wonderful descriptions. For me characters are where Pierce excels. They are so believable, and I was drawn along with them every step of the way, cheering at their successes and pulling for them in their struggles. This book is a true ensemble story and well worth taking the time to read. Highly recommended. Pierce is my number one pick for readers 10+ who like fantasy and are seeking out stories with strong female characters, or even just good writing.

Publisher: Scholastic

Published: 01 July 2007

Format: Paperback 240 pages

Categories: Fantasy

ISBN 13: 9781862917446

Purchase: here or use Booktopia logo on side of page

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